Psychology of success: beautiful dreams are not enough! {Review}

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We should think positive, always believe in ourselves, be self-confident - then success sets in by itself. Nonsense, says Gabriele Oettingen - and explains in her book why that is.

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By the way: You can find many more hand-picked reading recommendations in our section Editorial book tips.

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Oliver Ibelshäuser 85Oliver Ibelshäuser is a journalist and owner of the editorial office Text und Vision.


Of myths and difficulties

Gabriele Oettingen has a convincing answer for those who have always wondered why Gabriele Oettingen does not work with you,

Because positive thinking alone does nothing. It is better not only to keep track of its goal, but also to deliberately deal with the difficulties that can arise.

WOOP instead of positive cars

"Paint the future in a colorful and concrete way, concentrate entirely on the positive result, then it will work with weight loss (alternatively: no smoking, career jump, change of partner)." Maybe you have already heard or read motivation sayings like this.

Because they are part of the fixed repertoire of many trainers and therapists. Psychologist Gabriele Oettingen doesn't think much of it. In her book “The Psychology of Success” she easily disproves the equation “dream = guarantee for positive change” and explains what actually helps.

Mental contrasting is better than dreaming

In fact, according to the author, visualizing barriers and problems along the long way to the desired success is an essential motivating factor. "Mere dreaming rather prevents us from realizing our dreams and desires."

Instead, it helps “to look at the inner obstacles at the same time”. This way is called “mental contrasting”. Based on numerous studies, Oettingen shows that it is successful in all everyday areas where motivation and staying power are required: in the change of diet, combating addiction, school education and also in career planning.

The WOOP effect

From the knowledge of “mental contrasting” the WOOP-Concept derived. A simple and highly effective model for people who long for change and do not want to give up halfway.

WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan. In English: desire, result, obstacle and plan. Based on these four steps, the psychologist explains, realistic scenarios can be made and early answers to later problems can be found in order not to lose sight of the goal.

Without detours to the destination

In her book, Oettingen uses WOOP as an example in three areas: "Live healthier, improve relationships and do more at work". The descriptions are successful blueprints for your own personal change requests.

Conclusion: you finally want to lose weight? Do not buy another diet book and certainly not a guide in the self-help corner. With her book “The Psychology of Success”, Oettingen brings her straight to her goal. Of course, this also applies to all other goals that you have only “dreamed of” so far, such as career jumps, a new partnership or the end of your nicotine period. Recommendation!

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    Beautiful dreams are not enough!
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