As humans, we all have our own hopes and beliefs. For example, you might hope for a sunny day tomorrow, and you might believe that you have the skills necessary to be successful at a specific task. To hope is to wish for something to happen, but also realizing that you may have little control over the outcome you wish (i.e. for better weather tomorrow). Belief, on the other hand, is when we accept something as true, genuine, or real — like when we self-appraise an decide that we really do have the talent to be able to do something successfully. We hope understanding we do not have much, if any, control over the outcome. With belief, however, we do have a sense of not only control, but also confidence from previous successful attempts allowing us to think that we really can do the task at hand. Successful people realize that simply hoping for future happiness and success isn’t enough; instead, we need to truly believe in ourselves in order to have the conviction needed to overcome stress, adversity, frustration, and previous failure. This week we will explore the psychology behind hope and belief, including ideas for how to increase self-belief.
If belief is such a big component relating to likelihood for future success, then the big question is how do we develop our belief? In many instances belief develops naturally over time and you improve proficiency through practice — for example, a runner gains confidence in being able to run a marathon by witnessing mileage increases established over time and believing she can replicate her efforts in a real marathon. In this example enough evidence has been collected from previous runs to no longer simply “hope” to run better in the future, but instead belief (a stronger feeling) has developed by actually experiencing successful runs. But aside from previous success, what other ways can belief be strengthened? The following ideas can help your chances:
- Set goals. Write down goals that are specific, controllable, and measurable, and keep track of your progress daily. By setting small goals that you can accomplish your confidence and belief will improve naturally as a result.
- Be consistent. Develop consistent habits and behaviors and pay close attention to the results you experience. For example, if you are a student and make it a point to dedicate time to your studies each day, keep an eye on how your grades improve (they likely will) and how your confidence improves as well.
- Develop realistic expectations. You can do almost anything in this world, but you can’t do everything. Rather than trying to win at everything you do, pick a couple of the most important life challenges you face and develop realistic ways to experience success.
- Keep a sense of humor. The more you laugh, the less you will stress! Seriously, try and find the lighter side of life whenever possible as this will keep your spirits up, anxieties down, and ultimately allow you to put your best foot forward with whatever tasks lie ahead.
While we often use the terms hope and belief synonymous, it is important to understand the differences between the two. Simply hoping to be happier, healthier, and more successful in life is a very passive way to achieve those goals and will likely not lead to the results you would like to experience. On the other hand, developing personal belief that if you put your mind toward accomplishing specific goals good things will happen will activate a healthy, proactive pursuit of your goals — and increase your chances for success.