As the end of the calendar year nears, many people make New Year's resolutions. This year, why not start a new tradition and write letters to yourself instead? In one letter, do a year in review and take some time to reflect on the best moments of the year and all that you've accomplished. And then, for the second letter, try a different approach: write a letter to your future self as your future self. Then at the end of the year you can look back and see just how much you achieved!
If you're like most people, sitting down in front of a blank computer screen or blank piece of paper and trying to write fills you with dread. So where should you start?
Year In Review
For the first letter you write, take a "year in review" approach.
First, brainstorm and make a list of all the most memorable events about the year that has passed. Be as specific as possible. If you keep a family calendar (even if it's just the one on your iPhone), flip or scroll through the previous months for inspiration. Also, talk to the members of your family and ask them what they'd like to include in the letter. Think about things like:
- Funniest Moments
- Scariest Moments
- Most Surprising Moments
- Favorite presents from your birthday and Christmas
- Your children's favorite gifts
- Best Trips or Adventures
- Favorite songs, movies, books
- Notable accomplishments
Once you have a healthy list of 8-10 fun memories, you're ready to start writing!
Need an opening line?
Try something like "2013 was a _____________ year." (insert your own adjective or adjectives). From there go on to describe, in detail, the list of memories you just outlined. After the first paragraph or so, the words will start to flow more easily!
When you're finished writing, close with something like "2014 will be a ______________ year" and make a prediction about what kind of year you think the upcoming one will be. And, if you're feeling up to it, add in one last paragraph about what you think 2014 will bring. (It'll be fun to look back on your prediction at the end of 2014. Did the year live up to the adjectives you gave it?)
Letter to your Future Self
This letter is a little different and it requires some imagination. Rather than write a letter outlining all your goals and "resolutions" for the year, write the letter as if it was already the end of the year, and you've already accomplished those goals. In other words, write in past tense. Although it may feel a little awkward, it's a great way to set yourself up for a positive and productive year. It puts you in the mindset of accomplishing, not just hoping to accomplish.
Not sure how to begin?
First, make a list of all the things you want to accomplish in the new year. These can be big things like buying a house or overhauling your diet, or little things like eat more fruit or making more time to read. If you need inspiration, try to set a goal for yourself in each area of your life (wife, mom, employee, spiritual/religious being, etc).
Make the list as specific as possible. For example, rather than writing "get organized," write "organize the playroom, bedroom" etc. If you have goals for your children, include them too. Maybe you want to teach one of your kids how to ride a bike, or encourage them to be more grateful. Put it on the list!
Once your list is complete, begin writing, but remember to switch everything to past tense and include details as if you've already done these things. It would sound something like this:
Dear Future Self,
This year has been a ____________ year (insert your own adjective here). The kids and I took the time to organize the playroom. Together we went through all of their old toys and donated the ones they no longer play with. We purchased a toy box and new shelves and then we put all their new toys away, making sure everything has a home. I was so proud of the kids and we rewarded ourselves with an ice cream party!
Do this with each goal for the year. By visualizing exactly how you're going to accomplish your goals, and committing to them now, you're setting yourself up for success! By the time you're done writing, you'll feel like your goals are even more attainable because you've already outlined exactly how to do each thing.
Once you're done with your letters, put them somewhere safe. You can slip them into your Christmas stocking and pack them away with all the decorations. Then, next year you'll find them when you start to decorate and you can take a moment to reflect and reminisce! Or, put them in the drawer of your bedside table clearly labeled, and make a date with yourself at the end of the new year to take a quiet moment to open them and read them, and reflect on all that you've accomplished! We think you'll be surprised to find out that you did nearly everything on your list!
Photo Credit: Noelle Soroka Photography