The Broken Window Theory & How to Create Massive Change in Your Life

Self-Help

Can you believe that it’s already the end of summer? How freaking quickly is the year flying by? It seems like just yesterday I was writing down my New Year’s resolutions and determined to create a better me in 2019. Well, if you’re anything like me, then you’re probably nowhere near checking off those resolutions and wondering “Who the hell did I think I would be in 2019? Superwoman?”

I’m not the only one who’s made this mistake over and over, and it doesn’t just happen during the new year. We’re all interested in improving ourselves in some way, whether it’s getting in shape, learning a language, learning how to cook, deepening our yoga practice, reading more, etc. But in our good intentions and excitement from a sudden wave of inspiration, we try to do too much and we set ourselves up for failure. We want to change, but often try to create a drastic change in such a short period of time which inevitably only leaves us feeling guilty and disappointed.

This happens with both the bad habits we’re trying to break and the good ones that we want to adopt. A very popular example would be trying to quit smoking cold-turkey. We all know someone (or maybe we are that someone) who’s always “trying to quit.” Don’t worry, there’s no judgment from me!

One of my latest examples was that I wanted to start keeping my apartment cleaner so Matt would be happier to come home to a clean space and our home would look lovely all the time. I decided that each and every day I would have the dishes done, the laundry done, the counters spotless, fresh flowers in the kitchen, the floors vacuumed, the bed made, and the bathroom cleaned – 24/7. I decided this randomly one evening after a surge of inspiration to tidy up the house. Well, it’s now weeks later, and how beautiful do you think the apartment is looking right now? It’s NOT.

My clothes and piles of laundry are scattered all over the apartment, and there’s no sign of my resolution to keep the house clean. The clothes have taken over yet again. If I ever go missing, you just might find me trapped under a pile of clothes in our bedroom. 

As a self-help and self-improvement junkie, I understand more than anyone that desire to improve oneself and feel that sense of personal accomplishment when your goals are met, the house is cleaned, you’ve eaten healthy, and you’ve worked out that day. There’s nothing better than that feeling of being proud of yourself. But too often, we get so excited about that potential to create drastic change and become a better person, that we try to create massive change in our lives overnight. We try to lose 20 pounds immediately, we try to read five books in a month, or we try to go vegan in a weekend. But ultimately those changes don’t last. Changing one’s lifestyle and behaviors takes time and learning.

The Broken Window Theory

This blog post was inspired by a podcast by The Minimalists who I’ve referenced many times before. If you haven’t heard of The Minimalists, they’re best friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who became popular after releasing their documentary “Minimalism” on Netflix. They’re authors, podcasters, filmmakers, and public speakers who spend their lives sharing how living with less helped them find happiness, freedom, and fulfillment that money and possessions can’t give us.

In one of their “Quickie” podcast episodes, called “How Small Changes Make Big Progress,”Joshua and Ryan discussed how small everyday changes in our lives helps us move toward sustainability because those radical changes just don’t stick. Radical changes are like crash diets – it’s not feasible to keep that going all the time. However, making small healthy changes, one meal or snack at a time is what gives people the results that they want. Over time, those small changes eventually start to multiply. 

In this podcast episode, Ryan talked about an example of this that he witnessed when he was visiting Tokyo. He noticed that the city was so immaculate and clean that whenever he would see a piece of trash on the ground, it motivated him to pick it up! The city looked so clean and perfect that he felt the need to keep it that way. I think that’s really saying something, because how often do we go out of our way to pick up trash when we’re walking around? 

Joshua gave his example that resonated with me so much that it was the part that inspired this post today. He shared that this phenomenon is often called “The Wildfire Theory,” but he thinks of it as “The Broken Window Theory.”

He explains how in the 1990s in New York City, people were trying to make the city nicer and over time the urban planners realized something interesting in their efforts to turn the city around. They noticed that if there was ever a broken window in one building and they FIXED it, other buildings nearby start fixing their broken windows too. However, the areas that they didn’t fix ended up getting more broken windows and eventually would attract graffiti and other vandalism. Of course, they also noticed that whenever there was a little bit of graffiti, this lead to MORE graffiti. This realization prompted urban planners to not only fix windows all over the city but to create a 24-hour graffiti removal service. All you had to do was call the hotline, and someone would be there to remove the graffiti within 24 hours!

I love this example that Joshua gives because it’s safe to say that the majority of us have noticed this with our own eyes, and I think that it’s much easier to grasp the broken window theory than to picturing a wildfire. The other reason why I love this example is that the same is true for our everyday lives. As Joshua says, “We all have our own broken windows.” They take the form of past traumas, household clutter, toxic relationships, financial stress, smoking cigarettes, unhealthy eating, and weight gain. They’re the things in life that we want so badly to fix, but we can’t. Why? Because that’s A LOT of freaking changes.

