Trailblazers: WOOP Planning – Making Dreams Come to Life

The field of sports psychology exists to help athletes achieve their dreams and become champions. To wake-up every day motivated to attack the essential, yet often boring and exhausting work necessary to improve. The work is grueling. It’s repetitive..but it’s necessary. Day-in, day-out, champions show up to make the almost unnoticeable incremental gains that slowly build champions. Science is out: there is no easy fix. We need to do the work.

Some of us need help deciding on our purpose (With the TAP, we measure this through your Competitive Desire score). Some of us need help believing we have the ability to realize that mission (that’s your Confidence score). And some of us have trouble waking up every morning energized to attack tasks we perceive as boring and Repetitive but that are ultimately necessary to accomplish that mission (and this, friends, is a combination of our TAP Military Combat indicator, along with Attention to Detail and Practicality indicators).

There’s one particular Athlete Type that if not checked, tends to need help seeing the mission through to completion: The Trailblazer. Now, we love Trailblazers. In fact, some of my best friends are Trailblazers. They’re idealistic and inspiring, love life, and truly desire to make the world a better place. But if there “Attention to Detail” and “Practicality” indicators are not addressed, these spirited, pie in the sky dreamers may get distracted from their mission.

For all their strengths, Trailblazers tend to be easily distracted, make unnecessary changes, and have difficulty following through on tasks. That is why introducing Trailblazer to journaling exercises is a great way to keep them on target. I like the bullet journal, but any system of organizing your daily thoughts, tasks, and goals has been scientifically proven to make us more better at follow through. (I recommend writing in a notebook–the physical pen-and-paper act of writing helps us remember.)

How To Get Started Journaling?

One journaling tool that is incredibly effective to help in helping us break down our goals into realistic action steps is Gabrielle Oettingen’s “WOOP method”. Oettingen is a world-class researcher who has spent her career studying the science of making your dreams come to life.

In her book Rethinking Positive Thinking, she tells us that it’s simply not enough to visualize our ideal life vision-board style. Now, it’s very important to start with a vision of our ideal lives (Trailblazers are great at this), we then need to “rub our goal up against reality,” a process she’s dubbed “WOOP.”

The “WOOP” method can be summarized like this:

W is for Wish – What do you want in your life or your next task at hand?

O is for Outcome – The benefits – “why” we want to do the task.

O is for Obstacles – What will get in the way of accomplishing our task?

P is for Plan – When these obstacles rear their ugly heads, how will we deal with them?

  1. Start with the Wish: Think of the most important goal in your life right now. What is it?
  2. Next Outcome: If everything goes perfectly. What do you achieve? Capture that in a few words. That’s your wish. Use all your senses, see it, feel it, get super inspired!
  3. Now that you have your vision, embrace reality and plan for what could potentially go wrong.
  4. Define Your Obstacles: Like it or not, they will inevitably come. If you can list them you can properly prepare for what may come your way. Now, create a plan to deal with each obstacle. If “x” happens then you will do “y”.

Remember, preparation goes a long way. Even if an obstacle comes out of left field, this exercise already will have our minds primed for seeking solutions. The Trailblazers adaptive mentality will suit them well when they need to shift gears mentally and react when a situation demands. But this bit of WOOP preparation will help them optimize their ability to see their goal through to completion.

Tim Haslam and I talk about this in our latest podcast. So be sure to give it a listen! 

Reference and book recommendations:

Brian Johnson note on:

Rethinking Positive Thinking by Gabrielle Oettingen

The Procrastination Equation by Piers Steel

Solving the Procrastination Puzzle by Timothy Pychyl

The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley

Want to know what AthleteType you are? Take the Tap now!