How Magical Thinking Opens the Door to Success

How Magical Thinking Opens the Door to Success

On May 26, 2012, I walked across a commencement stage as an MBA graduate. Before it happened, I walked the stage 1000 times–in my mind. I saw this day in my mind’s eye beginning in 1993, when I dropped out of high school.

That year, three events changed the trajectory of my life: I completed my GED, became a certified nursing assistant, and adopted a practice that helped me grow from an insecure high school drop-out to the confident woman I am today. The practice is called magical thinking.

In this article, we’ll explore magical thinking, what it is, and how it works, so you, too, can use it to fulfill your dreams.

What Is Magical Thinking?


Magical thinking is the belief that thinking and visualizing something can cause it to occur. Positive affirmations, visualization, and belief are the three components that make up magical thinking.

Let’s break down each component:

  1. An affirmation is anything you say or think. It is defined as the assertion that something exists or is true (source). Affirmations can be both positive and negative. “I hate my thighs” and “I am grateful for my strong thighs” are both affirmations. One of these affirmations will run on a continuous loop in your mind. The good news is that you have the power to choose which one.
  2. Visualization means to recall or form mental pictures in the mind (source). I call it using my mind’s eye. Once I received my GED, I began writing my name with the letters RN behind it on everything. I saw myself become a registered nurse in my mind’s eye long before it happened in 1999.
  3. Belief is a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true (source). Belief is the most important component and a powerful guiding force.

Sound a Little ‘Woo-Woo’ to You?


You’re not alone. People don’t understand what magical thinking is, or how it works. Magical thinking isn’t about wishing or hoping. It’s about having a clear vision, taking action, and doing the work to get what you want.

We explored the three components of magical thinking, now let’s see them in practice.

“Words empty as the wind are best left unsaid.”
— Homer

Back to 1993I had just completed my GED and I was working as a nursing assistant. I told anyone that could listen that I was going to become a registered nurse. It became an affirmation for me, and telling others made me accountable for getting it done.

Hold the Vision, Trust the Process


At first, I didn’t know when or how I would accomplish my goals, but I knew what I wanted. I could see it. Writing my name with RN attached helped keep the vision in front of me.

I met with guidance counselors at the community college. I wanted to learn the process of becoming a nurse. Some advised me not to aim too high in case I miss. I ignored the naysayers and learned to trust the process.

“A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.”
— David Hume

I saw the evidence of my success each time I passed a class. Every win built confidence and the belief in myself grew. I began to believe in my dreams and when that happened, I took off both personally and professionally. I haven’t looked back.

Magical thinking is a key ingredient for success. My recipe for success would be incomplete without it. As I said before, magical thinking is not about wishing or hoping. It is using the power of words, vision, and belief to realize your dreams. Try it for yourself.


Elisha Lowe is a registered nurse, business strategist, writer, entrepreneur, and inspirational speaker with two decades of experience in healthcare. She works with top healthcare organizations to grow novel products, which support better patient outcomes in hospitals, while engaging in entrepreneurial pursuits. You can follow her on Twitter @ElishaLoweRN or learn more at