How to Use WOOP Technique in Coaching?

Savita Pahuja
2 min readFeb 14, 2019


I recently watched an interview with psychologist Gabriele Oettingen who developed a strategy for mental contrasting called WOOP. This technique helps turn wishful thinking into reality. WOOP is named for each step in the process:

W: Identifying your Wish, 
O: Imagining the Outcome,
O: Anticipating the Obstacle,
P: Developing a specific Plan.

She explained this technique in her book: “Rethinking Positive Thinking.”

How can this technique help Agile Coaches into their day to day coaching? I can foresee some applications as:

1) Individual Coaching:

This technique can be used in one-on-one coaching sessions to discuss conflicts, relationships with team members, building performance goals or getting rid of an old habit. Use the following four steps:

  1. Ask your client to pick one most important wish or concern.
  2. Let your client imagine the outcome. You can question like: What would be the best, most positive outcome if your wish is fulfilled?
  3. Discovering obstacles: Find out an emotion, an irrational belief, or a bad habit that might be a hindrance to achieving your wish.
  4. Create a plan to overcome obstacles using “If-then-plan”:
"If... (obstacle), then I will ... (action or thought)."

This technique is powerful because it pre-programs the mind to behave as per the plan in the situation of the predicted obstacle.

2) Personal Development:

An individual can use WOOP by sitting in a quiet area for 5 minutes to plan for the day. Or coaches can use this technique to improve their coaching skills. For instance, you can pre-program your mind not to get sucked into coachee’s problem and stay neutral during coaching conversation if that is the habit you want to get rid of?

Use the same four-step process on yourself and achieve your personal development goals.

3) Team Coaching:

You can use this technique in team coaching on multiple occasions. One of the good places could be Futurespective.

Futurespective is an agile retrospective where you start from the goal to find ways how to get there. You can use WOOP technique to facilitate the futurespective exercise. Ask your team what’s their wish or future goal. Ask them to imagine the outcome and let them be in the moment to experience the future state. It motivates them towards their dream. Help them in believing their journey to the next state and discover some obstacles that may appear. Then create a plan to achieve the goal by overcoming the envisioned obstacles on the way.

If you use WOOP at your workplace or in your life, please share your story.

Originally published at on February 14, 2019.



Savita Pahuja

Seasoned Enterprise Agile Coach, Leadership Coach, Mentor, CEC, CTC, ICF ACC, Founder of,