Feel free to explore these Hope How-To’s by clicking on the title to open up the exercise.
For people who appreciate a more straightforward approach to teaching a new skill, I realized that we needed a hope equivalent to the decision-making’s pro-con list. So, we developed HopeMaps, which I recommend to adults teaching pathways thinking to kids.
The HopeMap is an interactive exercise that takes a young person and a caring hopeful adult about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. It can be introduced to the child when they share with you that they are excited about a particular goal or committed to learning how to learn a new skills. Say for example, a student shares that she would like to land a summer job. In casual yet focused conversation, you help her describe that goal in a more detail: “I want a part-time summer job that lets me work with little kids. And I would like it to be walking distance from my house,” With an exciting and clear goal set, she is ready to create a HopeMap. Here are the 6 steps:
- Take this piece of paper, lay it lengthways, and fold it into thirds. On the top of the first third, write “Pathways.” On the top of the second write “Obstacles.” Then on the top of the right most third, write “Goal.” Then write your goal in the middle of that last third of the paper and draw a square around it. That is the “Goal Box” you are trying to reach.
- On the Pathways portion of the page, draw three simple arrows aiming at the Goal Box without marking on the center third of the page. Leave yourself enough room to draw additional arrow later in the exercise. On the shaft of each arrow, write down one path or step you will take to pursue the goal. Please share the best ideas you have.
- On the middle of the page marked Obstacles, please identify at least one obstacle that might block each of the paths you have described.
- Going from left to right on the page, review each pathway and associated obstacle that keeps you from the Goal Box. Then, repeat Steps 2 and 3, drawing three new arrows, writing in new pathways, and identifying new obstacles that might block your progress.
- Anywhere on the page, jot down ideas for maintaining your energy and agency while you move toward the Goal Box along the selected pathways. Keep in mind the situations that sap your will and be sure come up with ideas for countering those challenges.
- Now that the HopeMap is almost complete, review it several times over. Then, preview what it would look like to pursue and reach your goal. Once you have a vivid image of reaching the Goal Box in your mind, mentally rehearse all the steps you need to take to get there in real life.
When I was 20 years old I was determined to go to a good graduate school (out of Louisiana) and get a PhD in psychology and then a great job. I had good grades, adequate test scores, and strong letters of recommendation. Trouble was, I did not know how to type (makes filling out 15 applications challenging), I was a poor writer (my essays were atrocious), I had rarely been out of Louisiana, and I had never been on a plane. To make my dream come true, I had to take a risk and let lots of people know about my goal. I had to ask folks to invest in my goal by sharing their resources with me. People stepped up by typing my applications (while I was learning to type), helping me answer questions about myself and my future (and proofing and reproofing my essays), giving me the confidence to apply far and wide, and donating an airline ticket.
I was lucky to be surrounded by people who believed in me and in my goal. Over the years I have wondered how other young people with big goals get people to invest in them. It just might help to have a formal way to connect young people with big dreams with the resources from caring adults. What would happen if we opened a HopeBank in every community? Local HopeBanks would create opportunities for community members to invest in the future of local youth. A HopeBank links young people with clear goals for their future with the resources from community members. Community members invest in young people and their ideas by linking personal resources (specifically time, talent, knowledge, and skills) to the needs of the youth. As a member of a HopeBank, an individual or a small group of committed adults open a HopeBank and solicit investment ideas, or goals for the future, from youth through schools and youth organizations. A representative of the HopeBank works with youth to refine these goals to make them specific and additive, with very clear markers of progress and an attainment timeline. The goal and a list of resources needed are then posted on the HopeBank website which is reviewed periodically by members.
Imagine that a company of 2000 people opens a HopeBank in their community. 50 employees sign up as members of the bank and they solicit investment ideas from youth in schools within a few miles of the workplace. Dozens (maybe hundreds) of accounts are opened by youth by submitting goals that are then refined with the help of the bank manager to make them more attainable; the revised goals are then posted. At that point, bank members (i.e., the investors) attempt to match their resources with the needs of local youth. For example, imagine if a student submits this proposal, “Soon-to-be first generation college student needs help preparing for entrance exams and writing college essays.” The HopeBank manager would help the student clarify the goals, the timeline, and the assistance needed. Upon posting, members could work through the bank manager to offer time, talent, knowledge, and skills needed to help the student get into college. Accounts would be updated online (for members and account holders to see) and return on investment in youth will be tracked over time with updates from young people and members. Find local kids with big goals and invest in them. Open a HopeBank in your community.
Instructions for facilitator:
- Tell participants to take out a pen or pencil and a couple of clean sheets of paper, and to put everything else away—especially phones! Ask them to turn off their ringers so that they can be completely present for this exercise. It is very important their imagining experience is not interrupted so that they can relax and concentrate. Once they get started, they’ll probably be so fascinated by what they are imagining that keeping them engaged won’t be hard.
- Tell the participants that you are going to take them on a trip ten years into their own future. Say the fantasy works best when everybody allows themselves to imagine their perfect day in an uncensored fashion, not worrying about such things as whether they have the skills or finances to achieve these experiences. It also works best when everybody tries to imagine a working day, rather than simply a vacation day.
