WOOP (There It Is)

Please excuse the incredibly cheesy title– I couldn’t help it.

As part of my usual morning routine I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts (Hidden Brain) when a replay from an episode that aired a few months ago came on and reintroduced me to a goal-setting strategy that I love, but had forgotten about.

Apparently all the positive visualisation we do when we set goals actually makes us less likely to achieve them because we get the satisfaction of the outcome by merely imagining it. This means that all of the visualisation I practice may actually be shooting myself in the foot. For more of the science on this, I definitely recommend having a listen to the podcast (linked above), or visiting this website.

I’m all for goal setting, and any tool or practice I can pick up to become happier, more productive, and less stressed (hello morning yoga!) is definitely worth a try in my book. So, a magic tool that grants my wishes? What is it and where can I sign up?

WOOP, a handy acronym to remember the steps of the tool, is not quite a wish-granting genie. It takes some work, but has been my go-to tool for making my goal lists a reality. I love that I can use it for Wishes/goals both large and small, for things like searching for a new job, budgeting in some self-care time, or picking up a new skill.

On to the specifics!

The acronym stand for four simple things:

W– wish (the thing you really want)

O– outcome (the details of what that wish will look like when it comes true)

O– obstacle (what are the obstacles within you that will hold you back)

P– plan (if the obstacle comes up, what you will do to overcome it)

You may have noticed the words I’ve put in bold above. The focus on the obstacles that originate from me, the things I will do to get in my own way, is what I particularly love about WOOP. It puts the accountability on me to get out of my own way, or help myself succeed, rather than external factors which are beyond my control.

I’ve used WOOP for all sorts of wishes recently, from job-related ones, to personal relationship wishes, to new skills I want to acquire.

One of the wishes I’ve WOOP-ed is my wish to revitalise my long-dormant Spanish language skills. I’ll go through the steps for this one as an example.

Wish: To ‘refresh’ or pick back up my Spanish language skills

Outcome: I want to be able to carry on a conversation, and watch Spanish language films without subtitles like I used to be able to.

Obstacle: Consistent practice, boredom, adding vocabulary words.

Plan: To avoid failing to practice daily, I will set a reminder and create a goal system that rewards myself for consistent practice (4x per week = relaxing bubble bath). To avoid boredom and add vocabulary words, I will seek out a book (like Harry Potter) that I can read to stay engaged.

In just a few minutes I created a sustainable, realistic roadmap to help myself be successful. Sure, not all of my Wishes are this straightforward or easily attainable, but that doesn’t make WOOP any less useful because the Obstacle and Plan sections are entirely customisable. To make it even easier, there is a handy app that lets me track my progress towards my Wishes.

If you’re still on the fence about WOOP, give the Hidden Brain podcast a listen and peruse the website– I promise you’ll be hooked.


Have you used WOOP before? Decided to give it a try?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments!




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