How To Manifest: A Guide To Willing Your Goals Into Existence In 2024

how to manifest
How To Manifest In 2024, According To The ProsSvetlana Lavereva

‘Your whole life is a manifestation of the thoughts that go on in your head.’

This is a quote made famous by Australian television producer and author Rhonda Byrne, who published her best-selling self-help book The Secret in 2006. The book went on to sell more than 30 million copies, gain a legion of celebrity fans including Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith and Ellen DeGeneres, and form the bedrock of manifestation practices seen across the globe today.

But manifesting, which is essentially willing your goals into existence, isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. Based on the Law of Attraction, which was part of the New Thought movement and theorised by 19th century spiritualist Phineas Quimby, manifesting is all about the belief that our thoughts are energy. The concept has its foundations in several philosophical and religious traditions, from Hermeticism and Transcendentalism to Hinduism, and has been expanded on by several Twentieth Century theorists such as Napolean Hill (Think and Grow Rich, 1937) and Louise Hay (You Can Heal Your Life, 1984). To put it simply, manifesting aims to put the individual in the driver’s seat of their own life and makes them responsible for the positive and negative effects in their lives.

However, in recent years and following the Coronavirus pandemic, it seems manifesting is seeing a monumental surge in popularity among those wanting to take back the reins. For example, searches for the term ‘manifestation’ have increased steadily on Google since 2017, and peaked in July 2020 at the height of the pandemic. A quick look at social media and the hashtag #manifestation has been tagged over eight million times on Instagram, and over 25 billion times on TikTok, with the now famous '3-6-9 Manifestation Method' becoming a particularly popular trend in 2021.

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The form of manifestation currently taking the social media app by storm once again is known as ‘The O Method’, which encourages people to harness the power of orgasms to will their wildest dreams into existence. The #OMethod tag on the app has been viewed more than 76.6m times. Manifestation proponents have similarly made the case for ‘The Pillow Method’ on TikTok, which requires people to write their desires on a piece of paper in the present tense, write it out a couple of times, fold the paper under their pillow, lie down and gently recite the affirmation until they drift to sleep.


In recent years, several celebrities have even spoken out about how they've manifested their dreams to become a reality. In November 2021, musician Swizz Beatz told Architectural Digest that he and was ‘low-key manifesting’ that he and wife Alicia Keys would acquire their Californian home after saving a picture of the building as his phone’s screen saver for eight years. Meanwhile, singer Ariana Grande revealed to TV host Jimmy Fallon that she believes she possesses a ‘weird manifesting gift’, which might help explain her monumental rise to fame and success in recent years.

For us mere mortals with Type A personalities, however, the idea of manifesting may seem incredibly daunting. After all, just how possible is it to put positive thinking into practice and bring one’s dreams to life if you don't have a concrete plan of action? And is manifestation a similar practice to yoga and meditation, requiring time out of one’s daily schedule, or a complete lifestyle overhaul?

In order to dig deeper into manifestation, we consulted a range of experts from psychology, life coaching, and the wellness industry to find out what manifesting means to them, how we can manifest something into reality, and the common misconceptions surrounding the practice which may affect its reputation.

What is manifesting?

Contrary to the belief that ‘seeing is believing’, manifesting is all about believing in something in order to see it come your way. ‘Manifesting is the ability to use the power of your mind to change and create the reality you experience,’ explains self-development coach Roxie Nafousi.

Nafousi began manifesting at the age of 27 after suffering from an addition to cocaine, alcohol and cigarettes for several years, and feeling a lack of self-worth and purpose. Feeling something ‘click’ in her mind after listening to a podcast on manifesting, the mother-of-one has since carved out a name for herself in the wellness industry, becoming a Sunday Times bestselling author following the publication of her book Manifest: 7 Steps to Living Your Best Life and dubbed the ‘Queen of Manifesting’ by Forbes.

The writer of a staggering four books on manifesting and international speaker tells ELLE about why she believes her first book was such a big success. 'Firstly, I think post-pandemic people needed hope, and manifesting is all about hope. In a time where there was so much uncertainty, they needed something tangible that put them back in the driving seat of their life... And then, I think it’s success also comes down to the fact that the seven steps really do work.'

‘[Manifesting] is a practice that benefits literally every area of your life because it empowers you to become the very best version of yourself that exists, embody the person you most want to become, and help you to unlock the infinite potential that you have to create the life of your dreams,’ she says.

