WOOP it up to make wishes come true

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“Star light, star bright,The first star I see tonight;

I wish I may, I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight”

-Star Light, Star Bright


Last night in Yoga Teacher/Holistic Coach Training we had a guest instructor. Her theme for the evening was “wishes”, and she had beautiful visualizations and phrasing when she asked if we had one wish, what would it be? That theme was carried not only through the yoga practice she taught, but all the way through to the end of the four hour class. So I went to sleep last night thinking about wishes, and wouldn’t you know “wishes” popped up again.

It appeared when I was surfing for an idea for my blog and I came across an article on http://www.psychologytoday.com called “The Simple Technique for Achieving Your Goals” by Gabriele Oettingen, PhD. She starts the article, “In my 20 years of research on the science of motivation, I’ve found that the conventional wisdom of “think positively” falls short. In fact, my research has confirmed that dreaming about the future actually makes people less likely to realize their dreams and wishes. A new strategy to visualize our future that emerged from the work I’ve done is called “mental contrasting” which combines focusing on our dreams with visualizing the obstacles that stand in our way.”  

She terms the mental contrasting strategy WOOP, which stands for Wish Outcome Obstacle Plan, and here is what each letter means:

The “W” stands for a wish or concern. Step back and think about one wish in your life that you would like to accomplish.

•“O” is the outcome. Identify the best thing that can be associated with fulfilling your wish and imagine the relevant events and experience as vividly as possible.

•The second “O” is the obstacle. Find the most critical, internal obstacle that prevents you from fulfilling the wish and identify what thoughts or behaviors might play a role.

•The “P” stands for the plan. Name one thought or action that can be taken to overcome your obstacle and think about when and where the obstacle will next occur.

Interesting, no? But what I really liked about her strategy is that it promotes connection: “People today are always in motion, running toward and away from wishes and goals-toward and away from connections. WOOP allows you to tap into this constant movement, to join it, to become part of the flow of life, to move in a particular direction. Using WOOP to overcome fears and anxieties allows you to welcome the outside in; you free yourself to connect with others…With WOOP and mental contrasting, we motivate and empower ourselves to take action when it will really benefit us and those around us.”​

Many of us have wishes for ourselves, myself included, but what if we thought about how that wish, when we made it true, would benefit others? Maybe that wish would allow more time with friends and family, a better situation for our children, a successful business that could employ others. The possibilities are endless, and isn’t that what wishes are for?

So if you have been reading my blog, you know I have been wishing for more friends. It might look something like this:

W – Wish or concern = increase my circle of quality friends

O – Outcome = one of the best things that could happen is that new connections are made to support one another in each of our own wishes so they can come true.

O – Obstacle = one of the things that would prevent me from fulfilling the wish is not nurturing new connections. If I don’t stay in contact with, invite others to do things, etc. I lose the opportunity to get to know them better and increase our likelihood of becoming friends.

P – Plan = the one action I can take is to stay in better contact with people. We all know there are PLENTY of ways to do this in our world of smart phones, social media, email, etc. I have to use those tools (and of course the old school face to face or phone call never hurts!) to deepen the relationships.

There you have it – a quick WOOP to inspire. And you know what? I already started employing this today. I reached out to some people via email and social media, and reconnected with some I haven’t spoken to in a while. And it feels GOOD. I can do this.

So what wish do you want to come true? Try WOOP-ing it up and see what happens. Your wish may just be granted.



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