Joseph F. McCaffrey MD, FACS


How to Use Action and the Law of Attraction to Make Your Dreams Real

To get something done, generally you’re going to have to do something.

Pretty obvious, right? It should be, but these days a lot of people have interpreted the Law of Attraction to mean that dreaming alone is all that is required to make those dreams a reality.

Not in this physical world. Bringing a dream to physical reality requires some form of action.

All creation begins first as an idea in someone’s head. Then action makes it real.

For example, an engineer may get an idea for a fantastic new style of bridge. He sees it in his mind's eye, but it’s not yet real. Making it so requires action.

The engineer needs to translate the idea to paper (or these days a computer screen). Perhaps there’ll be discussions with colleagues, review of material manuals, construction of models and so forth. All of these are actions.

With each action, the engineer adds more energy to the project. The bridge begins to move from the world of ideas and dreams to the realm of the physical.

Eventually, completion of the bridge becomes the next logical step.

The dream was important, but its manifestation came through action.

I think action works through two mechanisms.

First, it gets something done in the physical world, and small results add up.

As the proverb goes: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

More importantly, taking action convinces your subconscious mind that you’re serious. Action primes the subconscious to bring opportunities related to your dream to your conscious attention.

This is what Goethe alludes to when he says: "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."

Thoreau says much the same thing: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

The first time I clearly experienced this was in my final year of medical school.

Fourth year medical students have several months of elective courses. If you followed certain guidelines, you have wide leeway in arranging the electives you take, including taking one at another medical school.

Most of my classmates took the path of least resistance. They took an elective offered at our medical school.

Others took electives at the institutions they wanted to apply to for their residencies, hoping to increase their chance of acceptance.

My roommate and I went a different route.

We did our elective at Johannesburg Non-European Hospital in South Africa. It was a fabulous, fabulous experience. It was medically excellent and politically eye-opening (apartheid was in full swing at the time). We grew in many ways during our time there.

At the end of the year, when everyone had completed their electives and we were all comparing notes, my roommate and I encountered several different reactions.

Many were glad for us. They may have had no desire to do what we did but enjoyed the fact that we had done it.

Others had a response that bordered on jealousy with a twinge of resentment tossed in.

These students made different choices and had different experiences. Most had gone the easy route and done an elective at our school.

When they heard where we had gone, what we saw, how we grew, what we learned, they realized what an opportunity the elective time had been. They regretted not taking full advantage of it.

In response, they made excuses for why they didn’t do something more adventurous. Often, their internal story involved us having some special connection that made it easier for us than it was for anyone else.

“You sure are lucky.”

“Wish I knew who you know.”

“Wish I had the money.”

“I was going to do something like that too, but I couldn’t because…”

The people that were jealous chose to think we were able to do it because we had of some special access or knowledge or grace or ability or whatever that they didn’t have access to.

I knew differently. I knew that the only reason we completed our trip was that we dreamed. Then we took action.

It began in junior year. My roommate was on medical rotation with a Chief Resident from South Africa. Many times on rounds, the resident told stories about a professor he studied with in South Africa.

My roommate repeated these stories to me and over time Professor Seftel grew to mythic proportions. Gradually the idea of doing an elective with this professor was born.

Making this elective a reality was a big dream. It didn't exist. No one had done it before.

Remember, this was way before the Internet. Making arrangements between Washington, DC and South Africa was an affair of letters. Write to inquire, send it off, wait for a response, send more information, get forms, send back, etc.

Looking at the whole process was daunting. But writing the first letter was easy. (“Dear Professor Seftel, I’m a medical student at Georgetown University School of Medicine and I’m writing to ask if…").

Each subsequent step of a rather involved process (applications, department approvals, visas, figuring out how to pay for it, finding someplace to live, etc.) was also small in itself.

A logical sequence unfolded. Eventually, the small steps accomplished a great goal. The dream became real.

The dream was important, but so was the action.

Goal setting, vision boards, visualization, etc. are all important and useful. And it is true that sometimes someone will put a list of goals away, forget about it, then years later come across it and realize that they had achieved the items on their list without consciously thinking of them. In fact, that’s happened to me.

But you’ll always find that action was necessary. Ideally the action flows from spontaneous inclination rather than a sense of trying to force something to happen.

I differentiate between forced action and what Jerry and Esther Hicks call “inspired action.”

When we set a goal or identify a desire, we generate energy around it. We’ve cued our subconscious to notice things relating to it.

The trick now is to keep a relaxed attitude, not one of effort or struggle or forcing, and notice what arises.

Playing around with the idea in an open-minded, wondering way often brings forth an idea for action. This is the inspired action.

You recognize an inspired action because you’re drawn to it. You want to do it. Often it seems easy, or at least the effort required inspires rater than discourages.

All this, of course, is easier to talk about than to do. And it’s easier to do when the issues don’t feel major.

When the issue seems important, our desire for the outcome can make us feel anxious. We may worry about the possibility of not getting what we want. These feelings works against us. It leads us away from inspired action to forced action.

My best advice is to keep your focus clearly on what you want, not what you don’t want. Dream your dreams.

Then, when you feel a call for action, do it!

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