Thirteen years ago, I was defeated. Less than a year after moving out of my mom’s house, she was my landlord once again. Alone on her couch (my bed), I spent Friday nights watching bad TV and brushing crumbs off my lap. Before I could spark another cigarette, an infomercial stole my attention. An ash-haired woman spoke of untold laws and secrets with the power to manifest my wildest dreams. “This was no BS!” I choked.
I began reading books and listening to tapes on how to attract my desires. I visualized my fantasies, recanted affirmations, and purified my mind. And then something amazing happened…
Nothing changed. Not one single thing.
Sure, it felt like things were improving. Every time I told myself I was a millionaire, it felt wonderful. But my life wasn’t getting any better. My goals remained out of reach.
So, I tried something different. I sought advice from successful friends. They weren’t always wealthy, but they lived happy lives, on their own terms. One was a venture capitalist helping entrepreneurs in developing countries. He loved to build businesses that lifted communities. Another was a teacher that felt a rush when her students learned something new. I interviewed athletes, engineers, and small business owners to dissect the actionable steps to manifest your dreams.
I put their advice to work in my own life, becoming my own guinea pig. My results changed—fast. I went from almost dropping out of high-school to graduating from one of the top MBA programs in the world. I quit smoking and ran a marathon and then a triathlon. I traveled the world and went from dead broke to six-figures in the bank in less than a year.
Those results may pale in comparison to yours—if so, mazel tov my friend! Keep crushing it, and use these steps to reach new heights.
Let’s manifest our dreams, minus the squishy platitudes:
1. Know Where Mindset Matters
For all the hype, there’s one big problem with the Law of Attraction: belief alone can’t change anything—not in the physical world. It takes consistent, deliberate action to bend reality in your favor.
But that’s not to say that a positive mindset is unimportant. Ever met a woman who dates the same toxic men over and over again? Or the man who decries his every employer yet suffers the worst of them? How strange is it that whether we view life as good or bad, kind or evil, circumstances tend to prove our point?
What you are is what you have been. Who you will be is what you do now. —Buddha
Thoughts don’t manifest our dreams, but they dictate our actions, which do. Before writing your goals, first, check in with yourself: are you in a positive mindset right now?
Always begin with optimism. If you’re feeling stressed, pause for ten minutes of meditation. Feeling unconfident? Recite a few uplifting affirmations and relieve your past achievements for a while. When you’re ready, return to your goals.
2. Ask the Most Important Question
In Simon Sinek’s bestselling book, “Start with Why,” he explains how people don’t buy into a product until they understand the “why” behind it. Companies refer to this as their mission statement.
Likewise, you won’t commit to your personal mission until you believe in your soul why it matters. Think about the type of life you could be living if you accomplished your goals. How happy would that make you feel? Would it empower your peers?
We’ll sometimes do things for others that we won’t do for ourselves. So, think about how your success could better the lives of those around you
Then, imagine the consequences of not setting any goals. Can you accept the regrets that might follow? Would you risk the missed opportunities? Imagine your own funeral. Friends and family surround your casket—what would you want them to say about you?
Stoke a fire within yourself to live up to your aspirations. We only have one life to make it happen. Use this all as fuel.
3. Practice the Power of Patience
You’ve heard of the Pareto principle, often called the “80/20” rule. I estimate that 20% of success is smart goal-setting and 80% is execution. Nothing beats relentless action directed at the right target. But there’s one other crucial, yet overlooked trait: patience.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” —Bill Gates
Great things take time. But most people are overly patient in the short term and impatient in the long term. They work at a relaxed pace each day, yet complain and deflect blame when they’re not an overnight success.
Take common personal goals: pivoting careers, getting out of debt, or losing a lot of weight. It will take most people a year or two to reach these goals if they remain disciplined.
Let’s look at the three scenarios:
- Failure #1 — She absorbs a lot of knowledge but never acts on it (super common).
- Failure #2 — She starts a new venture with massive enthusiasm, only to fizzle out when adversity or boredom strikes.
- Success — She decides which goals to pursue, plans (but doesn’t overthink), then works on the plan every day.
The successful person is more like the tortoise than the hare in the classic fable. They’re like the woodpecker that whacks the same tree thousands of times until dinner is ready.
4. Use Habits to Trump Motivation
Legendary investor Ray Dalio wrote in “Principles: Life and Work” that successful people flourish and manifest their dreams by doing two critical things well:
A. Identify the Most Important Activities Related to the Goals
When approaching a problem, spend some time upfront framing it. Ask yourself: what would it look like if this were easy? Which 20% of activities generate 80% of the results?
If I were researching how to lose weight, I’d find that 3500 calories equal one pound. So, I could lose a pound per week by working out ~10 hours a week or by cutting out soda and sugary drinks. Clearly, diet is the key factor.
In sales prospecting or job searches, the root cause of failure is an insufficient pipeline. They aren’t reaching out to enough prospective customers or employers to get results. Better objection handling or follow-up may move the needle a bit, but it’s not the primary factor.
B. Repeat These Activities Every Day
Once you’ve identified the critical activities for your goals, you need to convert them into habits. This is key if you want to manifest your dreams.
For example, if I were to write a novel by the end of the year, I could write 300 words per day. That takes an average writer around twenty minutes each day. In that case, I would create a schedule for the day, with a time block dedicated to that activity. I would schedule this time first thing in the morning.
Don’t wait until you’re distracted or tired. Treat this time as sacred—nothing short of an emergency should get in the way.
5. Sustain It in the Long Run
People often ask: how do I sustain motivation for months and years? Habits are powerful because they reduce the need for constant motivation. Your goal becomes a lifestyle—a permanent fixture of your days.
Imagine placing your goals on autopilot. The critical takeaway: convert your critical success activities into repeatable habits. It’s easier when you sustain a high level of motivation. Do this with rewards to reinforce the habit. Savor a gourmet coffee after finishing a chapter, or enjoy a cheat meal after moving the scales. These treats help associate progress with pleasure in your mind.
Another great tip is to keep your goals “in front of you”. Put a picture of your dream home in your bathroom, or place a replica of your dream car on your nightstand. These will remind you of what you’re chasing after.
6. You Win More as a Team
The biggest mistake I made on my journey from mess to success is trying to go it alone. Don’t hesitate to recruit others on your path to achievement.
An accountability partner can be a great way to motivate you not to quit. Join clubs with people that share similar goals. Talk to those that have already accomplished what you want. Experts in a domain often have insider tips that speed up your progress.
Seeing someone who’s achieved your goal will increase your confidence that you can do the same. Scientists have researched the “mirror neurons” in our brains that reflect the behavior of someone who is being observed. If we see someone do something, our brains mirror the action, as though we can see ourselves doing it.
Have you ever joined a workout class or a hobby club and found that you could do something you never considered? We tend to step up our game to the level of our peers.
Most important of all, remember that your journey to success doesn’t have to be a lonely one. It’s more fun and fulfilling when you experience it with others. Best of luck in everything you do.
To manifest your dreams, you have to put in the work and start taking action. Your dreams will stay as dreams if you don’t act on them. Start with these 6 actionable ways to manifest your dream to turn your life around for the better.
More Tips to Manifest Your Dream
- How to Manifest Anything You Want and Achieve Your Dreams
- 8 Powerful Mindsets That Will Help Manifest Your Dreams
- 10 Ways To Turn Your Big Dream Into Reality
Featured photo credit: Andreea-Maria Juganaru via unsplash.com
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