From conception to 8th grade, I lived in the tiny state of Connecticut. I lived in colonial style houses with big backyards and I knew every family in my neighborhood down to the name of their dog. Life was simple.
I then moved to a large city in the Bay Area in California. For those who may not know, the Bay Area is the cluster of cities surrounding San Francisco including San Francisco itself. Right off the bat, I had a hard time adjusting. The 8th grade was a horrible time to move since everyone were friends with each other since birth and grew up in the social bubble that is the Bay Area.
After years of adjusting, I finally got the hang of it Sophomore year of high school. I joined sports teams and clubs and I expanded my social circle. My mind really opened up to the free will of the West Coast. I began to realize how much fun it was to live in California. You could practically do anything you want (as long as you’re willing to drive in the freeway traffic). I was opened up to new practices and interests like yoga, hiking and exploration, veganism, fashion, and to discover your passion and what you were put on Earth to do.
Then my Senior year rolled around, and at the same time, California was experiencing major inflation. The average 3 bedroom 2 bath house was going for roughly $1 million dollars on the market. All around me new housing complexes were being built; houses on houses of the same exact house, just with a different color scheme. I started to see the “golden hills” of the valley around my city for what it really was; burnt and dead.
The blur of the headlights on the freeway every night I drove past it, feeling sorry for the poor parents who want to get home to their children by dinner time but their commute is an hour and a half. I started to dislike where I was. I looked forward to visiting my family back in Connecticut, where the water was clear and the grass and hills were green. That’s when I decided to do what is better for my soul; move back to Connecticut.
Of course, I didn’t choose Connecticut (CCSU to be exact) just because of looks. It boiled down to out-of-state tuition for the first year will still be cheaper than in-state tuition in California. I also preferred the social bubble that is New England. I liked being so close to other states and other populous cities rather than just being close to San Francisco. I missed having four distinct seasons and seeing snow on Christmas. I missed seeing New England Patriots fans on the daily. I missed my extended family. I missed it all.
However, after living here, I do miss California. I miss my friends, including my soul sister who I did everything with. I miss the long drives to the beach. I miss the dry heat (I don’t think anyone likes humidity). I miss the vast array of vegan and vegetarian options that was actually good. I miss the few people that had golden souls who would lay in hammocks with me and sing our favorite indie songs.
Upon further reflection, I realized that although my heart may ache for the people I left behind, I am beyond grateful and lucky to have experienced what I have. I am so different from my fellow classmates here in Connecticut, and I am grateful for that. I am happy I chose to settle down here in Connecticut, and I am happy that I can fly to California to visit whenever I want. I am happy with how my life has turned out thus far.
Have you written a letter to your future self before? Back in the early 2010s, I came across the Yahoo! Time Capsule, where users could contribute to a digital legacy of how life was in 2006, which would be opened at a later date. I then came up with the idea of writing a letter to your future self, where you write a personal note to your future self, seal it, and then open it at a future date. There are no restrictions on how far you should project your letter to — you can write to your future self 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, or even 10 years from now!
Why Write a Letter To Your Future Self?
Doing this exercise can be a really insightful experience.
Imagine writing to your future self 5 years from now — what would you say? What kind of person would you be? What goals would you want to have achieved? Not only is it mind boggling, but it gets you thinking about your goals 5 years from now. As you write your letter, you will start to think about the actions you should take to realize them in your expected time frame.
Subsequently when you open your letter 5 years down the road, you get to assess the things that match (or don’t match) up vs. your expectations, and reflect why that’s the case. Often times, our goals are subject to a lot of changes due to unanticipated circumstances and changing priorities. Reading your letter lets you see how your life trajectory has changed since writing it. It also makes you pause and think about how you are doing, and whether you are where you want to be in life.
In addition, when you write your letter, your consciousness and thoughts are stored in your words. When you read it, it’s like you are being contacted by the old you. It provides you a different perspective and lets you see how much you have changed since then. 🙂
How to Write Your Letter
While you can write to your future self from any time period, I recommend to start with a one year time frame. This way, it’s easier to envision your goals, and it also gives you a comfortable time frame to take action.
