How To Manifest Something From Start To Finish
The New Year has a certain energy about it: Clean-slate vibes, fresh-start motivation, and hopefulness are abundant. It’s also a time when you’re inordinately likely to hear or see the word manifest. Whether during a meetup with a friend who tells you about manifesting their bonus, or from an Instagram influencer who’s manifesting better health and a new business venture in 2022, you’re bound to cross paths with the concept. And if the idea that simply focusing your thoughts on a desired outcome can turn it into reality makes you want to roll your eyes in disbelief, you’re not alone.
Thing is, it’s a misconception that manifestation works by just thinking your way to what you want, says Kiki Ramsey, PhD, author of Get Courageous Now: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Passions and Purpose in Life. “People throw the word around, saying, ‘Oh, I have to focus and click my feet like Dorothy, then something’s going to happen to me and my life will be great.’” That’d be nice, right?
Reality check: Manifestation isn’t wishful thinking. It requires truly working toward your goal too (though your thoughts are indeed a powerful catalyst and guide for your actions), says Danielle Busby, PhD. “The positive thinking gets you to the doing.”
So, yes, manifesting starts with changing your thoughts, but that’s not where the effort stops. That’s the precursor for a whole lotta action, which is the meat of the manifesting phenomenon. “When we start to focus our attention on positivity and optimism, what we can and will do, our brain shifts into high gear to align with what we are telling ourselves and others,” says Wendy O’Connor, PsyD. Being optimistic about achieving your goals—on a daily basis—helps propel you toward them.
Essentially, getting in the habit of thinking and saying, “Yes, I can,” or “Yes, I will” programs the subconscious brain to do the same, then that filters out into your actions, says Ramsey. Point made.
Overall, manifesting is less about speaking a dream into existence than about subscribing to an uplifting mindset as you bring that goal to fruition. So how exactly do you start adopting that POV, then turn it into a consistent practice that helps you create the life you want? Let our experts show you *all* the steps that create magic.
Define Your Goals
First, get specific about what you want in the future. If you’re struggling with that, try talking it through with a confidant or creating what Ramsey likes to call a “life list.” Essentially, it’s a bucket list, but calling it a life list removes the morbidity from the idea. “You can also create categories of life lists. You could have one for your career, one that deals only with money, one that’s focused on family, and one that zeroes in on personal goals,” says Ramsey. Writing down your goals for the next few months, year, and several years is a major first move in practicing manifestation (and a great way to start a fresh year). You can’t begin the other steps until you’ve taken time to name what you want and given yourself a rough timeline for achieving it.
Create a Vision Board
Now that you’ve spelled out your goals, it’s time to literally see yourself accomplishing them. You can do that by making a vision board, or a collage or collection of images and inspiring quotes. Designing these usually involves digging through magazines to find pictures or words that resonate with you and relate to your goals, and it can include photos of yourself and similar past achievements as well. This is an especially helpful task for beginners who are just starting the process of training their brains to think positively, says O’Connor. “This should be a visual representation of what you hope to be,” says Busby. Seeing your goals regularly outside of your mind’s eye is one way to keep yourself zeroed in on what you want.
Pinpoint Positive Mantras
Coming up with intentions and affirmations that become mantras you repeat throughout the day is a smart practice, says Ramsey. (Intentions are about something you’ll do, whereas affirmations describe yourself and your skills.) Intentions are particularly beneficial to reflect on in the morning, to set the tone for the day, especially when you’re not feeling your best. “When you say, ‘I might feel crappy, but I am going to have a good day,’ you trick your brain into thinking, Oh, wait, I know how I feel, but I know what I just said. Therefore, I’m going to will myself into a good day.” Intention setting can also lead to better decision-making. “The thoughts we give our attention to impact our emotions, which directly influence the choices we make. And the happier we feel, the more likely it is that we will engage in positive action,” says O’Connor.
You can also create affirmations to put your mind on the right track. One that Busby likes is “I am capable and worthy of X.” You fill in the blank with whatever that goal is. “It says I have the ability to do these things, but I am also deserving. It’s twofold; a lot of times we may be capable, but we don’t think we’re worthy.” Go ahead and repeat the intentions and affirmations as often as needed to bust out of a negative thought pattern.
Develop a Visualization Meditation
Simply spending time picturing your future self accomplishing your goals can work wonders. (Seriously!) When study participants imagined completing a workout before lifting weights, their strength increased by 35 percent, found a study in the journal Neuropsychologia. Just seeing themselves (in their mind) meeting a workout goal had a positive physical effect on them.
Wanna try it yourself? Set aside a few minutes each day to meditate, close your eyes, and imagine yourself already living as future you. Ask yourself, “What is that person thinking, feeling, and doing in life? How does that person spend her time, her money, and how does she take care of herself? What does she prioritise and what does she let go of?” says O’Connor. “Then write down the parts of that vision that stand out the most.” Ask yourself: “What part of your imagined best self are you yearning for the most right now? What thoughts get in the way of becoming her, and how could you shed them along with anything else that doesn’t serve you to make space for her?” Doing this can help you get out of any rut you’re in and spur you to make changes or to pursue something that will ultimately get you closer to your dreams.
Go Back to Gratitude
As you move toward what you want, be careful not to lose sight of what you currently have. “When you practice gratitude and are thankful, it opens a doorway to greater abundance,” says Ramsey. It’s also a way to make yourself aware of aspects of your life that you’ve already manifested. Go, you!
At the end of each day, write down three good things that happened, Ramsey suggests. Not only is this a mood boost, but it’s an easy way to see that what you’re doing is working, even if it’s gradual. (This method has also been shown to combat negative bias in how we remember our days and temporarily increase optimism, per a Japanese study.)
Reminder: Manifestation isn’t magic, but a process that trains your mind to embrace positivity that spills over into actions. It’s all about believing it before you achieve it (and then most definitely achieving allll of it).
The article What Does It Actually Mean To Manifest Something—And How Do You Do It? was originally published on the Women’s Health US website.