The WOOP method of setting Goals
Deon says: "I received this most excellent item recently from
Stephen Lynch of Results.com."
"I have read a great number of personal development books over
the years that espouse the power of belief and positive thinking.
Some of the better known books that have achieved best seller
status over the last 100 years include: Think and Grow
Rich, The Power
of Positive Thinking, You Can Heal Your
Life, The Secret, and I'm sure
you can add a great many more of your own.
Dreaming about success, visualizing your success, and having
positive expectations for achievement are certainly important. But
that's only part of it. Unfortunately, just wishing something were
so, is not going to magically make it happen.
Professor Gabriele Oettingen, a psychology professor at New York
University has documented findings from 20 years of studies in
human motivation in the book,
Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of
Dozens of peer-reviewed studies were examined on the effects of
positive thinking on people pursuing various kinds of wishes - from
losing weight, quitting smoking, recovering quickly from surgery,
to the improvement of professional, academic and financial
performance. The studies consistently found that people who
positively visualize make either the same or less progress in
achieving attainable wishes than those who don't. Ouch!
Dreaming and visualizing our goals is important however, because
it helps us to explore future possibilities. The problem is that we
tend to forget about the obstacles and temptations that are sure to
arise along the way.
The author documents a scientific method for people to set and
achieve goals, called "Mental Contrasting with Implementation
The process is broken down into four steps, known
as "WOOP" (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle and Plan).
Here is our take:
Choose your desired end result. Make it something that's
challenging and compelling, but realistically possible to achieve
by the chosen due date.
When supporting our clients I remind them of the "Planning
Fallacy". This term describes our universal human tendency to
underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete Projects and
complex Tasks. Time and time again, I see clients setting due dates
that are far too optimistic. This invariably leads to Tasks not
being completed on time, and the due dates for the Projects being
overshot by a considerable margin.
Believe me, it's no fun staring at a list of overdue Tasks and
seeing your Projects falling behind schedule on
your management dashboard, yet I see clients doing it to
themselves week after week, feeling like failures, and then
ignoring the issue by pretending that it isn't happening.
Many professional project managers say it's not enough to simply
add an additional 20% or 40% to your original time estimates. They
recommend that whatever your initial estimate is, you should double
it. Yes that's right, double it !
I encourage our clients to state in as much detail as possible,
what the desired end state looks like for each of their Strategic
Projects. I ask them to describe what "100% complete" looks like so
that everyone is aligned on the outcome, and everyone will know
exactly when the goal is achieved.
Identify the obstacles in your way. I ask clients to imagine it
is the future and your Project due date has arrived, but
unfortunately everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. I ask
them to consider questions like:
- What obstacles could derail our progress?
- What competing demands or emergencies could distract
- What about other distractions? Illness? Vacations? People being
Now you are ready to formulate a plan to achieve your Goal. I
also recommend that you formulate a plan for how you will overcome
the obstacles you have identified. Create a series of "if/then"
statements. If X happens, then we will do Y.
Now scope out and list the known Tasks - they key steps you will
take to achieve your goal.
And the ultimate key to success goal achievement in our
experience? In your weekly meetings, make sure that each and every
week you identify "The One Thing" - the one key Task you will
complete each week that is going to move each of your Goals
Are you ready to WOOP it up? "