Little Known Way to Achieve Your Goals

Little Known Way to Achieve Your Goals

Do you need a strategy to find and fulfill your wishes, change your habits, and achieve your goals? Then use WOOP–a self-regulation tool meant to support you in effectively mastering your everyday life and long-term development, Developed by research psychologist Gabrielle Oettingen, WOOP is the acronym for:

Wish: Something you really want to accomplish. A wish is exciting, challenging, and realistic.

Outcome: The best outcome that would result from accomplishing your goal. How would the outcome make you feel? Let your mind go and imagine this outcome.

Obstacle: The personal obstacles that prevent you from accomplishing your goal. Let your mind go and imagine this obstacle.

Plan: What can you do to overcome your obstacle? Name one action you can take or thought you can have. Make an if/then plan and imagine it.  The format is:

If / When _________ (obstacle), then I will __________ (action to overcome obstacle).


It is said to be one of the most effective and proven ways to achieve any goal. Dr. Oettingen's work is important because she shows, through psychological and neuroscientific research, how important visualization is when you want to achieve your goals. Problem is, most people fail to use visualization appropriately. They think that simply visualizing a goal (the Vision Board) will make their wishes come true. Although this is the first step, if you do not do a few additional things, your dreams will remain fantasies.

Let's practice. Pick a simple goal, right now, that you want to achieve in seven days. Pick something realistic.

  1. First, visualize your goal or desire in great detail.
  2. Second, visualize all of the benefits you will receive if you achieved that wish/desire/goal.
  3. Next – and some people balk at this essential step – visualize all of the obstacles that are preventing you from attaining that goal. After all, if you cannot see the problem, you cannot find a solution. Some wishes are just plain unrealistic, such as wishing $1,000,000 to be delivered to you tomorrow.
  4. Finally, visualize and plan a strategy that will move you toward your goal. If you cannot come up with one, ask for help, learn new skills, or change your wish.

Tip: If you write down your plan, you will have a tremendous increase in success! Positive affirmations are not very effective if you do not write them down.


To appreciate the power of this simple technique, do it two to three times a day with small desires. Dr. Oettigen's research showed that you have to do WOOP in the exact order stated above. You have to deeply visualize your wish/desire/goal, taking several minutes to do so. Same with visualizing the outcome. Take your fantasy as far as you can. Then, when you visualize your obstacles, write down as many as you can envision. If the obstacles are real, and you do not have an effective plan to overcome them, Dr Oettigen suggests you take that wish/desire off your list and pick a more realistic one. Try doing this four-step process with another person who can help you identify obstacles you are overlooking.

Remember: It is visualizing the obstacle and then visualizing ways to overcome it that is a core element for success.

You can learn more on how to WOOP your life and achieve your goals in Dr. Oettigen's book.

WOOP Example to Achieve Your Goals

Let's say you have a goal to earn $100,000 in 2017.  Your WOOP would look as follows:

Wish:  My business has really taken off this year. It’s booming with large numbers of new “Ideal” clients. My phone is ringing off the hook and I’m adding new projects to my work schedule at a rapid rate. I earn $8,500 each and every month and my life has been transformed as a result.

Outcome:  $100,000 will enable me to move beyond living month to month and feel confident about my future. I will be able to pay off my debts, travel and make a few luxury purchases from time to time. Also I will feel proud of what I’ve accomplished.

Obstacles:  I don’t have time to do any marketing.

Plan:  Focus on your highest income and highest impact activities and stop wasting time surfing the net and watching so much TV. If you feel that you don’t have time, send out at least ten follow-up messages anyway. The habit is more important than the intensity!

Why you can do it:  "I have an improved mindset and I am doing much more marketing this year. With each marketing action I take, I am generating new clients, new projects and additional revenue."

WOOP, there it is!


About Online Biz Boomer Babe

Rachel Lavern is a Certified Business Coach and founder of My Booming Online Business--a blog for middle-age, global, uptown women. She is on a mission to transform entrepreneurs' finances by teaching the action set, mindset and skill set needed to get launched + make money.