And the broken windows are often so subtle that we don’t notice them as the start of a much bigger issue. They show up as the pajamas we throw on the ground in the morning; the laundry that piles that we don’t put away; the “to-do” list that keeps growing; the appointments that have to be made; the dishes that stack up in the sink; the Oreos that we ate last night; the toxic emotions we’ve bottled up since childhood. We don’t make the effort to fix the problem soon enough, or maybe even notice it happening, so it creates more and more chaos.

Then when we decide to make a change, we try to take on too much at once. We try to turn over the entire city of New York in one week; we try to clean our entire apartment in one night; and we try to knock out a to-do list that’s been growing since we rang in the New Year. The reality is that these broken windows have to be fixed the same way they were created: gradually. 

The added challenge that we have to take into consideration is that those “broken windows” are years of habits that have become so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. It all becomes automatic. We get up in the morning and we throw our pajamas on the ground; we eat dinner and we leave the dish in the sink; we do laundry but we never put it away. So how on earth could we change all of those things at once? I don’t know this for sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.

How to Create Massive Change in Your Life?

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna leave you on THAT note – by saying it’s impossible, that nothing can be done. So I put together a list of seven ways that you can fix your broken windows in a way that’s gradual AND reasonable, and that have the potential to actually stick long-term. I recommend trying all of them and then picking the one that you find the easiest to incorporate in your life. 

1. Fix one broken window at a time

My first piece of advice is to fix one broken window at a time. If you want to get in shape and focus on your health, maybe don’t declare to the world that you’re going to do P90X every day for the next 90 days, give up all the foods that you love, and stop drinking. Side note: I saw someone do this before and he looked MISERABLE… and also went back to his bad habits once he was done. Just as quickly as he got a six-pack, he lost it. 

Instead make the decision to exercise for an hour 3-4 days a week, or to run a 5k, or get 10,000 steps in. Then, after you’ve made one change and adapted to it, make one dietary change every couple of weeks. Maybe give up that one thing you eat WAY too much of. I met a woman once who lost 25 pounds because she gave up Pepsi! PEPSI! That’s all she did!She didn’t throw in an entire exercise regime and dietary changes all at once. She worked on ONE broken window: her soda addiction. I met her after she had lost all that weight and she talked to me about what her next healthy change would be. She was in the process of trying to decide how she would incorporate exercise next.

So pick one “broken window” and do something that is actually going to work for you in your everyday life. Fixing that window will help you gradually fix the other windows, and in the end, it will last.

2. Set the bar low 

If you find yourself not being able to accomplish those big things you set out to do, set goals that are so ridiculously small, that it would be impossible to NOT do them. Set the bar extremely low! Don’t put pressure on yourself to quit smoking immediately, instead, say I’m not going to smoke after ___ pm. Or I’m not going to smoke more than ___ amount of cigarettes a day. Or I’m only going to get ___ packs a week. Set the bar low and give yourself a chance to adjust.

Here’s another example: You know how much it sucks to unpack after a trip? You know how you have to unpack that suitcase, but it sits there on the freaking floor for days, sometimes weeks, overflowing with clothes that you never want to put away? Ok, maybe it’s just me. I REALLY hate laundry in case you couldn’t tell. Whenever I catch myself doing this… which is anytime I go anywhere, I make the decision to put away ONE item in the suitcase every time I walk by it. Once I decide that I’m able to tackle the suitcase in no time, but if I tried to do it all at once, it wouldn’t happen. 

Set the bar so stupidly low, that you have no reason and no excuse to not follow through. If you want to accomplish something BIGGER, like a bigger goal or lifelong dream, not just unpacking a suitcase, plan out each of the steps that you’re going to be taking. Decide each low bar that you would have to set for yourself in order to finally actualize that dream. Decide to enroll in a course tomorrow, or research your target market, or write one page of your business plan, or finally register as a business, or write ONE page of your book. Write down each low bar you have to set for yourself and accomplishing the bigger things in life. It will make it far less scary, far more reasonable, and it will finally get you moving in the right direction.

3. Gretchen Rubin’s One Minute Rule

If it’s a matter of the little things accumulating and getting out of hand, try using a trick that I learned from happiness expert, author, blogger, and podcaster Gretchen Rubin. She came up with this “One Minute Rule” that’s become incredibly popular with her audience. The idea is that if you can do something in one minute or less, you should do it right away.

