How Acting “As If” Can Help You Achieve Success

If you want to achieve success but can't seem to make it happen, maybe acting 'as if' you've already attained the life you want can help you get there.

A long time ago I had dinner with a guy who was freelancing at the company I used to work for. He was always a bit eccentric and into some kind of “new age” philosophy, so he was an interesting cat to hang out with.

At the restaurant, he opened his menu and said he was looking for the most expensive item. I had to laugh because he was pretty much baiting me to ask why. When I did, he said he was reading a new book (probably something along the lines of The Secret) which said that if he was ever going to be rich, he needed to act like he had all the money in the world and therefore could order the most expensive item on the menu.

Knowing he didn’t have a lot of money, I thought this was completely absurd! “Hello? Denial much?”

My guess is he was taking the advice of acting “as if” to the extreme, or way out of context.

Acting “as if” is one of the chapters in the book I’m currently reading by Jack Canfield called, The Success Principles. He describes how if you act “as if” you have achieved everything your heart has ever desired, you start to manifest what you want. This doesn’t just require you to sit and daydream about the achievement, but actually physically start to live out what it is you want as if you already have achieved it.

For instance, if I wanted to be an actress, I would physically write out my Oscar acceptance speech, and maybe write an article where Vanity Fair interviewed me about all my success. Jack suggests taking it a step further and have an “as if” party where you invite your friends over and you all role play your ideal selves. If someone wanted to be a super successful businessman, he would come to the party wearing his best suit and talk about all the cool business deals he landed. If you wanted to be a famous speaker, you would talk to people at the party about all the really cool gigs you were asked to speak at like the Ted talks.

The point is you start to embody that success…you walk around with your head a little higher and smile more often because you feel like you have achieved great success. Maybe you stop making excuses that derail your success and take a reasonable chance or to that actually lead to the accomplishment of some of your goals. It sounds super cheesy, but I think there are some great points to acting “as if.”

‘If Only’ Thoughts We All Have


How many times have you thought one of these common ‘if onlys?’

“If I only lost 10 pounds I’d be happy.”

“If I only achieved XYZ in my career, I’d be happy.”

‘If only I could find someone I’m compatible with, I’d be happy.”


We often future trip about what things might be like “someday,” and don’t give ourselves the time to be in the now.

I also think there is a lot of truth to the fact that if you “think” you are successful and happy right now, positive things do start magically coming your way. People want to work with you because you seem confident, self-assured, and happy.

When Daydreaming Goes Too Far


But there is a point, in my opinion, where you can take acting “as if” too far. Just because you are imagining yourself as a billionaire, does not mean you can buy a yacht, eat at the most expensive restaurant in town, or buy Armani suits. I think this is why people get so irritated by the message of The Law of Attraction. They take the message as very literal and think they can’t follow that advice because it’s completely stupid.

If you want to achieve success but can't seem to make it happen, maybe acting 'as if' you've already attained the life you want can help you get there.

To me the exercise is more mental (visualizing) and somewhat physical (writing down what you have achieved, walking with confidence, etc.) than anything else. Even if you are acting “as if” you are a billionaire, you can still make really good choices à la Warren Buffet. You just choose your words differently. Instead of saying, “I can’t afford it,” say “it’s not in my spending plan.” Subtle differences that can be powerful to the mind.

Here is an exercise for you: Write a press release that was written by your PR person (every successful person has one) about the latest and greatest thing you’ve accomplished. Did you just finish your seventh book? Did you just land that 10 million dollar deal? Are you releasing your new album?

Print it out and put it on your fridge or vision board, or stick it in your wallet. It certainly won’t cost you anything, and who knows what great things might inspire you to achieve!


What are some of the things your press release might say? What is one thing you’ve daydreamed about doing but held back on? When do you think daydreaming goes too far?

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Tonya Stumphauzer

Tonya is a video editor/producer and writer living in Los Angeles who enjoys beach volleyball, playing ukulele, and running. Visit her blog Budget & the Beach!


  • It’s all about our mindset. The more positive we look at things in life, the happier we will be and the greater the odds we will push ourselves to try new things. Once this happens, we experience success, which increases our confidence and leads to trying more new things and more success.

    I agree that too many people take The Secret and The Laws of Attraction too literal. You have to find the middle ground and once you do, it’s incredible.

  • I like the idea of visualizing success! I don’t see how it could hurt. Sometimes its hard to envision ourselves achieving our dreams when they feel so out of reach, but you have to start somewhere, right?

  • I do think there’s something to changing your mindset to a positive one — it helps people avoid all the “I can’t”s that get in the way of actually doing something, and you’re right, it makes you a more pleasant person to be around and therefore more likely to find opportunities. But you should only order the most expensive thing on the menu if your company is paying for it, IMHO 🙂

  • Congrats on joining the dream team, Tonya!! You’ll be a perfect fit. 🙂 I’m a big believer in acting as if, but for me, I do it a bit differently. I choose to not buy something because I am on the road to debt freedom. I see myself and act as a person who is on the road to debt freedom, even if I’m not quite there yet. I don’t spend as if I’m debt free now, but when I am, I’ll definitely have days when I order the most expensive meal on the menu, LOL. 🙂

  • Kim says:

    Kim Parr walked away from a career in eyeballs to start her own property management company. She is now the biggest income property owner in southwest Colorado…….

    I do think the if you build it they will come philosophy works to certain extent, but you also have to put in the work and not just spent the money to look the part.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      Yeah she does! 🙂 And I agree that you have to put in the work too an not just hope it all turns out ok.

  • Jason B says:

    I love the law of attraction. It definitely works. One of the things on my press release will be about the multiple streams of income that I have developed.

  • I liked the idea of writing out a speech or PR Release that is made about a success I want to achieve. It’s a cool visual exercise that makes you think through the whys and hows of what you want to acheive from a different angle. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

    Good luck with yours! I have a vision board, but I still need to write mine. Hey, it’s a frugal activity too!

  • I love this Tonya! I need to practice this more and I honestly think it would make me more confident in everything I do. I want to play in the World Series of Poker main event someday, and have visualized playing in it (which might sound weird but hopefully not in the context of this post haha). I think visualizing and daydreaming is great but you need to connect it with some practical steps you can take. I found that practical step, which is a $250 satellite tournament at a local card room here in Minnesota where the winner gets a seat into the $10,000 buy-in main event as well as travel/accommodation money ($1,500). Now there is much more to winning a poker tournament than simply visualizing success, but I know how much of a difference it can make when you go into a tournament thinking “I can win this. I will win this.” It gives you the confidence to make good choices. Anyway we’ll see how it works out. The tournament is in a month :0

  • Love it! I definitely do this with our homestead goal–it’s such a focus for us that we talk about it/think about it all the time. I find that type of visualization really helpful because it keeps us focused and it makes our frugality pretty easy to stick to. I think as long as it doesn’t mean you’re living in the future too often, it’s a great technique!

    Frugal Hound, by the way, likes to visualize a life where she’s roaming the prairie, hunting squirrels, and no one dresses her up in outfits ;).

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      That is true. If all you’re living in is the future that’s not very helpful, but still visualization is a great technique!

  • Visualisation and vision boards: absolutely invaluable in not just achieving success but figuring out what it is [to you] in the first place.

    By the way, if I was mega rich, I’d order what I *wanted*, even if it was the cheapest thing on the menu. 🙂

    Congrats on the staff writing job, Tonya!

  • I think I will start to practice doing that debt-free scream à la Dave Ramsey: “WE’RE DEBT-FREE!” Now my head is higher!

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