Moon Onyx Starr, a wellness entrepreneur and host of the Over the Moon Retreats in the UK, delved deeper into manifestation during the pandemic during a period of what she describes as a ‘great instability’ in her life. For her, manifesting is about ‘breathing life into your goals through thought, action, emotions and belief. You must be clear about what it is that you want to manifest and then take inspired action to help make those dreams a reality.'

According to life coach Grace McMahon, the success rate of manifesting depends entirely on the person and it doesn't work for everyone. For those that do gel with manifesting, she says it can be a great way to help someone focus their goals and stay on track, 'but we do need to hold ourselves accountable when it comes to meeting goals and aims - otherwise we tend to put things off or drop them when it doesn’t happen for us'.

What are the steps for manifesting?

The thought of starting on your manifesting journey may have you wanting to run for the hills, especially if you’re not used to taking time out to sit with your thoughts. Instead of immediately spending a fortune on bullet journals, fancy looking felt tip pens or panicking at the sight of a yoga mat, Nafousi says manifesting starts with an individual gaining clarity on how they really want their life to look, and how they want to feel in six months or a year from now. For some, this might be achieved by creating a vision board you’d see in a meeting room filled with key phrases, timelines and images. For others, it may involve visualisation meditation.

During the research for her second book, Nafaousi says she was surprised when people would tell her: 'I’ve been having a really bad week and I’m really worried I’m ruining my manifesting journal'.

'For me this was an example of toxic positivity, and it made me sad to think people were panicking about having off days,' she explains. 'It’s something I address in the book and really hope it helps people to realise that, in fact, allowing ourselves the freedom to feel and process the full spectrum of emotions is key.'

Working on your mindset in the first instance is key to manifesting, says Starr. ‘If you want to attract money into your life but you have negative emotions and limiting beliefs surrounding money, then you’re actually preventing it from coming into your life,’ she says. ‘The same goes for love, success or anything else that you would like to manifest.’

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According to Starr there are several steps an individual should focus at the beginning stages of manifesting:

  1. Understand what you want to manifest

‘Be crystal clear about what it is that you would like to manifest and be as detailed as possible. If you would like to manifest more money for example, be specific - how much money, by when do you want to acquire this amount, how does it feel to have this abundance of money in your life, what would you do with the money?

‘On a piece of paper, write down what exactly it is that you want and visualise how you’d feel if you reached your goals. Let your emotions run wild and write them all down.’

2. Work on your mindset

‘Try to overcome your limiting beliefs and ensure your mindset is in alignment with your goals. If you want something, but deep down you don't believe you’re worthy of it, you will push that goal further away.’

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Nafousi agrees, noting that you must try to reset how you feel and think about yourself. ‘We manifest not from our thoughts, but from our beliefs about what we are worthy of which means that self-love is the driving force behind manifesting,’ she says. ‘To attract anything into your life, you must first believe you are worthy of having it.’

Check out our list of mental health apps here.

3. Take heartfelt action towards your goals

‘Put in whatever work you can from your side to move you closer towards your goal, and leave the rest to the universe.’

The experts suggest making actionable goals that are realistic to fulfil and achieve, whether it’s going on a daily walk to ultimately reach your 10km run goal, or reaching out to prospective employers via email if you want to change careers by the end of the year.

4. Practice gratitude

‘Be grateful for what you already have and grateful for what other beautiful blessings are to come.’

Stuart Sandeman, founder of Breathpod and host of BBC Radio 1’s Decompression Sessions says that gratitude 'will help shift your mind-set from "lack" to "abundance", which means you’ll choose to focus your energy on everything you have as opposed to what you don’t'.

5. Raise your vibration

‘Some of the practices I recommend which help to raise my vibration are yoga, meditation, exercise, a plant-based diet, surrounding myself with positive and inspiring people, sleeping and waking early with eight hours of sleep, listening to self-development podcasts, journaling and practicing gratitude.’

Read ELLE UK’s list of the best podcasts for 2022 here.

6. Be open and receptive

‘Energy flows, where attention goes. Give loving energy to whatever is in line with your goals. Once you are in this state of flow, you will begin to attract more of the right people and situations to help you fulfil your goals. And in the due course of time, you will find yourself walking through doors you once prayed would open.’

When and how should you manifest?

From ordering a Deliveroo to your door in under and hour, or choosing the express checkout at Sainsbury's, we’re all guilty of wanting immediate gratification in today’s tech-driven world. Yet, in much the same way that therapy and exercise can’t produce overnight results, manifesting is a slow-burning practice that requires dedication and patience.

