How the Law of Attraction Really Works (and it does)

Law of Attraction

The first time a friend told me about The Secret, I knew it was bunk.

“That’s not how success stories become successful,” I thought. But I gave it a chance and watched the movie – or at least tried. I’m certain I didn’t get through the entire DVD.

You don’t sit in a chair and attract money into your life.

Sure, sometimes checks will show up in your mailbox. But 99 times out of 100 you did something to earn that money in the past. You didn’t magically attract it.

It takes more than thinking about things to get what you want in life. I know, I know, this is starting out as a real downer. But hold on, it gets better.

Just when you think I can’t get more negative on the Law of Attraction, I had a dream that reminded me of my very own true life Law of Attraction experience, and I was reminded that I needed to share this story with you.

Perhaps you’ve heard some of the history on how I came to be the editor of I’ve mentioned bits and pieces of it in videos, other articles, while speaking at seminars, and in issues of Financial Independence Monthly. But I’ve never told the full story in one place, and yet for some reason, that’s exactly what I did in my dream on Friday night.

And that means, at least to me, that for some reason, it was meant for this story to be told to you today. Maybe there’s one ETR reader out there that this is specifically for. Maybe that one person is waiting for this exact blueprint to go and change their lives and they’ll get great inspiration and wisdom from my journey. I don’t know, but I hope so, and I hope it helps you. The world works in mysterious ways. So here goes…

In my dream, I was back in college at a frat house, and friends from all phases of my life were gathering for a big party. I sat at a table eating a plate of chicken wings and gourmet French fries (hey, it was just a dream!). Suddenly one of my close friends and current business colleagues sat down across from me and started interrogating me about Early To Rise.

This friend, a hardcore direct marketer who judges all his business decisions on numbers alone, grabbed a few of my fries and asked a rapid-fire series of questions including, “So how much did you buy this Early to Rise business for? What were the monthly revenues? And how big was the email list?”

When I gave him the numbers, he was shocked.

“Seems like you overpaid,” he said incredulously.

I nodded.

“On the surface, it might seem this way,” I admitted. “But,” I added, “there’s more to it.” I then proceeded to explain to him how Early to Rise was truly the culmination of my life’s work and what I was born to do. It truly is my dream job.

You see, from the day that I read my very first issue of Early to Rise back in 2001, I knew that I wanted to be “just like Michael Masterson when I grew up”. I wanted to show people the exact steps to success that seemed so clear and straightforward to me. I wanted to help solve people’s problems and transform their lives.

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And so each day when ETR would show up in my inbox, I’d drop whatever else I was doing and devour the day’s wisdom and knowledge. On and on this went, year after year. Early to Rise helped me grow my own business using the advice received from my virtual mentors featured each day, including Masterson, Yanik Silver, Dan Kennedy, and more.

Then one day in 2005, I had an “A-ha” moment. “Why couldn’t I be writing for Early to Rise?” After all, for the previous five years I had been a regular contributor to Men’s Health magazine, Men’s Fitness magazine, and several other large fitness publications. And each day Early to Rise published a short health brief in their newsletter. It was the perfect fit.

But this required action, not just attraction or manifestation. I had to get up out of the recliner and go over to the computer and send an email.

I quickly tracked down the ETR health editor and made my case. Success! My first ETR “article” was published in November of 2005. For the next two years I not only had health briefs published each month, but I was given a few opportunities to contribute the main daily essay.

At the same time, I continued ‘manifesting’ my future, I suppose you could say. In March of 2006 I hired my first business coach, Tom V, to whom I will be eternally grateful for the technical assistance he provided in setting up my online business and creating my first product launch. He changed my life with his guidance.

But perhaps just as important, in the very first minute of our very first call, he also asked me a question that I believe opened up the universe to my lifelong dream.

“Craig,” Tom started, “what do you want your business to look like in five years?”

I replied with the most important answer I had ever given in my life, a reply more important than anything I ever said in my Master’s Degree defense, job interview, or anything other line of questioning.

My exact words were, “I want to have a business like Early to Rise.”

That was March 2006. It was the first time I had shared my vision with anyone. The words, and this dream, were now out there in the universe. Were they out attracting things for me? I don’t know. But I believe it was a watershed moment. Still, there was a long road – requiring plenty of action – to travel before it would all come together five years, three months, and seventeen days later.

Two years after working with Tom I met Matt Smith, now ETR’s Publisher, in one of Yanik Silver’s Mastermind groups. This would also turn out to be a huge turning point in my life, although nothing happened immediately or even for several years after we first met.

