Wishing vs. Hoping

Posted on January 26, 2017

Paula Jensen
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Author, Paula Jensen, Dakota Resources

The 1964 classic song lyrics from Wishin & Hopin by Dusty Springfield say, “Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’, Plannin’ and dreamin’ each night of his charms, That won’t get you into his arms…”

So my curiousity asks, “Is there a distinction between wishing and hoping?”

Wishing is feeling or expressing a strong desire for something that is not easily attainable. It’s like wishing to win the lottery but you don’t buy a ticket.

Hoping is to look forward with desire and reasonable confidence that something can happen. You can hope that you win the lottery because you have purchased a ticket.

Dusty Springfield continues in her song lyrics, Wishin & Hopin, “…So if you’re thinkin’ how great true love is, All you gotta do is, Hold him and kiss him and squeeze him and love him, Yeah, just do it and after you do, you will be his…” My conclusion is that the differing factors between wishing and hoping is in the process of looking forward and taking action which can change the course of your circumstances!

I had never considered the distinction between wishing and hoping until I attended the Helping Small Towns Succeed Conference. I attended a breakout session to explain and foster the trait of hope for community leadership. From the presenter’s research it appeared that followers of community leaders want two things 1) stability in the moment; and 2) hope for the future. But unfortunately, the vast majority of community leaders do not spend enough time creating hope for the future.

Think about it–growth is all about looking forward. A sapling becomes a mighty oak by growing slowly over time. An infant grows into a child, who eventually becomes an adult. Hope is the same way. It looks forward. When we have hope, we can create a vision, build a team, and take action steps toward a better future for ourselves and our communities, not just wishing for things that could be done by others.

Planting the seed of hope requires a change in mindset, starting with our leaders–leaders who believe community growth is possible and commit to pursuing it. The change in focus from wishing to hoping is only the first step. This movement begins a cycle of growth, leading to increased hope, more growth, and ultimately contagious hope. Because when hope expands in our communities―everything changes.

Assessing Your Own Current Level of HOPE

Directions: Read each item carefully. Give yourself a score of 1-5 points based on the following: Strongly Disagree (1 point); Disagree (2 points); Neutral (3 points); Agree (4 points); Strongly Agree (5 points)

  1. My future will be better than the present. ___ points
  2. I have the power to make my future better. ___ points
  3. I am excited about at least one thing in my future. ___ points
  4. I see many paths to my goals. ___ points
  5. The paths to my important goals are free of obstacles. ___ points

Score Questions 1-5 is your HOPE score. TOTAL ____

  1. My present life circumstances are the only determinants of my future. ___ points
  2. My past accomplishments are the only determinants of my future. ___ points

Score Questions 6-7 is your READINESS to HOPE score. TOTAL ___

  1. I make others feel excited about the future. ___ points
  2. I spread hope through modeling or support of others. ___ points
  3. I spread hope through the way I live my life. ___ points

Score Question 8-10 is your HOPE CONTAGION score. TOTAL ___


Analyze your current level of HOPE

Questions 1-5 is your HOPE score (ranging from 5 -25).

  • 5-15, it will take hard work and much practice to raise your score.
  • 16-20, hope is an asset to you every day, but there are many strategies that can help you increase your hopefulness.
  • 21+, you are a high-hope person whose thinking about the future is an asset.

Questions 6-7 is your READINESS to HOPE score (ranging from 2-10). The higher your score, the more you believe that your future is dominated by your past and present circumstances, and the less room you have for hope. Learn to expand your sense of personal freedom without denying the realistic constraints we all face.

Question 8-10 is your HOPE CONTAGION score (ranging from 3-15). If you scored above 12, you are a model for others and consciously boost the hope of those around you. A low score suggests that you would benefit from seeking out the support and companionship of high-hope people in your daily life.




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