Monday Motivator: Add a Little WOOP to Your Positive Thinking

Many of us like to be called positive thinkers. And people do like to hang out with positive rather than negative people. But as a tool to achieving goals, research has shown that positive thinking is not terribly effective.

In her new book, Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, Gabrielle Oettingen describes a technique which is more effective:  WOOP.

How does it work?

  1. Wish. The first step is to define the goal. What is it that you want to do?
  2. Outcome. Imagine the best possible outcome.
  3. Obstacles. Then list all the obstacles that could get in the way of achieving that goal.
  4. Plan. Then make a plan for overcoming those obstacles using if/then statements.

For example, I have a very hard time getting up in the mornings. Getting up late causes me to rush, doesn’t allow me to indulge in my preferred morning routine of tea and newspapers, and makes me mad at myself. So this week, I’m going to try the WOOP technique.

Wish:  To get up when the alarm goes off.

Outcome: I am up and having a leisurely breakfast with enough time to go to the Y or practice piano.

Obstacles: I hate getting up. The alarms don’t seem to work. I stay up too late at night (being a natural night owl.) I stay in bed and check emails on my iPad.

Plan: I will keep the iPad downstairs. I will move the alarm clock into another room. If I’m tempted to stay up late to watch television, I’ll remind myself of how hard it is to get up in the mornings. If I do get up late, I will not change  my morning schedule so that I may have to go without breakfast, shower, makeup, etc.

We’ll see how this works 🙂


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