WOOP (Oettingen 2014): Wish | Outcome | Obstacle | Plan: Getting things done by focusing on the task at hand

Like many people, I have a lot of projects on the go, and at times I find it a challenge to focus on the task at hand.

Distractions make their presence known, and take command of a person in subtle and not so subtle ways.

Fortunately, I like to read widely, about a broad range of topics, including ones that deal with evidence-based conclusions about how the mind functions.

In that context, a post from some time back is entitled:

WOOP (Oettingen 2014): Wish | Outcome | Obstacle | Plan

I’ve recently had the opportunity to try out this approach, and have found it works exquisitely well. The basic concept is that it’s a great idea to engage in positive thinking, about what a person seeks to accomplish, in a given day or week or year, but positive thinking by itself can only take you so far.

This is an evidence-based strategy, that is to say, beyond just engaging in positive affirmations, however useful such affirmations may be.

The acronym “WOOP” isn’t a particularly catching acronym, in my view, but that is beside the point, to a considerable extent, I would say.

Here’s a WOOP Four-Step Analysis for a current project that I am working on, for the MCHS 2015 website.


I wish to go through a transcript of an April 1, 2015 MCHS 2015 organizing meeting and incorporate material that deals with our conversations regarding a favourite question among potential MCHS ’60s Reunion attendees, namely: “What do I get for $150?” The answer to the question is currently featured in broad outline at the FAQ page at the above-noted website.


A key question for potential reunion attendees is answered in a way that is useful and engaging.


My attention is diverted by a myriad of other tasks and interests that engage my attention.


If my attention is diverted, then I will return to the task at hand, no matter how hard it may be to return to the task that I have assigned myself.


A July 31, 2015 openDemocracy.net article is entitled: “No, you can’t ‘be the change’ alone.”


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