One of National Stationery Week’s goals, and that of #WriteALetterDay, is to get us all back into the habit of writing with pen and paper, putting down our laptops and tablets. We’re piggybacking on that admirable aim and adding a goal of our own: we want you to write a letter to your future self.
Before we get into the why, let’s peek at the what: what can letter writing do for you?
Prof. Steve Toepfer, of Human Development and Family Studies at Ohio’s Kent State University, found that writing meaningful letters of gratitude might increase people’s wellbeing.
“The letter writers [in the study] were instructed to write a letter of gratitude to anyone they wanted, however, the letter couldn’t be trivial and it couldn’t be a ‘thank you’ note for a gift or ‘thanks for saying hello to me this morning,’
“The more letter writing people did, the more they improved significantly on happiness and life satisfaction.”
We should try our own little experiment and write meaningful letters of gratitude to our future selves. I think it could make us feel good now, and give us something to look forward to.
A letter to your future self is part New Year’s Resolution, part IOU and part diary; it’s a moment to say ‘I’ve made it this far and I’m stronger than I think.”
You write down what your life is like now, what you hope will happen in the future and advice for the ‘you’ that will read the letter. (Or an apology: I found one from a child to his adult-self saying ‘Sorry you’re going to be bald’.)
But what kind of letter could you write?
For Your Business
Our marketing maven, Clare, used to encourage staff to write to themselves at the start of the year, listing all the things they wanted to achieve during the months ahead.
The team would then seal and lock the letters away until December, at which point everyone gathered to open and read them. If anyone felt compelled, they also could share their letter’s contents with co-workers.
I think that’s a lovely idea for an SME. It brings staff together for a shared experience and encourages them to think about what they want to achieve at work.
For Your Family
Writing a letter as a family – especially if you have younger children – is a chance for you and yours to dream about the things you wish to do together and to be thankful for having each other.
Perhaps your letter will say this is the year you’ll have a holiday of forest walks and meadow lunches. Maybe you’ll commit to a family meal each month where the TV is off and phones are put down.
If the children want to write their own letters, something different from mum and dad, they could have coloured writing #paper to make them feel special. (But everyone uses the same #pen – no favourites here!)
I think it would be wonderful to take your letters and place them in a little time capsule in your garden. I can imagine having a small ceremony to bury the capsule and then, years later, digging it up in the spring with your family around you, the sun shining and flowers in bloom.
When writing for yourself you can be more personal about what you truly desire in the future and be honest about how you’re doing at the moment.
Maybe you feel you want to be healthier, so you’ll set a plan to start walking at lunchtime. Perhaps you want to be more sociable, so you’ll promise to say ‘yes’ to more invitations from friends. But remember, you must be thankful for having the chance to change things.
Once you write your wishes down, you can take steps to make them come true. That way, the ‘you’ that reads the letter in the future will be healthier, happier and more outgoing.
Next, dim the lights and put some music on. Pour yourself a glass of wine and sit down to write. You may only do one of these letters a year, maybe even a decade.
Take your time.
Previously on The Euroffice Blog…