- The exercise is most effective when you (the facilitator) silently imagine, along with the participants, your own perfect future day (sometimes this is very hard, so do it if you can.) Not only does this give you something to share of your own, but it also ensures that you will speak the script slowly enough that everyone has time to fully visualize each component of the fantasy. If you rush through the script, the perfect day will fly by, and nobody will have an opportunity to see the details of future possibilities. So take your time!
- Allow at least 30 minutes for this visualization, and another 30 for processing the responses.
And without further adieu, the script:
Lie back and get as comfortable as you can — take off your shoes if you like put your feet up, stretch out and relax.
Close your eyes breathe deeply. Relax your feet, your legs, your back, your neck, your arms and hands, and even the muscles in your face. Now take ten deep breaths, and we will begin …
Imagine that as you fall asleep one night, you are suddenly surrounded by a golden, glittering grid of light. You realize that you are in a time machine that is talking to your own future.
It is the year Two Thousand and _________. Two Thousand and _________.
Two Thousand and _________.
(Go on in this way until you reach the year ten years in the future.)
It is the year Two Thousand and _________, and you are waking to the most perfect day of your life. It is ten years in the future, and you are now about to life a wonderful day, a working day that you have most hoped for.
As you wake up, look out the window of your room.
What is the season? …
What is the climate? …
Where are you? …
Where in the world are you living?
Now, turn to the side. On this perfect day, is there someone there with you? … Or is this perfect day one in which you wake on your own? Are there sounds of others, or the sounds of solitudes? Are there animals or plants around you?
It’s time to get up! Will you exercise, or will you go straight to your shower or bath? … Imagine your preparation for the day … Imagine the most relaxing bathing experience, in a place where you feel comfortable and pampered.
Now it’s time to get dressed. Go to your closet or wardrobe and pick out the most perfect clothes for you. These are the clothes where you look your best and feel most comfortable. The clothes that express who you are …
Now that you are dressed, go to a mirror.
See yourself in the mirror as you appear as a man or woman ten years more mature. Image that you are as strong and healthy and alive as you have ever been. Flex your muscles and stretch and move, and enjoy your perfect self.
Now it’s time for breakfast. Will you eat at home or will you eat out? … Will you share this breakfast time with others? Now imagine the perfect breakfast you can have on your ideal day … what will you eat?
It’s time for work. Will you work where you live or will you go somewhere to work? How will you get there? …
Now imagine that you have arrived at your workplace. Look around you. It is the perfect place for you to work. Are you outside or inside? Are there people? Animals? Plants? Medicines? Technology? Tools? Books? Art?
Are you creating, leading, teaching, guiding, repairing, presenting, expressing your ideas, arranging, crafting, driving, flying, riding, engaging in a sport, performing, serving, persuading, analyzing, reading, meditating, inventing? …
What is your favorite part of your work?
The morning is over, and you’re hungry. What will you do for lunch? This is the most perfect lunch you have ever had … Will it be with others or alone? Where will you eat? What will you have? …
After lunch, will you do the same tasks as you did in the morning, or will your day change? What is the first thing you do? Where are you?
The time flies by, because you are having a wonderful time. You are doing what you love the most, and you are feeling challenged, excited and happy. What are you doing that makes you feel so good?
It’s late afternoon now. How will you make the transition from work to relaxation, rest or recreation? Will you spend time on your own, or will you see family or friends?
Imagine now it is almost evening and you are at home. Walk outside the place where you life and look at it. Walk all around the building. Do you live in an apartment, a condo, a house, a motor home, an RV, a cabin … where do you live?
Walk inside. Is there anyone there? Family or friends? Pets?
Go to your favorite room. What is it like? Upstairs or downstairs? What are the colors?
Now you are hungry for dinner. What will you do for dinner? Will you eat at home or elsewhere? Alone or with others? It is the most perfect dinner of your life, so imagine the place and the atmosphere and then, what it is you are eating …
What will you do after dinner? Will you rest, or are there other activities? On this most beautiful evening, what will you do?
It is getting late, and you are deliciously tired. Go to a window or doorway and look outside. Can you see the stars from where you live? Look up at the stars and think about this perfect day that was so right. How did you feel about yourself? How do you feel about the future?
Now you are ready for bed … slip into the most wonderful sleeping clothes and then go quietly to your soft and lovely bed. As you fall asleep, again there are lights circling around you, and you realize that the time machine has come to take you back to the past. With a fond farewell to the future, you are now swept back to the past.
It is the year Two Thousand and _________. Two Thousand and _________.
Two Thousand and _________. (and so on until it is the present year …)
You are waking up at our workshop/in our class!
Free writing exercise
Now, take a few minutes to jot down everything you remember about your perfect day ten years in the future. Don’t worry about sentence structure, grammar or format. Just write freely to help yourself remember the details of your future day fantasy. Now go!
(Give the group 10-15 minutes to write. When everyone has completed their free writing exercise, invite them to share their experiences.)
Let’s share our perfect days …
This exercise is based on Appendix 1 from the Handbook for Counseling Girls and Women: Ten Years of Gender Equity Research at Arizona State University, editors: Barbara Kerr, Ph.D., Sharon Kurpius, Ph.D., and Amy Harkins, M.C.