Why Do Intentions Take So Long to Manifest?

When you hold an intention to create something new in your life, such as a career change, a new relationship, or better health, at first you may see no results at all. But as you continue to hold the intention, eventually it does begin to manifest, sometimes almost miraculously. Synchronicities occur whereby new people and circumstances come into your life to make your intention first possible, then probable, and finally real.

But sometimes this process doesn’t seem to work. You hold an intention and get no measurable results. Other times the process works so slowly that you can’t be sure it’s having any effect.

Why do intentions take so long to manifest (or not at all)? Here are some common issues that can delay or derail your efforts at manifesting:

1. You fail to hold the intention.

Think of intentions like electromagnetic waves that flow out into the universe, as if you’re transmitting a radio signal. The universe receives your thoughts and reflects them back to you via the physical universe. The more thought and emotion you put into your intention, the stronger the wave you’re sending out, and the stronger will be the bounce-back reflection. Failing to hold an intention means you don’t put enough energy behind it. The reflection (i.e. the manifestation) may be so weak you can’t even detect it.

Perhaps the #1 reason people fail to hold an intention is a lack of persistence. Physical matter is really just energy, but it’s a very dense form of energy. It takes time for our thoughts to manifest here in the physical realm. On other planes of existence, such as in your dreams, matter is much less dense, so your thoughts can manifest far more quickly. In the astral realms your thoughts can manifest instantly. But in the physical universe, reality is more solid, yet it’s still powered by intention-manifestation. It just takes more energy to get things moving, so initially it may seem like they aren’t moving at all. It isn’t unusual to hold an intention religiously for a week or longer and see no apparent results. Then suddenly the floodgates open, and the manifestation comes pouring through.

If you put enough energy into your intentions, they may continue working behind the scenes even if you forget about them. Yesterday I found an old list of my intentions from 2003. I’d held these intentions for several weeks straight, then put them aside and forgot about them. To my delight I found that about 70% of those intentions had already manifested. I was amazed because I remember these intentions were a big stretch for me at the time I set them. One intention on that list was to create a massive personal development web site with hundreds of articles (voila!). Another intention was to move to Las Vegas (I’m here!). And another was to build a network of great local friends (I have amazing friends!). And still another intention was to create abundant freedom in my life (after finishing this article, I’m off to play 24 holes of disc golf at Sunset Park with a friend… not a bad way to spend a Monday morning). Another 20% of those intentions are currently in the process of manifesting — they’ve moved from possible-but-unlikely in 2003 to probable in 2006. And the final 10% were intentions I dropped because I no longer wanted them. Reviewing this list really blew me away.

If you want your intentions to manifest more readily, I suggest developing the daily habit of holding your intentions using the 30-day trial method. Currently I practice holding my intentions at least twice a day, usually during meditation. Whenever you find yourself waiting somewhere with nothing to do, mentally focus your thoughts on what you want to create in your life. Imagine your greatest desires becoming real.

2. You put no energy behind the intention.

When it comes to intentions, emotion equals energy. If you aren’t really passionate about an intention, it’s like turning on a flashlight with no batteries. Don’t pick intentions just because you feel like you should want them or because everyone else seems to value them. Be honest with yourself about what you really want.

The most powerful intentions are those that will help you manifest joy.

3. You hold a fuzzy intention.

The best intentions are clear and focused. Be specific. If you want money, specify the exact amount, or join the Million Dollar Experiment. General intentions have very little power. Make your intentions like lasers instead of candle flames, and you’ll see them manifest much more quickly.

4. You inadvertently cancel the intention.

Every thought is an intention. One of the greatest challenges with intention-manifestation is that you must drop all thoughts that conflict with your desired intention. You cannot hold thoughts like, “I hate being depressed,” while intending to be happy. “I hate being depressed” is an intention to remain depressed.

Virtually every day I get emails from people who write things like, “I’m so depressed, and I hate it.” Of course they’re depressed — they just intended it… with emotion. If you want to use intention-manifestation successfully, you must stop acknowledging what you don’t want. To acknowledge what you don’t want is to intend it, which means you will simply perpetuate its ongoing manifestation. I’m not suggesting that you live in denial — quite the opposite in fact. Stop putting your attention on what you don’t want, and put your attention on what you do want. You should be more concerned with living in denial of your dreams. Depressed people live in denial of joy. Broke people live in denial of abundance. People in unhappy relationships live in denial of love. Acknowledge the reality you want to create more than the one you wish to leave behind.

Imagine driving a car. If you look where you’ve been (in the rear-view mirror), you’ll crash. If you look where you already are (straight down at the road), you’ll be stuck there. To drive successfully you must look where you want to go. Looking at the road ahead doesn’t mean you’re in denial of where you are. You can still see where you are via your peripheral vision. Live your life the same way. If you like where you are right now, get out and look around all you want. Enjoy it. But if you find yourself in a bad neighborhood you’d prefer to pass through quickly (such as depression), then just observe it peripherally while staying focused on the road ahead. Don’t set up camp in a place you don’t want to be.

5. Your intention conflicts with your beliefs.

Imagine shining a flashlight at the sun. No effect, right? You’re firing an intention into an overpowering field of pre-existing beliefs. This would be like holding the intention to become a billionaire when your thoughts are overloaded with limiting beliefs about why that would be impossible for you. If you try to hold an intention that conflicts with your dominant beliefs, that intention will simply fizzle and die.

Every night in Las Vegas, the Luxor Hotel shines a intense beam of light up into the starry sky. This beam is visible from anywhere in the city (and reportedly even from space). We locals even use it as a navigational beacon. If you put out strong intentions where you don’t have many conflicting beliefs, those intentions will tend to manifest rapidly. This is the part of your life where you have the greatest control. You’re going with the flow.

Even though you may not be able to tackle your dominant beliefs head-on, you can still work around the edges of them. This is where I tend to get my best results. Set intentions which are just a little beyond your comfort zone but which will make a real difference in your life when they manifest.

When applying intention-manifestation, be patient with yourself. When you slip, don’t fall. If you catch yourself succumbing to mental laziness, fuzziness, or negative thinking, simply turn your attention back to what you want. With practice you’ll build mental discipline, and you’ll find it easier to stay focused on your desires without so much internal resistance. And then you’ll find your intentions manifesting much more smoothly and effortlessly.