Maybe a worldwide pandemic altered your goals for 2021 but even without a pandemic most people ditch their New Year’s resolutions by February. We love to set goals or think about the great things we are going to do in the upcoming year because it makes us feel good, however, we don’t make a plan for those goals so they die in our minds.
Since we are daydreaming, what if you had a plan that could be executed even when all the variables in life change without warning. Sure, there are a lot of reasons why your resolutions could fall apart but what if you had a step by step plan to not only design a functional outcome goal but to work backwards, with the end in mind, and figure out all the behaviors you need to perform on a consistent basis to move you towards the benchmarks you’ve set and ultimately achieve your outcome goal in 2022! Does that sound like something you could use to make 2022 a success?
Most of you out there have heard of a S.M.A.R.T. goal. It’s specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound. BUT how often have you used it to achieve a goal? It lacks a few key parts in my opinion and I could never quite put my finger on it until a few years ago I heard a much more comprehensive goal planning acronym when I was listening to Ben Bergeron on Chasing Excellence. He talked about setting W.H.O.O.P.I.E. Goals and all the aspects I had been missing fell into place. Let me explain what each letter stands for and give you functional examples so you can W.H.O.O.P.I.E. your own goals. If you want an indepth look at how to set W.H.O.O.P.I.E. goals along with a work sheet and visual aids then check out the webinar (link to it) I did in January.
Wishing and Hoping…
The W and the H stand for Wishing and Hoping. Science shows that by wishing and hoping, your brain gets excited, physically and emotionally. To take that step further, when you share those wishes and hopes with others, it gives your brain another high. Have you ever been at a party or get-together and you start talking about something you wish and hope to do? You get really excited and feel like nothing can stop you from doing it. But honestly, most people never get past this point of wishing and hoping to reach their goals. This is where the New Year’s Resolution comes in...how many times have you heard people say, “I’m going to lose weight this year.” or “I’m going to run a marathon.”, etc. and two months later you ask them about it and they sheepishly admit they haven’t done anything to move towards that goal. Let’s face it, unfortunately most people just talk about it and get stuck here.
How to make it work: Studies also show that by writing down your goal, yes just writing it down in a notebook or even a sticky note, vastly enhances your chances at actually working towards that goal and even reaching it. Have a goal, now is the time to write it down, YES now, so – go ahead, right now, and write down your goal. See you back here in 5 minutes…
Moving on to the O of the word W.H.O.O.P.I.E. The first O stands for Outcome. The outcome is equivalent to your “end goal”. It’s what will happen if you achieve your goal. Examples are “I will weigh 135 lbs and fit into all my jeans from highschool” or “I will run a ½ marathon in under 3 hours”. This part is exciting too, and important to really visualize how achieving your goal will make you feel. You need to be able to access that feeling so you can live in that outcome well before you achieve it. Think about it now, what is your end goal? and how will it feel once you’ve completed your goal?!?
How to make it work: Make this S.M.A.R.T.- specific to what you want to achieve, measurable so you can track your progress along the way, attainable so can you really reach this goal, realistic, again could you actually achieve this overall goal, timebound so give it time parameters you have to execute the goal in.
The next O stands for Obstacles. This is where most people get stuck. Unfortunately, most people see obstacles as excuses. And like any good excuse, they use it as a reason to stop working towards their goal and the whole process ends here. There are lots of reasons people stop at an obstacle and usually it’s not a stopping point but a reflection point. The obstacle is the way to keep making forward progress...that’s why it’s an obstacle, you have to overcome it.
Most people don’t think about the obstacles before they start working towards their outcome goal so when they come up, they aren't prepared and they have no strategy to overcome them. Let’s reframe an obstacle to become a challenge not an excuse. If your goal is to eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday but you didn’t plan well for that day and your boss called a last minute meeting, what do you do? Maybe you have the fridge at work stocked with premade salads and frozen fruits to make a smoothie. Maybe you can call your spouse and they bring you something. The point is to come up with solutions that fit into any scenario that can derail your goal so when X happens, you have Y solution. Don’t let an obstacle be an excuse, that’s what people who don’t achieve their goals would do.
How to make it work: Take the time to think up any obstacle that could derail your progress. Write down the scenarios that could make performing the daily habits you need to have in place a challenge no matter what the scenario. This is critical to your success and you need to have this in place for the next step.
P actually stands for the Plan but I think it also incorporates the Process. What makes up a good plan? You know what you want, why you want it, and what may get in your way. Think of the plan as a result of all the work you’ve already put in, thinking about your goals – it’s your blueprint. It’s not only planning for how to overcome the obstacles, but it’s writing a plan for yourself or even better, it’s getting an objective outside source to work out a plan for you. That’s called a coach and they can be invaluable to keep you moving in the right direction and squash any doubts you have along the way.
How to make it work: You have a wish and a hope of an outcome goal that is going to change your life. If you have realistically looked at the obstacles that could get in your way NOW is the part where you plan for those obstacles. You make a plan that takes into account multiple scenarios and has possible solutions to all the challenges you came up with. This will be a challenge on your own so run it by someone you trust and see what feedback they have for you.
“I’m the kind of person who…”
The I in W.H.O.O.P.I.E. stands for Identity…. attach your identity to your goal. I personally think this is an extremely important step and doesn’t get nearly enough attention. You need to live as though you have already become the person you want to be in your outcome goal. What I mean is to have the mindset of that person. Finish this sentence with something that is relevant to your goal.
“I am the type of person who….”
Wakes up early to get my workout in.
Plans out the next day's nutrition the night before.
Eats slowly and doesn’t get a second plate at social events.
Takes 20 minutes to do an activity that helps with my stress everyday.
It can be any phrase, and your goal then just becomes part of who you are. People come to expect it from you. I’m thinking of all the times that we’ve gone out of town, whether to my family’s house, a family vacation or a work trip – I figure out a way to stay on my workout and nutrition plan. I look ahead, see what equipment I will have (if any), what CrossFit gyms are close, and what grocery store I can get staple foods from. Everyone that knows me comes to expect it, because it’s a part of who I am.
How to make it work: You can’t truly make a change if you don’t believe that you are the type of person who lives these habits and behaviors. You have to become that person who eats healthy, exercises to build muscle and maintain mobility, works on their sleep hygiene, and whatever else the type of person would do that you need to become to achieve your outcome goal. Live it everyday, every minute and every second of your life.
The E and final letter stands for Execute. Take your plan, and put it into action. Make it happen. Reach that goal. This is where a level 4 organizational tool as Steven Covey calls it comes into play. This can be your planner, a coach, an accountability partner or some combination of all three of these.
You can’t get anywhere if you don’t execute your plan. This is also where breaking your outcome goal into behavior goals becomes critical. We are all a sum of our habits and everyday behaviors. What habits and behaviors do you need to do on a daily basis to achieve your outcome goal? These small achievable behaviors become who you are.. “I am the type of person who..”
How to make it work: Use all the prior steps to develop a WHOOPIE goal. Use resources that can help you like I mentioned above, then scrutinize your plan before you put it into action by LIVING it!
This is a lot of steps and It’s hard work to set goals and live the lifestyle necessary to achieve them. It creates vulnerability and that makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but this approach to life empowers you to live your best life, and achieve your goals.
I don’t just talk about this life, I live it and that’s what I do with my clients. I help them bring a goal in their life through every step until it’s actualized. I get to help them strive for better health inside and out. Helping people achieve their goals and be mindful of the process is the most fulfilling part of my work. Now get out there and make 2022 your most productive and healthy year ever!
Eat Well, Live Well, Be Well