In life, we all want to achieve our dreams, but many of us have no idea how to transform those visions into reality. Many self-help books and online articles will tell you to envision your idea first and believe in it so much that it has no choice but to manifest before your eyes. However, at some point, achieving your dreams comes down to how much dedication and perseverance you have in actualizing those goals. How badly do you want it?

Many books out there mislead people and have them believe that they need to do all these rituals and following certain practices in order to achieve results. However, if you want real ways to reach your goals without wasting valuable time following guidelines that may or may not work, take the advice of Gabriele Oettingen, New York University psychologist.

On the “Psychology Podcast,” started by cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, Gabriele revealed a four-step plan she came up with after years of intensive research, proven to steer people in the right direction with achieving their dreams.

Of course, you do need to believe in yourself and think positively in order to see your dreams become a reality, but spending too much time trying to correct your thinking patterns could actually deter you from achieving your dreams. On the weekly podcast, Oettingen explained her four-step plan to Kaufman in detail, and it comes down to this motivational acronym: WOOP. 

The Four Step Plan To Achieving Your Dreams:

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This part includes the visualization necessary for achieving your dreams. What is it that you want? You need to have this clearly defined in your head, and you could even write it down if that makes things easier for you. The idea isn’t to have the most grandiose wish in the world, but you can if you want; the main idea is to simply have something to work towards, no matter how small it may seem. Your wish can range from something relatively small, like waking up 15 minutes earlier the next day, to a big dream like buying a three-story house next year.

Whatever your dream is, make sure you really want it in your heart, and hold it there.


After you think about what you want, visualize how you’ll feel if your dreams come true. What will the outcome be if you do achieve your dreams?

“Very often, it is a feeling,” Oettingen said. “You define that outcome, and you imagine that outcome. And once you’ve imagined the outcome, really immerse yourself in these daydreams.”

This part does require some positive thinking, but you will use this step to carry you through the next ones. The key to achieving your dreams is to not just stop at the dreaming part; you have to put in the hard work to watch those dreams come to life.


This step probably won’t seem that enjoyable, but it’s necessary if you want to go through the whole process of achieving your dreams. If you simply stop at daydreaming, you won’t ever have the tools you need to achieve your dreams, because following them requires both unshakable faith and dedicated action. However, many people have something inside them that bars them from achieving their wildest dreams.

After you let that feeling of accomplishment wash over you while visualizing what it would feel like to actually achieve your dreams, think about the realistic obstacles you face that keep you from those goals.

“Then you say, What is it in me that holds me back from experiencing that wish, that outcome? ” Oettingen said. “Very often it’s an emotion, it’s those same old habits. … And you imagine that obstacle.”


Finally, you need to have action plans for each of those obstacles. Make a list of all the possible roadblocks you will face in achieving your dreams, and come up with solutions for each of them.

“Once you’ve imagined that obstacle,” Oettingen said, “you’ll understand what you need to do to overcome it.”

Sound too simple to be true? The research Oettingen has done thus far has helped people do everything from eat healthier foods to feeling more secure and confident in their romantic relationships. If you’d like to read more about her methods and research, click the link in the previous sentence for more in-depth information.

Also, remember to practice patience when trying to achieve your dreams. All the small steps you take will amount to big ones, in the end, so just make lists each day of the things you need to accomplish in order to reach your goals, and go after them! Don’t let anything, especially your own mind, hold you back from your destiny.