Welcome to 2015. A new year begins, and with it renewed aspirations.
Which makes it the perfect time to plant a time capsule–to your future self.
In their book, The Small Big: Small Changes that Spark Big Influence, authors Steve Martin, Noah Goldstein, and Robert Cialdini point to research that suggests we are more likely to keep commitments over the long term when we consider our responsibilities to our future self. Researchers found, for instance, that people were more likely to make contributions to their retirement savings after they read messages reminding them that their future self is relying on the decisions they make today. “Reminding people of their connectedness to their future selves may help them resist temptation and make more far-sighted decisions,” they write.
So, to further cement my resolve to my goals this coming year, I just planted my 2016 time capsule—in the form of a letter to my future self. It started a little awkwardly. Writing “Dear Leary” seemed strange but it helped me write from a more objective and affirming frame.
Despite having clear goals for the year, I didn’t write any accolades of presumed accomplishment. Instead, I was drawn to write to my future self about the character traits that were honed and developed over the year that is to come. As I wrote, I discovered deeper aspirations for personal and professional development that I hadn’t noticed before. And I noticed how the opportunities and challenges of this past year has already grown those qualities in me. Suddenly, I felt a congruence between the many years that preceded this past one and the one that lies ahead. All along, I’ve been getting ready for this year and for the challenges which will stretch me in the days ahead.
By the time I penned the final words of my two page letter, a deep sense of satisfaction overcame me. Not in future goals already accomplished, but in the conviction that what I’m about to embark on this year will please not only the future me but also the eternal One who made me for such a time as this.
Comment below: If you’ve written to your future self, what did you learn from it?