Since a few years ago, I started a New Year's day tradition of writing a letter to the "one-year-later" me — my future self. I know a lot of people write down their goals for the new year, but I find it important to also have the opportunity to reflect and witness your own growth and changes, especially after 2020. I'd like to share my experience with you because I've found this activity to be one of the best things you can do for yourself!
The year 2011 was a bad one for me. I went through a stressful time because of a string of unfortunate events. And on the first day of 2012, I decided to write a list of the positive things that I should be grateful for in my life, despite the unfortunate happenings. On New Year's Eve of 2012, I took the letter out and read it to myself. I remember feeling so silly, thinking: "Did I really need to write these reminders down?" But I realized, I only felt silly because I no longer needed those reminders at that time of my life; happy days were naturally filled with appreciation and positivity.
(Photo: Happily Ever Style)
Over the years, I've learned to figure out what I can focus on writing, in addition to what I would like to be grateful for in my life. I wanted the letters to have more meaning and to give myself a better opportunity to really think hard about the past 12 months.
Read on to see some of the questions I ask myself and a few topics I think about before I write the letter. If you'd like to join me in starting this tradition for yourself, I hope you'll find this guide helpful.
AN HONEST CONVERSATION WITH YOURSELF
- What were some things you did in the past year that you were really proud of?
- Maybe you finally learned how to bike, you remembered someone's birthday without a Facebook reminder, you tried a new recipe and it turned out amazing, or you went hiking alone for the first time. You deserve a pat on the back for all of your achievements, big or small.
- What happened in the past year that is worth celebrating again?
- You fixed a mistake in time before it turned into a disaster, you reached a goal you had set for yourself, you finished graduate school, or you became a parent!
- What are you thankful for?
- An enjoyable job with a stable income, having a home to work from every day, or the existence of FaceTime so you get to stay in touch with loved ones from afar.
OLD AND NEW RELATIONSHIPS
- Who made you laugh really hard or made your day? Why? And what have you given back to this person?
- If someone makes you happy, they definitely deserve some laughter, too. But sometimes we take certain things (or people) for granted. And we may simply forget the importance of making sure they also feel appreciated or loved. Did you forget by any chance?
- What have you done to maintain old friendships or to make new ones?
- If it's been a long time since you last talked to your former manager who you'd like to maintain a friendly relationship with, or there's an old friend you realized you haven't talked to for a while — why not send a "Happy New Year" e-mail/text to them and catch up?
- Whom are you thankful for?
- Those who play an important role in your lives are on your mind but don't forget the hidden heroes in your life, too!
CHANGES AND GROWTH
- What was one thing (or things) you did that you wish you've done differently? What changes would you make and why?
- Instead of feeling regret, focus on how you would do things differently in the future so that you won't repeat the same mistakes if any. We can't hit the replay button, but we can do it better the next time.
- What happened in the past year do you think may have a big impact on your life moving forward? How do you plan to cope with it or embrace it?
- Maybe you welcomed a new family member or said goodbye to someone close. Maybe you finished college or decided to change jobs and move to a new city despite it being a pandemic. Whatever it is, "for better or for worse," let yourself know how you will embrace or cope with the new changes.
- What is a new skill or knowledge you have acquired this year?
- It could be something helpful for work or simply for leisure, but either way, it is something worth mentioning! If you can't think of any, perhaps that could be one of your goals for the new year.
GOALS FOR THE NEW YEAR
Now you can end the letter with some goals you'd like to set for yourself. Maybe something you'd like to improve on, something you'd like to try for the first time, or something you've once attempted to achieve but need another go.
You can write the letter in Word and save it, but if you've handwritten the letter, put it in an envelope and seal it. I assure you, starting a new year in 2022 with this letter will put things in perspective for you.
Now, my favorite thing to do on New Year's Eve is to read the letter I've written on January 1. And I can't wait to open the one I've written to myself on January 1, 2020. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a memorable experience.