The Problem With Hope

Implicit in the word hope are feelings of excitement, desire, potential…and disappointment. There are two reasons why hope often leads to disappointment. One is inaction, the other is doubt.


Throughout life we express desires as hope. I hope that I do well on the exam. I wish I had a horse because I love riding. I hope to get into the college of my choice. I hope that someday I can afford that Ferrari I want. Each of us has expressed hopes and wishes like these. But how serious are we?

Hope begs the question “How much do you really want what you hope to get?” Consciously you acknowledge the desire, yet subconsciously you avoid taking the action that’s required to fulfill the hope.

While I enjoyed the book, The Secret, I was disappointed that so much emphasis was placed on visualization and so little on action. I agree that visualization is a useful tool, but only when it’s accompanied by action. You’ll notice that I didn’t say appropriate action. Who among us knows whether an action is going to produce the desired result until we’ve acted?

The reality is that the path to fulfilling our desires if never, as my brother says, a straight line up and to the right. It’s a meandering path that reflects missteps and adjustments that were made along the way. The key is that we continued to act, to move in the direction of our goal, when the previous attempt didn’t produce the desired result.

Hope without action assures one result…disappointment. And with it, potentially, a hit to our confidence.


Implicit in hope is doubt. When we hope for something we acknowledge the possibility that we may not get what we want. In other words, there’s doubt in our minds about whether it can happen.

Confident people don’t hope for things, they decide to make them happen. There is no doubt in their minds that they can achieve what they envision. Yet they have no illusions that it will happen quickly, easily or in the form in which they currently envision it.

People who possess this level of confidence are fully cognizant of the fact that there’ll be missteps and adjustments required, that the path will be meandering and difficult at times. Yet they embrace the journey for the learning it affords and the joy of pursuing what’s important to them.

Confident people realize that results, especially with big goals, don’t happen quickly which steels them against the impatience and disappointment that subverts less confident people.

For you

The next time you find yourself wishing and hoping, stop! Make a conscious decision that you are either going to pursue what you desire or that it isn’t important enough for you to pursue. Regardless of which you choose, you avoid being disappointed and taking a hit to your confidence.

For our kids

When you hear your kids hope or wish for something, ask them what they’re willing to do to get it. As they go through the analysis they’ll quickly determine whether they really want what they hope to get or whether it’s not worth the effort they’d have to expend. They’ll also learn that whether they get what they want depends upon the effort they’re willing to expend…a valuable lesson for us all.

As your kids make this choice consciously, they’ll not only be happy with that choice, they’ll avoid the disappointment and loss of confidence that normally accompany hope.

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