“Dear me, I am writing this letter to remind you of the most important things. Essential plans: to fold the best in the world paper airplane, jump in the paddles, run up the down escalator, kiss a prince…” (1) This is a part of a letter that a seven-year-old Margarette sent to her future self. Now she’s a successful businesswoman in her early forties. She is not happily jumping in puddles of water, because there is not a minute in her schedule that is not planned.
Think about how powerful it might have been when she read this letter back to her future self. It could be a reminder of who she was versus who she wanted to be. It would be a little kick in the butt to make sure that she was heading in that direction and in order to limit life’s biggest regrets.
Is there anything you want to always remember? Why would you write a letter to your future self? Does it seem silly and childish? Actually, this exercise can bring much value to your life—I know it did for myself. And that’s why writing a letter to your future self is a great bucket list idea.
Why is it a good idea?
- Reality check. As we live, we tend to forget about many decisions, promises, and other valuable things. Sometimes we make mistakes which we don’t want to repeat, but eventually, forget about them and step on the same rake. This letter will be a reality, helping you to raise some essential questions and see if you are moving in the right direction.
- Self-reflection. Most really prominent and successful people had a journal. They engaged in self-reflection a lot, drew conclusions, and changed their lives. You can follow that example and you’ll be able to get yourself on a new personal level.
- Time-machine. Your diaries/letters are like time-machines. Years pass, and the moment you read them, you immerse into that past reality. You are suddenly that young, less mature, happy, silly, and very real past YOU. And you will see how much you have changed since that time. Whether it makes you laugh or cry, it will definitely be a precious experience.
- Reminder. To remind yourself of something really important and valuable. Life can be hectic a lot of the times. And the most meaningful things and dreams to people might slip out of our minds—being pushed to the back burner. This letter will help you remember what is important to you.
How to Write a Letter to Yourself
You would like to write a letter to your future self, but don’t know where to start? Let’s break it into steps:
1. Ask Yourself Some Questions
- What lessons have I learned up until this point? Life will definitely have given you some precious knowledge… help yourself verbalize it.
- What goals have I achieved? Who helped me on the way? How did I thank them? Sometimes we are so committed to achieving the next goal that we forget to both enjoy your victories and thank those people who helped you reach the pinnacle. Gratitude and joy are extremely important.
- Am I happy? Perhaps, one of the most important questions. We all want to be happy and sometimes we forget to stop for a second and enjoy it. Enjoy our healthy body, enjoy our partner, enjoy our kids, enjoy this beautiful morning, and a cup of orange juice and here are 100 other things to be thankful for.
- What is important to me? This question will make you redefine your values. Important things might change over time, so it is a useful idea to reflect on this.
- Am I living this life true to MYSELF? If you try to meet everyone else’s expectations, you might be drifting far away from yours.
- Am I spending enough time on things that matter? This question will help you see if you pay enough attention to the essential things in your life. You’ll see if the constant flow of events didn’t carry you away.
- Do I take enough care of my health and myself? Some people treat their bodies just like containers to transport their minds without realizing that your body is like a vehicle. If you knew that you are going to have this car for the rest of your life, how would you treat it?
If these questions are not enough to get your letter writing juices flowing, then read this article: hard questions to ask yourself.
2. Share Your Current Beliefs
Tell your future self about your principles and beliefs in such areas of life as:
- Family. If someone in your family made some mistake you want to avoid, tell your future self about it. You wanted your dad to work less and spend more time with you? Then, tell your future self to prioritize family time.
- Friends. Describe your friends and why you are close to these people. Write about some funny situations or about some precious moments, when this person really helped you.
- Health. Tell your future self about how you maintain your health. Give yourself some reminders about the way of life and lifestyle habits you should be sticking to.
- Relationships. What’s important in your relationship? What type of partner are you attracted to? What traits of character do you want to see in your future partner?
- Career. Share your career goals and plans. Tell yourself about what you are currently doing for work and what your ambitions are. After this, you might want to analyze this passage now and create a step-by-step plan on how to actually reach those goals.
- Spirituality. What are your spiritual principles? What do you believe in? How do you support your spiritual practice? In hard times, this is our communication with God that actually helps us out. So, remind yourself of your values and principles.
- Finance & Money. Share with your future self some beliefs about money and your current financial situation.
Define Things You Want to Change in the Future
This is the most important part of your letter, which will help you process your life experience and become a better version of yourself.
