My birthday is next week, and I’ll be turning 27. It’s my golden birthday actually — October 27th turning 27! Birthdays always put me into a super reflective mood. I love to think about the future and reminisce about the past. In this episode, I’ll be sharing a journaling practice I’ve done my past 2 birthdays and will be doing again this year. It’s not super “birthday focused” or anything like that! You really can do this at any time in your life. It’s all about connecting with the future version of yourself.
Sound weird? Don’t worry, it’s weird, but totally AMAZING.
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My twenties have been so enriching and I always get excited on birthdays reflecting and knowing that so much is to come that I can’t even imagine or anticipate. I treat each birthday like a “new year” similar to January 1st, and I do some goal setting. My birthday involves a lot of journaling, and I even write letters to my future self and my past self.
This whole “letters from my future self” thing is a journaling prompt I’ve done the past 2 years and will do it again on my birthday this year. This prompt comes from the Life Coach School Podcast. It’s one of my personal favorites, so for all of you who ask what podcasts I listen to, I’m always listening to this one! The concept for the “future self” is that we all have future versions of ourselves out there. It’s YOU, but further down the path. Your future self can be a mentor to yourself now. She’s you, but wiser. This practice helps me stop the doubts I could have about myself, and make decisions NOW like my “future self” would.
(Click here to listen to the Life Coach School Podcast episode about being “Future Focused”. I highly recommend tuning into it as a compliment to what I’m sharing here!)
Future Self Journal Prompt Steps:
Step 1: Write a letter to yourself 5 years ago from yourself right now.
(As an example, for me this year that means writing a letter to my 22-year-old self from my 27-year-old self.)
Write what you would want to say to yourself then if you could send yourself a message back in time. What would you tell yourself that you’d believe if you were reading it back then? Is there a struggle you were going through that you would encourage yourself would all work out? What would you say? And what would it be like to have read that message 5 years ago? This will show you how much you’ve grown.
Step 2: Now, consider your dream self five years from now, and write a letter from her to yourself right now.
(As an example, for me this year that means writing a letter to my 27-year-old self from my 32-year-old self.)
What is your job like? Where do you live? What are your priorities? Identify what your future self would say to you right now. Write that letter. What would the version of you who has already achieved the “big goal” say to yourself right now? What would she advise you to do? What have you accomplished? What big issues weren’t so big after all?
You can decide that your future is always going to be better than your past. I love to think this way when I think about the future, whether it’s the next day or the next 10 or 30 years. It’s going to be better than my past. And so far, I’ve felt that to be true. I loved my life in college more than high school, I love my life now post-grad than I did in college. It keeps getting better and better.
And you may be thinking “Just wait Elizabeth — wait until you’re older. You won’t feel that way.” When you listen to Brooke’s episode on this, you’ll hear her talk about this CHOICE too, and she’s older than I am. You can choose to always think about a better future!
Now, on the Life Coach School episode, Brooke talks about how our minds like to make decisions from the past. To quickly summarize, the past is predictable and safe. Your brain wants you to be safe and survive. So, it’s easier to look at your past experience to always choose what to do. But, what if you can make decisions from your future instead? To take advice from your future self? It’s a different way of making your brain work. It requires A LOT of imagination and creativity.
We’ve all fell into the trap of “I can’t because I never have before.” That’s what your brain wants you to think about the goals that feel too scary and too big. Maybe it’s losing weight, maybe it’s finally getting out of debt, or starting your dream business. Your brain wants to tell you “GIRL, you think you can do it? You haven’t done it before.” That thought will become more prevalent the more it’s something you tried to do but failed at.
Using business as an example, maybe you have the goal of building a six-figure business. But, you haven’t yet. Your business isn’t there yet, but you’ve been trying for years to get there. So, your brain wants to make decisions and operate from “We can’t do it. We haven’t successfully done that before.” This is very adult thinking! It’s fascinating to watch how children don’t think this way. I love the analogy of a baby who hasn’t learned to walk yet. It doesn’t know how, so to learn he/she falls down a bunch of times. They need help from parents, resilience to keep trying, and ultimately after a lot of trial and error will walk. But what if the baby, who was meant to walk, just thought “I can’t walk. I haven’t done that before.”
If we thought like that, we’d never go anywhere. We’d be stuck constantly doing the same things, in the same place, or worse… getting worse. But, that’s how your brain wants you to think about growth and change. You have to tell it to think otherwise. If that feels impossible. This exercise really will help you do just that.
Evolving depends on you thinking new and inspired thoughts.
Now, I want to talk briefly about another tool I use to plan for my future self that helps me understand and visualize that small changes today can put you in a completely different location 5 years from now. I use a product called PowerSheets by Cultivate What Matters. It’s a goal-setting planner, and it helps you decide who you want to be and where you want to be so you can move towards that monthly and daily in your life.
(Listen to the podcast version of this blog post to hear more about the 2020 PowerSheets! And head over to my Instagram to enter to win your own 2020 PowerSheets and Goal Setting Sticker Book!)
Here is a preview of one of my favorite prompts in the 2020 PowerSheets:
“Everyone ends up somewhere, but few people end up somewhere on purpose. You’re about to be one of the few who are breaking free from thinking narrowly — feeling controlled by what’s on your to-do list today. Instead, you’ll be asking yourself “What will matter in the big picture and how can I live like it today? Where do you want to be when you’re 80, 90, or 100? What will matter to you then? What won’t matter to you then?”
Isn’t it amazing how asking these types of questions can change everything? And you don’t need to wait until your birthday or the new year to do it. You can ask yourself these questions today.
If you’re reading this in October 2019, I’m giving away a set of 2020 Powersheets over on Instagram to one follower. It’s easy to enter and you can get directions over there! The giveaway will go live on October 22nd, 2019. Enter to win! I’ll choose a winner on my birthday, October 27th.
I did these journaling exercises right before my 25th birthday and 26th birthday and it was EYE-OPENING! (Read a little about that in this blog post!) It was emotional writing the encouragement I would have given to my excited, but nervous 20-year-old self. And, writing from the perspective of my 30-year-old self, allowed me to dive into what I really want and think about the future in a way that will really get me there.
Links Mentioned in This Episode:
- Episode #173 of The Life Coach School Podcast - Future Focused: https://thelifecoachschool.com/podcast/173/
- Shop PowerSheets: https://elizabethmccravy.com/cultivate
- Episode #23 about Journal Prompts: https://elizabethmccravy.com/23
Be sure to enter the 2020 PowerSheets giveaway over on my Instagram here: https://instagram.com/elizabethmccravy/