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‘People often say, “I’ve been manifesting 20 minutes a day,’ but manifesting is not something you do,’ outlines Nafousi. ‘Manifesting is a self-development practice to live by. It’s a way of living.’

While rituals are part of the manifesting process, the self-development coach believes that true manifestation is a practice you commit to throughout your actions every day as ‘it’s about aligning your behaviour, realising your worth, stepping outside your comfort zone, being resilient to challenges, embracing gratitude, surrendering, trusting, and being proactive in making your dreams happen’.

To start off, Sandeman suggests those interested in manifestation start their day with a dedicated breathwork, visualisation and gratitude practice in the morning, and end their day by creating a vision board to help amplify the process. You can check out Sandeman's daily breathwork manifestation practices here.

With the New Year upon us, Nafousi says one of the biggest rules for manifesting in 2024 is to learn to say 'no'. 'Saying "no" is empowering, liberating and it frees up so much time and energy for us. It’s a big part of Step 4: Overcoming Tests from the Universe. Get into the practice of saying "no" to things that don’t align with your future self or that don’t serve your best interests! I promise it gets easier the more you do it!'

What are the biggest misconceptions and concerns surrounding manifesting?

One of the biggest problems surrounding manifesting is people believing that it’s a passive process ‘or that visualising one’s dreams is enough’ to see change, says Nafousi. For example, by constantly telling the universe you want a new car, you’re not miraculously going to find a shiny Ferrari on your driveway without doing some practical work to achieve that goal. ‘There is no substitute for hard work!’ she adds.

Contrary to popular belief, positive thinking alone isn’t going to bring about change either. While some studies have found those with a positive mindset are more likely to achieve their aspirations, Fatmata Kamara, a mental health nurse advisor at Bupa UK argues that success is influenced by the behaviour adopted from a positive mindset, rather than manifesting alone. ‘Previous research has also found the ability to visualise events before they take place can help with decision making process, meaning the decision maker is able to eliminate options which would be less successful,’ she says.

McMahon agrees, noting that with an open mindset, we tend to be receptive to new experiences, doing new things, and believe that we can improve and develop. Positive thinking does have it perks, like giving someone reassurance or confidence, but she wants individuals to remember that manifesting is less about ‘thinking positively’, rather being open to new avenues.

While manifestation’s popularity on social media has improved people’s awareness of the practice, its effectiveness can often be misconstrued and provide false hope. For example, last year’s viral 3-6-9 Manifestation Method on TikTok focusses on the importance of numerology, which is the pseudoscientific belief in a mystical relationship between certain number and events. The method encourages users to write a goal down on a piece of paper three times in the morning, six times during the day, and nine times before going to sleep. Tiktok users who have used the method claim to have had almost immediate results, from receiving a text message from an ex to acquiring money.

A big criticism of this sort of manifestation practice, is that it fails to recognise the inherent negative thoughts some individuals may have as a result of mental health issues, like anxiety and depression. ‘Assuming positive thinking will result in positive experiences is quite a reductionist approach, and does seem to ignore the reality that not all our thoughts are positive,’ says McMahon.

Likewise, the repetition of manifesting one’s goals and the possibility that the goal might not come to fruition might exacerbate one’s negative views about themselves or the world. ‘Manifesting encourages focus on only the positives; however, this can increase the pressure to feel happy all of the time,’ warns Kamara.

‘This can lead to many practising manifestations to invalidate negative feelings and suppress their emotions. It also has the power to teach us that we’re in control of what happens in our lives so if something bad happens, we internalise the situation and blame ourselves. Believing our thoughts will result in an action can cause some people to form patterns of behaviours or rituals as a way to prevent bad things from happening,' she adds. As a result, she says this can lead to mental health conditions developing, such as OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and that positive manifestation ‘can cause avoidant behaviours, too, such as creating rituals (repetitive activities) such as flicking a light switch on and off, or walking a certain way to prevent negative things from happening’.

‘Accepting and recognising negative thoughts are natural can help make embracing positive thoughts easier,' say Kamara, who suggests individuals try mindfulness techniques that allow them to be present in the moment and reflect on all that you are grateful for.

If you're struggling with mental health issues and would like more support, the Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year on 116 123. Mind also offer mental health support between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. You can call them on 0300 123 3393, text them on 86463, or find out more information here.

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