Let’s do a bit of “future-telling”!
At 5pm on a Tuesday afternoon, in 2 years’ time, where will you be?
What will you be doing? Where will you be? What will you be feeling happy about? What sort of work will you be doing? What will you be proud of? What will you be excited about? Do you ever wonder?
The truth for most of us is that we’re generally so busy each day doing what we need to do for our families, our jobs, our health and so on, that we don’t take much time to plan for the future. We probably all have to do lists in various formats but do you have a plan for achieving your hopes and dreams over the next few years? Have you ever written down those hopes and dreams?
Knowing what is important to us, being able to express what we hope for and dream about doing and achieving, helps us to recognise our values and experience greater meaning in life. This is important because feeling a higher level of meaning is linked to higher levels of wellbeing and engagement.
You can try writing your own “Letter from the Future”; an exercise from Positive Psychology which is all about discovering and acknowledging your hopes and dreams. Your dreams for the future can give you the impetus to set some more concrete goals for yourself and help you to notice opportunities in your daily life that might help you achieve what you wish.
Creating your letter from the future
Here’s the procedure. Choose a date some months or years ahead. Then imagine that life has gone rather well. Things have turned out the way you wanted them to. You have generally been able to do the things you want and have behaved in the way you would prefer. You’ve achieved goals that are important to you. Now, write yourself a letter telling yourself about the developments in your life. Try to imagine how your life would feel if you were successful and fulfilled.
As you write, try to relax and simply record your stream of consciousness. You could treat yourself to a piece of chocolate or a glass of wine to kickstart your thoughts, ordo a bit of exercise and then get writing while you enjoy the adrenaline boost.
You might find it useful to devote different paragraphs to different aspects of your life. Here are some questions you could answer:
- What have I achieved recently at work?
- What’s been happening in my family?
- How’s my health and fitness?
As you write, try to avoid letting self-doubt creep in. The aim is to boldly write the scenario you would love to have come true.
It doesn’t have to be written!
I know that not everyone enjoys writing so please don’t be turned off by the concept of a letter. This activity can be done in various ways. One of my clients recently recorded a “voice message from the future”. She found chatting into her phone felt much more natural than writing or typing. Instead as speaking or writing you could also draw, paint or collect images. The important thing is that you’re finding a way to express your vision of how things are at a specific moment in the future.
Once you’ve created your letter, allow yourself some time to ponder it. Are there any surprises in it? Did you find yourself writing passionately about things you hadn’t thought much about before? Your letter is there to give you clues about how to build your most personally satisfying future and inspire you to start putting concrete goals in place to make your vision become reality.
I hope you find your letter enlightening and encouraging!
Kate is a founding FlexCoach and an experienced Positive Psychology Coach passionate about helping women to thrive in work and life. Her Coaching brings together knowledge from her extensive HR work experience and the latest research in Coaching Psychology and Positive Psychology. Connect with Kate by viewing her FlexCoach profile.