L & B Counseling

How to set goals that stick

goal setting

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Have you ever set a goal but found yourself falling off track at the slightest obstacle? If you are trying to escape the cycle of falling off the wagon, consider using “W.O.O.P”. This technique was developed by Dr. Oettingen (2014) as a way to overcome setbacks. As we all know, unexpected life challenges can really throw us off track even when we have a detailed plan of action and every intention of achieving our goal. The W.O.O.P acronym stands for:

Wish, Outcome, Obstacle & Plan

In this goal-setting technique, you write down what your dream, goal, or wish is. You then describe the desired outcome, or your “why” that motivates you to achieve the goal. Next, you anticipate various internal or external setbacks (from past experience or things you think might happen) and plan for how to overcome them. Have these goals written down and placed in an area that you will see often like the refrigerator door or bathroom mirror. Refer to your W.O.O.P when obstacles occur that may throw you off track.


Wish: To go to Zumba three times a week for 6 months.

Outcome: I will look and feel better about my health, I will have fun, I will build up my endurance to play with my kids, etc.

Obstacles: Zumba class could be cancelled or I may be too tired to leave my house after work.

Plan: I will find Zumba classes through Youtube to do at home if the class is canceled. When I feel tired, I can call my accountability partner to help me remember my desired outcome and go to class anyway. 

Thinking of obstacles before they arise and planning for how to push past them, will increase your chances of success with your goals. If you discover an obstacle along the way, just W.O.O.P through it and keep going! Now it’s your turn. Create a WOOP to help keep you on track.

This blog was written by Lydia Grier, LCSWA

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