People change because they are optimistic about the future: their future. They see things they can look forward to, things they want to be part of, things they want to share.  This optimism gives them a good reason to change.

There are three things we need to consider about optimism. First, it is not just the object of the optimism that is important.  In other words, it is not just a vision of what the future looks like that inspires change: it is the hopeful sense that the vision is achievable, realistic, and positive. It is the sense that the person has, or can acquire, the things necessary to turn the vision into reality. The vision is of a future state, but the optimism is felt in the present.

The second point to consider is that both the vision and the optimism must be logical. In other words, they need to make sense to the person, given where they have come from and how they see the world.  Of course, this optimism may seem irrational to an outside observer, but it is important that it is logical to the person.

The third point is that optimism must represent a balanced position in a person’s life. There is little point in being optimistic about changes that are negative and detrimental and that expose the person to unwanted risks.

In the end if people are not optimistic about their future it would be illogical for them to be motivated to do whatever it takes and to take responsibility for the outcomes.  They are more likely to be uncommitted to change, less enthusiastic about it, and more likely to quit.  You might hear them say things like:

  • I’m not sure this is a good idea
  • I’m not sure why we’re doing this
  • I can’t see any point to this
  • We’re just making things hard for ourselves
  • I shouldn’t be doing this
  • What’s the good of it?

People who are pessimistic about the future find it difficult to commit to change: at least to any change designed to turn future vision into reality.  But people who are optimistic about their future have a good, logical reason to change: to make changes that bring them closer to the future they hope for.

Feeling optimistic about a meaningful future is a reason to change. In the next article I will consider a fourth reason for change.

Steve Barlow PhD