As a writer, I believe words have the power to inspire or harm, so we should use them with intention.
The most important words we speak are the stories we tell ourselves. If we allow them to, those messages that play on repeat in our brains can propel our careers forward or hold them back; it all comes back to our words.
It follows then that of all the correspondence we craft, none is more compelling than a letter we write to ourselves. And not just any letter, one to our future self. You know, that fabulous version of you that’s finally found career happiness and fulfillment.
Fortunately, the timing couldn’t be better. We’ve just kicked off a new year, where we’re enthusiastic and ready to embrace the possibilities. But unlike a traditional New Year’s resolution, which research shows is doomed to fail over time, writing a letter to yourself about your ideal future is an affirming exercise designed to help you visualize and bring to fruition your goals.
You can choose to do this old-school-style, with pen and paper, or use a website like Future Me to write a letter you email yourself on a date of your choosing.
Here’s how to pen a letter to your future self:
Start by reflecting
MORE FOR YOU
It’s helpful to look back to move forward, so before writing your letter, reflect on your previous year: what were your successes? What fell short of your expectations? What changed in your world? Consider, too, those times when you felt happiest and most fulfilled or, conversely, frustrated and uninspired. Jotting down these moments will give you clues as to what matters most to you, which you might be surprised to learn has changed over time. When you connect the dots by reviewing where you’ve been and how you got to today, it will be easier to make adjustments and set new goals that align with your envisioned future.
Don’t edit yourself
In crafting your letter, resist the urge to edit harshly and instead allow yourself to include everything that will help you achieve your goals. Write down your loftiest aspirations as well as the smaller wins. Describe the ideal environment and its people, the behaviors to adopt, and the bad habits to change. Be as specific as possible to help you envision how your dream will come to life.
A letter to your future self should be positive and affirming, so tell your inner critic to take a hike. Use the same tone you would if you were writing to a beloved friend, suspending limiting beliefs and any negative vibes by being kind, gentle, encouraging, and supportive.
Ask yourself how you want to feel a year from now
Imagine it’s January 2023— what do you hope to be celebrating? Challenge yourself to be curious about the possibilities, and consider what your new career story might be. There is power in visualizing your desired future, writing it down, and then watching your life manifest in kind. Even if it doesn’t unfold the way you imagined, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you learn about yourself in the process—and be able to use that knowledge to make adjustments for your next letter to yourself.
Consider displaying or sharing it
After you write your letter, prominently displaying it will serve as a constant visual reminder of your aspirations, which is especially helpful when you feel like giving up. And if you share your letter with a trusted friend or mentor, you can also enlist them as an accountability partner to support your efforts and keep you on target.
The beauty of writing a letter to your future self is that you control the narrative. And this is one story that is sure to have a happy ending.