Turning Wishful Thinking into Concrete Hope that Creates Change

//Turning Wishful Thinking into Concrete Hope that Creates Change

Turning Wishful Thinking into Concrete Hope that Creates Change

Couple with bicycle

How often you wish for change?

While binge watching “House of Cards”, you wish you looked like Claire Underwood. Or at least could find her wardrobe in your size and on your budget…

You wish for a row house on a trendy street in the city.  Or a house anywhere without a crushing mortgage that keeps your nose on the daily grindstone…

You wish for a relationship that’s as mutually supportive as the Underwoods.  But without the deception and infidelity…

Clueless about the Underwoods, you just wish you could talk without fighting or yawning. Laugh together. Trust each other. Parent on the same page.  Agree on where to go for vacation or dinner.

You wish. I wish. We all wish.  And that’s a problem because …

Wishing won’t make it so.

The Everly Brothers “proved it” many years ago.  And we’ve learned it.

When we were kids, we ‘d stare at the glistening heavens and wish upon a star. Grab a bedtime snack and go to sleep.  And when we woke up, did we hit the ground running to make our wish come true?

As we got older, a fountain littered with coins became  a sparkling wishing well. We’d dig in our pockets for a penny, and heave a big wish into the fountain.   Did we walk away determined to make that wish come true?

All grown up, we toss fewer pennies in wishing wells.  We stop wishing upon a star. But we still wish for change in ourselves and in our relationships.  Do we consistently work to make our grownup wishes come true?

Probably not.  We’ve got wishful thinking nailed down to a science. But nothing changes because…

We confuse wishful thinking with concrete hope.  

Wishful thinking is a poor substitute for the concrete hope that leads to genuine change.

Wishful thinking leads to a daydream, and our return to an unhappy reality. Concrete hope leads to attitudes and action that produce change.

I see this lived out in my office  and reflected in my own mirror.  Dick and Jane have been married for 15 years.  Living separate lives under the same roof.  They came to counseling with lots of wishful thinking about how the other needed to change. But their hope was nebulous.  Like a cloud.

To make any  positive change, Dick and Jane needed to nix wishful thinking, and move beyond cloudlike hope.

From wishful thinking to concrete hope that creates change:  

Dick and Jane needed a serious reality check.  It was time to identify the attitudes and actions needed to change their relationship.  He needed to stay holed up in the man-cave less.  She needed to spend more time away from her iPad.  Each needed to tune in and purposely connect with the other.  And they needed to understand that…

Wishful thinking becomes concrete hope as attitudes change.

Dick and Jane began to ask, “What needs to change in me?”  They drank the Kool-Aid I offered – and discovered it was life giving water.  They learned what I have learned.  Change begins with me.

When change begins with me (or Dick or Jane or you), an amazing path of action appears.

I am the only one who can lose my weight or build my muscle.  No one else can eat or exercise for me or for you.  I am the one who controls how I show up in a relationship.  I control what I say and how I act. You control what you say and how you act.

Seeing what needs to change, an attitude of concrete hope keeps me (or Dick or Jane or you) moving in a positive direction. Concrete hope does not make change easier.  It does something more important.

Concrete hope makes change possible.

It electrifies consistent action.  Concrete hope keeps Dick and Jane reaching out for each other, especially on difficult days.  It keeps me eating healthy, and making quick corrections whenever I blow it.  Wishful thinking leaves Dick and Jane in separate rooms.  And me chowing down on Haagen-Daz.  All three of us frustrated.

Concrete hope picks us up, and dusts us off when we fail.  It sets us on the right path, heads us in right direction.  Concrete hope motivates us to move. Along the road called positive change.

Speak Your Mind below:

What do you think about the difference between wishful thinking and concrete hope?

By |2017-12-17T15:12:58+00:00June 18th, 2014|Categories: Relationships|21 Comments

About the Author:

I'm an LPC who delights in helping people find the change they need to live the life they desire.


  1. Meryl Hershey Beck June 18, 2014 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed this very much, it covers a topic that just about anyone and everyone can relate to. Wishful think is in fact unproductive, but “Concrete Hope” is motivation to make the changes necessary for an improvement in lifestyle and happiness. Thank you for sharing!

