Hope + Action = Win

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.  And no good thing ever dies.”

It’s no secret that the Shawshank Redemptionis my favorite movie of all time: it’s filled with unforgettable quotes, an inspiring story, and an ending that makes me tear up every time.  This movie has changed my life.  Now, don’t worry if you’ve never seen the movie (but shame on you, go rent it immediately), you’ll still learn a lesson or two from this article.

I was emailing back and forth the other day with David of HeroicDestiny.com, and the topic of Hope came up.  David remarked that I was selling hope with my Rebel Fitness Guide and Nerd Fitness in general – the hope for a better tomorrow: a stronger heart, a smaller waistline, and a more enjoyable existence.

I realized that David was absolutely right. My articles might be about learning how to squat, how to be more confident, or life lessons we can learn from Star Wars, but deep down each article is really about hope: hope for stronger legs, more confidence, and a better life, respectively.

Hope is one of the most important emotions a person can possess.

Victor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor and author of the famous A Man’s Search for Meaning, remarked: “The prisoner who had lost faith in the future – his future – was doomed.” I believe it was Nietzsche who said, “He who has a why can endure any how.

Hope gets us out of bed in the morning, hope gets us to work, hope gets us to the gym.  Hope gets us dreaming and wishing for a better future.

  • Without hope, day-to-day actions are simply a way to pass the time until we’re done living.
  • However, without action, hope will result in absolutely no progress.

For these reasons, we need both hope and action to live a life worth living.

Hope and Shawshank

Back to the movie: while spending nineteen years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, the main character, Andy Dufresne, held on to the belief that there was a better life waiting for him outside, that there were “places in this world that aren’t made out of stone.”  He held onto the hope that his life would one day improve.  It was this hope that allowed him to survive getting beat up by the Sisters, being thrown in solitary confinement, and spending two decades locked up in a tiny prison cell with no chance for parole.

Now, along with hoping that things would get better, Andy took definitive steps to make sure his life WOULD get better. He spent those nineteen years digging a tunnel with a tiny rock hammer through his cell wall every night (which would have made Optimus Prime proud).

Andy spent his time hoping for a better future like everybody else; he was different in that he turned his hope into action.

After digging and tunneling nightly for years and years, Andy simply “up and vanished like a fart in the wind,” crawling through his tunnel, slithering through hundreds of yards of sewage pipe, and escaping to the Pacific coast of Mexico.  He spent the rest of his days on the beaches of Zihuatanejo, fixing up an old boat with his friend Red and taking folks out on fishing trips.

For you math people out there: hope + action = win.

Hope and Action

What do you want out of life? That is your “hope.”

What are you doing about it? That is your “action.”

Life is made up of prisoners, wannabes, and Andy Dufresnes. Prisoners go through the motions without hope.  Wannabes have hope but don’t do anything about it.  Andy Dufresnes have hope and are inspired to act.  Which one are you?

1) Lose weight. Do you watch the Biggest Loser?  Have you seen the movie 300 ?  Did you watch either and go “wow that’s amazing, I’d like to be in great shape too!”

  • The prisoners of the world watch these shows and movies while eating ice cream and tubs of popcorn and then go back to being fat.
  • Wannabes say to themselves “I’m going to get in shape tomorrow!” and then hit the snooze button the next morning and do nothing.
  • The Andy Dufresnes of the world get inspired, chuck all of their junk food, start exercising, and turn their lives around.

2) Make more money. Do you want more money?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone – everybody wants to be more financially stable.

  • The prisoners continue to work in a job they despise, waiting for their yearly raise and two extra days of vacation.
  • The wannabes buy scratch tickets, play the lottery, and drop a couple grand in Vegas, hoping to get rich.
  • The Andy Dufresnes reevaluate their finances, sell their crap, negotiate a raise, bust their asses for a promotion, and/or start their own company.

3) Be happy. Are you getting what you want out of life?  Do you want to spend more time with your family?  Have you ever dreamed of running your own business?

