An unexpected benefit of WOOPing (DW#579)

Let’s face it. We have goals that are in our comfort zone (they don’t stretch us at all), outside our comfort zone (the stretch zone – this is where the magic happens) or in the delusional zone.

Let’s take an example for someone like myself. I like the idea of health and fitness. Enjoy the process of eating clean and what it feels like. And I struggle with having a consistent fitness regime.

A stretch goal for me might be to consistently do an intermittent training workout 5 days a week for 6 months. It will be challenging and will require lots of motivation, consistency and will power but it is doable (though scary).

A delusional goal (fantasy) might be to run a 25Km marathon next week or to become a dress size 2 by summer.

Gabriele Oettingen’s dozens of studies have consistently shown that mental contrasting (the technical term for WOOPing) results in MORE motivation and a HIGHER chance of achieving our desired goals and outcomes when the goals are in our stretch zone.

In one of her studies 168 female students were asked to identify one personal wish or concern that they currently had. Then the students were split up into 4 different groups:
Mental Contrasting: This group mentally contrasted by first visualizing the positive outcome and then visualizing the obstacles. In other words they WOOPed their goals.
Indulging: This group only positively fantasized about realizing their wish. The Secret style.
Dwelling: This group only dwelled on the negative aspects of the situation.
Reverse mental contrasting: This group first visualized the potential obstacles and then visualized the positive outcome
What she found was that as long as the students believed that they would succeed based on their past history and current resources, mental contrasting caused them to be significantly more energized and more promptly engaged than members of the other groups.

Why? Because mental contrasting motivates you if you have the ability to achieve your goal.

And the unexpected benefit? It your current goal is unrealistic (in the delusional rather than uncomfortable zone), you will get clearer on why this goal is unrealistic at the present time.

In other words, it’s a win-win. You either get motivated or you get clear.


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