I was and still am a skeptic of manifestation and visualization tactics. Mostly because I see people using them as a type of “hack.” A way to make them feel good about themselves and their future without ever taking any real action beyond writing down the things that they want.
My cynicism would tell me that there is no way it’s that easy.
Sure, there is power is writing, but I was a believer that you need to work hard to achieve the things you want in life. And very adamant that shortcuts didn’t exist.
I’ve been journaling almost as long as I could hold a pencil, so I knew that writing was a powerful outlet to learn things about myself, blow off steam and express things I couldn’t bring myself to say out loud. I would mostly journal about my negative thoughts and believed that writing them down was taking them out of my brain and allowing me to move on.
I hate to say that everything changed when I found an Instagram account. But everything changed when I found an Instagram account. Specifically, the account of The Holistic Psychologist. Everything she said spoke to me on a near-spiritual level. She encourages self-healing and re-introduced me to the idea of future self journaling. But it wasn’t the “tell the universe what you want, and it will provide” kind of advice that I expected.
It was rooted in the idea of showing up for yourself every single day and confronting the ugly truths of why you can’t seem to get where you need to be.
In the past, I’ve gone to ‘law of attraction’ and mindfulness meetups where we sit in a circle and write down things like what our perfect day looks like, where we see ourselves in five years and describe in great detail our ideal futures.
I was never able to connect with the things I saw myself doing in a real and grounded way. I couldn’t draw the lines from here to there without getting overwhelmed or feeling silly. It was like writing down three wishes and asking the universe to grant them without making any real changes in my life. I wasn’t buying it.
I resonated with her message of designing a life and a future that I feel good about and I committed to giving ‘future self’ journaling a real shot.
The first few days, I felt ridiculous. Writing things down that I want, made me feel selfish. It felt pointless. I still had that voice in my head telling me that this wasn’t going to work. I was too jaded. Too broken to be tricked into a brighter future just through journaling.
It took about 12 days before I started to notice the shifts. They were subtle but powerful.
I stopped using journaling as a means to vent about all of the shit in my life and began confronting how my actions and behavior was perpetuating the negativity I was feeling.
I thought that getting the thoughts out and on to paper would remove the tension from my life. But writing them down doesn’t solve the problems. Instead, it allowed me to dwell on anger and frustration. Writing down the negativity was only helping to fuel it, and I was using it as a way to justify my reactions to the situations.
I needed to confront why I felt those powerful emotions and change the way I react to them. I needed to stop letting them control me. I changed my journaling practice to address how my future self would handle these situations and how I can take steps in my everyday life to reach that point.
I started focusing on what behavior I needed to change to achieve the level of success and calm. I saw myself having in the future. The Holistic Psychologist has an awesome guide on how to get started with specific prompts push you to answer questions like:
- What specific behavior do I need to change to become my future self
- How will changing these behaviors positively affect my life
- What opportunities will I have today that will allow me to practice these behaviors
I also began trying to sit and feel the emotions of what it would feel like to achieve my goals. How would I feel or act if I could change certain behaviors in my life? How do I feel right now when I think about my future self?
The answer for the first few weeks was ‘anxious.’
Thinking about changing as a person and reemerging as a leveled up version of myself that my friends and family might not even recognize was a hard thing to stomach in reality. I was afraid of facing judgment for growing and setting boundaries for myself. For walking away from things that didn’t serve me any longer. I felt like I would seem selfish and that would cause people to resent me.
I’m still working through those emotions. Thirty days is not nearly enough time for that big of a breakthrough, but progress is progress.
As I dove further into my personal development journey, my mind also opened up to the idea that I can’t even begin to comprehend what I’m truly capable of because for my whole life I had been creating safe goals and setting boundaries under the guise of what I considered “realistic.”
The more I journaled about how I want to feel and what I want to achieve, and the more I wrote about ACTUALLY achieving them and what it would feel like…I realized that my life wasn’t limited to the amount of energy I could exert or the number of hours I was working to achieve something. I could ask for help in ways that I had previously gawked at and it would work.
One thing I’ve realized is that I need to make it known what I want. I need to take action that aligns with the things that I want and to not take up space in my life with things that I don’t want. The law of attraction works in mysterious ways. When I was desperate for work, and I started taking on any job I could find, I started getting a ton of shit jobs. The universe saw what I was doing, and I now recognize that it was giving me more of what it seemed like I wanted because it was what I was taking and I seemed fine with it.
When I fired a client that I didn’t align with, other clients that I felt resistance towards began slowly and amicably moving on. I was offended at first until I realized that it was exactly what I had been asking for.
The things that I was writing started happening.
I don’t think this was by mistake or some “miracle of manifestation.” It’s because I identified the things that I wanted to do. When I realized that every day, every week, every month I was writing down the same goals over and over again, I started learning what I want.
It triggered something within me.
A feeling similar to shame. I knew the things I needed to do to achieve individual goals, and I knew I wasn’t putting in the effort to do them. I began taking small steps and putting in the minimum amount of energy I knew was required, and just that small act of showing up every day to do one little thing created a significant change in my life.
Journaling doesn’t work unless you do.
Through my daily journaling practice, I’ve started to see patterns in the way that I think and how my thought patterns affect the way I live my life.
And I don’t mean doing the physical work to achieve your goals, but doing the mental work and healing required to become the type of person who achieves their goals.
I realized that I couldn’t achieve anything if I couldn’t even control my emotional responses. I would never find stability if I didn’t stabilize my habits internally.
I write the things that I want. I write how I will feel when I have those things. I write about having those things in the present tense and what my life looks like now that I have achieved things. Then I take it back. I write about what it would take for me to get to that place. What daily action I can take to bring me one step closer to my goal.
The process isn’t over, and I’m going to keep journaling about my future and asking for what I want and making the process my own, because it’s working.