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‘Try to get to know your future self. Because when we spend time connecting with that person, we do some reverse engineering. We start to ask our present-self questions about how our present and future can come together… along the way.’ – Meg Jay

Ever stumbled upon an old diary entry from wrote years ago? The rush of nostalgia, familiarity, compassion, and sometimes even a little cringe – it’s all part of the experience! Writing a letter to your future self captures similar feelings of self-intimacy, but with a twist: this act of self-love that can help shape your future.

Meg Jay’s Ted Talk, Essential Questions to Ask Your Future Self, explores the idea that our brains think about our future selves similarly to how they think about total strangers. This can lead to an ’empathy gap.’ In other words, it can be challenging or even unfathomable for us ‘to care about a version of ourselves that we haven’t met yet.’ It’s not hard to imagine the implications that come with living lives disconnected from our own futures. For one, a bigger picture perspective is important for accessing the objectivity to respond rather than react to life; for feeling connected to the ‘hero’s journey’ arc of our lives; and a broader sense of life purpose.

Research supports this, suggesting that when we do find a way to close that empathy gap with our future selves, we start to think more about what we could do now for ourselves down the line. Meg Jay suggests that it’s here we start asking questions like ‘how is everything I think I want going to fit?’ Or ‘what does all this mean about what I need to be doing now?’ She believes one of the most important questions questions to ask our present selves is: ‘if I’m in a job, relationship or situation that I would not like to be in five years, then how long am I going to spend on this?’

‘We neglect our future selves because of some sort of failure or belief or imagination.’ — Derek Parfit

Write a Letter to Your Future Self 

Consider this an exercise in hitting the pause button on life, to check in. Writing down your current thoughts and emotions, can help you understand who you are right now. This simple act tends to catalyze clearer insights into your desires, fears, and motivations.

Plus, what better time to set goals? Jotting down your dreams and aspirations makes them more tangible, like creating a personal roadmap. Fun fact: studies have shown that the very act of writing these down increases your commitment and likelihood of ‘success.’ So let’s get to it!

  1. Carve out some space, and pick a spot where you won’t be disturbed. Whether it’s a cozy corner at home or a serene spot in nature, choose a place that inspires you and lets your thoughts flow freely. Tip: turn your phone on silent!
  2. Decide how far into the future you want to read (or send) your letter. It could be six months, a year, five years, or even a decade from now. Different timeframes will can capture different aspects of your journey. Tip: why not write a few?
  3. Reflect on where you are in life currently. How do you feel? What are your current thoughts, feelings, and experiences? What are your strengths and areas for growth?
  4. This one is optional, but if it does feel aligned: set goals. Be as specific as possible about what you want to accomplish. Write down your goals, and the potential steps you can take to achieve them. Visualize and feel into the future you desire, and articulate it as best you can.
  5. Be honest and vulnerable with yourself. Let your emotions flow naturally. Share your hopes, fears, and dreams openly. Remember, this letter is your safe space.

Revisiting Your Letter

Then comes the day that you’ll open your precious letter (you can either store it somewhere special and open it, or even mail it to yourself!). This will always be a powerful moment – one which will reflect back exactly how much you’ve grown. You’ll celebrate your progress, acknowledge challenges you’ve overcome, and appreciate the journey you’ve been on. Your letter will serve as a reminder of your resilience, and just how far you’ve come. The answer of when to open it, we’ll leave up to you and your intuition. Our suggestion is simply to give yourself enough time to experience growth. Some may choose a specific date or milestone, while others wait several years, or simply until they remember and feel like it.

Whenever the day comes, we promise it’ll be a good day. So, find a quiet spot, grab a pen, and start writing to future you.