What does manifesting even mean?

David Graham February 23, 2023

Monthly Newsletter

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I’m curious, how do you feel when you hear the word “manifest?”

I was heading off on my annual 3-day solo retreat a few weeks ago, and a friend said, “Oh you’re going to manifest the year ahead.” I immediately reacted. “No no” I said, “This is a work retreat.”

“Manifesting” sounded almost… flaky to me, tinged in magic and lacking in accountability. Manifesting felt like, “if you can think it, it will appear”, an easy out from the hard work of creating the life and work we want.

But after a couple days of reflection, I started to wonder if I’d shrugged that word off too quickly.

First of all, let me tell you how my retreat works. I take three days at the beginning of the year to step away from the business and escape to a cabin in the woods. I set myself up for the adventure with hiking gear, creative supplies and inspiring books. I make sure that I’ve got a journal, fine wine and candles; after all this is a celebration too.

I have a structured agenda built around three daily themes.

The first day is for reflection. This is where I look back at the year that passed.  I take out everything I have that tells the story of the year — journals, photos, spreadsheets, notes. I ask myself questions like:

  • What drained me this year?
  • What made me come alive?
  • How did I live out my values this year?

The second day is for visioning. Having looked back in detail on the year behind me, I’m uniquely positioned to understand how I want to build on the work I’ve done. I ask:

  • What do I want more/less of?
  • How can I have even more impact?
  • What values do I want to live out more fully?

Finally, the third day is for action. This is where it all comes together in a crystal-clear plan for what I can do in the twelve months ahead. I actually use flipcharts for this, even though I’m alone. There’s only one question this day — what do I need to do to bring my vision to life?

Sometimes I look back over my notes from previous retreats, and I’m always shocked at how much has come to fruition. The things I plan to do, I do. When I make space for my values, questions and intentions, things happen. Every year I become more aligned, and my decisions become more effortless.

It’s almost like I was… Was I manifesting? I keep coming back to that comment my friend made, and wondering if I wrote it off too quickly.

What if we can see manifesting not as a way out of the hard work of creation, but as a way into it? What if manifesting is a highly personal process of reflection, intention and action?

We’ve got some great resources below and if you’d like the 3-page agenda I use to create my retreat experience, hit the reply button and I’ll send you a copy.

Wishing you a magical year ahead.



How to Manifest Anything You Desire

Helping you live the life you want is a big part of Oprah’s goals. Manifesting is about turning your dreams into reality, it does require you to take proactive steps toward whatever it is you desire. You shouldn’t expect it to happen instantly—but even though it’s a lengthy process, that time is a small price to pay for a (hopefully) profound impact on your life.


4 Proper Steps to Manifest According to Science

Manifesting is mind, body and spirit. You need to get your nervous system involved. You need to THINK about and FEEL the entire process, not just the end goal. Listen to The Mel Robbins talk about the 4 steps to manifesting.


David Graham

Dave coaches good leaders who want to be great leaders and he works with leaders to build high performing, super-focused teams. For transformational experiences, he takes teams out of the boardroom and into nature.