Martin Luther King once said, “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.”
Whilst I agree with this quote, I feel it’s important to point out that hope is a fickle thing.
When our hopes are constantly dashed and trampled upon and that better tomorrow never comes, we become jaded and bitter and start to despair.
This may be why Mr Smith in the Matrix finds hope to be the most futile of all human emotions because it has the power to save us and the power to destroy us.
But without hope, who are we?
The theory on hope
Snyder came up with the hope theory which describes hope as a way of thinking with “feelings playing an important contributory role”. He argues that hope is an emotion that can be cultivated since it’s influenced by 3 factors:
- Having a goal(s) and thinking in terms of goals
- Having strategies to achieve these goals
- The motivation to make these goals a reality
This makes sense – it’s easier to expect the best and have hope when you know what you want and have a plan and a desire to make this happen.
How does hope impact financial behaviour?
1. Decreased debt
The mere belief that things will get better and that you can pay off your debts can lead to decreased debt. You hold hope in your heart and start to act in a way that reflects this hope – like paying off your bills and before you know it, your hope is fulfilled.
2. Increased savings
If you’re hopeful about the future, you may make the decision to save for that future.
3. Increased consumption
A study by MacInnis & Chun argues that marketing relies heavily on hope because hope leads consumers to deceive themselves and buy into lies about products. We all know that a slimming drug won’t make us skinny but that doesn’t stop us from buying it.
4. Ability to rebound from financial hardship
Hope, like faith, has been known to turn people’s finances almost miraculously and against all odds.
How to be hopeful
According to Snyder, hope can be scientifically constructed in our lives by having a goal, having a strategy to meet that goal and the motivation to meet the goal.
1. Set goals
It’s all very good and well to have dreams but it’s goals that make dreams a reality. When we start to meet our goals and see ourselves get closer to our dreams, the more hope we’re likely to feel.
2. Take constant action
Having a strategy to reach your goal is what sets dreamers and doers apart.
When you’re able to break down a big goal into small action steps, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed and more likely to take action, which increases your chances of success, which makes you hopeful.
3. Work on your self-confidence
If Snyder is right and hope is connected to your belief in yourself, then increasing your self-confidence will increase your hope that things will work out well.
It’s easy to believe in a better future and your ability to achieve a goal if you believe that you can make the goal a reality and that you won’t stop trying.
4. Celebrate small wins
It’s not the big things that keep us going. It’s the small wins along the way that keep you motivated, because any great victory is made of small wins along the way and not one large win at the end.
How has feeling hopeful impacted your finances?
Let me know in the comments section below.