Always have something to look forward to

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I am a man of potentials. I never look at things as how they are, but as how they could be. The thing I dislike the most is wasted potential, especially wasted talents. It’s kind of a gift and a curse for me. It’s a curse because potential is endless. There are no limits to improvements and advancements (it’s one of the basic Kaizen rules). So you can easily lose yourself in perfectionism and greed, in a “there is never enough” mentality.

It’s also a gift, because by seeing potential everywhere, you push yourself and other people to become the best versions of themselves. You never see people as they are, but everything they still can achieve in life with their abilities. That’s why you push them, mentor them and try to inspire them. And when laziness stifles potential in someone, there’s a special type of sadness in your heart.

An even more relevant reason why seeing potential is a gift is because you always have something to look forward to – a relationship that can go even deeper, thinking that can be bigger and even more creative, a business than can grow higher, a more challenging mountain to climb, a party that you can make wilder (I mean wiser), sex more passionate, and so on.

When you see potential in everything, you can very easily find things to look forward to. There is always something new to discover, something new to build. Life can never get boring.

Believing, hoping and trusting

If you want to go after the potential you see, you must first believe it can be done. You must hope. You must have a deep feeling of expectation and desire for a particular potential to be realized. You need a strong feeling of trust that it can be done. Without hope, it’s hard to go forward, especially when you are faced with adversity. Potential and hope are your two best friends.

But even though you hope for the best, you have to prepare for the worst. Hope is not a strategy. Only hoping that things will miraculously solve themselves or that something will happen because of a higher force, be it love, market trends or anything else, is a very very bad strategy. Unfortunately, it’s a strategy many people turn to.

Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen. Hope is a feeling of trust.

Right on top of hope, you need a plan. You need a strategy – a superior life strategy, business strategy, project strategy, relationship strategy or whatever your goal in life is. You need to pause for a moment, analyze the environment, set clear outcomes you want, set metrics, follow a carefully orchestrated process towards your goals, and constantly adjust your actions based on the feedback you get from interactions.

And you need to innovate. You need to think big, optimally and superproactively. You need to be different and better than your competition. It’s easy to be only different, you have to find a way to be different and better. By combining hope and a superior strategy, you can win big, then you can massively succeed.

Potential, hope and a superior strategy are really your best friends and a winning combo.

First hope, then always have something to look forward to

Fighting for your goals and dream life is not easy. You have to put an enormous amount of hard and smart work to be slowly moving in a direction you want.

Even when you have a superior plan, you keep everything agile and you carefully follow the process stages, you are often knocked out by failing and collapses. Adversity and unexpected breakdowns can take all your passion and life energy in a single second. Without strong hope, you will definitely give up on life sooner or later.

Without an unbreakable spirit filled with hope and without seeing potential that you can go after, you stop fighting. You stop going forward, you stop innovating and improving yourself. You resign yourself to an average life and you slowly start turning into a zombie. When you stop fighting, life only hits harder and your situation only gets worse. The easy road, represented by giving up, always turns into a hard road.

Make sure you never lose hope. Never ever. No matter how difficult your situation is, no matter how hard life knocked you down, never give up. Never stop hoping for a better future. There is always a way to go forward, there is always a step to make towards a better life, there is always something to look forward to.

In the darkest hours, stars shine the brightest.

Instead of drowning in misery and cursing life, take a piece of paper and list all the things you can look forward to. People to meet, things to read, a new project to initiate or things to create, the sun on your face, a tasty meal, a visit to the gym or a cup of coffee. List at least 50 things; or rather 100. There are so many big and small things you can look forward to. Every day, without exceptions.

Here are a few additional ideas for how to use to your advantage the power to look forward to life events:

  • In people (their character), find something you’re looking forward to experiencing again.
  • Set a reward for yourself for finishing a demanding task or performing a new habit.
  • List all the small (free) things that you can look forward to every day (sun, meals etc.).
  • Have a list of things you really enjoy and make sure you regularly plan them in your schedule.
  • Practice seeing potential everywhere, from places to people and businesses.

Always have something to look forward to

The psychology behind hope and a few additional tricks to develop it

According to Erickson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development, hope is the first stage that develops between 0 and 18 months of a child’s upbringing. It’s a positive resolution between an internal conflict of trust and mistrust.

Stage Age Conflict / Crisis Resolution / Virtue
1 Infant – 18 months Basic trust vs. Mistrust Hope
2 18 m. – 3 years Autonomy vs. Shame Will
3 3 – 5 years Initiative vs. Guilt and Doubt Purpose
4 5 – 13 years Industry vs. Inferiority Competence
5 13 – 21 years Identity vs. Confusion Fidelity
6 21 – 39 years Intimacy vs. Isolation Love
7 40 – 65 years Generativity vs. Stagnation Care
8 65 and older Integrity vs. Despair Wisdom

When you are born, you are uncertain about life, and the only way to develop hope is to get consistent, predictable and reliable care from your parents (or a non-parent caretaker). To be even more exact, three conditions have to be fulfilled in order to develop trust and hope: A caretaker has to:

  1. provide physical and emotional care,
  2. show continuity or consistency in the child’s life, and
  3. must have an emotional investment in the child.

Yes, developing hope is all about consistency in taking care of a child’s needs, the stability of the environment, developing a relationship with a child with positive energies and communicating a sense of purpose to the child that parents are driven by.

It’s about developing positive relationships with a child without being depressed, feeling severe guilt, being messy and inconsistent or hindered and absent because of any other negative emotions. It’s about trying to empathically understand what a baby wants when crying, and responding in a healthy and fast enough manner by being purposefully and emotionally invested.

Now, I’m not highlighting this psychological background to point fingers and find a way to blame others if you can’t find hope in your life to lean on. You can’t go back to being an infant, but you can work hard on personal development to develop deeper levels of trust in yourself, others and life in general. It’s not like everything is lost. The first step you can do is to take better care of yourself and your environment.

According to the three conditions that have to be met in order for an infant to develop trust, make sure you have such a relationship with yourself and others in your adult life, and that you organize your environment in a way that provides such stability. Here are a few ideas how:

  • Take good care of your body and health (exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep etc.).
  • Pay very close attention to your emotions and express them. Use the happiness index.
  • Learn to love yourself and put yourself in the first place.
  • Be assertive and regularly meet your needs in a healthy manner.
  • Introduce regular rituals into your life that provide consistency and look forward to them.
  • Develop stable and deep relationships, especially the six key ones (family, spouse, friends, boss, coworkers, mentor).
  • Define a clear life vision and mission that inspire you and are greater than any obstacle you meet on the road towards your goal.
  • And as we’ve talked about, always have something to look forward to.

Success in life is not doing something remarkable. Success in life is doing everyday ordinary things in a remarkably consistent and disciplined way. It’s called following and trusting the process.

Things to look forward to will definitely strengthen your hope in life.

If you manage to make yourself look forward to and anticipate doing these everyday small and “boring” things (talking to someone, creating something new, solving a problem, cleaning home etc.), your life will be much more successful and happy. Hope and never ever give up.

About the author

Consulting and management coaching

Blaž Kos has managed venture capital investments over the past 12 years and participated in the development of the start-up ecosystem in the region. Today, he advises companies on growth strategies, process optimization, the introduction of lean agile methods and the digitalization of business. In addition to the Slovenian blog, he also writes an English blog, which was selected among the 50 best bloggers in the world in the category of personal and business growth.
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