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But Matt and I became quick friends through the Mastermind group and every six months or so we’d connect by email or at an event. As Matt later explained, “We always wanted to work together on some project, but there was just never a good fit.” After all, he was busy traveling the world and I was engrossed in building my Turbulence Training business.

Then in October of 2010 Matt and I joined Yanik – and special guest, Tim Ferriss – on one of Yanik’s crazy Maverick Business Adventure trips. It was a testosterone-laden weekend of driving and shooting in the Arizona desert with members of a real-life A-Team. On Monday morning, as we sat in the Tucson airport on our journey back to reality, Matt asked me a similar question to the one that Tom, my business coach, had asked back in 2006.

I explained my grand vision to Matt. I was going to keep building Turbulence Training, but at the same time I was drawn to the idea of having something like ETR – where I could share a bigger and better message of Transformation and Life Change.

I want to point out at this time that I’ve been very lucky along the way, and one of the greatest strokes of luck in my life was to have known at a young age (around 16 years old) what I wanted to do ‘when I grew up’. For some reason, I’ve been fixated on helping people to change. To transform. To live a better life. It truly is what I was born to do.

That was what I shared with Matt, but alas, there wasn’t any big breakthrough made there in the airport. Matt just nodded knowingly as he often does when you tell him something of importance, and he filed the fact away to work on later as he always does. And with that, off we went on our separate ways.

Three months later we exchanged some Christmas greetings leading to a series of phone calls where we decided to work together on a project. It was small potatoes, but a start in the right direction.

Soon another 6 months had passed. Of course, each month passed with massive action taking towards my vision, but there lacked any big breakthroughs or concrete plan. Still, there was action, and that led to attraction. And finally, that’s when it finally all came together.

It was the afternoon of June 7th, 2011. I was out on the farm with the dog, dropping him off for my mother to dog-sit. That weekend I was off to New York City for the annual Atlas 400 meeting (a philosophical group of interesting individuals that Matt and I belong to).

But on that afternoon out on the farm, I received an email from Matt that read:

If u could own part of and run ETR. Would you?

It was random, so out of the blue that I didn’t know exactly what to think at first. I went ahead and answered, “Yes, of course.”

As it turned out, Matt, through his powerful network, had the chance to spend time with Mark Ford, the owner of ETR, at an exclusive meeting of a large publishing company. It came up in their conversation that Mark was ready to retire ETR, and he was thinking of shutting it down.

But Matt knew my dream.

Matt – a person I connected to through massive action, and a person that believed in my vision because of the massive action I had proven capable of taking on a relentless basis – was now in the position to deliver my ultimate dream into my life.

Matt expressed his (our) interest in taking control of ETR. Mark said he’d think about it.

But the story doesn’t end there.  Matt and I didn’t just retire to leather recliners and hope for the best.

There was more action to take.

Matt and I immediately changed our travel plans and flew to Florida to meet with Mark. We had to strike while the iron was hot and prove our interest was genuine. We had to plead our case, negotiate a deal, and earn a shot at my dream. And we did. We earned our chance. We were given our shot. And we know it’s turning out right.

Action was the catalyst. Action was the difference maker. Action was the answer.

Attraction is just the sexier way of saying it.

So what does this mean?

Well, if you – and only you – only vaguely know what you want out of life, then you need to change that immediately.

First things first, you need to create a vision for your life. Once you have that, you need to connect with and share your vision with positive people – and believe me, despite all the negativity in the world, there are many positive people still out there in the world. Trust me, they exist, and they want to help you.

Once you have your vision, and after you have shared it with the right people, then you have to get to work – painstakingly difficult, but rewarding work – and you must take a relentless approach to it. There will be days when you work till you feel like your eyes will start bleeding, but you must, as Frank McKinney advises, “take the lunch pail approach” to your legacy.

Work, work, work, work, work. Never quit. And then work some more. Sacrifice. Accept that this is necessary to truly achieve what you want. It’s not easy but it is worth it.

Each day you must be taking action in congruence with your vision and continuously connecting with more positive like-minded people that will help you attract exactly what you want into your life.

This goes for finding the right life partner, the right career, the right solution for your health and fitness, and the exact business and lifestyle that you’ve dreamed about for your entire life.

This is what it really takes.

Rhonda Byrne didn’t sit in a chair and think about making a movie called The Secret. She got off her duff and worked like the Dickens to create it.

Tim Ferriss didn’t work four hours per week to get his book, The Four Hour Work Week, to the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

And I didn’t just tell a couple of friends that I wanted to run Early to Rise and then wait for them to hand me the keys to the shop.

