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We all have goals for ourselves, like I want to exercise every day to be healthier or I want to meditate, or I want to get through the best college etc. But we are unable to achieve them. Research suggests that setting your goals using techniques can make your goal achievement a lot easier. One such tool developed by Dr. Gabriele Oettingen is the WOOP process. You can use the tool WOOP to make yourself do things which you don’t really succeed in doing. But what is WOOP? WOOP is a science-based mental strategy that people can use to find and fulfill their wishes, set preferences, and change their habits.

WOOP stands for: W – Wish    O – Outcome    O – Obstacle   P – Plan

WOOP is a skill anyone can learn and its different because it draws on automatic subconscious processes to create behavioral change. It is an evidence-based intervention which anybody across ages and cultures can use. According to Dr. Gabriele Oettingen’s research the data suggest that if you do this five-minute practice every day, it will have the following positive benefits in your life-

  • It helps in reducing stress
  • It Increases work engagements
  • It assists in finding solutions to problems and improving time management
  • WOOP assists in making significant positive impacts on students’ effort, homework completion, attendance, and overall scores. It introduces students to goal setting while guiding them through an exploration of obstacles and barriers.  Goal setting helps students develop a positive growth mindset and strong problem-solving and decision-making skills. Setting and working towards goals also gives students a sense of ownership over their own learning. 

WOOP involves these simple steps:

  1. First  and the most important one is that you take out just 5 minutes for your own self.
  2. Second step: You start with identifying your wish. It can be a small wish, a life-changing wish. It can be a short-term wish, for the next half-hour, or it can be a very long-term wish. Eg. say today is Monday and I wish to exercise today. So you just think of a wish that is important for you right in this moment and that is the ‘W’.
  3. Third step: You imagine the best outcome. What would be the best, most positive outcome? How would fulfilling your wish make you feel? You take three or four words and put it in your mind. And then you really imagine, experience it in your mind. And that’s the ‘O’-Outcome. Eg if your wish is to exercise today, you think what the best outcome will be. It may be that your body will feel relaxed and not tight etc.
  4. Fourth step: You identify what is it within you that holds you back from fulfilling your wish. It might be an emotion, an irrational belief or a bad habit. Identify the obstacle that seems to be the most critical one of them all and take a moment to imagine it and feel it. So, that’s the ‘O’- Obstacle. Eg. you wish to exercise, you’ve thought about the outcomes and now you think about the obstacle. Like I have to take care of home or kids so I can’t exercise, or I have so much work etc.
  5. Finally, identify one action you can take or a thought you can have in order to overcome your obstacle. So, to establish a plan, you first ask yourself, what could I do to overcome that obstacle? And then you make a very simple if-then plan, and that’s the implementation intentions. Eg. You wish to exercise, it’s gonna be good for your body, but you don’t have time for it. In this situation, you can identify a short time of exercise to start with, say 15 mins and choose the simplest form of exercise like walking or stretching. Also identifying a time when you know that there will be no disturbances will help. Making an if then plan really works, like if I won’t get time in the morning for 15 mins what’s the next best time that I can choose. So, this will help you create an effective plan. And this is the ‘P’-Plan.

You can also practice WOOP under stressful situations. Sometimes stress is such that you forget everything because you have too much in your life and you are just torn between too many things. Then taking this five minutes out and saying, “actually, what do I really want?” “What is it that I really want here?” And then you will see that it will help you enormously to get a little distance. To collect yourself, to get more aware and to say okay, that’s what I want.

The most exciting thing about WOOP is that it’s Just five minutes of uninterrupted time in your life that can give you enormous positive benefits.

Would you like to try it today?

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