This Is Why You Should Write A Letter To Your Future Selfby Amy Blaschka
Let’s be honest: 2020 has been anything but expected.
From the devastating effects of a global pandemic, the economy in peril, ongoing social and racial unrest, and a country divided politically, to working from home, battling “Zoom Gloom,” and managing remote learning for our children, to falling prey to Mother Nature’s fury of hurricanes and wildfires, coupled with the countless unforeseen and tragic events in the U.S. and abroad, this has been a roller coaster of a year.
Having to navigate prolonged uncertainty has impacted our mental, physical, and emotional well being; it’s no wonder that we’re all feeling on edge.
But it’s not all bad. With the immense challenges also come opportunities to flex our adaptability muscles, shift our perspective, and build our resilience. This year also provides us a chance to do something powerful: visualize a better future.
Simply put, visualization is the ability to picture in your mind the things that you want in your life; if you can see it, you can achieve it.
Science tells us that the better we visualize the future we want, the better our chances to make it happen. Research from Oxford and Cambridge suggests that your ability to vividly imagine details about a bright future dramatically increases your energy and momentum, leading to constructive action. Additionally, visualization allows us to feel the positive emotions associated with our future goals, which boosts our motivation to achieve them.
Imagine a world beyond COVID and natural disasters, one in which you’re able to connect once again in-person with friends and loved ones and attend industry events with colleagues and clients. To welcome clients into your workplace or to launch your new business. Or hop on a plane to jet off for a vacation. Or go to a concert. Or enter any public place without a mask—or the fear that accompanies that act.
A year from now, your life and career could look entirely different. Rather than let 2020 get you down, use the power of visualization to pen a letter to your future self. Here are some tips to get you started:
Make it aspirational
When writing to your future self, don’t be afraid to dream big. To achieve something you never had, you need to do something you’ve never done, and right now, that might mean dropping your limiting beliefs and swinging for the fences. Consider this: if all the bad events of 2020 can happen, why can’t the pendulum swing the other direction?
Resist the urge to edit yourself, and instead, allow yourself to include everything that will help you achieve your goals. Write down your loftiest aspirations and the smaller wins, describing how they came to fruition and writing as if they’ve already happened.
Make it specific
When you have clarity about your future, you can more easily envision it. Imagine it’s September 2021— what, specifically, do you hope to be celebrating? What do your life and career look like? Challenge yourself to be curious about the possibilities, and consider what your new 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.
Make it positive
With so much negativity thrown at us in 2020, it’s easy to dwell on what’s gone wrong. And that’s okay, as long as you use looking back as a chance to learn. Before writing your letter, reflect not only on the year to date but even farther back: What fell short of your expectations? What changed in your world? Conversely, also ask yourself what your successes were. Consider, too, those times when you most felt alive and fulfilled... or frustrated and uninspired. Use that information to reframe your experiences in a positive manner to help you move forward and envision your desired results.
Also important is to use the same tone you would if you were writing to a beloved friend. Remember, this is a letter to your future self; be kind, gentle, encouraging, and supportive.
The beauty of writing your future self a letter is that you control the narrative. And this is one story that is sure to have a happy ending.