A letter to your future self is the perfect way to acknowledge your growth in a particular area, like a hobby, or overall, as a singular human being on this beautiful, wacky, wholly chaotic planet.
Now, you may be thinking that sending yourself momentous congrats on simply growing up is a teensy bit self-indulgent. Like, is this really what the world needs now?
The answer is yes, dear reader. As much as we are all tiny blips on the universal radar screen, we are also unique individuals who contribute to something much bigger: communities. The more we respect our own growth, the better-placed we are to support and recognize growth in others. And that positions us to be better friends, family members, and community members.
So, let’s get to the nitty-gritty: just how do you write a letter acknowledging your own growth?
1. Look back, and see how far you’ve come
What were you doing this time last year? What were your interests, your hopes, your dreams? And how did you feel about your life?
Pausing to reflect on where your head was at back then might give you a bit of a shock. Change — growth — is often so gradual that we don’t notice it happening. But this kind of exercise can bring to your attention exactly how much your attitude has evolved, how much you’ve learned, and, just possibly, how much you’ve done.
2. Note those wins!
Ever noticed how achievements often only reveal themselves in hindsight? In the moment, a win might just feel like another step on the long path to a bigger goal you’ve set your sights on. But when you turn around and gaze along the path, those achievements can really stand out. They’re not the end-goal: they're milestones. Boxes ticked, battles won, levels unlocked.
In fact, as you consider those milestones, you might be surprised firstly that you didn’t see them for what they were at the time, but also that you ever found the grit, strength, and determination to go get them! “How did I even do that?” you might find yourself asking. Those feelings are the perfect addition to your letter to future-you!
3. Work out why it matters
Okay, sure: not all aspects of your personal growth, or all the goals you’ve kicked, are gonna set the world on fire. But there will definitely be some that genuinely make your heart lighter. Why is that? Why exactly does your new-found ability to maintain calm, or run 5km, or make air-fryer nachos, fill you with joy?
Thinking about the why may plug you in to a deeper meaning that ties to your values and sense of purpose — to the person you want to be in the long run. This is another great point to include in your letter to your future self: a projection forward along the same path, to where you hope you might be by the time you receive the letter you’re penning today.
How will you say it all?
If you’re pretty terrible at praising yourself, join the club. It can feel self-serving, ego-centric or just plain wrong. But realistically there are things you deserve praise for, and the better you get at giving that praise to yourself, the easier you’ll find it to sustain yourself when the proverbial chips are down.
So here are some suggestions for phrasing the praising in your letter!
Simply make a list of achievements, big, small and otherwise, and tell yourself “Congratulations. You did well.”
Tell a story, starting at the point you were at a year ago, and highlighting each achievement — and why it mattered — between then and now. Along the way, remind yourself of your power with words like, “I’m so proud that...”, “I can’t believe that...”, “It feels so good to have...”
Dish up the kudos right out of the gate! We have plenty of public letters that start with the words “You did it!” or “Wow, look at you now!” or “I’m so proud of you!” And why not? You’re here to recognize your achievements after all. Go hard or go home!
The one burning question you might be left with after all this is, will future-you want to read about this? The answer is a whole-hearted “Hell yeah!” When you receive this letter in future, you’re going to smile as you remember how great you felt about these achievements. If they took blood, sweat and tears, you might even find yourself getting teary. If you happen to be struggling with something when the letter arrives, you’re likely to get a serious pep-talk just from reading the thoughts you put down today.
But even if you’re not, when you get this letter, you’re going to be amply reminded of your incredible ability to do things you probably never thought you could. And that feeling, as we all know, is golden.