When I think of the words people use to describe their realities in response to today's uncertainties, optimism does not come up often.
And yet, what's the alternative? I see too many people burdened by a sense of futility, worry, or negativity, be it about the economy, the state of the world, the unsettledness of life, or when a vaccine will become available.
At the same time, not all optimism is created equal. Jim Collins, in his book "From Good to Great" coined the term "Stockdale Paradox" to describe the dangers of holding an optimistic view unbalanced by realism.
Jim Stockdale was a naval officer held captive in a North Vietnamese prison camp for 7 years. He outlived his more blindly optimistic compatriots who lost faith when their hopes for release were dashed. Stockdale survived by hoping for the best while at the same time doggedly preparing for the worst.
Jono Nicholas, founder of the Wellbeing Outfit, talks about the importance of hope and optimism, suggesting that what we need for these times is a sense of optimism grounded in our capabilities.
Again, there's that balance. Tempered optimism.
When it's hard to predict your future, consider dwelling in the reality of your agency, your experience, and your skills to plan your way forward, one step at a time.