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Why you should write a letter to your future self

There are a lot of methods to set and achieve your goals, but picturing yourself a year from now and outlining what you want to achieve might be the best way to make it a reality.

Why you should write a letter to your future self
[Photos: StrawberryQueen /Pixabay; ali syaaban/Unsplash]

For the last few years on New Year’s Eve, I’ve written a letter to my future self. More specifically, I’ve addressed the letter to myself in 365 days. Most of these letters start with something like: “Dear Kate, You’ve had a great year…” And continue on as if I’m catching myself up on all of my accomplishments of the year that has yet to unfold.

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Of course, these letters are usually a little overly optimistic and ambitious, and in all the years that I’ve been writing them I’ve yet to completely accurately predict the future (although there are a few things I’ve been eerily right about, like the name and gender of my baby the year I was pregnant, and others that I was just a little off on like when I’d start hosting a podcast).

I enjoy this form of New Year’s resolution writing because it paints a picture of the type of life I’d like to have, and in doing so helps me in some small way to manifest it. It’s also a nice window into what’s important to me and how over the years that changes (and often how it doesn’t). In my five years at Fast Company, I’ve led coverage of goal setting and New Year’s resolutions every January, and I think I’ve looked at the issue from every angle.

Of course different things work for different people, and there is no one foolproof, 100% guaranteed method to setting and sticking to goals. But the idea of being able to see into the future, to New Year’s Day 2020, with a future happy version of yourself is a great way to frame the more practical work of going about the actual steps to make it happen.

So with that in mind, we are kicking off 2019 with a package of stories we’re calling “Your Future Self.” Here’s what to expect:

How can you keep your New Year’s resolutions? 

In the first episode of the second season of Secrets of the Most Productive People we talk to Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author Charles Duhigg about how to build habits so this can be the year that you finally stick to your resolutions.

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12 expert tips to make 2019 your most productive year yet 

Our contributors spend their days not only sifting through productivity advice, but living it. So we asked them what their best methods are for getting things done. Their advice is simple, counterintuitive, and within easy reach.

This is how you’ll look for a job in 2019

If your vision of your future self has a different job, this is your guide to how you’ll get there. Some brand-new strategies and time-tested traditions dictate the way job seekers will conduct the hunt in 2019.

Your 12-month guide to building your side hustle this year

Month by Month, roadblock by roadblock, milestone by milestone: Here’s how you start building your empire in 2019.

How to redesign your days to give you back a few hours extra every week

We’ve all got a fixed 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. But in 2019, you can feel like you have more time every week by making different choices about how you allocate your hours. Here are 5 strategies.

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How to accomplish your biggest career goals this year

Whether you’re looking for a promotion, raise, or new job, use these six steps to make 2019 the year it happens.

How to set (and achieve) goals based on your personality type

Hard-charging, Type-As may need a different goal-achievement approach than people who approach goals more methodically and analytically. Here’s how to best set yourself up for success based on your personality traits.

Read the whole series here, and then if you’re feeling inspired, write your own letter to your future self.

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About the author

Kathleen Davis is Deputy Editor at FastCompany.com. Previously, she has worked as an editor at Entrepreneur.com, WomansDay.com and Popular Photography magazine.

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