Using Negativity as An Rx for Achieving Goals

NOVEMBER 08, 2017

Contrary to what many believe, focusing on the negative is an effective method to achieving any goal.

That is, focusing on overcoming negative barriers that are holding you back from reaching what you want to accomplish is an effective way to efficiently map out a path to success. But, how?

Here is a simple, 4-step plan, called the WOOP method, that can be applied to any goal in life:

1. Wish. Define what you want. What is the goal? Write it out, and be specific.

2. Outcome. If you achieve this goal, what will that mean to you? What will the results look like? What impact will they have? Why do you want to reach this goal?

3. Obstacle. What are the things that are working against you to achieve the goal? What things stand in your way?

4. Plan. Focus on how to deal with obstacles, should they arise. What is the strategy to overcome the obstacles?

The WOOP method is a very effective way to reach one's goals. 

To illustrate why, consider 2 groups of people who were about to start a diet. One group was told that the diet they would follow is very hard. The other group was told that their diet would be a "piece of cake," pun intended.

Surprisingly, the group told that their diet would be difficult lost more weight. 
The reason is because they were mentally exposed to potential challenges before they started, so they could mentally equip themselves with a solution to overcome them. When things got difficult, they already had a plan in place to work through the challenges, making it more likely for them to reach their end goal.

The takeaway is not to always think negative but 
to approach the pursuit of a goal pursuit realistically and to plan for the worst-case scenario. Pharmacists plan ahead to prevent catastrophic workflow in their practices, so why not apply that same preparation to crushing your goals?

Need some help? Here is an exclusive, application-only course for serious and committed pharmacists. 
This an excellent resource for anyone with big goals and dreams.


Oettingen, G. Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation. Current; 2015.


Adam Martin, PharmD, ACSM-CPT
Adam Martin, PharmD, ACSM-CPT
Dr. Martin is a licensed pharmacist, having earned his doctorate of pharmacy degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 2012. He is the founder of TheFitPharmacist movement, which strives to empower pharmacists and pharmacy students to thrive in their careers by overcoming stress and unhealthy habits using science-based principles and unmatched support. His passion for helping those in pharmacy led to TheFitPharmacist Podcast on the PharmacyPodcast network, where he provides practical tips for staying healthy while working at the pharmacy, along with interviewing professionals in the top of their respective fields to bring their knowledge right to your earbuds. He merges his passion of pharmacy with the experts in nutrition through being the owner and nutrition consultant at The Diet Doc Pittsburgh North, with the company having over 25 years of success. Learn more and join TheFitPharmacist movement at