future letter to yourself: 2011 edition

Okay ladies and gentleman, the time for Future Letters to Ourselves has arrived! Though you can see a full explanation of the Future Letter concept here, I will quickly do a recap of the exercise.

Back in 2006, I was in a not-so-great place in my life and found a dusty copy of (wait for it…) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Though I’ve mentioned this book 1,026 times here on MML it bears repeating. The teen version of the book suggested writing a letter to oneself from the vantage point of one year into future. So I decided on January 1st, 2006 to try out the exercise. I outlined what I wanted to do, be like, and even look like on January 1st, 2007. The important part of the exercise was that I wrote the letter from the 2007 version of myself as if I had already accomplished my 2006 goals. Writing my goals in past-tense was strange at first. In fact, I honestly didn’t think I was even capable of doing most of the things in the letter.

Fast forward to 2007 – when I re-read the letter, I was astounded to find that I accomplished 83% of what I said I would do.

Since that year, I have faithfully written a Future Letter to Myself every January. I generally start thinking about things I’d like to include in the letter the weeks leading up to January, which of course is why I’m sharing this right now on MML instead of January 1st.

As I’ve mentioned in the past:

Over the last five six years, I have found that I can in large part, predict or complete much of what I set forth in these visions. I also know that some of my intentions will not happen. And after seeing the turn of events with Jess LC this year and the growth of MakeunderMyLife, I now submit this vision with a disclaimer: If any of these statements are not meant to come true, please help me to be flexible and thankful for the other awesome blessings that will come in their place.

Here’s How to Write an Annual Letter

Though there certainly is no wrong way to write an annual letter, I can share how I prefer to write my own. I begin each letter with “Dear Jess, As I see myself walk into the door in 2012, I see a ___________. ” Then I talk about what I have done in 2011 in past tense. For example: “I have decorated my bedroom with crisp bedding, nice side tables, and pretty, modern lamps.” or “I am kind and compassionate, not just with other people, but also towards my own shortcomings.” I also try to describe what I have done in all of my roles, such as: personal growth, Jess LC, MakeunderMyLife, spirituality, and relationships.

After the letter is written, I keep it in a place where I can find it easily, but only try to reread it every few months. Two years ago I tried to read it frequently but found that it was more stressful than inspirational. As the saying goes, we overestimate what we can do in a day, but underestimate what we can do in a year.

In closing

I’ll be back in January to share some of my 2011 intentions. In the meantime, I encourage you to consider writing your own future letter and emailing it to yourself a few times next year with futureme.org.

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  1. Jill

    I recently read my future letter to myself from last year and I wrote some crazy things and AMAZINGLY a lot of them came true or partly came true! This is an amazing exercise and one I can’t wait to do again this year!

  2. Maddie

    What a fantastic idea. I’m set to make a few huge changes in 2011 (new city, new job), and I think that will make this year’s letter all the more interesting to read next December. Thanks, Jess!

  3. This is a brilliant idea! At this time last year I was thinking about moving to Chicago! I am definitely going to write a letter before the year ends.

    On another note, thank you for coming last night! It was so great seeing you again. Let’s not let months go by before another meet up! I forgot how fun you are! We need to plan a girls night in Jan!

    And…thank you for noticing my bread slicing skills.

  4. Marguerite/@chicspace


    This is one of my favorite things about MML, the future letters. I need to do one this year because this past year has been such a turn of events (major upheaval in my relationship, my father’s death, major work upgrade, etc.). Would you be willing to share some of your successes that you wrote in your 2010>11 letter? Additionally, would you be willing to outline your letters, in terms of the areas you cover? I know everyone is different and has different goals…but it would be great to see.



  5. Jess

    Hi Marguerite,

    Thank you for your comment! I am going to take your suggestion to heart and share my intentions in 2011 for the year to come and also reflect back on 2010 as well. ūüôā

    Have a great day,

  6. Annie

    i’m planning on doing one of these this year. i need 2011 to be… better than 2010. and i think that is going to require living with more intention and purpose. a letter, i think, will help me really think about what i want the next year to hold. thanks, as always, for the inspiration.

  7. Kelly

    Love this idea!!! I’m really excited and really nervous to write myself a letter. I graduate with my bachelor’s degree in May 2011, so my life is going to be undergoing some huge changes! Hopefully writing a letter like this will steer me in the right direction.

  8. Terri

    seems like I’ve done something like this in my professional/academic life, but thank you for the reminder. I think I’ll do it for my blog.

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