Happy 2021 and I do sincerely hope this year is a fulfilling and safe one for you!

In 2021’s first “Topic of Interest” I originally thought to do an anti-resolution writing (as there is enough about resolutions at this time of the year). I was going to focus on getting to know our true selves and using that information to guide us through the year. That may, however, take up too much space for this short topical brief.

So instead of being an anti-resolutioner (!) let me share one of the best, and simplest, approaches to achieving one’s goals. If you have read “How to Live a Good Life” or have been introduced to Gabriele Oettingen, a Professor of Psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg, you will already know of the WOOP method. If not, read on!

WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan, and is a proven and effective method of moving you towards your personal goals.

You must follow these 4 steps in this order, answering the questions of each:

  1. Wish: what is it that you are wishing for – what do you want to happen or to accomplish? Be specific.
  2. Outcome: what would happen in your life once this happens or is achieved? How meaningful would it be, how would you or others feel?
  3. Obstacle: what obstacles are likely to arrive as you pursue your wish? List those that are most likely going to come up.
  4. Plan: come up with a plan for the likely obstacles; if “x” happens, I will do “y”.

That’s it. It’s simple and so simple that you may think that you can adlib it. Don’t! Go through these 4 steps in progressive order. In fact, there is a website to help you.

There is a lot of research backing up the WOOP method that highlights the power of two critical factors – tying the goal to emotionally positive outcomes (step 2) and planning contingency actions for when predictable roadblocks get in the way (steps 3 and 4). With the two combined, we are more committed to fulfilling our goals and when an obstacle arrives, we are more likely to overcome it.

If you have a goal you are getting stuck on, I encourage you to give a try.

Here’s to 2021, WOOPing it up, and fulfilling some wishes!

Photo by Ronnie Overgoor on Unsplash