Writing in a diary or journal at a young age seems like a never-ending list of future plans and big emotions — from your dream wedding, career or life. The possibilities seemed endless. However, as you get older, sometimes the dreamer in you can dim down. The exciting spark you once had to write out aspirations can seem mundane.
Recently, TikTokers have been intrigued by the new viral trend of manifestation journaling. Manifesting is the mental act of visualizing and affirming a positive action in hopes of seeing it happen in reality. The new trend involves figuring out what you hope to see brought to reality and then consistently writing about it. Manifestation is not a medical or scientific term. However, the science behind positive thinking, goal setting, and writing to see things occur in your life is actually quite simple.
If you actively think of and write down the new things you hope to see occur in your life, your brain may be more likely to notice them and attract them. One of many forms is The Generation Effect is a mental phenomenon in which a person is more likely to memorize something when it is generated in their own mind versus simply reading or hearing about it externally. This allows thoughts that enter into our brain to be rehearsed more than once when written down. Instead of simply hearing about what we should accomplish, they become tangible when we think about them and reiterate our thoughts on paper. Similarly, the Baader-Meinhof Effect, also known as frequency illusion, refers to when a person is introduced to something new and begins to see it repeatedly in reality. The mental sensation is a cognitive bias in our perception that makes us focus more on the new information than usual.
There’s more to manifest journaling than simply writing things down, however. Journaling is only the framework used to guide our actions to reach each goal. Mental health professional and journaling connoisseur Arielle Jordan NCC, LCPC, encourages clients to use journaling to practice setting actionable goals. Writing from the future as if your plan has already come together through visualization and scripting encourages writers to set SMART goals for their present selves. Like a vision board, journaling our expectations for our life can give us a roadmap for where we are going.
“If I put down that I’m going to write a book, then my brain is going to get on the track of ‘well wait, how would I write that book? And what does that look like,’” Jordan tells GU. “I can start to explore other avenues because I have just established something that I’m doing.”
In Jordan’s journaling workbook, Mindset Quality Workbook, she focuses on the past, present and future — because she acknowledges that it may be difficult to move forward unless we recognize where we have come from and where we currently are. She tells us that journaling can also help us keep a record of our thought patterns. As we continuously read through entries, it can draw attention to limiting beliefs about ourselves. Though seemingly unrelated, identifying negative thought patterns can help you determine what may be holding you back from reaching your goals.
There is no right or wrong way to begin journaling. Journaling is unique to the person who’s doing the work. If you’re unsure of where to begin, Jordan recommends creating a consistent routine, but consistency may look different for everyone. Building a consistent schedule may look like writing for five minutes twice a week in the morning or before bed. You can find journaling prompts online to guide your journaling time. Create a peaceful environment that allows you to freely think and write without distractions.
Manifest journaling is a great tool for us. However, there’s no guarantee it will bring everything you hope for into your life. In fact, Jordan tells us that if we don’t hit every goal, it’s okay to feel disappointment — the emotion should be embraced.
“Don’t ever think of it as like a finished product; you’re always going to be reassessing,” Jordan says. “So, if I set goals for this month that I didn’t hit, I go back, and I look at it and say, ‘Oh, shoot, I didn’t hit any of these goals,’ then it gives me another chance to hit them.”