WOOP! Your Life

Written by an iTherapy Provider

WOOP! Your Life

Visit: WoopMyLife

WOOP! This is such an awesome concept! I have used it with a lot of clients and I use it myself every day since I learned it, and I will constantly talk about it in blogs. I’m hopefully going to break it down into something simple for you. (If you want a little longer version, visit: Brian Johnson’s podcast that breaks it down even further).

Health domain

  • Woop doubled regular physical exercise over a time period of four months and increased fruit and vegetable intake by 30% over the period of two years.
    — Stadler, Oettingen, & Gollwitzer, 2009, 2010
  • Woop helped chronic pain patients to become more physically active during rehabilitation three months thereafter.
    — Christiansen, Oettingen, Dahme, & Klinger, 2010
  • Woop helped patients suffering from Type II Diabetes to improve their self-care.
    — Adriaanse, De Ridder, & Voorneman, 2013

Academic domain

  • Woop increased attendance and course grades of school children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
    — Duckworth, Kirby, A. Gollwitzer, & Oettingen, 2013
  • Woop improved homework of children at risk for ADHD.
    — Gawrilow, Morgenroth, Schultz, Oettingen, & Gollwitzer, 2013
  • Woop increased high school students’ effort to prepare for standardized tests by 60%.
    — Duckworth, Grant, Loew, Oettingen, & Gollwitzer, 2011

Interpersonal domain

  • Woop reduced insecurity-based behaviors (e.g., looking through the partner’s phone log) and increased commitment in romantic relationships.
    — Houssais, Oettingen, & Mayer, 2013
  • Woop lead to more integrative solutions and fairer behavior in bargaining games.
    — Kirk, Oettingen, & Gollwitzer, 2013
  • Woop increased tolerance and social responsibility towards members of prejudiced groups.
    — Oettingen, Mayer, Thorpe, Janetzke, & Lorenz, 2005

This concept is by Gabriele Oettingen, a well-known scientist that studied positive psychology under Martin Seligman. (Okay, get to the point, Michelle.)

WOOP stands for:

  • Wish: What do you want to see in your life personally or professionally? Imagine something challenging yet feasible you can achieve in a year, month, week or day.
  • Outcome: What is the #1 benefit you would experience as a result?
  • Obstacle: What obstacle *within you* stands in the way of achieving that wish? (Emphasis on“within you”!)
  • Plan: What can you do to get around that obstacle? What’s the #1 most effective thing you could do?

Gabriele found in her studies that when people only fantasize and dream about what they want, they were less motivated than those who did something called “mental contrasting”, which means, have the fantasy and dream, but also think of the obstacles stopping you.

This means, you have a dream (I want to lose 40 pounds) and contrast it with the reality of what stops you (I am lazy).

As a tool, WOOP is what psychologists call ‘content neutral,’ that is, it can be used to help with any kind of wish you might have, short term or long term, big or small. If you’re a professional, you can use it to reach a new milestone in your career, improve your skills—whatever you can think of. If you’re a student,you can apply it to study more productively. If you’re a mom or dad, you can apply it to handle challenging situations with your children more effectively. Anyone can use it in his or her personal life for any purpose—for instance, to form closer relationships with others or improve health.”

– Gabriele Oettingen

Long story short, she came up with the acronym WOOP that increases motivation, improves effectiveness, and increases success rates on anything you dream!

Let me give you an example of a year long WOOP I have:

  1. WishI want to lose 40 pounds.
  2. OutcomeI will feel energetic and look great!
  3. ObstacleI love sweets.
  4. Plan (If…, then…)If I see something sweet, then I will drink a glass of water first.

How about a daily WOOP I have:

  • WishI want to walk the dogs for 30 minutes.
  • OutcomeThe dogs and I will feel better.
  • ObstacleI am tired when I get home from work.
  • Plan (If…, then…)If I know I’m going to get home late from work, then I will plan on taking them in the morning.

Or a weekly WOOP I have:

  • WishI want to work out 4 times this week.
  • OutcomeI will feel energetic and look great!
  • ObstacleI am tired when I get home.
  • Plan (If…, then…)If I feel tired when I get home, then I will simply put my workout clothes on and see what happens.

This is just a tiny glimpse of how you can use WOOP. Maybe WOOP these things for yourself:

  • Communicate better with family, partner, friends
  • Have an organized home
  • Have better self-talk
  • See a therapist
  • Reduce depressive or anxious symptoms
  • Create something you’re proud of
  • Go to an event/place you’ve wanted to go to

If you’d like to read more on WOOP, click on the link below to Gabriele’s book. It’s great!




Shop now on Amazon

There’s even a WOOP app!

WOOPing is the new cool thing to do!

Feel free to leave a comment on your WOOPs below! I’d love to hear how creative you can be with WOOPing.



Michelle Taylor, LPCC
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

Visit Michelle Taylor’s Profile


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