This trick helps to tackle countless broken windows throughout the day and prevent them from spiraling into a bigger issue. For example, a plate can be rinsed off and put in the dishwasher in about 5-10 seconds, so you should do it right away. It gets little tasks out of the way and keeps them from boiling up. For that reason, it takes you a few seconds to do something, rather than letting dozens of simple tasks get out of hand. At that point, it would take you an hour, or even several hours of running around trying to do so many things at once. We’ve all been there when we’re trying to clean up a room that we let get messier and messier for the last month, which means that we have to spend the next half a day cleaning to get everything done. It takes so much more time and energy to tackle all of it than it would to chip away one task at a time.

It’s a great trick to adopt as far cleaning and putting clothes away if you’re like me, but it could also be used in everyday life. Because I’m writing this post right now and was reminded of this rule, it finally prompted me to call someone back that I’ve been putting off for two days, even though I knew it would only take me 60 seconds. If you have to do anything that takes a minute or less, like write a quick email, then write the damn email! Otherwise, all it does is add to the collection of broken windows you have going and weigh on your mind. 

4. Set a power hour

This next tip is also one that I learned from Gretchen Rubin. (I really love her in case you couldn’t tell). The idea is that if you have a lot of tasks stacking up – maybe they take a minute or maybe they require a little bit more time and energy – you should set an hour aside each week to tackle them.

You know those tasks that aren’t necessarily hard or difficult, but it requires you to do a few steps, or make a couple of calls, or research something first, or dig through your filing cabinet, so you just keep not doing it? The thought of spending those next 10-15 minutes working on this random annoying task that you don’t want to have to do, keeps you procrastinating and not doing this thing for weeks. I do this to myself whenever I have to go looking for a new doctor. For example, when I decided that I wanted to see a therapist, it took me several weeks to finally start making calls and searching for someone because I knew I’d have to spend at least 20 minutes, researching places in the area, calling people, repeating my insurance information, setting up appointments, and then going to consultations with different therapists.

This task wasn’t hard, but it felt annoying and inconvenient. It took more time and mental energy than putting away some dirty dishes, so I continued to put it off. I’m sure you have some task like that you really don’t want to do! For things like these, it’s a good idea to select a day of the week and set aside one hour to power through these random tasks that you’ve been setting aside. It forces you to finally get it done and make some progress, and it finally eliminates that task that’s been weighing on you and making you unhappy and anxious.

5. Decide 1-3 things you want to focus on the next day

One way to tackle your broken windows, eliminate bad habits, or even accomplish larger goals, is to decide the night before what you will focus your energy on tomorrow. I like to incorporate this whenever I feel myself losing focus on my work and getting stressed out. Each night before bed, get out a notebook or a post-it note and reflect on what you would like to focus your energy on the next day. Remember to only pick one to three items.

I find that this works because otherwise, it’s easy to look at the mountain of tasks that you need to get done in order to be successful or reach a goal, and think to yourself, “Where the f*ck do I even start?” For example, sometimes my list looks something like: 1) Create welcome email 2) Edit new video 3) Start ____ post. Or 1) Publish post 2) Choose quotes for Pinterest graphics 3) Brainstorm ebook ideas. It’s a short list of goals that you know you can reasonably get done the next day and provide some direction and support so you stay on track.

You can use this trick with work, with getting in shape, or with breaking bad habits. It’s even been helpful for me in the areas of spirituality and self-improvement. If you’re trying to lose weight, your list might look something like: 1) Go to the gym for 20 minutes 2) Make dinner at home 3) No snacking after 9 pm. Or maybe 1) Look up ab workout ideas 2) Get some healthy snacks at the grocery store 3) No chips. The beauty of this list is that it varies every day, so you don’t make the same mistake of making a drastic decision or lifestyle changes at once. 

6. Say no

I felt the need to mention saying no on this list as well because too many people try to take on more than they can handle. Not only is it a way that we self-sabotage, but it’s also a reflection of our culture now. It’s a culture where we treat each other like computers that are meant to be productive, to perform, and to function all day long, rather than connect, love, and LIVE.

It’s a culture where high school students feel as if their self-worth is defined by how many AP classes they’re in and if we’re not making six figures, we’re not good enough. I believe that we won’t be able to create massive change in our lives and fix our broken windows unless we learn to first slow down and cut back. Otherwise, our physical and mental energy is drained, while more windows break in an effort to keep all the balls in the air. But here’s the thing, while we desperately need to learn to say no to other people, we especially need to learn to say no to OURSELVES.

