WOOP Is a Research-Backed Method to Help You Work Toward and Achieve Your Goals


We could all use a little boost when it comes to hitting the goals we set for ourselves, right? A lot of folks out there have tried all different kinds of plans and methods to motivate themselves, but it’s just not easy.

Luckily, there is one that is backed up by research, and you might want to consider implementing it into your own life.

It’s called WOOP, which stands for wish, outcome, obstacle, plan. It’s a mental strategy meant to help you realize and achieve your goals. It’s also been called “mental contrasting.”

Here are the four, easy-to-follow steps to WOOP.

1. Identify your wish.

Your wish or goal could be something big like getting a new job or something small(ish), like going to the gym four or five days a week.


2. Identify the best possible outcome if that wish came true.

Ask yourself how you would feel if you achieved that goal. What would the best possible outcome be from the situation? If a new job would relieve the stress in your life, maybe feeling calmer in your everyday life would be the best outcome.

Roman Cab

3. Recognize the obstacles that currently keep you from achieving that goal. 

Ask yourself this question: what is holding you back from achieving your goal? And, in turn, from feeling the best possible outcome? Maybe you don’t feel like you’re good enough for a new job? Maybe you don’t have any connections that could land you an interview for that new gig?

Manon a Job Interview

4. Make a plan to reach the goal.

How can you start to overcome these obstacles? Maybe you could start emailing or reaching out to a few people every week to make the connections you need to get your foot in the door at a new company. Maybe you can completely re-do your resume and send it out to all your friends and former co-workers, expressing your interest in getting a new job. You should also ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” to try to put your fears to rest.


As I mentioned earlier, WOOP doesn’t have to be for huge, momentous decisions. You can use this method for smaller things, like cleaning your house or exercising more. The folks behind WOOP say that it can “support all areas of behavior change. It is for people who feel stuck and don’t know what to do. It is also for people whose lives seem just fine but who feel they can do better. And it is for people who face a particular challenge or transition.”

And the research doesn’t lie. Study participants who followed WOOP doubled the amount of exercise they did over a four-month period. They ate 30% more fruits and vegetables over a two-year period. And WOOP helped people with diabetes improve their self-care.

And those are just a few examples of how it was effective.

What do you think about WOOP? Have you tried it? Did it work for you? Maybe you have some other methods for reaching your goals?

Tell us what works for you in the comments!