you can achieve anything you want fearlessly

What is the most essential ingredient to success?

Talent? Luck? Hard work? Mindset?

I came across this great article the other day and it completely blew my mind. I compared the HOPE formula illustrated (backed by science) with my own experience – and I can prove it is true.

Bouncing back from an abyss

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

We all have experienced a state of despair, frustration and hopelessness.

Mine happened in 2019.

People say 90% of our worries are caused by ourselves – things we imagine in our minds, often triggered by the media, rumours and our own inner voices.

That was what I believed in until I saw rubber bullets and smelled tear gas everywhere.

To a certain extent I still think most of my worries won’t happen in reality, but what happened did shake me to the core.

Pandemic and lockdown couldn’t even compare to that.

I thought I would die. I thought that was the end of it.

And it turned out to be the beginning.

When I was at my worst, I found meaning.

When it was complete darkness, I found light.

I felt completely hopeless. But the reality was actually a wakeup call. It drove me to fulfil my vision. I found purpose – a meaning more important than any personal goals.

I thought that was called hope.

Quickly, I realised the passion wasn’t enough. I didn’t know HOW to get there.

My timeline of pivoting my career from an accountant to a student music therapist goes like this:

June 2019: Traumatic experience

July 2019: Wondered about the possibility of becoming a music therapist

Aug 2019: Experienced a small music therapy session, researched the pathways to become a registered music therapist

Sep 2019: Prepared for audition, joined a 3-month basic theory course and a psychology course

Oct 2019: Audition

Dec 2019: Got admitted to the Master of Creative Music Therapy

Feb 2020: Quit corporate job, went back to full time studies

Fill the GAP

According to the article, HOPE = Goals + Agency + Pathways.

“Hope is the sum of perceived capabilities to produce routes to desired goals, along with the perceived motivation to use those routes… According to the theory, people who are hopeful believe they are good at generating goal thoughts, creating effective pathways leading to goal attainment, maintaining agency thoughts to provide enough motivation for the goal pursuit, and handling barriers that arise.”


Simply put, goals are knowing what we want. But we need some intrinsic and specific goals. The article mentioned “growth-seeking, performance-based and moderately-difficult” goals. We establish goals not to impress anyone or to seek validation. Goals are derived from vision.

In my case, my goal is to become a music therapist. This comes from the vision to improve people’s mental health through music, and this vision rose from the dark experiences in the past.


Agency is the drive to get what we want. This is so much easier if we are clear on our goals and vision. Are we confident in sticking to the pathways towards achieving our goals? We don’t need motivation if our vision is clear enough. We don’t need willpower if we put our attention and focus to our goals.


Pathways are the ability to generate methods to achieve what we want. How many plans can we come up with? What do we do when plan A falters? Are we going to quit when we encounter obstacles?

My biggest obstacle of becoming a music therapist is the fact that I don’t have a bachelor of music degree. I wasn’t sure if I would be accepted by any master degree. So I mapped out a plan and my practice schedule to pass the audition. Funny thing was that I didn’t give myself a plan B. I went all in. I didn’t even think about what I would do if I didn’t get accepted. And I paid so much effort because I had no other way out.

To achieve anything we want...

Vision → goals

Mindset → agency

Ability → pathways

I think mindset is important. It sets you apart from everyone else. But that’s just a starting point. You need to write your own paths and stick to them. And mindset is going to get you through all the obstacles – grit, perseverance etc.

Final Thoughts

Clarity is key. It’s also what most people lack. We procrastinate because we don’t know what we want. We don’t know what the next steps are. This is where we should spend time on – writing down every single detail about our goals. When is the deadline? What skills are required? What are the milestones? Who do we need to make contact with? All these questions will give you a better picture about your vision.

It’s a work in progress. Life is a journey. While we work hard, don’t forget to smell the flowers 🙂