  1. What an inspiring post, Rachel. A brilliant idea to visualize obstacles and then visualize ways to overcome them. I love the infographic – yes, so important to write and review goals.
    Tamuria recently posted… HOW TO MAKE A GOOD LITTLE DINOSAURMy Profile

  2. Love this method, Rachel! It really hones in and asks us to focus on 4 simple steps. The key is to take the time to do step 1 and 2 and to visualize what will stop you, the obstacles, so you can find your way through them to your goal. Fabulous infographic and the WOOP formula truly resonates with me! Thank you for sharing it.
    Beverley Golden recently posted…New Year’s Resolutions: Why We Do What We DoMy Profile

  3. Robin Rue :

    If you can see all of the benefits that you can get from a goal you have set, you are that much more motivated. You have seriously hit it right on.

  4. I totally need to add more meditation and visualization to my life. Even if I take a few minutes for both before bed!

  5. Love this! Such a creative and different way to think about goals in general! I will definitely get some use out of this.

  6. This is something I can really relate too. In working with sales teams for over 20 years, the best of the best always have goals and a plan to achieve those goals. Most perform a SWOT analysis and have plans to overcome obstacles. They may not call it by those specific words, but it is what they have. You have given folks an easy to understand, actionable plan to help them achieve their dreams.

  7. That’s awesome, it’s great to be able to achieve the goals that you set out to do this new year! This infrographic surely helps a lot!

  8. This is really making me think about my goals and how to get past the hurdles. I pinned to my board.

  9. I’ve worked with WOOP a lot and I can vouch for its effectiveness! Even though as she says a lot of people balk at the obstacles part, I’ve been amazed at how helpful that actually is. And not just about the ‘million that’s probably not coming this week,’
    but so often creative ways surface to face those obstacles.
    Great post, Rachel!

  10. Wow I loved this. Yes looking at my goals everyday and working towards my goals each day is a brilliant idea. No more excuses. In 2017 I will have a fit body and will get organized. 🙂

  11. So cute.. I love the WOOP analogy and great way… loved the start up sentence too.. sometimes we need some hand holding. We all need to have goals, especially as biz owners.. otherwise we are just working a job!
    Kristen Wilson recently posted…Google Page 1 – The Good, Bad & UglyMy Profile

  12. You can do it! It’s with mindsets like this that actually makes it happen! You have to be determined and motivated to make those big dreams happen! Can’t wait to see it happen for you!

  13. I love the if then method! I really need to implement that. I also love the idea of writing them down. I always have goals but never really write them down. I guess thats why they don’t come to fruition.

  14. CourtneyLynne :

    Love this!!! I’m all about setting goals and going after them! Last year I accomplished every goal but one!!! I need bigger goals 😉

  15. I love the acronym idea! I will remember this next time I think Woop! I believe that visualizing is such an important part of making things happen, if you can see it happening in your mind that you will make it happen! Great, motivating piece!

  16. Great article! Had not heard of WOOP – very interesting approach. Love the Obstacle angle – don’t tend to think of that. Glad to have this tool!

  17. I really like this WOOP approach – it’s different and it adds a new element of preparedness to our goal setting and achieving. Thank you, Rachel!

  18. Hello Rachel! I love the idea of WOOP! I have taken a notes on this one my friend.
    Great Share
    Thank You
    Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…Create A 6 Figure Business From Your Lap TopMy Profile

  19. I am really bad about not realizing my goals. I am going to start using your fill in the blank sentence to help me when there are setbacks.
    Melissa recently posted…Guarding Against Emotional CheatingMy Profile

  20. Thanks Rachel for this awesome post on how to set goals and sharing the process on what you need to do it right 🙂 I will definitely be using this method you suggested! Awesome way to get inspired for the new year!

  21. I write down my goals this year on my blog to keep track of them and I am glad I did because last year I got sidetracked.

  22. Hi Rachel,
    I like this! It’s similar to a process I discovered many years ago in The Six Hat Salesman. In both processes, identifying the goal and obstacles help to clarify what needs to be done.
    I published my goals on my blog, just this week. We’re not far into the year yet, but I’m amazingly motivated and on track 🙂

  23. Hi Rachael,

    I love the way you break down goals.
    Fellow PAC member here. Keep up the good work.

