A year ago, I wrote a letter from my future self. It was dated January 2023. I wrote a letter telling my future self about my year, what I did, what I accomplished, and what I felt. It was an experience I picked up from my workshop with Khe Hy and one I absolutely recommend. It was remarkable to put on paper details and twists that feel small and unimportant if you are on a goal-setting exercise but if you are writing to a friend, or say, to your future self, it is the detail that brings truth into a story. Like in a book it brings juice and life into a character. But enough about the letter I wrote and more about the letter I read.
A look back
In the last few days, I went back and read that letter. I had mixed feelings going through it. Some things happened almost as planned , some very different – where they a failure? When you look back on your goals, which I seek to do quarterly, it is a simpler milestone exercise, done or not done kind of thing. But the letter is a story, an expression of thoughts and feelings. Not living it may not be a story on its own. It may just be that a chapter got in the way , or rather that the book of life comes with different endings and we can’t always know all of the options in advance. But I have to admit, it was still not easy to read about all that did not happen.
Was I fearless?
Looking back at the chapter I wrote for this part of my life , I can’t help but spot cautious ambition. In some parts, I can see how I stayed close to home and assumed the safest bet. For instance, with work, I had no big story to tell other than to kind of say about my moved to Lisbon “it all worked out”. Yes, I wrote about work in my zone of genius and about projects I want to be part of. But again all without much change. Much less than I did anyway.
Was I wishful thinking?
In other parts, I have to admit I was wishful thinking. Those were the ones that were really important for me, but in a way out of my control. Like us finally being able to start construction in our house. Or the transition at the charity being smooth and fundraising being the strongest ever. You could argue that one kind of depends on me, but I did not count on the Ukrainian war fundraising tide. Either way, there was a fair amount of wishful thinking in my letter where things were not really under my full control and I wished for the best. Some of those were stretch goals, but they missed some milestones attached to them that maybe would have helped me get closer.
Did I want too much?
You could argue my 3 page letter had too much in it. Too many areas, interests, ambitions. But then again, it would not be me if it was not filled with the many things I love in life. That is perhaps why quite a lot did not happen, because indeed there was probably not enough time in a year to go through all. Yes, I rarely speak of lack of time these days. I like to think there was time, but priorities played a part. In truth, I was radical in going through periods of time where only a few key life things like family, health and work were allowed. I did not account for that more Essentialist perspective in me when I wrote the letter. But I am happy I did so. Not wanting to justify all that I did not do, but some parts I know I can justify.
What to do with it?
I had a vision, some of it turned out accurate, some not so much, now what? As I re-read the letter, I will take another go at what I really feel about it. What parts were missed but turned out for the best, what parts do I still wish were through now? And as the letter for 2023 rapidly starts taking shape in my own head, I can’t help but wonder what will matter to me. Will I be ambitious? Will I be afraid? Will I dream or will I compromise?
If you haven’t written to your future self, this is the best way to start. There is some vision casting in it which can be scary but only for the next 12 months, which in a way allows us to be closer to reality or to the steps we can or could take. Why not give it a go?
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash