I wanted to wish you all the very best for 2019 before we arrived at the end of January!
Happy New Year!
This month I’ve been reading Gabriele Oettinger’s book published back in 2014, Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation.
Oettinger’s research into motivation led her to the development of WOOP, a simple tool that anyone can use to help them realise their dreams and achieve their important goals.
Oettinger noticed that while positive thinking was a popular mental strategy, it didn’t always work although it did seem to be relaxing for people to fantasise positively about their dreams. She wondered how the success rate could be improved and came up with the idea of a strategy she described as ‘mental contrasting’, which later became WOOP - Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.
Developed into WOOP
WOOP works best with goals that are essentially achievable, although hard to achieve, and which have no insuperable external obstacles. Using WOOP can also help a person get clarity on what is really important to them. This means that they are less likely to waste their time pursuing goals which are both less achievable and less satisfying for them.
WOOP can be used with a range of goals and wishes: professionals can use it to achieve a new milestone in their career, parents can use it to improve the way they handle challenging situations with their children, students can use it to study more effectively, anyone can use it to improve the quality of their relationship or their health.
So, how do you WOOP?
1. W stands for WISH. Find a quiet place where you will be undisturbed for 20 or so minutes. (As you become familiar with the process you can do it much faster.) Think about something you’d like to achieve either in your personal or professional life, which is challenging but you think it is possible for you to achieve. The time frame can be short or long. It doesn’t matter. The process is the same.
2. The first O stands for OUTCOME. What’s going to be the best thing for you about achieving this wish? Give yourself time to fantasise about how good this will be for you. Spend some time dwelling on the details.
3. The second O stands for OBSTACLE. Very often, we have to get out of our own way to achieve our wishes. What is it in you that holds you back? Is it a belief, a thought, a behaviour, a habit? Pick the obstacle that is most critical for you. Keep the obstacle in mind and allow yourself to dwell on it as you did for the Outcome.
4. P stands for PLAN. Now think about what you can do to either overcome your obstacle or find a way around it.
Pick the most effective thought or action you could take.
Next, think about when the obstacle is most likely to occur and make an ‘if-then’ plan: for example, if I feel flustered during a meeting, I will take a deep breath and remind myself that I am as competent and knowledgeable as the others there.
Repeat your ‘if-then’ plan to yourself, silently or aloud.
Or write it down.
WOOP your New Year resolutions
If you made New Year Resolutions at the start of the month, this would be a good time to pick the one that is most important to you and WOOP it. Doing this will either help to ensure that you continue to practice whatever it was that you wanted to change; or alternatively, show you that this is not something that deep down you really felt was worth going for.
Read the book for yourself
You could borrow the book from your local library but why not buy it for yourself? You will find out how Oettinger actually conducted her research and you will read and be inspired by lots of examples of WOOPs and the people who WOOP.