Reality Check: Step by Step

Different people like different things. One clear example is in food preparation. Some people love recipes; others hate recipes. Some of us like to follow procedures; others don’t.
If you like procedures, then you might like Dr. Bob Wubbolding’s four-step Reality Therapy procedure. He calls it WDEP: Want, Doing, Evaluate, and Plan.
The four steps are deceptively simple. I remember my first reaction when I learned the process—it seemed simplistic and impractical for real problems. I was mistaken. The four steps have proven useful in my own problem-solving and as suggestions for others.
Dr. Bob describes using WDEP in workplaces in his book, “Employee Motivation.” But the process is useful for all kinds of situations. If you have a challenge and don’t know where to start, maybe this will help.
I’ll use a relationship example to give you a little more detail on each step.
Want (W): What do you want? Do you want to build a closer relationship? End the relationship? Be honest. If you pretend that you want to improve the relationship but deep down you just want it to be over, at least be honest with yourself. It’ll save you frustration later when you are wondering, “Why does everything I’m doing seem counter-productive?”
Doing (D): What are you doing? In the relationship, are you choosing to argue whenever the opportunity presents itself? Or are you choosing to find points of common ground? Are you reaching out or are you ignoring? Are you supporting or are you discouraging?
Evaluate (E): This step could be summarized by, “How’s that been working for you?” You are doing your own evaluation, so you may as well be honest. Compare the effects of what you’ve been doing with what you’ve said that you want. Is it leading you toward the result you want? Or away?
For example, if you believe you want a closer relationship but you’ve been choosing to find fault at every opportunity, how has that been working for you? If you want to leave a relationship, but you engage in activities that intertwine you more closely, is that leading you toward what you want?
Plan (P): Here, you take what you’ve learned through the first three steps and make a plan of action that will lead you to what you want. If what you’ve been doing hasn’t been working effectively, then think about what you might do differently. If it is working, then plan to do more of the same.
A plan only works if you follow through. Wubbolding writes, “Three frogs were sitting on a leaf. Two decided to jump. How many were left?” Unless the decision is followed by jumping, there will still be three frogs on the leaf—today, tomorrow, the next day…
Write your plan down. Include action steps. Add timeframes. Then take the action.
“But wait!” you say, “What if I’ve planned the wrong actions?”
Monitor your progress using these four steps. Review what you want. Has it changed? Look again at what you are doing. How’s your new action working? Better? Worse? If necessary, modify your plan based on this new information.
Learn from your results. What is working to move you toward where you want to go? Use that learning to refine your plan.
Might this procedure help you?

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