Writing a letter to your future self is an exercise which I thought of back in 2006. It was inspired from when I chanced upon the Yahoo! Time Capsule project (website is now dead). Essentially, this is similar to the concept of a time capsule, where you write a personal note to your future self, seal it and only open it at a future moment in time. There are no restrictions on the time duration either — it can be one year later, three years later, five years later, 10 years later, or even 20 years later!
Why Write a Letter To Your Future Self?
Doing this exercise can be a really insightful experience.
Just imagine writing a letter to your future self five years from now, then opening it at that exact moment five years down the road to read the message that the past you left for yourself. It is a useful supplementary tool to be used in goal achievement, because when you write the letter to your future self, it helps crystallize your ideal vision for yourself in the future.
As you read the letter in the future, you can assess how many things match up (or not) vs. your expectations in the past and think about why that’s the case. Often times, the goals we set and our goal achievement process are subjected to a lot of changes along the way, due to varying obstacles, unanticipated circumstances and changing priorities. The letter gives you a macro-view of your initial vision and lets you recognize how your current vision differs from the past.
In addition to that, at the very moment you are writing the letter, your consciousness is captured and stored right there in those words. When you open the letter in the future, you as your future self gets to compare how you used to be in the past and compare with how you are currently. This lets you see in totality how much things have changed since then — and this can be a really intriguing experience. It’s interesting to just see how much you have grown/changed since you wrote the letter. 🙂
What To Write About
- Look at today’s date. Now imagine you writing to yourself, exactly one year from now. What do you want to say to your future self?
- How do you want your future self to be like one year in the future?
- What are the different dreams and goals you would want to be realized by then?
- What is your desired status of the areas of your life wheel at that time? Career/Business/Studies? Finances? Family? Friends? Love? Health? Spirituality? Recreation? Personal growth? Contribution?
- Once you’re done, sign off with your name and today’s date.
- Safekeep your letter.
- 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 in your calendar to open your letter one year from now.
- Put this envelope in a safe place where no one can access to it.
- Live your life like you’ve never lived it before in the next one year. Open and read the letter one year from today.
You can either write it as hard copy (for a greater sense of nostalgia due to the aging condition of paper by then and all) or have it as a digital soft copy. I personally wrote a hard copy and then typed a soft-copy version just in case I lose the hard copy. You can also try FutureMe.org, an online time capsule service that stores and sends information to a specified email address at any time in the future.
Opening My Letter From My Past Self
I wrote two letters to myself last year, in February 10th 2008. The first letter I wrote to myself in Feb 10th 2009 (1 year from then); the second letter was to myself in Feb 10th 2013 (five years from then). A week ago, I opened the first letter I wrote. It was an enthralling experience reading it, since it felt like my old self was talking directly to me. 😀
Reading the letter, it is interesting to notice how I was in the past and how I have changed. One of the biggest changes was my materialistic tendencies. While I was not a very materialistic person when writing my letter in 2008, I’ve become less materialistic since, given my revelations on my relationship with material wealth and goods since quitting my job last year. My consciousness has also heightened, which is not a surprise given it is something I’m constantly working on all the time. The time period after I left my job has definitely given me unlimited personal time to really introspect and dig deep into my personal growth. 🙂
In terms of goals, I have reached and exceeded several goals. For Health, I correctly predicted I will still be a vegan 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 is a personal goal I had struggled with since five to six years ago. For Career, I leaped ahead of myself compared to my predictions – I predicted I would still be working in my ex-company while working on my purpose on the side; Turns out I have already quit it and I’m working on my purpose full-time now. The end result? I’m totally loving every moment right now. 😀
There are some goals I haven’t reached yet. For example in Love, I thought 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 on how we are actually already perfect, complete and whole as singles. Finding and being together with my soulmate is something 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 great terms with had slipped away; in place of that other people had entered into the foray and have become great friends of mine in the past year, especially the past few months. In a way, it’s sort of an equilibrium at work when you think about it.
There were goals I didn’t reach because I had abandoned it halfway, since it lost meaning to me. An example would be wanting to buy a car – when I received my pay rise last year and was in the capacity to get a car, I realized that owning a car in Singapore, where public transport is readily available, does not resonate with my highest self at all. My original intent of getting a car was more for imagery reasons, and that had long been shed away as part of my old self. Not to mention the environmental damage I would be causing too with a car.
All in all, this comparison between my past vision for myself and who I am right now made me aware of several things. It made me more conscious of how much and how exactly I have changed vs. the past, in a tangible manner (rather than just relying on memories). It reminded me of some of the visions I had in the past which I lost track of along the way. It made me appreciate how far I have come. It made me look forward in excitement to the future. 😀
Write Your Letter To Your Future Self
Take out a pen and paper right now and start writing your letter to your future self. Identify a time period to write to, imagine how you will be like during that time period, then start writing. Think about the type of person you will be, your place in life, what you would have accomplished then, the kind of thoughts and feelings you will experience, and so on.
At the end of the letter, seal it in an envelope, write the date to open it on the cover and put it in a safe storage space. Fix the date to open this letter in your personal calendar. When you open this sometime in the near future, you might gain additional insights about yourself and your journey in the past few years that you were oblivious to.
(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.)
Update Aug 22, 2014: I’ve since created a video tutorial on writing a letter to your future self, outlining steps from this article plus sharing more tips on how to make the best of this exercise. Watch my video tutorial here: Writing a Letter to Your Future Self [Video]