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No magic in manifestation? How writing helps turn dreams into reality

May 25, 2022 - 18 min read


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What is manifestation?

What is a manifestation journal?

How does a manifestation journal work?

How to write a manifestation journal

How can journaling help with manifestation?

5 examples of manifestation journals

8 journal prompts to inspire you

Level up: 4 other manifestation practices

If you’re like me, you like to see your words and thoughts on a page right in front of you. One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite writers comes to mind. 

“I don't know what I think until I write it down.”

Joan Didion, writer  

There’s something about being able to see your thoughts, dreams, and goals. There's something about getting them out of your head and making them physical. Something to hold or see, like a paper, tacked to your bathroom mirror or fridge to remind you every morning. 

This is why so many people find different types of journaling effective.

Writing our thoughts down gets them out of your head so that you can examine them more objectively. With our goals and visions, writing them down makes them more concrete and reminds us when we might be busy or discouraged.

Leave aside the fancy name, and that’s essentially what a manifestation journal is. It’s a simple practice: write down your goals, your dreams, and your ambitions.  In fact, you might be doing a form of manifestation journaling without even knowing it.

At its heart, when people talk about the process of manifestation, they're really talking about a shift in mindset. It’s a keen focus on what you want in life — and being strategic, creative, and persistent about how you’re going to get there. Achieving your goals takes a growth mindset, commitment, positive thinking, and some skill at goal setting.

The journal helps you get your thoughts organized for action. It gives you an easy touchstone to remember your motivations, your why and your what. It may sound like a lot of work, but it's rewarding once you get started.

What is manifestation?

You’ve probably heard about manifestation from someone on social media at some point. But you might be confused about what it is. Manifestation is wrapped in pseudo-science but aspects of it are valid. Think of it as focusing your energy and intentions toward something that you want to achieve.

It could be anything that you hope to achieve in life. But it’s way more than simply thinking positive thoughts and hoping your dreams come true.

Manifestation isn’t backed by science, but positive thinking and the power of great goal-setting are. Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham came up with the goal-setting theory that set the tone for studying how we view goals.

Their research found that people experienced greater results when they had a clear idea of their goals. They noted that goals need to share one common element for success: clarity. 

When we think about manifestation, we also need to have a sense of clarity. We need to understand what we’re putting our efforts toward and what specific steps we need to take to get there.

If we don’t do this, we’ll set unattainable goals. Once we become extremely set on achieving a particular goal, regardless if it’s attainable or not, it’s hard to disengage. 

When we fail to realize that our personal goals aren’t achievable, it can keep us in a phase where we stop growing. We’re also more likely to achieve goals that are attainable than goals that are important to us, which is why having clarity and being realistic with our goal setting is important. 

Trying to start running this year and win an Olympic gold medal next year isn’t realistic, but running your first 5km race is. Be honest with yourself about what you can accomplish and where to focus your energy.

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What is a manifestation journal?

A manifestation journal is a book with blank pages that invites you to write down your dreams, goals, and desires. It’s a manifestation technique, like the law of attraction, that can help you stay focused and motivated even if it doesn't actually "make" things happen.

Your journal helps you think creatively, write down positive thoughts and affirmations, and keep you focused on your goals. It’s a way of vocalizing what you want out of life and working toward seizing it. 

Everyone can treat their manifestation journal differently, but it should be a safe space for self-compassion and optimism. Ideas of self-doubt and negativity aren’t welcome. It can be hard to quiet those automatic negative thoughts and limiting beliefs but it's useful to practice.

But with a manifestation journal, you can start to shift your intention toward optimism, hope, and action. With a pen and paper, you can help quiet your inner critic (alongside support from your coach). 

You can also use your journal to reflect on how far you’ve come and what you’ve accomplished since you started.

How does a manifestation journal work?

A manifestation journal is a friendly manifestation method that welcomes everyone. From beginners to people who are familiar with manifestation journeys, it’s an accessible way to chart the life you want.

You don’t need much to start journaling and seeing how your manifestation journal works. But once you start, you might just impress yourself with how it impacts your life.

The act of writing can help our mental health, no matter how many spelling or grammar mistakes you think you may have. Researchers at the University of Michigan found journaling each day can combat depression.

It’s also a way of being more mindful. You’ll be able to keep track of your thoughts, limiting beliefs, and how your inner critic talks to you. Plus, you’ll learn to focus your attention and creativity on your present tasks. Mindful people even set better goals.

Having clear, long-term goals will help your daily journaling practice cater to your life’s vision. You’ll set better short-term goals with a clear path forward in mind.