Refer to today’s date.
- Imagine writing to your future self exactly a year from now. What do you want to say to him/her? Some consideration points:
- What do you want to be one year from now?
- What are the goals and dreams you want realized by then?
- What is your desired status for the areas on your life wheel? Career/Business/Studies? Money/Wealth? Family? Friends? Love? Health? Spirituality? Recreation? Contribution? Self-Image?
- Once you’re done, sign off with your name and today’s date.
- Keep your letter in a safe place.
- Put the papers in an envelope. Seal it.
- On the cover, write “To [Your Name]. To be opened on [Date].” Replace “[Your Name]” with your name, with “[Date]” the date that’s one year from now.
- Set an appointment in your calendar to open your letter one year from now.
- Put this envelope in a safe place where no one can access it.
- In this one year, work hard on your goals and vision! Then open and read your letter one year from today. 🙂
For your letter format, you can either write a physical letter or type it. I used to write my letters using pen and paper, but I’ve since switched to typing and printing the final copy (this way I have a backup if anything happens).
You can use FutureMe.org, a service that helps you send your message to your desired email address at any point in the future. Personally I recommend to write your letter on your computer and store it, rather than using such a service. With an external service, you never know who has access to your letters, and your letter will be gone if the service gets shut down.
Opening My Letter From My Past Self
Back in 2008, on February 10, I wrote two letters to myself. The first letter was to my future self one year from then, on February 10, 2009. The second letter was to my future self 5 years later, on February 10, 2013.
A year later on February 10, 2009, I opened my first letter. It was interesting seeing what I was like in the past and how much I have changed. One of the biggest changes was my materialistic tendencies. While I was not a very materialistic person when I wrote my letter in 2008 (I was 23 years old then), I became less materialistic since, given my revelations on my relationship with material wealth and goods. My consciousness was also higher as I had been working a lot on my growth.
In terms of goals, I had reached and exceeded several goals. Weight-wise, I had reached my desired weight/look, something I was really proud of as losing weight was something that I had struggled with for years. For Career, I leaped ahead of my predictions — in my letter, I predicted that I would still be working in my ex-company while working on my purpose on the side. As it turned out, I had quit my job and started working on my purpose full time! 🙂
There were some goals I had not reached yet. For example for Love, I thought that I would have found my relationship partner by then, but I had not. This wasn’t an issue as I came to the realization that we are already perfect as singles (I would later meet my soulmate, now husband in 2013). In terms of Friendship, some friends whom I thought I would still be on great terms with had slipped away. Instead, I formed great friendships with other people in the past year. In a way, it’s like a natural equilibrium — when you let go of certain old connections, new connections will take their place.
There were goals that I didn’t reach as I abandoned them halfway, because they lost meaning to me. An example, buying a car. When I received a pay rise last year and was able to consider getting a car, I realized that owning a car in Singapore, where public transport is readily available, does not resonate with my highest self. My original intent of getting a car was more for image reasons — which is true for many car owners in Singapore — and that desire had long been shed, along with my old self. Not to mention, having a car isn’t exactly environmentally friendly.
All in all, reading my letter made me realize several things. It made me more conscious of how I have changed vs. the past (vs. just relying on memory). It reminded me of some of my past visions that I lost track of along the way. It made me appreciate how far I have come. It made me look forward to the future. 😀
Subsequently, I opened my 5-year letter and share my results in here: Writing a Letter to Your Future Self [Video]
Write Your Letter To Your Future Self
Grab your pen and paper now and start writing your letter to your future self! Identify a time period to write to, imagine what you would be like, and then start writing! Think about the kind of person you would like to be, what you would want to be doing, what you would have accomplished by then, and so on.
Follow the steps in the exercise above. Get working on your goals, then open your letter with pride a year from now! 🙂
Update Aug 2014: I’ve created a video tutorial on writing a letter to your future self, where I share more tips plus open my 5-year letter to myself! Watch: Writing a Letter to Your Future Self [Video]
For those of you with Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program, the task for Day 29 is on writing a letter to your future self.
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