Every year on New Year’s Eve, I have a little routine. I sit down and handwrite a letter to myself that I’ll open on December 30 of the following year.
I start, “Dear Me,” and I chronicle everything that has happened in the past year. I write about the goals that I accomplished and the ones that I didn’t. I write about my hopes, predictions, and fears for the upcoming year. How I want to improve my productivity at work, how I want to be a better parent, how I want to travel more with my husband. I then seal it and mail it to myself a few days before the end of the next year.
It’s amazing how insightful these letters can be. At times they are even hard to read because there are so many things that happen that were unexpected.
Time can move so quickly. Hectic schedules and tight deadlines mean that life can pass by in a blur. Your thoughts, feelings, and goals can quickly become a distant memory, overshadowed by today’s tasks.
Writing a letter to your future self is an excellent way to preserve these thoughts and goals and make a plan for the “you” of tomorrow.
Memories Fade Quickly
Do you remember how you felt on December 31, last year? Do you remember how you planned for this year and how you expected your life to look in six months? Did everything go as you thought it would, or did unexpected events happen?
Six months can change a lot. It can be easy to forget your ideals and plans when your life or even the world changes. What was the big news story on the last day of the last year? What is it now?
Writing a letter to your future self reminds you that you can still fulfill your goals, even when life gets in the way.
Writing a letter to yourself in a year reminds you of where you were at this moment and time and illustrates how close you are to your goals. Did you achieve what you wanted, or is there still work to be done?
They’re Great for Goal Setting
Experts suggest that people are more likely to accomplish goals that they write down. Writing a letter to myself is like making a contract. It outlines the goals that I want to achieve in the next 365 days, and it puts this energy out into the universe.
Writing your goals down makes them more tangible, and I know that I’ll be proud of myself at the end of next year if I accomplish the goals I wrote in my letter. I also know that I’ll be disappointed if I don’t achieve any of my goals, so this letter serves as a bit of positive peer pressure —from my past self.
They Can Serve as Virtual Time Capsules
You can read the letters to yourself years from now and marvel at how the world was on that date. Who was the president when you wrote your letter? What did your family look like? Is there a new member now? Do you have new friends or a new home? Writing a letter to your future self reminds you of how much life can change in a few years or even months. What did you think of the world when you wrote the letter? How have your insights changed? What beliefs have held firm?
They Can Boost Your Career
Sometimes a brilliant idea pops into your head. Sometimes that idea pops into your head at the exact wrong time in your career. Maybe you are not in a position where you can implement that idea or don’t have the necessary skills to bring it to fruition.
Write your idea in a letter so you could preserve it and get to it when you have the skills and experience to implement it. Your idea can be an innovation or an improvement on an existing product or process. By writing down your ideas and re-reading them later, you can gain valuable insights when you are ready to take action.
Writing a letter to your future self is the easy part. Reading it in a year can be hard. It can be eye-opening, and even a bit painful to see how much your life has changed in a year. The letter can reveal your past fears, goals, and ambitions. It can reflect changes you had hoped for and some you hadn’t. Maybe your life has changed drastically since you wrote the letter. Perhaps it hasn’t changed at all.
Regardless of the results, writing a letter to your future self is a powerful way to gain insights into your life and the life you want to live.