Michael Phelps Beijing 2008 WOOP

Positive thinking won’t get you there

A quick one as I need to go in 5 minutes.

I listened to the Happiness Lab again – this time Dr Laurie Santos mentions that all self-help gurus accentuate the fact that we need to think positive, in order for us to achieve our greatest outcomes.

Through her research and interviews, it seems tho that it’s the opposite: people who only envision their greatest outcome and most positive moments do not achieve those goals. Apparently they trick their mind into thinking it’s already done – so the mind doesn’t bring up the discipline or grit or action plan to get you to that goal (because in your mind, you already achieved it through envisioning).

She gives the example of Michael Phelps during the Beijing Olympics in 2008: he didn’t only envision himself winning gold, he also envisioned himself “getting blind” because his goggles filled up with water as training. Through this type of training and “obstacle planning” Phelps managed to still win Gold in 2008 although his goggles filled up with water and he had to swim blind. In other words – he was prepared for all types of situations and mentally prepped his brain to overcome these type of obstacles as well.

Dr Santos has Gabriele Oettingen as podcast visitor, who discussed to implement the WOOP-model to not only think positively to achieve your goals, but also incorporate planning to overcome any obstacles that might stand in the way between you and your goals. She tells you to think of

  • W: wish
  • O: outcome
  • O: obstacle
  • P: plan

when coming up with a goal.

A good reminder that wishful and positive thinking alone won’t get you to where you want to be.

And of course, I’ve plastered my entire mirror now with post-its of my goals + “WOOP!!!” written all over it.

Listen to the entire podcast here

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