Rhonda, Tim, and I have all put in our time down in the salt mines of success. And if you join us, you can have exactly what you want in life, too.

Back in my dream, as I finished my story, my friend finished the last of my French fries, and as he turned away he said, “You made a good decision.

He’s right.

I paid the right price for success. I made the right deal.

And you can too.

It’s now 4:07am. I suppose that I could go back to bed and dream and wish and hope that the Law Of Attraction brings me success. Or I can take a quick break and get back to work – knowing that the Law of Action will bring me the results I want.

I think you know the decision I’ll make.

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  • Rabea

    In a day when I hear very little hope and determination around me, I’m once again ultra-inspired by your words to believe in my dream, and to keep taking action. Until I found Early To Rise last year, I wouldn’t even have considered fulfilling the dreams that I’m pursuing now. Thank you.

  • Good morning,

    A smile came to my face as I read the title of this article. Just the other day I was debating this very topic with my colleagues. I was having a hard time getting across to them exactly what i meant. That yes, what you are focused on definitely plays a role in what you get, however there also needs to be some hardcore action taken to achieve your goals and dreams.

    Thank you for helping to organize my argument, I will pass this on!! Have a wonderful day!

    Kassia Gooding RHN

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you Kassia!

    • jj

      life is not words , nor should it be just action. There are other life forms that contribute to attraction

  • Lillian Davenport

    I wanted badly to believe fully that thinking positive thoughts was all there was to it, but after Jerry Hicks died of cancer in his early 50’s ( of Abraham-hicks/ law of attraction fame), and being someone who is dealing with stage IV cancer herself, I quickly fell out of love with the idea. Your addendum of the law of ACTION makes so much more sense to me. Sitting around thinking pleasant thoughts all day as the key to success is not only misleading, but also burdensome to those facing deadly illnesses. Thanks for injecting some sense into these half-baked concepts.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Happy to help, Lillian, thank you. Stay strong!

  • Josephine

    Well, this is certainly a coincidence … I watched the movie The Secret on Saturday, and was thinking very much along the same lines … it is not JUST that you put your “wish” out there, you still need to be active and pursue it.

    Great article!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you, Josephine.

  • eva

    A winning article Craig…thank you. I was one of those people who watched and read the Secret avidly…trying it with its flaws and not succeeding. Sure, some things came my way(parking spots, a lull in the traffic) small things…but not the big things I desperately wanted and needed in my life. I am grateful for being able to participate in your Transformation Contest this year and can already see some exciting changes happening. I am grateful. Thank you Craig!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you, Eva!

  • Cynthia

    You are so very right – it is the Law of Action that is key. We are our destiny; it’s not random.

  • Therese

    Hi Craig, thanks for sharing your dream, and story that led to it. I to have been an avid reader of ETR from around the same time as you. Loved the investment, health, wise word input into my day. Realised that something “big” was going to happen financially from one story about the investment market in the U.S was being led by buying forclosures, starting around Cleavland. I live in Australia, and saw that if this was driving the U.S investment market, it was big, and would flow on to Australia…I saw our Global Financial Crisis take shape 18mths before we saw it here, on the pages of ETR. I am inspired by still reading ETR today, my longest subscribed email, and although unsure where this inspiration will lead me feel also that it will reveal something meaningful when the time is right. I was also around this time on your Turblence Training list, and still there to this day. Thank you for the inspiration in reminding us that the dots don’t always line up in straight lines, and when it feels right, the key is to take Action!!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you Therese!

  • “Action was the catalyst. Action was the difference maker. Action was the answer.Attraction is just the sexier way of saying it.”

    You said it very well, and as we all know, sex sells, but in the case of The Secret, it’s highly misleading at best and dangerous at worst, and as you aptly put it, “it’s bunk”. Thomas Edison put it this way when he said “it’s 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”

    Great article. It reaffirmed to me the good value of my time I spend reading your wise words of wisdom every day.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thanks so much, Walter!

  • Kari Baxter

    Funny…. The email I got from Jason Leister today was about “talking vs doing”. Action seems to be the theme of the day. I think I’m attracting this theme into my life. I’m going to go with it and take action!
    P.S. I just started Frank McKinney’s book. I love his 49 principles. Thank you for the recommendation. He’s a huge action taker on so many levels.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Happy to help, Kari, let us know how the action goes.