We’re our own worst critic and nobody expects more from ourselves than we do. Which is when I get 10 new ideas for blog posts, I expect myself to be able to do all of them. When I have an idea for a video, an email, a graphic, a book, I think that every idea I have to say yes to in order to be the superhero version of myself I want to be. I do this with collabs, with my website, with challenges I make up for myself, and with classes and programs that I learn about. It’s the reason why Matt is always having to have an intervention with me at our kitchen counter and say, “You’re trying to do too much. You’re gonna stress yourself out. You can’t do it all.” While we may have thousands of epic and wonderful ideas, it’s impossible to say yes to all of them. By saying yes to every idea, you’re not even able to see one through completely. So learn to slow down, and say no. Say no to family members who demand too much from you, say no to friends who treat you more like an assistant than a friend, say no to coworkers that try to pass off their responsibilities onto you, and above all, say no to yourself. You can’t do it all. 

7. Remind yourself that it’s going to take time

Last but not least, when it comes to creating massive change in our lives, it’s important to remind yourself that it’s going to take time. I’m so guilty of this because I want everything done, perfect, and completed right away. I’ve very impatient when it comes to my progress and I have to remind myself of this almost daily. And I know I’m not the one human being in the world who does this to themselves. I see it in my friends and family too.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and create expectations that we would never expect from anyone else. And we expect that we should be able to get things done immediately. We go to one CrossFit class and immediately think we’re weak and bad at it because we can’t deadlift 200 lbs. Or we take one yoga class a year and get frustrated with ourselves because we can’t do a headstand right away. When it comes to ourselves, we think we should make progress far faster than is reasonable, which is why it’s so important to remind yourself that things take time. All you can do is to try your best, and eventually, you’ll get there. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I hope this post was helpful for you by highlighting the biggest pitfall that millions of us make every January – we expect to make a massive change in our lives overnight. When it comes to accomplishing lifelong goals, breaking bad habits, or creating healthy change in our lives, for some reason, we feel as if we should do it instantaneously. The problem is that many of us have our own little “broken windows” that have to be fixed before we can do that. Like sleeping in too late, eating unhealthy, holding ourselves back, or staying in toxic relationships. But if you take small steps, and make one change at the time, that effort begins to spread like wildfire.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you noticed that you’ve made this mistake before? Or maybe are making it right now? What are some examples where you’ve done this to yourself? Have you thought of any of your own broken windows? How do you think you could create massive changes by using some of these tips I mentioned? Do you have any other suggestions that you think might help people create massive change in their lives? Let me know in the comments!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

How I Transformed My Life with the Law of Attraction: My 8 Powerful Manifestation Techniques & What I’ve Learned From It

Lifestyle, Self-Help, Spirituality

But First… A Message to the Skeptics

I am a huge believer in the Law of Attraction, and I’ve seen it completely transform my life over the course of the last four years. And what I’ve learned from talking to others about my experience is that people fall into one of two viewpoints when it comes to this topic… Either they are a believer just like me who have witnessed the magic of manifestation in their own lives OR they’re skeptics – They don’t believe it, they think it’s a load of crap, and they think that the people who preach about it just “got lucky.”

So what do I know about the Law of Attraction?

Four years ago I was the most unhappy I’ve ever been. I was in a town that I hated living in, I was in a toxic and co-dependent relationship, I was losing my hair from birth control, I was depressed, I was broke, I had been betrayed by several of my closest friends, and my job was terrible in every way. That rock bottom time in my life when I felt that I had nothing else to lose, that’s when I committed to using the Law of Attraction.

If you’re just hearing about The Law of Attraction for the first time, it’s among the most popular of Universal Laws, made popular by the documentary The Secret which came out in 2006. Simply put, it’s the idea that like attracts like. It’s the belief that positive or negative thoughts bring about positive or negative experiences into our lives. The Law of Attraction is based on the idea that people and their thoughts are made up of energy and because like energy attracts like energy, a person can improve their health, happiness, wealth, career, relationships and more. It uses cognitive reframing techniques and visualization to replace negative thought patterns and bring about positive improvements, material possessions, opportunities etc. into a person’s existence.

I had been familiar with the movie “The Secret” and had started to finally use the Law of Attraction out of comfort. I had NOTHING that was bringing me joy and happiness in my life, and spending my time visualizing what I wanted and convincing myself that everything that I wanted was being drawn to me like a magnet, was something that I did because it made me feel better. It took the pain away, it made me smile, and it gave me something else to think about instead of just how miserable I was.

What I actually wanted more than anything was to live in Florida. I was sick of the seasonal depression, the snow, and the bitter negative 55-degree weather. I didn’t want to be in the middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin for the rest of my life finishing college and getting a corporate job where I had to wake up at 6 a.m. and sit in front of my special lamp that gave me vitamin D in the winter. No. My dream was to live in Florida. To model. To be a blogger. To visit Costa Rica. To swim under the La Fortuna waterfall. To tour Europe. To drive my dream car – a hard top Jeep Wrangler through palm trees. To be in a loving, happy and supportive relationship with someone who actually had things in common with me. To start a YouTube Channel. To receive an unexpected and large sum of money. To spend my days doing what I loved. To have a little bohemian bungalow to come home to. To have a puppy. As well as several smaller, material possessions.

