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 1,027 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 seven 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.
I’ll be back in January to share some of my 2012 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.