At a prosperity seminar I asked the audience to state their intentions for the greatest manifestation they could imagine. One woman stood and declared, “I would like to sell my manuscript to a publisher!”

“Excellent,” I answered. “And how much of an advance would you like to receive?”

With hardly any thought she blurted out, “A million dollars!”

“That would be a wonderful advance,” I replied, “and I hope you get it. “Now, for our lesson, would you take a moment and think about how much you would be satisfied with.”

The lady contemplated a few moments and answered, “Six thousand dollars.”

“Very good,” I told her. “Now we have something to chew on.”

I explained to the audience that while wildly exciting visions are stimulating and expansive, when you get down to the actual business of manifestation, you have to factor in your beliefs and expectations. There was no way that woman believed she would receive a million dollars for her manuscript, so to continue toward that intention would relegate the possibility of her sale to the realm of fantasy, and only thwart or delay it.

When considering achieving a goal, you need to answer two questions: (1) What is the coolest thing that could happen? That will give you a vision to peg your dream on. (2) What is the next coolest thing that could happen? That will give you a reasonable step for an action plan.

I recently watched for the umpteenth time one my favorite movies, Contact. In an opening scene, a girl is using her ham radio for the first time, trying to contact other operators at far distances around the world. But she is getting only static. When she asks her dad for advice, he tells her, “Small, steps, Ellie, small steps.” Then, as Ellie moves the dial one frequency at a time, she starts to find people in the cracks that she was passing over while flipping from one end of the dial to another.

Likewise, because mind is the true builder, we have to move the dial of our thoughts one frequency at a time. You have to earn your goal, not by struggle or suffering, but by bringing your energy into alignment with it. Years ago on the east coast a new budget airline grew fabulously quickly. Within a few years they were flying all over the country and to Europe. Their advertising boasted that they were “the fastest growing airline in aviation history.” And they were. Within a few years, however, they were out of business. They expanded too quickly for their own good. While they built lots of routes, they didn’t build the wisdom to maintain the routes. By contrast, more recently I presented a program in Japan during which a client told me that she was working for her family’s Saki business. “How long has your family had this business?” I asked her.” Oh, about two hundred years,” she answered. Ah, so.

A coaching client told me that she was dreading attending a weekend family gathering, where most of her relatives were depressed and/or annoying. But she had to go. “Would you be willing to loosen up on your expectation of how bad it will be?” I asked her. “Can you conceive of the possibility that it will be easier than you think? Maybe it will not be the most fun weekend of your life, but maybe it won’t be the worst. Maybe you could even enjoy yourself somewhat.”

My client really liked that suggestion because it was doable. I wasn’t suggesting a magical “poof” where all of a sudden everyone would be fun and rosy. I was just inviting her to expand her belief system so she let in even a little more love, augmented by hope for a happy outcome. That was key. Some of our experience is situational, and much of our experience is expectational. You cannot always change conditions, but you can always change your thoughts.

If you are the kind of person who wants it all now, that is a good thing. It means that somewhere inside you, you recognize it is all available, and you can have it. Visionaries get a lot more mileage out of life than realists. The trick to having it all is to build your consciousness so you are a match to what you want. You may create a windfall or a big coup, but if your consciousness is not big enough to hold it, you will revert to the level of your average consciousness. (Most lottery winners revert to their former level of wealth within 5-10 years.) By the same principle, if you have built your wealth mentality to the point at which you are equal to your big dream, you will step into it in a natural, organic way, without a lot of struggle or stress. Even if you lost it, your consciousness would re-create it quickly.

I once presented a program at a church where the minister told me that she was recently hired by a board of directors who asked her if she would spearhead a movement to build a new sanctuary. “I can only promise that I will build consciousness,” she replied. “And I know that where there is consciousness, all good things show up to match it.” Small steps, Ellie, small steps.

Alan Cohen is the author of many popular inspirational books, including the best-selling The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and Why Your Life Sucks and What You can do about It. Alan is offering a six-month personal mentorship program beginning January 1. For information on this program or to receive Alan’s daily inspirational quote and monthly newsletter, visit, email, or phone 1-800-568-3079.


  • Alan Cohen is the author of many popular inspirational books, including the best-selling Why Your Life Sucks and What You Can Do About It, the award-winning A Deep Breath of Life and his newest is the prosperity guide Relax into Wealth.

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