  24. Thanks for sharing some awesome content Rachel!

    And even though this is the very first time,
    I have ever heard of Dr.Oettigens book, it sounds like a very interesting and
    extremely helpful book!

    And she certainly has provided a very interesting approach to helping us
    achieve our current and future goals.And thanks for sharing your
    eye opening, (although) not surprising infographic!

    Once again we discovered, there are more dreamers than actual doers!LOL!
    Mark recently posted…Where Even Your Cash Strapped Small Business Can Find Wads Of Hidden Cash!My Profile

  25. Thanks for the WOOP formula. As I downsize my current business to create time for jewelry design..this formula will come in handy. I have already begun visualizing the wish and just need to take this to the obstacle and plan stages. I also loved the graphic that shows only one percent achieve the goals

  26. Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for the “kick in the pants” because I do have to reach higher when it comes to putting a dollar amount on my goals. I sometimes forget that part lol.

    Goals are just thoughts and we have many of them Ehh? Once we write them down and follow them, things do start happening.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…8 Blogging Fears You Can OvercomeMy Profile

  27. This looks like a great system for setting and achieving goals. I like that it takes obstacles into account, because so many times people gloss over the stuff that stops them from getting where they want to be. Thanks for this!
    Ruth Bowers recently posted…Not Using Video for Your Content? Here are a few stats that might change your mindMy Profile

  28. Hi Rachel

    Happy new year

    What a cool way to achieve goals in 2017 and I see that it is effective. Thanks for sharing. Take care
    ikechi recently posted…The 10 Most Popular Posts That Rocked in 2016My Profile

  29. I love the graphic. How clearly it explains how to be successful with goal setting. I am going to share this with my students!

  30. Habit indeed. Creating a routine that helps you accomplish your goals is key. I had not heard of WOOP but there’s a lot of value here. Thanks for sharing it.

  31. All excellent tips. I started taking these steps with my goals last year and it has been so extremely helpful!

  32. Katarina Andersson :

    An interesting take on a goal strategy. Had not read about this before. Thanks for a nice article.

  33. This is really great, and frankly, WOOP is cute! I’ve got some goals that the obstacles are me. I’m trying to get psyched up to do them, but because I find some of the necessary steps to be quite a chore, I’m having a hard time getting motivated. I’m going to give this a try. Maybe breaking it down will help me get past myself.
    Jennifer Quisenberry recently posted…Five Steps to Greater Fulfillment in 2017My Profile

  34. WOOP WOOP! I absolutely love this article and the tips you share. I love the graphic about goals. It really sets the tone and the case for writing down and reviewing goals. One thing I talk about is anticipating obstacles and having a plan for them. You addressed this so eloquently. Loved it!
    Tandy Elisala recently posted…My Year of Trust Series: Part 4 of 4My Profile

  35. I’ve worked with WOOP a lot and I can vouch for its effectiveness! Even though as she says a lot of people balk at the obstacles part, I’ve been amazed at how helpful that actually is. And not just about the ‘million that’s probably not coming this week,’
    but so often creative ways surface to face those obstacles.

    Great post!

  36. Another excellent post worth bookmarking! WOOP – I love acronyms and this is a great one. Thanks again for sharing this information.
    K. Lee Banks recently posted…Establish Your Direction Intentionally for 2017My Profile

  37. its amazing but in my opinion very few people are taking advantage of this simple yet powerful tool. I already know something about positive affirmations but WOOP takes the concept to a whole new level.
    N. Kayondo recently posted…Taking Self Motivation to Bed – How to Succeed While You Sleep With Personal AffirmationsMy Profile

  38. This is really very good write-up about little know way to achieve goals. I personally think that WOOP technique is very much effective for achieving your goals. Thanks for sharing this post.
    Valeria Maxwell recently posted…Motivation Because the Time is NowMy Profile

  39. As someone has said “A dream written down on a paper becomes goal, A goal broken into steps becomes a plan, a plan executed correctly makes dream comes true”

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