January 2011, one year later.
In preparation for the moment of truth, I nervously tried to recall the details of my letter. It had been an entire year to the day and although these were my words, I had completely neglected to remember what I set out to accomplish. The specific details of each area of my life were read like a diary of the past year.
What appeared ridiculously exuberant in thought became remarkable and euphoric in story. That’s just what it is, my story. My opportunity to peek at the future, try it on for size, see how it fits before it unfolds. At first it was challenging, it felt presumptuous and unrealistic to assume I could recount time that hadn’t even existed yet. BUT…It didn’t take long before the story of my year came to life and an extraordinary self-fulfilling prophecy was born.
For the past three years, I’ve committed to writing myself a letter in January—dated one year from the day—writing in reflection as if the year had already passed. I first heard of this exercise at a sales seminar and it quickly became my yearly discipline for goal setting. Opportunity for creativity through letter writing was a refreshing replacement of the traditional list of goals I’d been accustomed to generating.
The idea is to write the letter with wreck less abandon, no holding back. The exhilarating part is to see it in writing, the power of documentation—you almost believe it’s already happened. I’ve never been a fan of surprises and as a perfectionist of performance; I thought I would have a terrible time not peeking to “check-in” on my progress throughout the year. To make sure I was on track in order to avoid the shame of falling short. After sealing up the letter, to not be opened or read for one year from the day, I tucked it away and got back to the business of living life. Since most of us suffer from short attention span and memory, it didn’t take long before I completely forgot about my letter.
I was pleasantly surprised with how gratifying it was to experience comfort in how closely so many areas of my life resembled what I had set out to improve. I was admiring the flowers from the seeds I had planted a year ago. I’d left ideas lingering in my mind, even though I wasn’t always consciously aware of their growth and development along the way.
Some years, it takes me a couple months into the New Year before the thoughts and ideas bring the letter to life. The ability to write a story about my life, so freely and limitless, welcomes new awareness and allows me to reach further--traveling places I typically wouldn’t go.
This exercise has broken a pattern in me—you know the SAME goals you make year after year-it has given me the opportunity to set myself up differently.
Any day is a good day to start something new. Consider taking a trip to the future; it will make your journey well worth it.