You’re also sharpening your communication skills as you're busy writing away.

The way we communicate our thoughts and feelings on paper can help us when we have to say them out loud. Don’t be surprised if one day you find you can articulate your feelings to people in a clear, concise way.


BetterUp is here to help you make the most of your manifestation journal. With BetterUp, a coach will provide the guidance and support you need to be consistent and work toward attaining the life you’re trying to manifest.

How to write a manifestation journal

Sometimes a blank page can be overwhelming because your opportunities are limitless. But that’s the thing: your opportunities are limitless because it’s your manifestation journal, not anyone else’s. 

Here are nine tips to help you start writing in your manifestation journal:

  1. Choose a medium and template that works for you, whether that’s paper or something digital
  2. Establish a set amount of time that you’d like to journal each day and add it to your daily routine
  3. Set the mood and make sure your environment is calm and rid of distractions as you write
  4. Record your visualizations, and don’t hesitate to draw and doodle on your page
  5. Use images and colors to help personalize your journal
  6. Keep a gratitude list on the side to acknowledge what you’re already grateful for in life
  7. Have your positive affirmations and thoughts in the present tense
  8. Organize your journal in a way that makes sense for you

Set goals that are specific, meaningful, and achievable (like SMART goals)


How can journaling help with manifestation?

Journaling is a helpful manifestation practice for a few reasons, all of which teach us valuable skills to have in life. 

Your journal is easy to follow because you guide yourself. You decide what type of journal is best for your life and which one is best suited for your efforts. It helps us maintain a positive attitude and keeps us feeling calm. Rather than worry or feel the impact of burnout, it offers self-care and positive energy. 

This manifestation process can take time, but that’s a good thing. It teaches us to stay focused and take time for ourselves and our values as we sit and write each day. We have to learn patience and how to center ourselves.

We’re focused on the present as we write down our thoughts and feelings and gain clarity on our goals for the future.

5 examples of manifestation journals

We can use our manifestation journals in all sorts of templates and formats. Whichever way you structure your journal, it should help you feel better about yourself and better yourself at the same time.

Here are five manifestation journal examples to help inspire you:

  1. An appreciation list: With manifestation, we need to acknowledge what we continue to appreciate in life, no matter how big or small they may be. Start with a gratitude practice in the form of journaling. 
  2. Our intentions: This method helps drive home our goals and ideas that we want to live by today and into the future.
  3. Relationship tracker: Whether you’re having conflict with someone or working on deepening your relationships, this type of journal helps you be more mindful of your actions and progress.
  4. Daily reflections: Sometimes, things really bother us throughout the day. Writing them down helps us let go. And if something really wonderful happens, you can track that alongside any negatives for balance.
  5. Dream tracker: This isn't exclusively for your dreams while you sleep. Writing down your dreams for the future can help you visualize what it means to achieve them through action and planning. This practice can also help you recognize patterns in your passions and fears.


8 journal prompts to inspire you

Now that you understand all that your journal can do for you, you might be thinking, “What do you write in a manifestation journal?” The short answer is: Whatever you’d like. But we have more detailed journal prompts to help you get started.

Here are eight manifestation journal prompts to make you feel inspired:

  1. The type of rest my mind and body need right now is… 
  2. In the next five years, a habit I want to develop is…
  3. My dream life looks like…
  4. I feel the happiest when…
  5. I can strengthen my self-awareness by…
  6. If I feel like I don’t have enough self-confidence, I can…
  7. My definition of success is…
  8. My favorite positive affirmations are…


Level up: 4 other manifestation practices

A manifestation journal is an excellent way to start creating and building the life you want to be living. It won't be a dream life, but it will be a rewarding and meaningful real life. Some days you might have writer’s block, and other days your hands won’t be able to keep up with your thoughts.

When you're going through challenging days, that's when it’s harder to write. But you’re still putting energy toward shifting your intentions and focus. That means you're making progress toward a more meaningful, fulfilling life—and that’s something to be proud of.

But there might come a day when your journey requires more than just your journal. Explore other techniques and practices to figure out what helps you find clarity and motivation. While there's no science to support numerology-based techniques like the 55x5 method, here are three other manifestation practices that you can try out:

  1. Create a vision board
  2. Practice mindful meditation every morning or evening
  3. Make a worry box to throw in your worries and fears, then lock them away

At BetterUp, we believe that everyone has the potential to live with more clarity, purpose, and passion — and isn't that really what living the dream is all about?  But that doesn’t come without hard work and effort. Our coaches are here to help you develop the skills you need to live that dream.

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Published May 25, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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