  • The prisoners do nothing about their situation except complain.  Nothing changes, routines stay the same, and life remains passionless.
  • The wannabes go out and buy “get rich quick” e-books from an “online marketing guru” (who only makes money by teaching you how to make money).  Or, they hope that next year, “after things settle down,” will be a better opportunity to make some adjustments.
  • The Andy Dufresnes hope for a better tomorrow, whether it’s more time with their families, a great vacation with friends, or a new business venture, and then they take specific steps to make those things happen.

Don’t be the wannabe playing the lottery and looking for the easy way out.  That’s hope without action.  Don’t be the prisoner simply going through the motions.  That’s action without hope.

Be Andy: hope for what you want, and then go get it.

As Andy says to Red, “It comes down to a simple choice, really: get busy living, or get busy dying.”

What About You?

For years, I hoped to one day start a business and travel the world. That hope eventually inspired action, and I spent nineteen months blogging every day while working a full time job before I “broke free” to start my epic quest.  Who knows, I might even end up in Zihuatanejo fixing up an old boat some day.  (Care to join me?  I could use a man that knows how to get things.)

This is my new hope: to turn my venture into a profitable, automated business that will allow me to solely focus on the things I love:

  • Hanging out with my friends and taking care of my family
  • Writing articles that instill hope and inspire action
  • Meeting up with Nerd Fitness readers and helping them level up their lives
  • Acquiring new skills and knowledge
  • Doing good things for others
  • Having fun

These are the things that I hope for, and it’s this hope that helps me take action every day.

I don’t care if you are 400 pounds overweight and working a job you hate.  Tomorrow WILL be a better day than today if you make it so.  No jail time or tunneling necessary – simply decide what you want out of life, and then decide how hard you’re willing to make that future happen.  It might require sacrifices, long nights, and/or early mornings, but it IS possible.

What is your hope for the future?  How is that hope inspiring you to take action?


PS – If you’ve seen Shawshank, here are the last two minutes (the best two minutes to end a movie ever). If you HAVEN’T seen Shawshank, watch these 40 inspirational speeches in 2 minutes instead.Either way: get inspired, have hope, and then do something about it!



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68 thoughts on “Hope + Action = Win

  1. LOL…my favorite movie of all times and I cry every time I see the ending too!  Also no matter what was going on outside him…he remained calm inside and just heard beautiful music!

  2. I have been a prisoner for years.  Almost half of my life.  Stuck in a rut, unhappy and wanting desperately to do something about it, but not knowing how to go about fixing my situation.  I was completely and utterly without any form of hope.  This website helped me change that a couple of months ago.  Now I’m eating healthier, and feeling just a little better all the time.  Just this much is more than I ever thought I would find, and now all I can think about is “Wow, if I can do this much, what more can I do?”  It’s definitely still a work in progress, but at least now it is actually in progress.

  3. Maybe for you the pleasure is found in helping others, but you want something in return. The thing with customer service is that it’s constantly giving to people who don’t appreciate it.

    Perhaps you need to find a job that uses your gift for helping others yet you can SEE the results of your hard work.

    Charity is an obvious one, as well as nursing, teaching or psychiatry. Less obvious, try taking a leaf out of Steve’s book and become a writer.

    Not all writers are hacks out for their own stories; some of them write things that help and inspire others.

    I know because that’s what I’m pushing forwards to becoming.

    Don’t give up on yourself yet!

  4. Excellent post. I’ve spent too long as a prisoner and wannabe. Time to Dufresne myself!

  5. Steve, THANK YOU for inspiring me. I became a massage therapist in the spring, but because of money/job opportunities/travels I’ve been back at my old job in a call center. I’ve been looking a little for volunteering opportunities but couldn’t find any, and settled for “I’ll do this when I’ll be back in january, when I’m here for 6 months”. I read this post and realized really, that I might actually have to DO things and create opportunities for MYSELF and not just expect this to happen. So I sent a bunch of mails and decided I’m gonna come in early once a week when I work late and give free hand- and underarms massage to my colleges when they’re on their breaks. 🙂 its a little, but its a start and experience and its a step forward to actually working with what I love! 😀

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