Fantasy or Goal?: Manifesting Real Change

“I have a good job, pay my bills, spend time with my kids, and remember to call family and friends on their birthdays. I’m not perfect; I could be in better shape or volunteer more often. But Amy, I’m sick and tired of being alone; I want a husband. If I just had a man in my life everything would be better.” Sally, 39 years old

“I should leave her. I know she’s no good for me and she keeps hurting me, but I can’t break up my family. I really believe everything’s going to get better. I have this picture in my head of a family hike five summers ago: big blue sky, happy kids and dogs, and she and I in love. I want that back.” Isaiah, 48 years old

Part of my work with clients in counseling is goals vs. fantasies. A current buzzword, “manifestation,” is a technique that says if you want something in your life, no matter how unrealistic, put it out in the universe and if you really believe, it will manifest in your life. Now I’m all for setting goals, including thinking outside the box and dreaming big. But I think it’s important to sort out the difference between goals and fantasies.

Sally can set the goal of being ready for a partner. She can do her own personal work and create a strong social network. But if a good life is based on having a husband, she is living in a fantasy world. Sally’s psychological work is to figure out how to be content even if she doesn’t find a husband.

While Sally is living in a future fantasy, Isaiah is living in a past fantasy. At a moment’s notice Isaiah can pull up the emotional state he experienced that summer, something he does whenever the current situation hurts too much. Isaiah resides in his fantasy hoping for change instead of working with his wife in the present moment to improve his marriage.

True manifestation takes the courage to set a goal and the hard work to follow it through to fruition. What fantasy in your life is ready to become a reality?