Doing this exercise can be a really insightful experience.
Writing to your future self helps identify long-term goals and reflects on your inner self. Who do you want to be? What do you want to be proud of? You start laying out a roadmap of what success for you looks like for you, whilst also providing insight into who you currently are as a person, what you’re doing and where you aspire to go.
It’s a snapshot in time about your priorities, your expectations and, upon receiving it, how your life trajectory may have changed since writing it. Our priorities often change over time and, subsequently, so do our goals. It’s cool to sometimes see how you’ve aligned (or even surpassed) your dreams.
As you begin to write a future letter to yourself, you start outlining the pathways towards your goals, and it is a fantastic exercise in working backwards within a time frame to outline the circumstances that are a catalyst for change.
It took me two years to make this decision, and it wasn’t easy! I remember talking with my husband at the time: ‘it takes nine months to make a baby, let’s give me nine months to make this business work and see where it takes us’. My back up plan after 9 months of trying this experiment was to ‘go get a real job again!’
“Discovering and then consulting with your inner mentor is a powerful way to navigate personal and professional decisions.” – Tara Mohr
We’re now 14 months on. How am I going? It’s been a rollercoaster ride, and I’ve loved every minute of it so far. I’ve learned so much along the way and realise how much more I need to learn. I’m not turning back or in need of getting ‘a real job again’. This is my real work.
Being a bit of a data-nerd, I record my metrics (e.g. number of clients, revenue streams, hours delivering coaching, facilitating workshops etc.). One of the metrics is “Number of Lives Impacted”. I have a ‘post-it note’ tally, which I update daily and record my metrics each week. Everyone I have coached counts. I also tally numbers of participants in workshops (virtual and in-person) and people I bump into along the way that I have a meaningful ‘building up’ conversation with. This data is all recorded.
Yes, it’s a rough self-diagnosed metric, but here’s what my data is telling me.
I left my job at MBIE in November 2020 and wrote this future letter to myself nine months on…
It’s August 2021, and wow, what a year it’s been! You’ve stepped out on your own in business – not quite knowing what this chapter might end up looking like. You had a dream, and you’ve realised it and been supported by a lot of awesome people.
This year has taught you so much. You felt terrified at the beginning, now you feel courageous. You stepped out in faith to the unknown, with a conviction that you could make a difference in the world around you through coaching others. You have met so many inspiring people in your journey so far. People who you never imagined you would have encountered before now.
You’ve coached some amazing people, facilitated workshops ranging from leadership development to strengths discovery to strategic planning. You’ve made a positive impact in other people’s lives. Not only have you done this stuff for others, but these connections have taught you so much too. About kindness, vulnerability, leadership, Mana Aki.
Antonia, you still have a little light that sparkles when you work on something you love or with people you can help. This light has become like a flame, burning brightly. Who knows what 2022 will look like? Keep sowing the seeds. Keep watering them. And enjoy the harvest times.
“You can’t always wait for the perfect time sometimes. You have to dare to do it because life is too short to wonder what could have been” (Armaan Deep)
How to Write Your Letter
At the beginning of the letter, don’t forget to log today’s date, the date you are writing. An excellent way to start is talking about your day to day, what your feelings are to establish who the ‘you’ of today is. Then, it’s time to launch into the rest of the letter.
You might like to consider where you want to be a year from now. What dreams and actions do you want to take in the next year? How will you use your strengths to promote your unique potential and help manage your lesser strengths (as some may call them, weaknesses)?
Don’t be afraid to dream big, to set your sights on something you’ve never had. The power of writing something down is similar to making a physical commitment to our dreams. For many, the power of the pen (or keyboard) essentially sets in stone a promise and can be the power you need to take the first tiny step. After all, after the chaos of the last few years, why can’t the pendulum swing the other way for your success?
This is the time to start making measurable goals – ones that have clarity around how you envision them. For instance, instead of “getting healthier”, it might look like “consistently having three vegetarian meals per week and committing to 4 days of any physical activity”. These measurable goals set you up for success when you can break these measurements into bite-sized actions.
Last but not least, be gentle. We are all on a journey of growth and self-exportation, and there is no greater empowerment in the world than having a past you be encouraging and supportive of the future you. Trust me. It’s like the best high five you can imagine. After the years we have had, being kind to ourselves is crucial. While we can reflect on what has been, we cannot change it. We can look forward and make positive strides in our life to succeed, and writing a letter to ourselves is a way to champion these accomplishments and celebrate your highs (and better understand the lows).
When you’ve completed the letter, seal it with your name, a ‘to be opened’ date and set an appointment one year from now on your calendar. Be sure to keep the letter somewhere safe where no one can access it. This letter is just for YOU. You don’t need to share it with anyone except yourself.
Alternatively, you can use FutureMe.org, which sends your letters to an email at any point in the future.
Have you written a letter to your future self? Or will you start with a commitment to do so?