I watched the Disney movie Moana a few months ago. In it, Moana is charged with the task of finding the demigod Maui and asking him to save her home island of Motonui from total destruction. That’s a hell of a goal, if you ask me. I remember thinking, though, how convenient it was to have the help of the ocean water to ‘propel’ her efforts.
Disney movies are really good at that—overcoming tremendous obstacles with a few special effects. Real life isn’t alway that way, unfortunately.
But! that doesn’t mean we can’t achieve even our most outlandish dreams. And scientific studies are showing that there is a methodical way to go about reaching our goals.
It’s called WOOP.
In Western culture, we are well aware of the power of positive thinking. Watch or listen to any motivational speaker and you’ll hear things like:
“You can have, do, or be anything you want,”
“Whatever belief you hold in your subconscious mind, will become your reality”…
While there is tons of merit in imagining our success or creating positive fantasies, it simply isn’t enough.
The scientists who developed the WOOP method found that those who more positively imagined their goals being achieved were seduced into feeling already-accomplished. This feeling of false accomplishment caused inaction, and therefore, led them to be less prepared to achieve their goals.
Visualizing success gives direction, but not energy. It is only the beginning of achieving a goal. It must be accompanied with action.
That is where the WOOP method comes in.
WOOP stands for:
We must, first, identify an important wish. It can be any attainable goal that we want to achieve. Once we have identified our wish, we must ask ourselves, “What would be the best outcome if I fulfilled this wish?” The answer to this question would come about in the positive fantasies mentioned above. Then, it is imperative to switch gears and ask, “What stops me from fulfilling my wish? What is my inner obstacle?” Making the distinction between internal and external barriers are important, because all we ultimately have control over is ourselves. And finally, once the obstacle within us has been identified, we must establish a plan to overcome that obstacle.
For example, let’s say my wish was to deadlift 300lb. for a 1-rep max. I would then visualize myself in class, surrounded by all of my buddies, wearing my favorite workout clothes and no shoes (because it’s deadlift day, duh!). I would approach the bar with chalk on my hands, take a big deep belly breath, and separate the bar from the floor until I was standing proudly, veins popping out of my forehead and all. But then I think, what in me has kept me from hitting 300lb. already? After some honest digging, I come to find that I’ve always believed I was too small to hit “big numbers”, and that has ultimately kept me from even trying. Rather than succumbing to this belief, I can research women who are my size that have deadlifted +300lb. and remind myself that my size doesn’t have to be a limiting factor. With this inspiration, I can plan to overcome my inner obstacle and keep it from inhibiting my efforts.
What’s your wish? What outcome are you imagining? What’s the obstacle in your way and how can you plan to overcome it?
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