I had a very, very specific dream back then of what I wanted my life to look like. Today, four years later, this is my life:

This is not bullsh*t. This is not me getting “lucky.” I manifested my dream. My home, my partner, my travels, my large and unexpected sum of money. I manifested my dream life. The life that I prayed for and visualized a hundred times over and over again during that most difficult time in my life. I’ve received 99% of the things that I wanted back then, and the things that I haven’t received are literally just around the corner. Matt and I are hunting for our perfect home right now and we plan on bringing a little fur baby into our lives as soon as we move in. This sh*t is real.

If you still don’t believe me, that’s totally fine, but the Law of Attraction is operational whether you’re a believer or a skeptic. Our thoughts shape our reality. So today, I wanted to share with you my eight powerful manifestation techniques that I’ve used to bring about the life that I have now in hopes that it will help YOU. In hopes that it will help you manifest your dream and live each and every day in a state of happiness, abundance, and gratitude. So without further ado, these are the 8 manifestation techniques that helped me create the life that I had now:

1. Heightened Visualization

Hear me out. I know that you were expecting to see this on the list and it may not be anything new, but I want to tell you HOW I practiced this every day and how I made the most of my visualization practice. The #1 way that I manifested my life is through what I can only describe as intense or heightened visualization. (Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous).

Each and every night for at least an hour a night I would practice visualization. And I wouldn’t just practice it the way you would think – I wouldn’t just imagine something. I would close my eyes and make myself feel as if what I wanted was actually happening. I would feel each and every detail of that moment. For example, with the car that I wanted, I would visualize driving down a street that was lined with palm trees. I would visualize a ring on my hand; how beautiful the palm trees looked against the sky; how the steering wheel felt against my hand; how excited and grateful that I was to be driving it. I would visualize each and every detail as best I could. I made myself feel so happy in the moment that I didn’t even really need the car because I felt like it was already happening. I did this with everything. I visualized swimming under La Fortuna and seeing it for the first time. I visualized being in love with the most perfect person for me. Each and every detail I visualized so strongly and with such happiness that I felt as if I already had it.

2. Overwhelming Gratitude

At the very end of each visualization practice, I would have myself feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I would thank the universe – because that’s what I call the higher power. You can call the universe God, or Source, or Source Energy, or Creation, or Love – whatever word resonates with you. But I would thank the universe and feel an overwhelming rush of gratitude that was so strong that I couldn’t help but cry. I would also say “thank you,” “thank you,” “thank you,” over and over again. It wasn’t just a subtle feeling of gratitude, it was so strong and I felt in my heart and in every cell of my body. I felt gratitude like I’ve never experienced before. And I would do this after each and every visualization practice.

3. A Daily Gratitude Practice

The third thing that I started to do was introducing a daily gratitude practice. If you’ve read my post, “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It,” or “My Daily Gratitude Practice,” then you’ve already heard me talk about my gratitude practice a bit. But I can’t talk about this enough because it’s been the one part of my daily routine that has added so much happiness and peace to my life that no amount of meditation or no self-help book has been able to bring me. For that reason, I swear by it.

Each and every night before I go to bed I practice gratitude by opening up a document on my computer and writing IN DETAIL about ONE THING that I’m grateful for. I want to highlight “in detail” and “one thing” the most because SO many gratitude practices stress a specific number of things you should feel grateful for which makes it feel like a chore and makes it more about hitting a number than about the feeling of gratitude. I also say in detail because people say that a gratitude practice should just be one word like “health” or maybe a quick sentence each day like, “today I feel grateful for my health.” However, I believe that those simple and quick practices don’t raise your vibration enough and radiate enough gratitude into the universe to truly transform your life.

For that reason, I pick one thing each day that I am the most grateful for and I write about why I feel grateful about it. It could be an opportunity, a person, an event. I don’t make myself hit a set number of sentences, I write whatever amount feels natural in the moment and I write until I feel like I’ve finished describing it. (It’s usually about two paragraphs, just in case you really need an idea of how much I write each day.)

This practice has helped me reflect deeply on something that brings me true happiness and gratitude. It always shifts my mind away from the stressors in life and puts me in a super happy, and high vibe mood that helps me to visualize what I want. Over time I noticed that I started to feel less anxious, happier, and more peaceful even throughout the day, not just at night. Feeling like this each and every day really sets you up for success with your manifestation and puts you in the right frequency to attract what you want.

