One of the most powerful coaching exercises I've done was when I was navigating my career choices post becoming a mum. My coach suggested a write myself a letter from the future.
Wisdom from your future self
Thinking about what you know now, imagine what wisdom you could pass down to a younger you. Imagine even a year ago what you might do differently if you knew then what you know now.
Now that is an option, to write a letter to your past self, often to tell them you love them, that they're safe and/or you forgive them. Today though, we're imagining ourselves in the future, sharing some of our future knowledge with ourselves now.
Why visualisation works
Top athletes, entrepreneurs (and coaches) have been using visualisation techniques for decades. The key is to imagine yourself doing whatever it is using a whole-body experience...so what can you feel, taste, smell, hear and see? What emotions are you experiencing?
It sounds a bit odd and quite frankly, a bit woo-woo but it works. It works because we tell ourselves we're only imagining it, it's not real so we can get really creative - there are no limits.
What we're really doing is allowing ourselves to set goals or intentions. By writing them down, or saying them out loud, no matter how big, we plant a seed. That seed is buried in our subconscious and when we are faced with situations which would help us towards our goals and intentions it grows. It lets us know and we make better choices.
Visualisation can feel hard for some folks but, as with many things, it takes practice. I personally find it easier to write it down...it feels a bit like writing a story.
How to write a letter from the future
Firstly, make time in your schedule, perhaps an hour. Find yourself somewhere comfy, where you feel safe and where you won't be interrupted.
Then grab your favourite writing tools and settle in. You can write to yourself or if you prefer to someone who loves you and would want to hear all about your achievements.
Then you have a couple of options:
- Just start writing, imagining how you think your future might look and see where it takes you.
- Set a timeframe and imagine your life in that time and write as though it has gone exactly how you wanted it to.
Either way, it's likely that new ideas will pop into your head!
Be as specific as possible and focus on the positive, staying well clear from the negative. You want to write about those things you wanted to happen.
Remember that this is supposed to be fun. Not everything you write will come true and there will almost certainly be some surprises along the way. You might be surprised however how much does come true!
Here's an excerpt from mine
I know it's hard to start so here's a little bit from mine. I wrote my letter from the future to my best friend.
I'm sitting here looking out at our garden in full flow. The beans have done all their climbing and are bursting with pods, the courgettes are ripe for plucking, along with the raspberries which are heavy and a glorious shade of pink. It's making me hungry for all the yummy food I could make us! I've discovered some new recipes since I last saw you; I will send them over! I'll be making some for the cafe tomorrow, the courgette cake is always a big hit this time of year. Perhaps with some rose icing to remind us of Nana and Grandma C. 20 years a vegan. Wow. I'm so proud of myself.
Making that change not only has benefitted my health but challenged my thinking too, especially around sustainable lifestyles. We have so little waste now and I feel we do the best we can for the environment too. It still gives me a massive sense of achievement to know that I'm not filling landfill and I'm protecting this planet for our next generations.
The kids are all at school, the house is tidy, at least until they return and I'm grabbing a cuppa and thought I would take this opportunity to write to you, my dearest friend, without whom this journey would have been much poorer. I marvel at my children, at myself for staying true to what I believed in. They are confident, compassionate, strong and independent. Number 1 is about to go to university and the others are doing exams of one kind or another. I had such moments of doubt having four and yet it has such a way of working itself out! It's been hard letting go, but I knew it would be.
I can't believe it's been 15 years since I set up as I life coach. It doesn't seem possible and yet I have put another thank you card next to all the others. Nearly 200 now! I'm so glad I focused on those who needed it most. The stick I got for giving up my job but I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do, even if the journey has taken me on a slightly different route! I was never in it for the money, I just wanted to be with my kids and do the job I love.
Next year sees our second conference to empower women. I can't believe how successful the first was. Speakers from the local community to talk about their journeys, as well as some international ones via the web thanks to our contacts.
Looking forward to seeing you and so glad to have you in my life. That reminds me, we need another photo of the pay it forward wall, and more cards for the gratitude tree, it's gone crazy again. ♥
Over to you
The letter I wrote speaks of what I want to achieve, how I feel. The wisdom I take from it is that life can feel hard sometimes but it's worth sticking at it. That when we do be can achieve great things. For me, the letter feels calm, grateful and proud. I hope this inspires you to write your own letter from the future. You can use this type or you can write it from your current perspective to your future self, setting out your goals and intentions for what you want to achieve. The possibilities are endless.