Writing a letter to your future self is an exercise that I thought of in 2006. It was inspired by the Yahoo! Time Capsule project (the website is now dead). Essentially it is similar in concept to a time capsule, where you write a personal note to your future self, seal it, and then open it at a future date. There are no restrictions on how old your future self should be — you can write to your future self one year, three years, five years, or even 10 years from now!
Why Write a Letter To Your Future Self?
Doing this exercise can be a really insightful experience.
Imagine writing to your future self five years from now — what would you say? What kind of person would you be? What goals would you want to have achieved? Not only is it mind boggling, but it gets you thinking about your goals five years from now. As you write your letter, you will start to think about the actions you should take to realize them in your expected time frame.
Subsequently when you open your letter five years down the road, you get to assess the things that match (or don’t match) up vs. your expectations, and reflect why that’s the case. Often times, our goals are subject to a lot of changes due to unanticipated circumstances and changing priorities. Reading your letter lets you see how your life trajectory has changed since writing it. It also makes you pause and think about how you are doing and whether you are where you want to be in life.
In addition, when you write your letter, your consciousness is stored in the very words you use. When you read it, it’s like you are in contact with the old you. It gives you perspective and lets you see how much you have grown/changed since then. 🙂
How to Write Your Letter
While you can write to your future self from any time period, I recommend to start off with a one year time frame. This way it’s easier to project your goals, and it also gives you a comfortable time frame to take action.
Refer to today’s date.
- Imagine writing to your future self exactly one year from now. What do you want to say to him/her? Some consideration points:
- What do you want your future self to be like one year from now?
- What are the different goals and dreams you want realized by then?
- What is your desired status for your life wheel areas? Career/Business/Studies? Money/Wealth? Family? Friends? Love? Health? Spirituality? Recreation? Contribution? Self-Image?
- Once you’re done, sign off with your name and today’s date.
- Keep your letter in a safe place.
- Put the papers in an envelope. Seal it.
- On the cover, write “To [Your Name]. To be opened on [Date].” Replace “[Your Name]” with your name, with “[Date]” the date that’s one year from now.
- Set an appointment in your calendar to open your letter one year from now.
- Put this envelope in a safe place where no one can access it.
- Live your life like you’ve never lived it before! Work on the goals that you wrote about. Then open and read your letter one year from today. 🙂
For your letter format, you can either write a physical letter or type it. I used to write my letters using pen and paper, but I’ve since switched to typing and then printing out the final copy (this way I have a backup).
You can use FutureMe.org, an online time capsule service that sends information to a specified email address at any point in the future. My issue with using such a service is that you never know who has access to your letters, and your letter will be gone forever if the website/service ever gets shut down.
Opening My Letter From My Past Self (2008)
I wrote two letters to myself on February 10, 2008. The first letter was to my future self one year from then, on February 10, 2009. The second letter was to my future self five years from then, on February 10, 2013.
A week ago (Feb 2009), I opened my first letter. It was a fascinating experience reading it as it felt like my younger self was talking directly to me. 😀
Reading my letter, it was interesting noticing what I was like in the past and how much I have changed. One of the biggest changes was my materialistic tendencies. While I was not a very materialistic person when I wrote my letter in 2008, I have become less materialistic since, given my revelations on my relationship with material wealth and goods. My consciousness is also higher, which is not surprising as I’ve been working a lot on my growth.
In terms of goals, I have reached and exceeded several goals:
- For Health, I correctly predicted that I will still be vegetarian and loving every minute of it.
- Weight-wise, I have pretty much reached my desired weight/look, something I’m really proud of as losing weight was something that I had struggled with since five to six years ago.
- For Career, I leaped ahead of myself compared to my predictions — in my letter, I predicte that I would still be working in my ex-company while working on my purpose on the side. Turns out that I have already quit my job and I’m now working on my purpose full-time. The result? I’m loving every moment of it. 😀
There are some goals that I haven’t reached yet. For example for Love, I thought that I would have found my relationship partner by now, but I haven’t. It’s perfectly okay though, due to my revelation a few months ago that how we are actually already perfect, complete and whole as singles. Finding my soulmate is something that I want and look forward to in the future. In the meantime, I’m perfectly happy and complete as I am.
In terms of Friendship, some friends whom I thought I would still be on great terms with have slipped away. In place of that, I have formed great friendships with other people in the past year, especially in the past few months. In a way, it’s like a natural equilibrium at work — when you let go of certain old connections, new connections will take their place.
There are goals that I didn’t reach as I abandoned them halfway, because they lost meaning to me. An example would be wanting to buy a car. When I received a pay rise last year and was able to consider getting a car, I realized that owning a car in Singapore, where public transport is readily available, does not resonate with my highest self. My original intent of getting a car was more for image reasons — which is true for many car owners in Singapore — and that desire has long been shed along with my old self. Not to mention, having a car isn’t exactly environmentally friendly.
All in all, reading my letter made me aware of several things. It made me more conscious of how exactly I have changed vs. the past (rather than just relying on memory). It reminded me of some of my past visions that I lost track of along the way. It made me appreciate how far I have come. It made me look forward to the future. 😀
Write Your Letter To Your Future Self
Grab your pen and paper right now and start writing your letter to your future self! Identify a time period to write to, imagine what you would be like, and then start writing! Think about the kind of person you would be like, your place in life, what you would have accomplished by then, and so on.
Follow the steps in the exercise above. Get working on your goals, then open your letter with pride a year from now! 🙂
Update Aug 2014: I’ve created a video tutorial on writing a letter to your future self, where I share more tips plus I opened my 5-year letter to myself! Watch: Writing a Letter to Your Future Self [Video]
For those of you with Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program, the task for Day 29 is on writing a letter to your future self.