4. Creating a Vision Board

Again, hear me out. If you’re really interested in the Law of Attraction, you’ve heard this method a thousand times by now. But, you haven’t heard about my method. I’ve tried creating vision boards for my bedroom many times and found that they just never worked for me. I would always get too critical about whether it looked good and how artistic my board was so it would prevent me from really resonating with it. Instead, I created my vision board the way us millennials do anything else – on my phone.

I created a private board on Pinterest and found beautiful photos that I connected to. Photos that I felt truly reflected the life that I wanted and dreamed of. I created the most beautiful board and whenever I woke up in the morning, or was on a break from work, or was scrolling through my phone, I would pull up that board. It made me feel so happy and would constantly remind me of what I was hoping to attract. I loved it because I already take my phone everywhere, so that way I was able to bring my vision board with me as well.

Whenever I opened the board, I would take my time and look at each photo and imagine what it would feel like to actually have that item or accomplishment. There were photos of Costa Rica, Europe, happy couples in their home together, beautiful bungalows, Jeep Wranglers, and more. I posted pictures that reflected each area of my life like my home, my relationship, and my finances. This technique helped me get back into that manifestation mindset even when something stressful would come up.

5. Commitment

The reason why I believe that I transformed my life and created this much change is because I committed to it and I became pretty much obsessed with it for several months. I think the biggest mistake that people make is that they get really motivated and excited to use the Law of Attraction and manifest their dream life, but then they give up after just a few days. I made this manifestation process my entire life for several months. Every single moment when I wasn’t working or in class or busy, I was visualizing, practicing gratitude, and looking at my vision board. Just like anything else, if you want it to really work or turn out, you have to devote your time and energy to it. You can’t just do it for five minutes right after you saw “The Secret,” you have to make it a daily practice. The universe responds to you if you continue to show up, raise your vibration, and practice manifestation each day.

6. Sparking Joy

One thing that I did throughout this process was I surrounded myself with things that would spark joy and removed the things in my environment that were triggers. (I use the phrase  “sparking joy” to describe this because I’ve been binge-watching “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” this week. However, I didn’t know I was following her method four years ago.) I made it a point to surround myself with things in my environment that made me feel good and made me happy. I did this by adding plants and crystals all over my room and my apartment and putting up decorations or pictures that made me feel really happy and brought back wonderful memories.

I didn’t just surround myself with things I liked, I made it a point to remove things in my environment that we’re trigger items for me and made me unhappy in some way. I removed items that reminded me of a bad time in my life, or a crappy memory, or a fight with my boyfriend at the time. I also made it a point to remove things that I was keeping ONLY because someone else would be upset or offended if I got rid of it. And lastly, I removed things in my environment that made me feel guilty. For example, I used to have several books on my bookshelf that I had sitting there for YEARS, but never read them. And every single time I would glance at them on the shelf I would feel bad and feel guilty that it had been six years since I bought that book and still had never read it, or had any intention of reading it.

Throughout this process, I was amazed by how many things I had in my environment that triggered me all day long and made me feel terrible every time I would look around my room. I had gotten rid of several garbage bags filled with things that made me feel bad. After this process, I was blown away by how the energy in my room had changed. How I felt happy, lighter, and happier just because I was surrounded by items that reminded me of joyful moments or I felt were so beautiful to look at: plants, photos, and crystals.

If you’re trying to manifest your dream life, I think this is an extremely important step that no one ever talks about when discussing the Law of Attraction. Our environment impacts us so much. It’s really important to make sure it fuels positive emotions.

7. Staying Inspired

It’s super easy to feel inspired in the beginning when you first watch a video or read a book about the Law of Attraction, but it’s really important to keep that inspiration going so you continue to practice it with enthusiasm each day. In order to really commit to this process I had to keep myself inspired for many months, and I did this by constantly watching “The Secret. I found that whenever I watched “The Secret” I become so convinced that it was real, I felt inspired, and it put me in the manifestation mindset.

I wouldn’t watch it from start to finish, but I would play parts of the movie so I could hear the speakers as I was getting ready for the day or driving. I also would find quotes through Pinterest that inspired me and kept me thinking about what I wanted and believing that it was coming to me. Staying inspired is probably the hardest thing to do. It’s important to keep an eye out for what speaks to you and surround yourself with whatever keeps you in that mindset. Whether that be a podcast or a book or a movie, because you don’t want to lose that inspiration right as you’re starting to really manifest what you want and make progress.

