Manifesting: How big should your dreams be?


The concept of manifesting gained momentum during the pandemic, as business owners looked for ways to stay focused and energised. But are some dreams just too big? Annie Ridout shares her thoughts…

When I was 24, I left London and moved in with my boyfriend in Somerset. I’d just completed a Masters in journalism and was doing some bookkeeping while writing my dissertation and interning at a regional newspaper.

I’d been given a copy of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, which is about the ‘universal law of attraction’ and the idea that if you focus on the good things in your life, you’ll attract more good and if you focus on the bad, you’ll attract more negative experiences.

Now, I understand that this is questionable and open to scrutiny, after all sometimes life is simply fair/unfair and it has nothing to do with the recipient calling in good or bad energies. It just is what it is.

However, on a basic level, we’re talking about the power of positivity. And I do believe that optimism, positivity and hope can propel us forward, from wherever we’re standing. From the lowest ebb, belief that things can improve can lift us, even if just a little.

And so back at the cottage in Somerset, aged 24, while I dreamed about the journalism career that I hoped lay ahead, I decided to make a list of everything that I wanted. I was probably imagining I’d like it all to happen over the next decade.

Rather than focusing on my very low income or lack of actual journalism job, I started to get clear on what my dreams looked like. The list included: become a successful freelance journalist, perform my poetry and music to thousands and have a book published.

I blu-tacked it up onto the wall and mostly forgot about it.

Except, I didn’t. Because by noting down those dreams, I was firming them up in my mind. I’d given myself space and time to really think about what a ‘successful’ future looked like, career-wise.

And I continued to pitch to write articles for publication, write music and poetry and think about how – down the line – I’d get a book deal. I wrote the list, then I started doing the work to manifest my dreams.

Within five years, I’d launched a digital magazine called The Early Hour and this led to me being commissioned to write my first article for the Guardian, followed by Red Magazine, Metro and lots of other national newspapers and women’s magazines.

And soon after, I was offered a book deal to write my first non-fiction book, The Freelance Mum.

I’m yet to stand on a stage and perform my music or poetry, but I have reached hundreds of thousands of people with my poems that have gone viral on Instagram, after being shared by the likes of Paloma Faith and Busy Philipps.

Back when I was 24 and stood in that cottage in Somerset dreaming, I’m not sure I really believed that any of the above would come true. And now that it has, it feels quite ordinary and achievable.

Now, I regularly create new dreams and goals to work towards because I like having a clear focus and to work out what steps I need to take to make it happen. I believe in my ability to make things happen, if I work hard enough and it keeps me going.

And as a coach, I love it when women bring their dreams to me. I love to explore how it would feel to achieve the career change or to relocate, for example. I love to help these women to really visualise this new life they have in mind.

But something I’ve noticed about when I’m being coached myself is that occasionally, my dreams have been questioned: but do you really want that? they’ve asked. And it causes discomfort.

What I believe we need from a coach is to have the space to explore our dreams – no matter the size. It’s wonderful to dream and visualise and create visionboards about the ideal future. And a coach should never make you doubt yourself.

Will it all come true? Maybe not. But if we have no dreams about a different, or improved, life – we will almost certainly stay stagnant. We can feel grateful for our current life while getting clear on changes we’d like to make for better balance, wealth, stability etc.

So in terms of how ‘big’ we can dream? Dream big. Think ‘wildest dreams’ scenario. And then if a slice of that dream materialises – amazing. And if the whole thing comes true – even better.

Manifesting will certainly be easier for those born into wealth, and depending on where you live, how much support you have and where you lie in terms of feminist intersections, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible for those with less.

Here are some prompts for visualising a different future:

  • In three years time, where would you like to be living?
  • What does your home look like?
  • Who are you living with?
  • What are you spending your days doing?
  • What do you eat, for each meal?
  • What clothes do you wear, and how do you feel in them?
  • How do you spend weekends?
  • And holidays?
  • How much money are your earning?
  • How do you spend it?
  • Three words for how you feel in this new life?

What are your thoughts on manifesting (or ‘dreaming’)?

Author: Annie Ridout