Set Goals and Overcome Obstacles with WOOP

What is WOOP?

WOOP, developed by psychology professor Gabriele Oettingen from New York University, is a method designed to help individuals successfully achieve their goals.

The acronym WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.

WOOP goes beyond mere wishful thinking by incorporating the essential elements of goal setting and positive self-affirmation. It encourages individuals to identify their wishes and affirmatively declare, “I can do that.” The shift in mindset is pivotal because setting goals alone may not suffice to drive action and progress. What sets WOOP apart is its emphasis on considering potential obstacles and devising strategies to overcome them. The sequence of these steps is crucial. Research has demonstrated that individuals are more motivated when they first delve into why they want to achieve their goal before addressing, potential obstacles.

Warum WOOP?

Positive Effekte von WOOP konnten nachgewiesen werden. So wurden 255 Frauen mittleren Alters in Deutschland untersucht. Mit Hilfe von WOOP trieben sie doppelt so viel Sport wie vorher und ernährten sich gesünder. Patientinnen und Patienten mit chronischen Rückenschmerzen wurden durch WOOP im Alltag körperlich aktiver. Und es konnte gezeigt werden, dass die Methode Menschen mit verschiedenen Erkrankungen (Diabetes, Schlaganfall) hilft, mehr auf ihre Gesundheit zu achten.

How Does WOOP Work?


Take a moment to think about what you want. Find a quiet place, clear your mind, and listen to your inner thoughts without distractions. Choose a wish that is close to your heart, something that is challenging but doable. Keep it short and to the point.

For example, you could say, “I want to improve my German.”

Outcome – Result

Consider the most significant and delightful result if your wish were to come true. How would you feel, and what emotion would be the most powerful if your desire became a reality? Visualize this positive feeling with great intensity.

For instance: “I will experience a profound boost in confidence when conversing and reading in German.”


Reflect on what has stood in the way of achieving your wish up to this point. These are not external challenges but rather internal obstacles within yourself. Identify the harmful habit, thought, or emotion that has been the most significant barrier preventing your wish from becoming a reality. Envision this obstacle in your mind.

For example: “I find myself dedicating excessive time to Facebook.”


Create a practical if-then plan to address your obstacle. Determine a specific action you will take when the obstacle arises. Consider what you can say to yourself or do in response to encountering it. Also, anticipate when the obstacle is likely to occur next.

For example: “If I catch myself endlessly scrolling through Facebook, I will promptly power off my phone and dedicate my time to studying a chapter in my German book.”

Spaziergang gegen Blähungen

Give it a shot now! Do not hesitate to put WOOP into action immediately. WOOP improves with practice, and you will become more proficient over time. For additional resources and information on WOOP, visit

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Teresa Götz