You are what you do every day. — N/A1

For the longest, I've suffered from daydreaming.

At first glance, that doesn't sound terrible but, believe me, it's a dangerous spot to be in.

At the end of the day, daydreaming of your goals does you no good and, in fact, can harm you from reaching it.

I speak from experience. Agonizing experience.

You motivate yourself only to not get what you want.

On top of that, to suffer from having an unmet desire that constantly runs in your head is tiring, as bad as a broken record.

And that's why listening to an interview with Dr. Gabriele Oettingen resonated with me.

She lays out what she calls the WOOP system as a way to stop the broken record. It goes something like this:

  1. Wish - Define what it is you want. Your wish.
  2. Outcome - Imagine the best possible outcome that can come from fulfilling your wish and how that would make you feel. This is the part you fantasize and explore.
  3. Obstacle - Identifying the obstacles and temptations standing in the way that's holding you back from going all the way.
  4. Plan - Coming up with a plan that will lead you to your goal and at the same time counteract all your obstacles.

What struck me most was how similar this sounds to what I've picked up elsewhere over time from other sources.2 But the way I learned it was presented as questions to answer before heading any project like:

  1. What is your goal?
  2. Why do you want to achieve this?
  3. What are the possible consequences if I don't commit myself?
  4. If this was a smashing success, what would it look like?
  5. What are the steps needed to achieve this goal?

As you can see, they aren't too dissimilar. But what I got from Gabriele— aside from the nice acronym— was how to think about it all.

What propels a project can be divided into two forces: desire and friction.

Dreams about the future produce direction, this where I want to go but then the resistance of the obstacle produces the energy to actually overcome the obstacle. So you have direction, where to go, and the energy to overcome that obstacle. And that's what puts you into gear in order to actually solve the problem…

Imagine yourself as a rocket. Your dream is the GPS coordinate of your target and the obstacle ahead is what you try to avoid, and in a sense what shapes your route to get there.

Mind blown.

And to top it all, she provides a seemingly simple mechanism to plan and counteract any problem using if… then statements.

For each problem, think ahead of time how you will try to solve them.

If _OBSTACLE_ occurs, then I will _SOLUTION_

In this way you'll be ready when you hit that specific wall.

Mind melting of the possible uses.


  1. Either I came up with the quote or I heard it from someone else and can't remember from whom. ↩︎

  2. It could be that everyone I've learned pieces of the "formula" all stem from the same scientific research, which seems logical and plausible. ↩︎

obstacle
goal
motivation
daydreaming
wish
plan
motivate
consequence
commit
desire
project
direction
resistance
dream
problem

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