If you’ve ever set a New Year’s resolution only to have missed it by January 2, I’m right there with you.
“This year I’m going to finish that novel!”…and then you realize that was your goal last year. Sigh.
I get it. It’s easy to have great intentions, and great expectations, only to find yourself drowning in the sea of “daily life.”
So many obligations. So many distractions.
So what are we to do?
I recently discovered a goal-setting technique that has 20 years of testing in real-life situations, from classrooms to gyms. And–are you ready for this?–it works.
What Is WOOP?
WOOP is a goal-achieving technique (note I didn’t say goal-setting technique) developed by Professor Gabriele Oettingen at New York University.
It’s a technique that’s been proven to help students get better grades, reduce stress, and pave the way for just about anyone to achieve their goals.
No, seriously. And even though it probably gets dwarfed by time-management gurus spouting their latest techniques, it’s totally legit and worth trying yourself.
What I love about it is how it keeps your goals before you daily…but more on that in a moment.
How Does WOOP Work for Authors?
WOOP is an acronym for:
For an author, it might work like this:
- WISH – Think about your wish every day. So, if you “wish” is to write your novel, each and every day you remind yourself about that goal. “I am going to finish my novel in the next 60 days.” I recommend placing a close time-stamp on it, or it’s way too easy to put off. Since you’ll be reminding yourself about this goal daily, you’ll likely find that you can get more done than you imagined.
- OUTCOME – Imagine the best outcome you’ll receive and how you’ll feel. It might be, “When I finish my novel, I’m going to feel full of joy that the story that was inside of me is down on paper for the first time! I’ll be SO excited!”
- OBSTACLES – Here’s where most goal-setting systems fall short–they don’t plan for contingencies. With WOOP, you imagine potential obstacles you might face. You might say, “There will be mornings I get up to write and my kids will be out of school and needing my attention. Also, my laptop’s been giving me fits. There could be days it doesn’t work right.”
- PLAN – This is where you take on the obstacles one by one. “If there’s a day my children need my attention during my writing time, then I will have a self-directed activity ready for them that will give me at least 60 minutes of work time. That’s not as much as the two hours I’m normally hoping for, but I’ll take it!” Or, “If I discover my laptop won’t boot, I’m not wasting a moment. If that happens, then hop in my car, head to the library, and work on my manuscript from there. I’d rather have a bit of hassle than a non-productive day.”
Do You WOOP Every Day?
Then–and I believe this is key–each and every day, take time to repeat your WOOP to yourself. Wish, Outcome, Obstacles, Plan. After you’ve done it once, it takes about 3-5 minutes a day thereafter. You can WOOP in the car, WOOP in the grocery checkout, WOOP while making dinner. WOOP, WOOP, WOOP!
The activity of 1) keeping your goal before you, 2) realizing the joy it will bring you when you accomplish it, 3) accepting that there will be obstacles, and 4) then planning for how to overcome them–this will set you up for success.
So let’s make a pact that the next time we set a New Year’s resolution, we won’t fudge on January 2. Instead, we’ll WOOP it good!
^^ (Hey look! It’s Dr. Oettingen on NPR talking about WOOP!)