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WOOP

Exercise Free Self-directed

WOOP is short for wish, objectives, obstacles and plans and is a simple and research-based method for setting goals with something you want to achieve or experience. It can help participants increase the probability that they will actually be able to achieve the goal that they set for themselves.


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WOOP is short for wish, objectives, obstacles and plans and is a simple and research-based method for setting goals with something you want to achieve or experience. It only takes a few minutes and only requires that you wholeheartedly try to focus on the task. You can do WOOP individually or with someone (for example, a coach, a colleague, a teammate, a leader, etc.).

How it can help

WOOP increases the probability that you will actually be able to achieve the goal that you set for yourself.

Learn more

Read the IDG Phase 2 Research Report and get more in-depth information.

How to practice

When starting with WOOP for the first time, try the following:

  1. Think of something you would like to achieve or experience in a given time, such as an upcoming meeting or the day ahead. For example, it could be something new that you would like to learn or an achievement of some kind that you would like to perform. Something that feels challenging but certainly not impossible. Write this down on a piece of paper.
  2. Think about the positive feelings and consequences that would result from achieving what you would like to achieve, big or small. Write these down and then focus for a little while on the two or three things that would be the single best in achieving this.
  3. Next, think about all the possible obstacles and problems that you can come up with that can make it difficult or prevent you from achieving what you want. Obstacles may lie with you (e.g. motivation problems, concentration difficulties, fatigue, illness). They can also lie outside of yourself (eg being misinformed, a colleague getting sick, bad weather). Write down all obstacles, big or small.
  4. For each obstacle, think through what you can do to prevent it from happening and what you can do to deal with it should it happen. Write down each such plan on the paper as follows: “For __________ not to happen, I will __________ and if __________ happens, I will __________.”
  5. Read through what you have written and feel free to tell someone else about what you have written.

Most relevant skills

Optimism
Courage
Perseverance
Creativity
Perspective Skills

Research and resources

  • Wang G, Wang Y, Gai X. A (2021). Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Mental Contrasting With Implementation Intentions on Goal Attainment. Front Psychol.
  • Cross, A. and Sheffield, D. (2019). Mental contrasting for health behaviour change: a systematic review and meta-analysis of effects and moderator variables, Health Psychology Review, 13:2, 209-225.

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