WOOP is a scientifically-based process to help people make their wishes come true. WOOP is an acronym for four steps in Dr. Gabriele Oettingen’s model. It stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle and Plan. According to her website WOOPmylife.org, it only takes 5-10 minutes of uninterrupted time to get started.
Gabriele Oettingen is a real-life princess who has given the world the gift of WOOP! The daughter of a countess and a prince, she received her Ph.D at University of Munich and has conducted research in Germany and the U.S. on how people think about the future.
Dr. Oettingen has researched and taught in Germany and, now, at New York University where she developed a model to help us understand motivation and how we perceive what we think, how we feel and what we do. It also helps learn to take responsibility for the outcomes in our lives.
Have you ever heard of WOOP?
Dr. Oettingen considers WOOP a tool in a toolbox to help us achieve our goals. It’s a cognitive, emotional and behavioral strategy we may choose as we try to make changes in our lives.
WOOP might help us change our behaviors to complete tasks we don’t want to do or learn how to do what we want to do but we don’t know how to accomplish them.
Sometimes she uses WOOP as a verb. For example, she might say, “Do you prefer to WOOP alone? Do you WOOP in a group? Do you prefer to WOOP in the evening or in the morning?”
She says “you can apply WOOP in different ways. You can sort of test whether WOOP works with respect to a specific range, and then you measure how people dealt with that wish. But you can also measure when you teach WOOP as a strategy.”
First you decide what part of life you want to change. Does it relate to your professional life, personal life or health? Then you decide whether you want to accomplish your WOOP in the next day, month or with no time limit.
Next you must define your Wish. You must choose something that is achievable and measurable. I could not WOOP to change the size of my feet or to grow taller.
Think about this. What do you wish would happen? What would you like to be able to do, define it 3-6 words? For example, in your personal life, you might say, “I wish I could play the piano.”
Secondly, you look at the best possible Outcomes. What would playing the piano look like? What are my expectations of myself in Wishing to learn to play the piano? How would I feel if I learned how to play the piano? Then, she asks us to take a few minutes to imagine ourselves playing the piano.
Obstacles are internal interferences that we think will obstruct making our Wish come true. What are our own internal bumps in the road that may make it difficult to accomplish our wish? In the Obstacle phase, Dr. Oettengin challenges us to take time to imagine exactly what those hurdles are. In our example, my Obstacle might be I don’t own a piano.
In the final step, she asks us to design an “If-Then” plan. She wants us to ”name one action you can take or one thought you can think to overcome your obstacle.” In this phase of WOOP, my “If-Then” could be “If I don’t have a piano, Then, I will buy or rent a piano.” She encourages us to repeat our “If-Then.” “If I don’t have a piano, Then, I will buy or rent a piano.”
Obviously, buying or renting a piano doesn’t make me a piano player. But, it might be my first WOOP. Then, you can break your WOOP into more Wishes, Outcomes, Obstacles and Plans. After I buy or rent a piano, I could move to a second WOOP, which might be to find a teacher. The third WOOP might be to start regular piano lessons. A fourth one might be to practice 30 minutes a day, etc.
The WOOP model works for everyone. The toughest part is usually the Obstacle. And, WOOPing takes practice.
Whether you want to change something at work, at home or with your health, it might be worth giving WOOP a try.
This princess Ph.D. has created an instrument that could make your Wishes come true.