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We all love an inspiring vision board – but is it really going to help you achieve your goals? We sit there daydreaming of what we would love to have happen in our life. But is it time well spent or just a waste of time?

I’m all for getting clear about the vision you have for your life, work project, or business. But some people get so wrapped up in the visualisation of their goal – they forget about how to get there. Do you focus on the process or the end outcome of your goals?

Gabriele Oettingen, a professor at New York University, developed a practical activity to help people achieve their goals. And visualising is only one part of the story! She breaks goal setting into four main parts and calls it WOOP.

The WOOP Method

Get your pen ready!

Wish – What is something you want to achieve? Make it specific and challenging – but also achievable.

Outcome – What will be the result or outcome of you achieving this wish? Imagine, visualise and feel what it will be like to achieve your wish.

Obstacle – Time to get realistic here! What could be the main barrier to you achieving your wish? It’s time to think about how it’s not going to work, and what obstacles or barriers may spring up.

Plan – You’ve brainstormed the challenges. Now it’s time to get that positive hat back on and make a plan to overcome the challenges! When these challenges pop up, this is the plan you turn to.

Now that I’ve outlined Gabriele’s model, I would like to add one more element. Let’s change WOOP into WOOPA!

Action – What is a small action you can take every single day to move toward reaching your wish?

Why I love this model

I love this model because it busts some serious goal setting myths.

1. Vision boards are really popular. But I think they can sometimes have the opposite effect. When you only imagine your goals and aspirations, it can soon turn destructive if you can’t achieve it. The more time we spend thinking about our goals, as if we’ve achieved them, it can downplay our sense of motivation to actually achieve them!

2. Another popular saying in goal setting is to “always think positive.” The trouble with this is that any goal worth achieving is going to encounter challenges. We need to dive into the obstacles that we might face to consider innovative ways around it.

3. Focus on the process – not the overall goal. Once you have a clear sense of your vision, then focus your attention on the daily actions required to achieve it. Make this your focal point and get good at smashing the everyday activities needed for your success. Yes, it’s not as alluring as focusing on your big goal – but it will make all the difference in actually achieving it!

Same Goal, Different Approach

Even the biggest goals can be broken down into small actionable tasks. Take the NaMoWriMo Challenge for example. Every November, thousands of writers globally challenge themselves to write a book in a month. 50,000 words is the target.

Now you may be thinking, “50,000 words – that’s huge!” But if you break it down, it’s just 1,667 words each day for 30 days.

Small but consistent action can be really powerful. When you focus on the daily action, the results will take care of themselves. Dare to try?


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