My high school senior teacher had us write letters to ourselves that he planned to send when we graduated from college in four years. Over the years, I completely forgot about it. When I graduated, the letter showed up in my mailbox exactly when I needed it.
The letter reminded me of my mindset and the path I wanted to be on. Although the path completely changed, I did too.
Why write a letter to yourself?
- Reflect on who you are/were: Writing a letter to your future self is an incredible way to think about who you are now, what you’ve accomplished and how you hope to grow in the future. Reflecting on current things in your life can really put things into perspective for you in the future.
- Envision your future: when you put your goals down, it makes you more eager to focus on taking action. If your goals are what you believe will lead to a more fulfilling life, why not start taking action now? Then when you get this letter you’ll be like damn! Look at me go!
- What’s important?: Sometimes we lose sight of what is important to us. If you really want another job, but don’t have any idea what you value, it might be difficult to find joy in it. Knowing what is important helps in all areas of life and allows you to reconnect to this in the future.
- How are you struggling?: In my high school letter, I was so sad. Sad to be heartbroken and sad to be leaving my best friends to move to a different state. I can feel the sadness reading the letter. On the other hand, I see how I overcame that and the good that came out of what seemed like the worst thing to happen.
How to write a letter to yourself
It seems weird and silly to write something to yourself years down the road. In all honesty, I wish I added more to my letter because I loved it that much! It’s a great way to reflect and be reminded of things that you believed when you were younger.
1. Grab a piece of paper or open a note on your computer
I highly recommend this be handwritten as it makes it more special. Or you can type it – I have seen a few websites (FutureMe.org and LetterToMyFutureSelf.net) that will even send you the letter later so you don’t have to remember. It’s important to put the date you’re writing this letter so when you open it in the future, you have a good idea of when this was made.
2. Start by thinking through some questions:
- What have you achieved so far? What did you learn throughout these achievements?
- What is important to you?
- Are you happy and living life to the fullest? How so?
- What is one thing you wish you did more of that brings you joy?
- Who is in your life right now that you love and appreciate?
- How do you feel? How are you taking care of yourself right now?
It also helps to include things you value. For me, I always jot things down about my family and other relationships. I shared some things that were happening – weddings, a funny story, or something that was really fresh in my mind about the people I love.
3. Write down the goals that you want to achieve or what you’re hoping for in the future:
- Career – what is your current job? What do you want to be doing when you’re reading this letter in the future? Why do you want this for yourself? What’s important to you when it comes to working?
- Money – what’s your view on money right now? Do you hope to have money saved? A house bought? A baby on the way? What are you planning on spending money on down the road?
- Travel – is there anywhere you want to go? When and with who?
- Reminders – what do you want to remember? What would you tell your younger self even right now?
- Health – how can you be healthier to make sure you are living a long and balanced life?
- Relationships – can you show up better in your relationships? Is there someone who you think is toxic and you hope to be free from?
- Anything else – what can you add or remove from your life to improve the quality of it?
4. Sign it, seal it, and set your open date
If you decided to write your letter, sign it and seal it in an envelope. Write the open date in bold lettering on the front of the envelope. I suggest a date three years from now because a lot can happen in this time and it doesn’t feel like too far in the future. A year also works great when focusing on the key points above.
5. Store it in a hidden place
You don’t have to bury this in your backyard, but I do suggest putting this somewhere you won’t look at every day. This can be a desk drawer, in a box of items you value, or wherever you store important files.
Although writing a letter to your future self may seem silly, it’s an amazing way to reflect and remind you of your growth. Hearing from friends that we’ve grown or that we’re so much stronger is nice. But reading a letter written by you, to you is pretty powerful. I dare you to try this exercise. If you’re not sold on it, plan for the open date to be 365 days from now. Then thank me later.
What are some things you plan on telling your future self? Let me know in the comments!