Some people tell you to follow your dreams. Some say to do what you love. Some encourage you to be your best self. All are just abstractions meant to activate your potential. I like to use another one: manifest your ideas. Transforming your hopes, dreams, and ideas into something tangible requires belief in oneself and a plan of action designed to accumulate small achievements which add up to massive accomplishments. The obvious question is, how do you actually do it?
I’m a big believer in the notion that there are some fundamental principles and practices you can utilize in order to see your ideas come to fruition. Cultivating belief in yourself and belief in your ability to make your dreams a reality is the foundation for this entire process. Without that belief, it’s far easier to succumb to the pitfalls of doubt and the unavoidable setbacks and challenges you’ll experience along the way.
Contrarians will say that turning ideas into reality is easy — you “just do it” — and it doesn’t require any special formulas. But if it’s so easy, why don’t we all just live our best lives all the time? Why don’t we build our dream homes and businesses? Why can’t we even seem to kick our bad habits? It’s not because we don’t want to do those things or that we don’t believe they’re good ideas. It’s because we lack knowledge of the method. Luckily, it’s not some long, complicated equation — it’s actually very easy to learn.
The 3-step process of manifestation
Step 1: Choose a Goal
Here’s the backdrop: you have an idea and you really want to make it happen. What really helps is to break that down as granularly as possible, giving you small goals that are easy to achieve. For example, if what you want to manifest is a business of your own, then there are dozens or hundreds of smaller goals you can set in order to get there. These include choosing a product or service, choosing a name for the business, choosing a logo, reading about business plans, making a business plan, taking a business class, et cetera. In fact, your first goal can be to make a list of goals, which ensures that you’re never wondering what to do next.
Step 2: Achieve that Goal
Once your idea is in hand and you’ve chosen a goal, forget about the larger plan and just focus on that goal. An important point here is to not get discouraged if you don’t achieve it in the timeframe you were aiming for. Bestselling author Tim Ferris told an interviewer that when writing a book, he aims for two pages a day, and doesn’t care if they’re “crappy.” This is a great strategy because if you stick to it, you can miss every fourth day and still write 275 pages in six months. Little things add up to huge accomplishments.
Step 3: Repeat
There’s really not much to say here. Just pick a new goal and focus on that one, stacking up your achievements along the way. For every one you reach, you’re making progress toward manifesting your larger idea and also building positive associations with the process. You are what you think about, or, put another way, what you think about will become you. Contrary to what some might think, manifesting a dream into reality isn’t the result of one magical moment — it’s often a tedious, long-term endeavor with repetition at the core.
To drive this point home, I’ll mention Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Becoming one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the 21st century didn’t involve a Eureka moment followed by a giant flow of cash. Instead, it involved years upon years of learning, building, iterating, and continually setting and achieving small goal after small goal. A great quote from him that sums up that philosophy while also warning against easy discouragement is, “Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.”
Bonus tip: Know when to ask for help
This may seem obvious or cliché, but it bears repeating; just because you can’t do something on your own doesn’t mean that it’s not one of your best ideas. In fact, the bigger and better your idea is, the more likelihood there is that you’ll need help with it along the way — and finding the right help can be one of your many goals. Case in point: whether you think Elon Musk’s best idea is building an electric car company, transforming urban transportation, engineering reusable rockets, or brainstorming a Mars colony, you can rest assured he isn’t doing any of those things in a room by himself.
I’ll leave you with this thought: We’re coming off a tough year for almost everyone, but the ideas and ambitions and passion of average, everyday people have been a huge source of inspiration for us all – from healthcare workers dedicated to their career to entrepreneurs solving critical problems with clever innovating. Undoubtedly, we’ve all got great ideas in us and bringing them into reality starts with believing in ourselves and staying committed to our goals. I hope the best for everyone, and can’t wait to see what amazing ideas we manifest in 2021.