Hope and Optimism

…is seeing myself as someone who learns and changes and makes progress over time; the opposite is being ‘stuck and static’.


This dimension is about being confident that I can change, learn and perform better, given time and opportunity. It is helped by having a positive story of learning and performance to reflect upon, that gives me a feeling of having ‘come a long way’ and of being able to ‘go places’ with more learning. Whatever has happened, though, and whatever obstacles I face, if I have a lot of Hope and Optimism I shall accept the challenge and believe I can succeed.

Learners with less of this are more likely to feel ‘stuck’ and give up easily. Believing they might fail, they can be less willing to try.

Effective learners know that learning itself is learnable. They believe that, through effort, their minds can get bigger and stronger, just as their bodies can and they have energy to learn. They see learning as a lifelong process and gain pleasure and self-esteem from expanding their capacity to learn. Having to try hard is experienced positively: it’s when you are trying that your ‘learning muscles’ are being exercised. Having a ‘growth orientation’ includes a sense of getting better at learning over time and of growing, changing and adapting as a learner throughout life, with a sense of history and hope.

The contrast pole of Hope and Optimism is fixity, or being stuck and static. Less effective learners tend to believe that their ‘learning power’ is fixed and therefore experience difficulty and perplexity negatively, as revealing their limitations. They are less likely to see challenging situations as opportunities to become a better learner.

  • Sees learning as a positive experience
  • Relishes new challenges
  • Seeks out new learning opportunities
  • Accepts responsibility for learning
  • Believes in own capacity to change
    • Think of yourself as a Learner – open and ready to accept any opportunity to learn, all your life!
    • Think about how your body gets stronger and fitter with training and stimulus and start a regime for your mind and brain
    • Look out some of your old development plans (PDPs) or projects and compare what you were doing a year or more ago with what you are capable of doing now
    • Keep a learning journal: recording ‘What have I learned?’ with your hopes, plans, successes, failures and other milestones, monthly or quarterly
    • Think of your progress as a ‘learning journey’ – where are you in the journey at the moment?
    • Ask your tutor or line manager to help you to notice the new things you are learning to achieve
    • Remember, there are no such things as ‘mistakes’: only lessons to learn! Every experience moves you forward, if you want it to
    • Read biographies of people in relevant fields, who you are interested in, and think about how your own life might look when you have achieved your dreams
    • Review your CV regularly, asking your friends and colleagues to help you remember and record all your significant achievements
    • Talk to people with more experience in your field. Ask them about the journey they have taken, how they have changed over time and what they have learned.