03/06/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Truth Behind Magic Lists: Do They Really Work?

Okay, fess up--at some point you've had your own magic list, haven't you?

The only problem with magic lists is that their efficacy is, um, patchy. For every person whose boyfriend fits 98 percent of her criteria, there are dozens of others who find Mr. Right smoking drain cleaner in the basement and maintaining a web identity named Daisy Hotrocks. Nevertheless, I believe Alice's story because I've seen many other magic list cases just as astonishing. Walk a mile in my life-coaching loafers and you'll start believing in freaking leprechauns.

So what's the scoop? Is list-making mere perceptual bias, or can thinking actually attract things in physical reality? My answer--yes, and yes. In other words, there are conditions under which I've seen lists work like the charms they're meant to be, and others where they don't work at all. Knowing the difference between a power list and its powerless twin may be your key to living a fairy tale like Alice's.

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