What in the world is WOOP? That was the first question I asked (all the while resisting the urge to follow WOOP with ‘there it is’ – 1990 rap fans will get the Tag Team reference – and yes, I know it’s actually spelled whoomp) when I first saw this acronym. So, what in the world is WOOP?
Well, after a bit of research and a couple of lectures, I got to learn more about WOOP and I have to say, I kinda love the idea.
When it comes to goal setting, you’ll hear many people talking about setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable/attainable, realistic/relevant, timely). I used the SMART method of breaking down my goals for many years, but besides being a logical way of thinking about tasks you want to accomplish, it wasn’t always effective. When I learned more about WOOP, I realized that the missing element was related to identifying and acknowledging what obstacles might stand in the way of you achieving your goals.
Developed by psychologist Gabriele Oettingen, WOOP stands for: Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.
The wish aspect of it is similar to setting a goal. What do you want to do? What do you wish for? When writing down your wish(es), following the SMART criteria is a great idea. This is usually as far as I would get in terms of goal-setting. However, with WOOP, I got to take it further and that helped me really start to take strides towards fulfilling my own wishes.
I really loved the outcome part of WOOP. After writing down my wish, I took some time to really imagine what my life would look like if my wish came true. I tried to incorporate all my senses into this exercises. What would my life look like, what are the sounds I would hear, what tactile sensations would I have. I felt like this went beyond just thinking about why I wanted to set a goal. I took the time to imagine and feel the success. It always put a smile on my face and made me eager and enthusiastic about working towards fulfilling my wishes. This was particularly helpful because the next step definitely brought me back to reality.
Even though thinking about obstacles that stand in your way may feel exasperating and frustrating, I think this reality check is a great way to keep you focused on exactly what work needs to be done in order to get to where you want to go. Again, it’s easy to come up with a goal and maybe even come up with a plan to reach that goal, but unless your plan also includes addressing any obstacles that stand in your way to successfully hitting your target, then it will be difficult to actually succeed. Common obstacles are not having enough time, lack of funds, not having the necessary skills or resources, lack of support and so on. Some obstacles can be overcome with a few adjustments, such as waking up earlier or making a more conscious effort to save. However, others may not be as easy to change. It’s important to identify these obstacles and think about how you can address them so that whatever you do make towards your goals is effective and productive.
The final part is planning. I love planning and to be honest, sometimes I get carried away with the planning stage of things, which can become a bit counterproductive. However, with your wish in mind and the outcomes and obstacles thought of, it should be easier to come up with a good plan. One strategy for planning, particularly to help overcome obstacles, involves coming up with if/then statements. For example: If time is what I need to work towards this wish, then I will wake up 30 minutes earlier each week day. Another example: If I wish to be more productive during the day, then setting up a schedule will help me stay focused on my tasks.
So, if you haven’t tried WOOP, then give it a go. It does take a bit of time, but this time is well spent when you’re thinking about making your wishes come true, don’t you think?
this is one example of how the WOOP strategy can be used (image credit)