Why & how to write a letter to your future self

Photo credit: Mr. Alliance

A letter to yourself, that you write now and read at some point in the future, is essentially a time capsule; a fascinating written snapshot of your life, your true self and your emotions right there and then. But what is the point of writing (and reading) a letter to your future self? What is there to gain? And how do you go about writing it? Read on and you’ll soon be ready to pick up your pen and get writing.

Why should I write a letter to my future self?

Think back to five years ago. What job were you doing? Who were you spending time with? Where were you living? What was occupying your mind at the time? Even if you can answer the first few questions – and I’ll be impressed if you can, just like that – I bet you’ll find that last question harder to answer, yet it is essentially the most important one. This is where a letter to your future self comes in, and really shines. Not only does a letter from the past remind you of how you felt at a specific time in your life, but it also brings with it useful comparisons, which can show you how the changes you’ve made in your life have changed the way you feel and act over time.

Writing a letter to your future self is a great way to remind yourself of the passage of time – time does indeed fly, yet there is a lot that can be achieved in five years, and these letters can be an excellent reminder of that. Have you made progress on your goals? Writing these letters is also a perfect exercise for building self-awareness, and you will no doubt see how you have changed and evolved as a person – not just in what you have done and achieved, but in how you interact and react to the world around you. In case you need any more reason to give this a go, it is a wonderful exercise in gratitude too; it makes you take stock of all the good things that have happened in your life – however big or small – and be grateful for them. Think about what you are grateful for whilst writing your letters, and you’ll be reminded of them in the future.

I could talk about reasons for writing a letter to your future self for hours, however the experience will be unique for each and every person. Overall though, I’d say it is good for the soul.

How do I write a letter to my future self?

The content of your letter is a personal choice, however I would recommend the inclusion of some of the below subjects, for comparison’s sake:

  • Future goals and plans – be specific here. Consider family goals, relationship goals, friendship goals, career goals, health and fitness goals, and so on.
  • Your fears and anxieties about the future
  • What has gone wrong this year, what has gone right, and what you have learnt from it all
  • Big life events that have happened this year, or things that are happening soon
  • The most important people in your life, and why
  • Advice to your future self
Photo: master1305

Photo credit: master1305

When do I open my letter?

I’d recommend to open your letter five years after you write it, but feel free to choose a time frame that you feel happy with. Don’t be tempted to open it early. If you enjoy this process, then why not write a letter once a year, meaning that after the initial five year period you’ll have a five year old letter to open annually?

How do I send a letter to my future self?

You have three options when it comes to sending a letter to yourself in the future. They are:

  1. Websites such as Future Me, which offer an email service to deliver a digital letter to you on the date of your choice.
  2. Websites such as Dear Future Me, which offer a letter storage and posting service. You send them your letter, and they then store it securely, and post it out to you on the month of your choice.
  3. Write the letter, and then ask a loved one to store it for you – preferably a loved one with an excellent memory! This will remove the temptation for you to open the letter after six months, as you won’t know where it is. Don’t forget to write the date on the envelope. Make sure you write reminders in your diary and calendar, to be transferred to your new diaries and calendars every year until you have opened your letter. If you use digital versions, this will be as easy as clicking the button which makes an event recur annually. You may even be able to set an alarm. Or why not write the letter on new year’s eve? Then you will never forget which day to open it!

Lucy is our lead editor and has been passionate about stationery since childhood. She has a particular fondness for rollerball and calligraphy pens and is a keen advocate of snail mail.

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