8. Keeping Secrets

The eighth and final thing that I did to practice the Law of Attraction and manifest my dream life was I didn’t tell anyone. I kept my manifestation practice a secret and didn’t share it until well after I received what I set out to. The reason why I did this is because I have many skeptics in my life, and you may have them as well. Telling other people around you what you’re trying to attract could set you back in this whole process and prevent you from actually reaping the benefits of the Law of Attraction and seeing the changes in your life. If you make the mistake of telling other people, it not only puts pressure on what you’re trying to manifest because you feel as if you have to prove the Law of Attraction to people, but it also throws their feelings, thoughts, and ideas into the mix. Let’s say you tell a friend or family member what you’re trying to attract, they could be putting thoughts out into the universe that are sabotaging your efforts. If they believe that the Law of Attraction is a load of crap and projecting that into the universe, it could backfire for you. You want to make sure that nothing but love, gratitude, and faith is being projected out into the world when trying to manifest your dream life.

The Lessons I’ve Learned

Using these 8 techniques I was able to receive everything that my 18 and 19-year-old self wanted more than anything in the world. I wanted to share the techniques with those of you who also have an unwavering faith that the Law of Attraction is real, but I also wanted to share what I’ve learned over these last 4 years that ISN’T in any of those books, videos, and movies about manifestation. So these are the lessons about the Law of Attraction that I learned from this experience, in hopes that it will help you to better understand what you can expect moving forward in this process:

It works both ways

For as wonderful as the positive thoughts and ideas work for manifestation, so do the negative ones. I noticed that not only does projecting negativity bring about negative things in your life, but it can also postpone the positive things. Whenever I’m in a place in my life where I’m feeling very low and down about myself and I’m focused on what it’s not going well and what I DON’T have, I don’t receive the positive things.

The movie, “The Secret,” does a great job of hitting on this point – that the Law of Attraction can also bring about more debt, more fighting, and more discontent if you’re not careful. For me, it didn’t UNDO receiving my dream life, but it did push things back whenever I started to become pessimistic or overly stressed out. I never received when I was in that place.

You don’t have to monitor your thoughts

For some people, if you still do not have an unwavering faith that your dream is coming toward you, projecting negativity could be stopping your dream altogether. Upon hearing the last lesson, it might feel like you have to monitor your thoughts because that’s how I felt for a while. However, it’s not so much monitoring your negative thoughts as it is making a point of doing what makes you happy and makes you feel good in life.

It’s about making the visualization your dream life SO MUCH FUN that it becomes enjoyable and you don’t want to stop. It’s also about surrounding yourself with things that make you so happy and engaging in activities that you enjoy more than anything so you’re in the positive mindset without requiring monitoring. I don’t just mean going to a bar, I mean doing the things in life that really bring about deeper satisfaction. I started nannying again just because it brought me so much joy to take care of babies. I started doing the things that were on my bucket list just because it brought me inner peace and happiness as opposed to always telling myself “someday” I’ll do that. I started paying for experiences over possessions because it made me feel much happier long term than simply making an impulse purchase. It’s not so much about monitoring your thoughts as it is about making sure you’re in a positive and satisfying place in your life whenever you can and really enjoying the manifestation process along the way, as opposed to feeling like it’s a chore.

Your inner dialog can backfire

I’m not just talking about how you feel about life in general here: whether you’re happy or unhappy, negative or positive. One of the most difficult lessons that I’ve learned throughout this process is that the negative inner dialog and the way that I feel about MYSELF does impact manifestation. Throughout most of this process, there have been things that I wanted more along the lines of accomplishments but I didn’t get because I didn’t feel worthy. If you’re trying to manifest a Range Rover for example, if you feel like you don’t deserve it and have constantly self-sabotaging and self-harming thoughts, you won’t receive it. You have to get to a point where you stop that criticizing voice and find ways to truly love yourself, or else your inner dialog is going to be sabotaging this entire process and (TRUST ME) it will win.

I could write an entire post just about that inner dialog and how to deal with it. But for now, I’ll have to keep it simple: positive thoughts, compassion, and love towards yourself is equally as important as the vision boards and visualization. So do whatever you have to and find peace with yourself. Know that you’re worthy of having your dream to begin with, or else your subconscious mind will make damn sure you don’t get that Range Rover.

Nothing happened in the way I would expect

I honestly thought when I first started this process that the only possible way I could get everything I wanted in life was through winning the lottery. I thought it would take millions of dollars to be able to make everything happen. But it didn’t! Nothing – I mean nothing – happened in a way that I would have expected. So don’t for a second waste your time thinking about HOW it could possibly happen. That’s not your job. That’s the job of the universe.

When I first started trying to manifest back in 2015, I felt that thinking about the HOW would help out the universe in some way by presenting a logical and practical way for me to receive what I wanted. But there was nothing logical or practical to me about it. For example, I used to always visualize my dream relationship and a trip to Costa Rica (separately). I somehow met Matt out at a bar I NEVER go to, with a group of people I NEVER hung out at before,  just people his friend Pat said something funny. A year later his parents gifted us a trip to Costa Rica they had actually been meaning to go on themselves. Well, that’s not how I say my dream happening. I literally thought I had to win the lottery for me to be able to go to Costa Rica back then. The point is, don’t waste a single second thinking about the HOW. All that will do is convince yourself that there’s no way your dream will come true, just because you can’t figure out how on earth it could possibly happen.

