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A Letter to Your Future Self

Every year around this time, I unpack all our family holiday decorations, with a special focus on locating the bin that stores our Christmas stockings. When I find my own stocking, I eagerly reach inside to pull out something that was carefully stored there for the last year. It’s a letter to me, from me – my own personal time capsule. I write a letter to myself and store it in my stocking every year for my future self to retrieve.

I’ve always loving writing – I kept journals religiously from about age 9 to 22 and then sporadically after that. I also love New Year’s Resolutions and make a handful of them every year. As a business owner, I jot down goals for my business at the start of every year, too. And my husband and I spend time on each wedding anniversary setting goals around health, finances, our kids, and our relationship.

Writing an annual letter to myself feels like an extension of those same goal-setting and introspection activities that I’ve always enjoyed. When I unearth my letter each year, it gives me a chance to contemplate how the year did or didn’t match up to my expectations, how my priorities changed, and what new opportunities emerged that my past self could never have anticipated.

My letters contain things I was worried about, hopes I had for the year ahead, and even predictions. Depending on the year, my letters have bemoaned babies who didn’t sleep through the night, contemplated major career changes, and grieved the health problems of those close to me. Reading the letter a year later is a great reminder that nothing is permanent, and that life is often about the journey and not the destination.

What I perhaps love most about these letters is that it gives me a chance to zoom out, see the bigger picture, gain some perspective, and remember that whatever might have been weighing on me at one point in time is almost always resolved a year later.

The annual letter also gives me a chance to paint a picture of the life I want to have in the year ahead and manifest it so it comes true. In last year’s letter I asked my future self if our family had taken the beach vacation we were thinking about (yes!). I also pondered if my business had taken off in the way I was hoping it would (it has!)

Twelve years ago, I wrote a letter to my future self when I was heavily pregnant with my first daughter. In it, I asked myself if the daycare we had so carefully selected for our unborn child was working out. Reading it a year later made me chuckle. Even though we secured her place at the center with a hefty and nonrefundable deposit, we ended up changing our minds completely after she was born and chose an in-home day care center instead. That just proved that often the best laid plans can change, because our future selves are indeed older and wiser.

I’ve always loved the movie Back to the Future. But until someone can really invent a time-traveling DeLorean, leaving letters to my future self in my Christmas stocking is the best way I can come up with to transport me forward in time.

This holiday season, consider giving yourself the gift of a letter. Reflect on the past year, take time to measure the goals you’ve achieved, and highlight the things you were most grateful for. If you’ve had a tough year, give yourself a pep talk. Make some predictions for the future. And most importantly, approach it as if you are writing to an old friend. Happy Holidays!

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