  • Cranberryrose

    The law of attraction is half the story. For instance, a 4-H barn needed fixing. Roof leaking with bad electrical, not a good combination with kids, i spoke to everyone about the barn. After extensive searching, a person I knew from an organization knew a wealthy businessman who wrote the check for $15,000, CAL roofing did roof for $7,000. .The electrician fixed the barn using the rest of the money. Likewise, in a major city, we needed pasture. After 2 years of seeking, a friend found our free pasture– clearing in exchange for boarding. Or having a 20% chance of a cancer cure, with prayer, finding that cure. If one has faith in the law of attraction, another person can have faith in a god who smiles when he delights his children. If something or someone is out there doing this, then it is not impersonal.

  • Julie O

    Great article Craig-Thank You. And Thank You (& Matt!) for taking over ETR. It has helped me A LOT through the years and right now I have MAJOR life changes going on and I was definitely one of the people that manifested your dream and compulsion to write this article. Thank You for sacrificing your sleep to provide it to us 🙂

    I completely agree with your take on “The Secret”. It was a great introduction to The Law of Attraction for me, but left out the most important part: action! I wanted to share with you what Jack Canfield always says…he points out that “action” is part of the word attraction. So, I don’t think it needs to be renamed, but I do think “action” needs to be focused on by all who promote it. Great job!! (As usual)

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you!

  • Todd

    Thanks for this Craig,
    The Law of Attraction is one of the cornerstones of success we try to instill in many of our clients.
    Vision with action is so critical but yet overlooked. Thanks for reinforcing the importance of this in terms of continuing to deliver the message and living it ourselves for our own growth…appreciate it.

    Take Care

  • Tamikka

    Incredible article, Craig. Whenever I hear attraction/action I see that “action” is a major part of the word. 🙂 It also reminds me of this quotation from.W H Murray:

    Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

    A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

    Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
    Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

    – W. H. Murray, from The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951)

  • crystal

    Wow! How your inspiring words spoke directly to my heart. Even though the sting of realizing the fairytale vision isn’t as easy as it may seem, the child in me believes that our thoughts and words manifest into creating our reality. Taking action to help cultivate our vision will certainly help the outcome more easily accessible. So, while I sit here becoming more and more inspired, when the timing is right, I will have attracted enough potential and know-how to put it all into action. Thanks Craig, for your wisdom and all of the encouragement you bestow.

  • Rebecca

    Love hearing that story, every time! So inspiring. Thanks for the morning dose I was seeking!

  • The Law of Attraction works without fail, but we must understand that the Universe works at its own speed. Although instant manifestation may sometimes happen, our desire will manifest in the universe’s timeframe rather than ours! It could even be that the universe knows that we are not yet ready to receive our desire.

  • Laura L. Smith

    The Secret was an okay feel good movie–however, there is no substitute for putting 110% into everything you do–which is how to accomplish what you want to get done.

    • ttcert


  • ttcert

    Thank you!

  • ttcert

    That’s really great, thank you!

  • madethatway

    You succeed (or not) within the boundaries and limitations that you decide will work for you – and those are the limitations (or not) that either hinder or help your subconscious mind in manifesting your desires.

    Bottom line: if you ‘feel good’ about the boundaries/limitations you put upon the ‘how’ of manifesting your desires, then yes, it will work that way for you, although it may take much longer.

    If you have doubts in your mind, or feel ‘uneasy’ about the way you’re going about it, then no, it won’t work for you. It’s pretty logical.

    People need to understand the one and only fundamental law of the subconscious mind, and it’s this…:

    ….the subconscious mind knows no limitations and no boundaries whatsoever but what the conscious mind burdens it with.

    Never let anyone tell you “that won’t work unless your do this or that” – if you feel good about the way YOU’RE going about it, then that’s what’s right FOR YOU.

    I have manifested some amazing situations in the past and all I did about it was to write down what I wanted – and if what I was writing down wasn’t accompanied by absolute passion, then I knew I didn’t really want it.

    I didn’t ‘need’ to do anything – that I’d find myself having sudden ‘urges’ to do something that I naturally did because the urges were so strong – there was no effort on my part, there was no telling myself “well, if I want this to work, then I’m going to have to act like I’m physically doing something about it to help it come about”. In fact, I had no idea that those ‘urges’ to do a particular thing, had anything to do with what I’d written down.

    It’s far less complicated than some would have one believe; it’s far more organic and natural than that.

    If it feels right for you, then it is right for you. If it doesn’t, it isn’t.

  • Jordan

    Thank you for this informative testimony. I was unsure of the balance between the “law of attraction” and the “law of action”, but this article provided a major revelation for me. I read in the Bible yesterday that “faith without works is dead, as the body without life is dead” and I did not understand, but your story helped to put it into perspective. I guess I wanted the answer, and I took action to find it, and whala!


    – Jordan