You will receive as you’re ready

You cannot and should not put a date on when you expect to receive something. My move to Florida started to be put in motion THREE MONTHS after I was visualizing about it for an hour or two each night. My dream car I got two years after I began visualizing it. My tour of Europe I got after graduation. Some things happened right away. Some things took longer. But after I looked back at everything I wanted and everything that I’ve received up to this point, I realized that the universe gave me things as I was ready for them. Yeah, it would have been nice to get everything instantly in one day, but it didn’t work that way. For example, I tried extremely hard to find a perfect partner. I went on dates every week and as a result, all that ended up happening was I dated a string of guys for two months each who all just wanted to “have fun.” *insert eye roll here*

It wasn’t until I gave my “sweeping declaration” one night about how I was DONE dating, I loved myself, I was happy alone and I didn’t need another person to complete me when the universe decided I was ready and I was introduced to Matt just a few hours later. It’s no coincidence that I met my partner of two years right after I decided I loved myself and I wanted to give up dating and trying to force a relationship. Things take time, and sometimes the only reason why you’re not receiving something is that you’re not ready for it. For this reason, I believe that there’s also a spiritual connection with the Law of Attraction that none of us understand.

I didn’t have to work for the material things

When looking back at my trips and my possessions I realized that I actually didn’t have to work for them, they were gifted to me. The first thing that I hear from people who don’t believe in the Law of Attraction is that it’s not real because they believe that I wanted something so I worked for it… and then bought it. It’s not manifestation apparently, it’s hard work and money. But the thing is, it wasn’t hard work. The move, the Jeep, the trips, etc. were gifted. I didn’t work for them at all. And yes, that may sound very entitled or self-absorbed to someone who hasn’t met me and is reading this, but my point again that the HOW is up to the universe.

Don’t go into this process thinking, “Oh sh*t, I have to come with $50,000 for that Jeep. I better clock more hours at work.” No. Things will be presented to you in ways that you never expect, the reason why you don’t have them isn’t that you don’t work enough. So take a deep breath, and just get back to your vision board.

You don’t have to PROVE anything to people

It can be frustrating when you’ve transformed your life with the Law of Attraction but then your close friends and family don’t believe you. Trust me, I understand. I spent countless hours for three months visualizing this move to Florida and somehow my dad was offered a job in Florida just months after that. And every single person I’ve talked to about it gives me that forced, fake smile (you know that one were you can tell people think you’re crazy) and says “Ohhhh… that’s nice.” OR, becomes a very vocal skeptic and openly tells me that I’m wrong and everything I’ve received is one giant coincidence.

For a while, I believed that I had to tell the world what happened and that I had to prove that what happened to me was real. However, after having so many of the same encounters with people I finally realized this: you don’t have to PROVE the Law of Attraction to anyone. Why? Well for starters there’s no reward to proving it to someone, but most importantly it’s going to be impossible.

Trying to convince someone that the Law of Attraction is real will be as effective as trying to convert them to your religion. Everyone has their own set of beliefs about life, spirituality, and the mysterious workings of the universe based on their background, upbringing, and experiences. Going into a conversation with someone and trying to convince them that the Law of Attraction is real would be pointless as trying to get me to pray to Jesus, read the Bible, and go to church on Sundays. Or like trying to convince a skeptic to believe in ghosts. Go ahead, as an experiment seek out a skeptic, tell them some of your ghost stories, and see if you can convince them ghosts are real. Or better yet, try to convince a Republican to be a Democrat and vice versa. Do you see what I mean? So don’t feel like you have to PROVE what happened to you. Talk about it with the people who believe in the Law of Attraction, and if they don’t, that’s ok. You don’t have to defend yourself and prove anything. People will think you’re crazy, and that’s fine. Everyone close to me thought (and still thinks) I’m crazy for saying that I’ve changed my life with the Law of Attraction. If history has taught us one thing, it’s that we cannot change other people and their beliefs. Talk about the Law of Attraction with people who understand and support you, and if they don’t, let it be.

Thanks so much for reading!

I really hope you guys enjoyed this post about the Law of Attraction, how I manifested what I wanted, and what I’ve learned from this experience. As always, let me know what you think in the comments! What this post helpful for you? What parts? Have you used the Law of Attraction in your life? What have you been able to manifest and how did you do it? Did you learn anything interesting from your experience with the Law of Attraction?

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Photos by Ray Reyes, IG: @rocketsciencephoto.