This post introduces you to the idea of writing letters to your future self. Writing future letters can be a very fulfilling practice, and I cover several reasons why it might be helpful for you. I also help you get started on writing your future letter, both with prompts, and a free tool that will mail you the letter at a future date and time of your choosing.
Writing a Future Letter
On a sunny August afternoon, you are alerted to a new email in your inbox. You are surprised when you see the sender’s name: the email is from you. Momentarily confused, you open the mail to realize that you wrote this letter to yourself all those months ago. It finally landed in your inbox after all this time because you set it to be sent for today.
In the letter, your past self reminds you of their life and daily routines. They talk about their dreams for the future, and fervently hopes that you have achieved at least some of them by now. You remember your past self’s steadfast belief that all the reps they were putting in each day would one day compound to significant results. They also assure you that it’s okay even if life didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped because giving your best is all that ever matters.
You read the letter with a smile, fondly remembering the past and all the work that went into making you who you are today. You smile at the naïve ambitions of your past self, for not only have you crossed each one of their goals, but you have surpassed your past self’s wildest expectations of what life could be like in the future. You beam proudly at the work your past self put in day after day, even in the absence of short-term results, with only the conviction that one day it will all make sense.
You read the letter with love, gratitude, and a sense of fulfillment.
It all worked out well, dear one, you want to reply. You want to thank your past self for the hard work and conviction and for never giving up. You want to assure them that you will continue giving your best and that you are dreaming even bigger now.
So you set out to write another letter. This time, you address it to another future self with a new set of future hopes and dreams. You remind them of where you are today and what got you here. You stress your commitment to consistency and showing up every day and hope that it brings the results you aim for. You reiterate the importance of the process and gently remind your future self that it’s completely okay to live a life that is drastically different from the one you originally planned.
You send the email, and you carry on with your day. You know that when the email reaches the reader at the scheduled date and time, it will yet again be met with love and gratitude, and renewed determination to give your best in life.
Why Write a Future Letter
Writing a letter to your future self is an act in self love and compassion. It is a way of preserving what matters today well into the future. In addition to being a nice little surprise from yourself, a letter from the past is a useful exercise. It can be an annual ritual when you write a letter that will be opened the next year on the same day, and several people I know do it on their birthdays.
But I think writing a future letter is an excellent exercise every time you set yourself new goals or challenges— just make sure that enough time has elapsed to mark a significant change in your life. I recommend at least six months of a gap to start with, but you can write letters to be opened years into the future.
Remember where you come from: It is easy to forget the hard work and toil that goes into making our present selves. Allow your past self to remind you where you were before you got here, and take a moment to appreciate the long journey that made you who you are today.
Don’t repeat your mistakes: your past self will remind you of the bad patterns and habits that held you back. It is always easy to fall back into bad patterns and routines, so take this chance to revisit your habits and subconscious actions, and make changes to your life.
Keep your promises: your past self will have outlined their hopes and dreams for the future. It is easy to forget your goals when other priorities in life eclipse them. If you haven’t yet achieved them, work on keep the promise you made to yourself to reach these goals starting now.
Identify your core values: life might alter drastically, and perhaps it is now unrecognizable from your past. But what is always constant is the essence of your core values. Use the letter from the past to observe your core values from your past hopes and ambitions to underline the belief systems that shape your identity.
Your personal time capsule: when your letter arrives, it brings with it memories and experiences from a different lifetime. Take a moment to reminisce your younger self, and reflect on your past life.
Recalibrate: use the letter from your past self to reflect on the current path you’re on. Are you headed in the right direction? Are you on track to reaching your intended destination? What changes do you need to make to your life to achieve your goals? How can you minimize life’s biggest regrets? Reflect on your current life and use your letter to recalibrate your journey.
How to Write a Future Letter
If you want to write a letter to your future self, first determine when you’d like the letter to be opened. I suggest starting with a six-month challenge. How would your life look like if you made a commitment to break the bad patterns in your life, and put in consistent reps towards achieving your goals?
I have a free tool for you that you can use to schedule a letter to reach you at a specific date and time in the future. You can also add images to your letter to personalize it further.
Here are a few prompts to use as you begin writing your letter:
What you want to achieve: What are you currently working towards? What will your life look like when you open the letter, if you achieved all your goals?
How you will navigate challenges: What are you doing to overcome hurdles? What happens if you fail? What are your fears? Treat your future self with love and kindness.
How you will feel when you reach your goals: What would your state of mind be, if you succeed in your mission? What are the thoughts that run in your mind?
Why these goals are important for you: What are your core values that you wish to preserve? What are the belief systems that shape your identity?
What you are good at: What are your skills and areas of expertise? What are you most confident about?
Your predictions for the future: What are your predictions for what your life will be like on the day the letter is opened? How do you think the world would have changed by then?