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“Good resolutions are useless attempts to interfere with scientific laws. Their origin is pure vanity. Their result is absolutely nil.”

While I do not fully share this statement from Oscar Wilde, there’s definitely some truth in it. Most people do have difficulties to turn their goals into reality. Should you also struggle from time to time to set realistic goals and pursue them successfully, you might try the WOOP method! WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle und Plan.

Developed by Gabriele Oettingen, the WOOP method is a scientifically-proven way to turn your wishes into reality. By breaking down the process of goal-setting into four simple steps, the WOOP method provides a clear and effective framework for turning your wishes – or even dreams – into reality.

But there’s more to the WOOP method than just visualizing your desired outcome. Reason being, if you only visualize that you have already achieved your goal, your subconscious concludes that you are already there and stops pursuing it. That’s probably the most revolutionary finding of Gabriele Oettingen in this context. To truly succeed, you need to be aware of the obstacles that may arise along the way and have a solid plan for how to overcome them. Or in other words, dreaming is good, but you also need to remain with both feet firmly on the ground. Thus, you are better prepared to navigate the challenges that may arise on the path to achieving your goals.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the four steps of the WOOP method and how they can help you achieve your goals:

Wish: Identify Your Goal

The first step of the WOOP method is to identify your goal or wish (in a quiet atmosphere and by giving yourself sufficient time to formulate it) and write it down in 3-6 words. This is the thing that you want to achieve. It could be anything from running a marathon to starting your own business or just writing another chapter of an article. It can be a short-term (e.g. “goal of the day”) or a rather long-term call.

It’s important to choose a goal that is truly meaningful to you. This will help you stay motivated and focused, even when the going gets tough.


Outcome: Visualize Your Desired Outcome

The second step of the WOOP method is to visualize your desired outcome. Again in 3-6 words. This involves imagining what your life will be like once you’ve achieved your goal.

For example, if your goal is to start your own business, you might visualize yourself as a successful entrepreneur with a thriving company and a happy team of employees.

Take some time to really immerse yourself in this vision. Imagine what it will feel like to achieve your goal and try to make the experience as vivid and real as possible.


Obstacle: Identify the Obstacles in Your Path

The third step of the WOOP method is to identify the obstacles (in 3-6 words) that may arise on the path to achieving your goal. These could be anything from lack of time or money to self-doubt or fear of failure. It’s important to be honest with yourself about the obstacles that may stand in your way. This will help you develop a plan for how to overcome them.


Plan: Develop a Plan for Overcoming Obstacles

The fourth and final step of the WOOP method is to develop a plan for how to overcome the obstacles that may arise on the path to achieving your goal.

For example, if your goal is to start your own business and lack of money is an obstacle, your plan might involve researching funding options, cutting back on expenses, or finding a business partner who can help you finance your venture.

It’s essential here to be specific and concrete when developing your plan. Write down the steps you need to take (by making use of the “if…., then…”-structure), and commit to take action.


While the WOOP method is a powerful tool for goal-setting, it’s not the only approach you can use to achieve your goals. The 1% method, developed by James Clear, is another effective strategy for making progress towards your goals.

Instead of trying to make massive changes all at once, the 1% method involves committing to making small, incremental improvements each day. By focusing on just 1% improvement, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed and make steady progress over time. For example, if you want to improve your fitness, you could commit to doing just 1% more each day, whether it’s running for an extra minute or doing just one more push-up.

Over time, these small improvements add up and can lead to significant progress. The key is to be consistent and make these small improvements a daily habit. By doing so, you can achieve your goals faster and more effectively than you ever thought possible.

From my experience it’s most effective to combine the WOOP method with the 1% method, i.e. start your journey by using the WOOP method to identify your goal, visualize your desired outcome, identify obstacles, and develop a plan for how to overcome them. Then, break down your plan into small, manageable steps using the 1% method.

Or as Mark Twain said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and starting on the first one.”

Life can be so easy 😉

Sources: “Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation” (Gabriele Oettingen, 2015) and “Atomic Habits” (James Clear, 2018)