    • Gina Binder June 19, 2014 at 2:21 am - Reply

      Glad you enjoyed it, Meryl. I agree that Concrete Hope provides motivation to change. Pope said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast”, but I often observe that consistent action flows ephemerally in the human life. Unless that hope is solid.

  2. Carele Belanger June 18, 2014 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    Great article and being in action helps also everything.

  3. Beverley Golden June 18, 2014 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    Loved this post Gina! It totally speaks to me, as I constantly talk about “active hope”. It is necessary to actually take steps to shift the “wishing” or “hoping” from a passive activity that doesn’t lead anywhere, to concrete steps to lead you to solutions and a life you love. As always great presentation and value in what you share!

    • Gina Binder June 19, 2014 at 2:01 am - Reply

      Thanks, Beverley! I like your idea of “active hope”. We rain on our own parade when we fail to act on our hopes.

  4. Alexandra McAllister June 18, 2014 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Excellent article, Gina! It is something that I can relate to, especially lately. I love these words that you wrote: “Concrete hope picks us up, and dusts us off when we fail. It sets us on the right path, heads us in right direction.” Thanks so much for sharing such a valuable post.

    • Gina Binder June 19, 2014 at 1:58 am - Reply

      I’m glad this resonated with you, Alexandra. I’ve been dusted off a lot in the past week!

  5. jessica June 18, 2014 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    you’re right on point with this thanks for sharing

  6. Kungphoo June 19, 2014 at 1:33 am - Reply

    Love this post! I never thought about it like this before, but you’re absolutely right!

  7. rochefel June 19, 2014 at 3:54 am - Reply

    “Change begins with me”… It’s easier said than done, as always as most people find it hard to admit that they need to change. Thanks for giving emphasis on that. Acceptance, then change. I think everybody should learn that. 🙂

  8. Sharon O'Day June 19, 2014 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    I wonder, Gina, if there isn’t a disconnect between what people “wish” and what they believe they can achieve or what they deserve. That keeps them in the safe wishful thinking phase. It’s when something becomes achievable or reachable that it morphs into concrete hope. Here it becomes actionable because it has at least a glimmer of success and they’re willing to engage and take personal responsibility. In your example, you showed them how to move from the impossible to the possible …

  9. Nate June 19, 2014 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    Hi Gina,

    It’s always important to embrace change. Change is good and it makes you better! Great break down Gina!

  10. Roz June 19, 2014 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    I wonder what a birthday wish before blowing out the candle really is- wishful thinking or concrets hopeful? Sometimes I dont have enuf time to create a concrete wish and I wonder if you really have to believe in wishing for it to happen.

  11. Tina June 20, 2014 at 1:12 am - Reply

    I had never heard of “concrete hope” but it makes perfect sense to me. Wishing is fine for, well, wishing, but it doesn’t get anything done! I do a lot of wishing in the shower, but by the time I’m all washed and dried I’m ready for the reality of the world! Thanks for a very powerful post.

  12. Don Purdum June 20, 2014 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Amazing article! I used to work with couples as an Army Chaplain. It’s amazing to me how many couples say they want one thing, but in their minds they sabotage what they say they want and then their behavior gives them the result they were really thinking subconsciously.

    If want a different result, you have to tell yourself a different story. One that is positive and helps create the world you really want.

  13. Veronica June 20, 2014 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    I believe it all starts with a wish though, so there is some credit due to wishing. Where you go from there is the difference between what’s concrete or you just being a dreamer. I have often created wishes/fantasies/goals/aspirations whatever you will in my head and later watch them unfold before my very eyes.

  14. Robin Strohmaier June 22, 2014 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    Gina, I love the concept of “concrete hope”. You said is so well with, “Concrete hope motivates us to move. Along the road called positive change.” I think that wishful thinking might encompass the nonconstructive while concrete hope involves the conscience proactive steps. Great post!

  15. Gilly June 23, 2014 at 3:44 am - Reply

    Wishing is such a common thing when you really want something to work, but truly you don’t believe in it. I loved this article, we do need to get out of the wish mode sometimes and make actionable steps toward having 🙂

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