SMART Goals are a Winner!

As you know, I’ve been a strong proponent of the SMART strategy, when it comes to Goal Setting.

In case you haven’t heard of SMART, it stands for ‘Specific’, ‘Measurable’ ‘Agreed Upon’ (or attainable), ‘Realistic’ (or relevant) and ‘Timely’ (or time dependent).

I’ve recently read a fantastically powerful book by Gabriele Oettingen, called ‘Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation’.

In this book she discusses a process called WOOP.

WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle and Plan and is a technique that’s also very successful when making life enhancing changes.

The technique has been around for many years, but for me, such was the success of SMART, that looking for an alternative hasn’t ever been on my radar (shame on me!).

It seems I’ve really been missing out on an extraordinary system.


What’s SO Good About WOOP Then?

The WOOP system has been tested in various situations and its got a high success rate. It’s a behavior change and planning tool, that you can use to help reach your life goals as well.

For example, you might have a goal of being healthier, or getting more exercise. WOOP helps you to find the obstacles in your path, then helps to to find a strategy to mitigate it.

You can also use it for simple, everyday issues like wanting to spend more time with your family, or even something as mundane as whether you should go to a party!

The WOOP system is great for situation like this. I’ll give you a brief explanation of how it works…..


The ‘W‘ is for Wish.

This is your goal. As with SMART, it should be,

  • Challenging
  • Compelling
  • Realistic

The wish can be anything you like, changing a habit, making a behavior change, or learning a new skill, etc.

Even if your desire is vague, this system will help you to be successful.

So, when choosing your goal, the only criteria is you have to believe you could achieve it?

For example, if your goal was to join a skydiving display team, but you pass out if you go 10 feet off the ground, it’s unlikely you’ll be very successful. If however, you wanted to be a ground based skydiving trainer, working in the classroom, that would be okay.


The first ‘O‘, is for Outcome.

What’s your desired outcome for this change? Think about things like,

  • How will I feel once I’ve accomplished the goal?
  • How will completing this goal make my loved ones feel?
  • How will this change my everyday life?
  • What will I be doing?
  • Where will I be doing it?
  • What will I be feeling while I’m doing it?
  • How will it make I feel generally?

Once you’ve identified your best outcome, visualize it all in your ‘minds-eye’.


The second ‘O‘, is for Obstacle.

What are the obstacles and challenges, within you, that could stop you, or make it difficult to achieve this wish? For example,

  • Do you procrastinate all the time
  • Do you suffer negative emotions, that make you procrastinate?
  • Do you have a bad habit, that makes it difficult to concentrate?
  • Do you tend to loose interest easily?
  • Do you tend to watch TV, when you should be studying
  • Do you like to go out at night with your friends
  • Do you lose focus easily, etc

What are those obstacles? What is it within you, that stops you? Once you’ve go those, you can now move on to the final section.


Finally, the ‘P‘, is for Plan.

Any goal without a plan, is just a dream. In the case of WOOP though, your plan should be how you will mitigate the obstacles, or what can you do, so that it’s not an issue.

For example,

  • When the issue comes up, how will you deal with it?
  • or, How will you deal with a particularly negative thought?
  • Use… “if (obstacle), then I will (action,or thought).

The following YouTube video gives a good explanation.


Should I Make the Change?

Making changes to your thinking, in the field of self-esteem and social anxiety for example, is mandatory.

I certainly think there’s very good evidence to suggest that WOOP is a strong alternative to SMART for making those changes. Personally, I believe you should be using WOOP for any day-to-day issues you have.

The statistics show that it is very helpful in those areas. Why not try both and get the best of both Worlds? What have you go to lose?

If you’d like to know more about WOOP, why not check out the following….

NJ Life Hacks

Micro Class: WOOP (YouTube video)


In Conclusion

In confidence and self-esteem,  it’s all about how anything is possible, by changing your mindset and reassessing how you think about things.

For how many years, did people believe the World was flat, before someone came up with a better alternative? Maybe in the World of goal setting, in some situations this is the better alternative?

This technique is certainly something I’m going to experimenting with over the next couple of months. There’s no denying the science behind it.


If you decide to give WOOP a try, you can also download the app from the WOOP My Life website

What’s your take? Let me know in the comments 🙂


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