WOOP It to Grow

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

Many of you might be wondering what WOOP is. The first word that comes to mind when we think of WOOP is Scoop. Let me not waste more words and tell you that WOOP is one of the most fascinating tools I have come across in recent times.

Anil Kapoor in the movie “No Entry” constantly repeats “Be Positive”. Even in our day to day lives, we often hear “Think Positive”, whether it is about losing weight, running a marathon, growing our firm or any other wish that we are trying to fulfil. I fully endorse the view that being optimistic and thinking positively is absolutely a necessary step. In fact, it is the first step. However, problems happen when people think it is the only step.

I have seen countless financial professionals like you say “I want to grow, or I will do Rs. 50 Crore this year or I will grow 2x in the next 2-3 years”. Very rarely have I seen people achieve it. So why are the results so dismal despite of us wanting it to happen or even thinking positively.

I am excluding the people who cannot even take basic decisions to move forward in their business. It is so ironic that we are paid for the quality of our thinking and many are simply unable to improve that. Author and Pricing Expert Blair Enns writes a very powerful line “The truth about the average human being is that, regardless of what he claims he wants, he will avoid the difficult decisions and the undesirable tasks even if they represent the path to the outcome or future he desires”.

Why are the others who take decisions and want things to happen then get suboptimal results? Most importantly, what can you do about it? This is where WOOP comes to your rescue. Gabriele Oettingen has written a fabulous book “Rethinking Positive Thinking”, which is about wishes and how to fulfil them. She says that “when approached by someone who wants to achieve a specific dream, many of us offer simple advice: think positive! Do not dwell on the obstacles, since that will bring you down; be optimistic, channel positive energy and before you know it, all your wishes and goals will come true. Yet dreamers are not doers. My research has confirmed that merely dreaming about the future makes people less likely to achieve their dreams and wishes. The pleasurable act of dreaming seems to let us fulfil our wishes in our minds, sapping our energy to perform the hard work of meeting the challenges in real lives.

Did you notice the words obstacles and challenges in the above paragraph? Gabriele did a fascinating scientific study of human motivation and came out with an awesome method to visualize our future and make it a reality. The method is called “Mental Contrasting” and it instructs us to dream our dreams but then visualize the barriers that prevent us from achieving these dreams. WOOP is the tool based on Mental Contrasting and you can practice this to achieve your wishes and goals.

WOOP simply stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle and Plan.

Wish: One of the wishes most financial professionals have is “I want to grow”.

Outcome: What do you mean by this or How will you measure this? Some might say “I want to add 50 new clients in the next 2 years, or I want to double my AUM, or I want X Revenue.”

Obstacles: This is the step most people miss. They forget to ask “What obstacles am I likely to face? They don’t think they will face obstacles or even if they think they do, they think the obstacles are mostly external such as “these regulatory changes are killing me or clients don’t understand this or markets are not supportive”. However, the most critical obstacles for financial professionals and everyone else are the internal ones. Identify the most critical internal obstacle that will come in your way. What habits or behaviours might play a role? I have seen the following in our industry “Procrastination, Or Not Taking a Decision or Not wanting to experiment with a proven model someone has cracked. Many waste time in fund manager meets/webinars, market commentaries and technical side of the business. Others have formed a habit of not investing and getting everything free”. You need to dig deep enough and write down your internal obstacle. Your obstacle could be a habit, a behaviour, an emotion, an impulsive thought, assumptions you make (HNIs don’t have goals or Clients don’t give you 100% of their Assets) or arrogance. Seek the guidance of a coach if you need help in discovering this. It is not as hard as you think but you must reflect on this and commit to thinking and writing about your obstacles.

Plan: What should you be doing to overcome your obstacles? In this final step, you will write down one thought or action that you will take. Then you will think about when and where the obstacle is likely to occur next. Form an If-Then Plan: If obstacle A occurs, I will perform Action B.” Memorize If-Then Statements as they are extremely powerful and form your implementation intentions.

For example, If I do not feel like going for a walk today, I will use that as an excuse to not just walk but walk a little more. This is similar to what Dalai Lama has said “The day I tell myself I don’t have time to meditate today, I meditate for twice the time as this is precisely when I need to do it the most”. I hope you are getting my point on this. If you do not feel like working on client acquisition today, this is precisely when you should double your efforts. I often hear people say, “I am unable to make a decision or I need time to think”. When you hear yourself making such excuses, just DO it.

That is, it. It is simple and Powerful. You can practice WOOP as often as you like. You can even create index cards for WOOP. We help financial professionals like you to implement your WOOP, but you can do it on your own too.

Brian Johnson has this brilliant Mantra “Obstacles make me Stronger (OMMS) and if your obstacles make you stronger, you become what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls “AntiFragile”. The post on AntiFragile to hit your inbox sometime in the Future. The key point to remember now is to use WOOP to have a stellar 2021.