- What should I remember?
- What are my goals for the future?
- What habits should I start to be healthier?
- What relationships need more attention and what ones need to be dissolved?
- What should I exclude from my life? What should I add to my life.
It’s perfectly okay to type your letter or use a simple piece of white paper, but to make it a little more special you can also buy a pretty paper and envelope set (like this one) or a beautiful leather journal.
Store Your Letter With a Future Open Date
Store your letter in a way that you will not be tempted to read it before its time, but also in a way that it will not be forgotten. The best way is to put it into a sealed envelope with the open date boldly marked on it. Then, you can set a reminder on the calendar of the exact date you want to open it (and the location where you hid it!).
How long should you wait to open your letter? That depends on you. I recommend at least one year, but five would be even better. You could also make a plan to write a new letter every five years.
. . .
Citations: (1) With Love… from the Age of Reason (French: L’Âge de raison) by Yann Samuell
Writing a letter to my future self was enlightening for me. And here it is…
Dear Future Self,
Today is your 40th birthday and as you look back you realize that you have had many fortunate experiences and time appears to have flown by. But, looking forward you are filled with hope, dreams and excitement. The one thing you wish is that what you know now you knew when you were 20. To myself, I write this letter to the future me.
What You Know Now:
You now realize that in your 20’s you thought that your career defined you, but now it enhances your life. Though you have worked for fabulous companies, you know that your heart lies in being your own boss and hope to continue down that path for the rest of your life. You definitely feel that the restaurant business is a passion, but you have many others and dream of becoming a writer of “bucket list” books, creating cork art to sell and otherwise having a career that allows you the freedom to travel.
In earlier life your main concentration was on “becoming a millionaire” and now you just want to simplify. You understand that you can only wear so many clothes, friends don’t really care what kind of car you drive and huge diamond rings don’t equal true love. You still have the desire to have money, but you would like to spend it on creating experiences instead of accumulating material items.
RELATIONSHIPS & MARRIAGE
You have been married for 12 years and the dynamic of the relationship has changed dramatically since year one. You were once obsessed about knowing the security of the future and now know that things happen and no matter what you will be okay. You know that acceptance of your partner is so important and you have been successful at that. You realize that marriage is not always roses & butterflies, but nothing is and you are willing to work at making it better. With that said, you believe that relationships should mostly be roses & butterflies or else it’s not worth sacrificing your happiness. You truly love your husband, but still struggle with “unconditional” love and need to continuously strive to make sure he feels it .
You have spent many years searching for your passion, hoping that there was that one thing you would be excellent at. You now know that the search is your passion and within this search are the times you feel most alive. You have now dedicated much of your life to experiencing new things and truly feel that is your permanent infatuation.
In this letter to my future self I want to emphasis how the power of being present has changed your life. Having the ability to not think about the past or worry about the future has been a long, challenging path and is still a work in progress. But, you have realized that it is a huge key to happiness. Also, you spent much time challenging your negative thoughts, pointing out the positive every time you had one. It has proven to be successful in the process of being joyful. Another important thing you feel is that, in most cases, honesty truly is the best policy. It has not failed you. You now feel that happiness is a choice and you try to choose it whenever you can! You have also realized that the one person that has to take care of you is you!
You have accepted the faults of your family with love, though these faults still emotionally affect you more than you wish. You take comfort in the fact that you know your mother would take her own life for you, but hope that she will realize that her healthy lifestyle means more to you than anything. You have almost stopped fantasizing about having the father figure you see in the movies, though you still long to have a stronger relationship with him. You have effectively cut out the communication with family members that do not enhance your life and don’t feel guilty.
STYLE & AGING
For the most part, you feel pretty. Pretty in a way that lacks the insecurities or conceit of when you were younger. You can see the effects of aging, but do not compare yourself to younger versions. On most days, you feel that you look good for your age and your goal is to have that feeling at every age. You still love stylish clothing (at a discount!) and dressing nice gives your self esteem a boost. Brand names still do not impress you, you don’t understand the purpose of paying 4 times as much for designer jeans, but definitely would if it made your butt look fabulous! Aging or dying does not particularly scare you, what frightens you is that you will not be able to experience all the things you want to.
In the past couple of years you have been caught thinking, “I love life” and you hope to feel this for many years to come.
Love & Respect,
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