How to set your goals and achieve them – effectively with WOOP!
Do you wish that you could stick to a diet? Find time to exercise or meditate everyday? Be disciplined enough to do well on an exam? Improve your engagement at work? Often times we have a desire to reach a goal but we get side-tracked by obstacles that might come in the way such as chores or Netflix! We are unable to commit to our goals and motivation dips in the follow through.
Psychological research has shown that the process of Mental Contrasting helps people commit to their goals and stay motivated. Mental contrasting means spending some time thinking about the positive aspects of your goal, followed by spending some time thinking about the obstacles that may be in the way of reaching your goal.
Gabriele Oettingen designed an empirically validated technique called WOOP, which uses mental contrasting to help us work towards to our goals better.
What does WOOP stand for?
W- Think about your wish
O- What would the best outcome look like
O- Evaluate the obstacles
P- Your plan
WOOP is a tool that helps you evaluate whether you wish is feasible or not. Most wishes are attainable but sometimes the wish comes at a very high opportunity cost.
Once you have evaluated that the wish is feasible like, I want to be able to meditate everyday for 20 minutes, then it helps you focus on how good the outcome would feel, and forces you to make a list of the obstacles that could get in the way. For example, kids homework, house hold chores, long offices hours etc.
WOOP then pushes you into the creative act of problem solving the obstacles.
Thinking of the benefits of attaining your goal/wish strengthens your commitment to your goal and engaging in problem solving obstacles helps you commit to the process in a real and tangible way. So I may go through my day and think of the distractions that might get in the way of meditating at every hour and how I can cope with those distractions to create a 30 minute window for myself.
WOOP helps you to tackle obstacles in the external environment as well as within your own thinking patterns.
It must be done in the outcome before obstacle order to work. If you think of the obstacles before you think of the benefits it is not effective.
One of the neat things WOOP does is it creates a strong link between wish and obstacle. So for example, if I choose to wake up and meditate at 7 am, and I am tempted to watch a late night movie, earlier these two activities would not be linked and I may be tempted to do both. However, WOOP allows me to link the two events and I am now able to see that watching the movie will be an obstacle towards the goal I am committed to. WOOP will help you prioritize activities in your daily life.
You can WOOP as many wishes as you like as it gives you a systematic framework to work on your goals. It helps you to create new habits. And it only takes 10 minutes or so!