Do you need a strategy to find and fulfill your wishes, change your habits, and achieve your goals? Then use WOOP–a self-regulation tool meant to support you in effectively mastering your everyday life and long-term development, Developed by research psychologist Gabrielle Oettingen, WOOP is the acronym for:
Wish: Something you really want to accomplish. A wish is exciting, challenging, and realistic.
Outcome: The best outcome that would result from accomplishing your goal. How would the outcome make you feel? Let your mind go and imagine this outcome.
Obstacle: The personal obstacles that prevent you from accomplishing your goal. Let your mind go and imagine this obstacle.
Plan: What can you do to overcome your obstacle? Name one action you can take or thought you can have. Make an if/then plan and imagine it. The format is:
If / When _________ (obstacle), then I will __________ (action to overcome obstacle).
It is said to be one of the most effective and proven ways to achieve any goal. Dr. Oettingen's work is important because she shows, through psychological and neuroscientific research, how important visualization is when you want to achieve your goals. Problem is, most people fail to use visualization appropriately. They think that simply visualizing a goal (the Vision Board) will make their wishes come true. Although this is the first step, if you do not do a few additional things, your dreams will remain fantasies.
Let's practice. Pick a simple goal, right now, that you want to achieve in seven days. Pick something realistic.
- First, visualize your goal or desire in great detail.
- Second, visualize all of the benefits you will receive if you achieved that wish/desire/goal.
- Next – and some people balk at this essential step – visualize all of the obstacles that are preventing you from attaining that goal. After all, if you cannot see the problem, you cannot find a solution. Some wishes are just plain unrealistic, such as wishing $1,000,000 to be delivered to you tomorrow.
- Finally, visualize and plan a strategy that will move you toward your goal. If you cannot come up with one, ask for help, learn new skills, or change your wish.
Tip: If you write down your plan, you will have a tremendous increase in success! Positive affirmations are not very effective if you do not write them down.
To appreciate the power of this simple technique, do it two to three times a day with small desires. Dr. Oettigen's research showed that you have to do WOOP in the exact order stated above. You have to deeply visualize your wish/desire/goal, taking several minutes to do so. Same with visualizing the outcome. Take your fantasy as far as you can. Then, when you visualize your obstacles, write down as many as you can envision. If the obstacles are real, and you do not have an effective plan to overcome them, Dr Oettigen suggests you take that wish/desire off your list and pick a more realistic one. Try doing this four-step process with another person who can help you identify obstacles you are overlooking.
Remember: It is visualizing the obstacle and then visualizing ways to overcome it that is a core element for success.
You can learn more on how to WOOP your life and achieve your goals in Dr. Oettigen's book.
WOOP Example to Achieve Your Goals
Let's say you have a goal to earn $100,000 in 2017. Your WOOP would look as follows:
Wish: My business has really taken off this year. It’s booming with large numbers of new “Ideal” clients. My phone is ringing off the hook and I’m adding new projects to my work schedule at a rapid rate. I earn $8,500 each and every month and my life has been transformed as a result.
Outcome: $100,000 will enable me to move beyond living month to month and feel confident about my future. I will be able to pay off my debts, travel and make a few luxury purchases from time to time. Also I will feel proud of what I’ve accomplished.
Obstacles: I don’t have time to do any marketing.
Plan: Focus on your highest income and highest impact activities and stop wasting time surfing the net and watching so much TV. If you feel that you don’t have time, send out at least ten follow-up messages anyway. The habit is more important than the intensity!
Why you can do it: "I have an improved mindset and I am doing much more marketing this year. With each marketing action I take, I am generating new clients, new projects and additional revenue."
WOOP, there it is!