Today was an exhausting day, but I'm hoping that my hard work will eventually pay off with that promotion. The good news is that Julie, that cute girl in accounting, smiled at me. YAY!
If that's what comes to mind when someone suggests that you begin journaling, your opinion is in desperate need of a fresh perspective. What was once seen as a temporary fad, primarily used by teenage girls to gossip and vent, has now become a powerful tool for anyone looking to inspire themselves, boost their creativity, reflect, or set goals.
Need a reason to try it out? How about any of these 10 that the Huffington Post released in 2015? Not enough? Try the 100 that John Robson and Patrice Steen came up with in the late 90s.
In June of last year, after seeing a friend of mine share their experience with it via facebook, I came across a website that easily allows you to send an e-mail to your future self. Having completely forgot about it, I recently received the e-mail I sent to myself one year ago and within minutes I almost found myself in tears.
The Value Of Journaling
While I have struggled to maintain any semblance of consistency with my own journaling, I can attest to its value in my life when I have managed to do so. That's why I am excited to share with you this particular form of journaling.
Through the platform FutureMe.org, we all have the opportunity to easily (and securely) send our future selves a journal-inspired e-mail. Once you hit 'Send to the Future,' the website stores the e-mail until the future date that you set for it to e-mail it to you.
The concept certainly sounds simple, but you'd be amazed by how impactful it can be. Unless you have a remarkable memory, what empowers this form of journaling is how much it can surprise us. I completely forgot that last year I had sent a letter to my future self and was rewarded with some valuable insight and reflection as a result.
What I Wrote About
Being a very goal-oriented individual, a great deal of my letter was rooted in checking in on a number of projects I had either been working on or hoped to get going on soon thereafter. It was amazing to see how far so many of those projects have come since, and how others completely fell off in favour of ideas and opportunities that at that point were completely unknown.
On a more personal level, I also took the time to reflect on my health, relationships, and living conditions to see if they had improved since that point. Caught up in the busyness of daily life, it often seems as if very little changes, but I was astonished by how much I had managed to create, lose, gain, and turn over in just a year. Each of these points either filled me with gratitude or inspired me to focus on making them better than they currently are, not wanting to neglect them once again.
One particular point that impacted me was in the realm of dating. At this point last year, I was single and quite exhausted by the trials and tribulations of casual dating. Within the letter I decided to elaborate on the type of partner I was hoping to find but felt hopeless about ever locating. It wasn't until I read it that I realized how much my now girlfriend aligns with what I previously hoped for. I've always appreciated the relationship, but this reflection has allowed me to see her in an even more loving light and brought tears of joy to my eyes.
Beyond that, I managed to have fun with the letter. I wrote personal jokes that a year later I (astonishingly) still found funny, and even checked in on my favourite sports teams. A favourite part was when I wrote to myself about the Toronto Blue Jays, hoping that they would somehow turn around their season and make the playoffs for the first time in over 20 years. June 2015 Mark had no idea that they would go on the run that they did, and entertain him with the playoff run that 2016 Mark now so gratefully appreciates and reminisces about.
Including the above suggestions, here are some ideas of things you can write about when writing to your future self:
Goals you'd like to accomplish
Where you currently work, your position
Things that are important to you right now
People and relationships that you value
Reminders of often forgotten tasks
Ask your future self questions
Things you're unsure about
Fun or funny things you know your future self will appreciate
I chose to send the letter to myself one year from the date that I wrote it, but you can choose any timeframe that appeals to you. Whether you want to use the platform to check in on yourself monthly or every five years, give today's version of you the chance to be accountable for your future.