Just over a year ago I attended a one day event as part of a
coaching programme I had invested in for my business and personal growth.
About half way into the day, the coach invited us to write a letter to ourselves, dated exactly one year into the future.
In the letter we were to acknowledge and congratulate ourselves on the achievement of all the lofty goals we’d set for ourselves one year previously.
Our coach challenged us to be really bold and imagine how it would feel to read that we had successfully attained goals that felt like a real stretch from our current day perspective.
I don’t remember much about writing my letter or how I decided what goals to include, except that before I knew it, I have covered three pages with my handwriting.
We placed our thoughtfully constructed letters into envelopes and personally addressed them. We then returned them to our coach for safekeeping and mailing out to us in a year’s time.
Confession: I didn’t take the exercise that seriously…
If it wasn’t for the fact last year’s event coincided with my son’s birthday, I possibly would have forgotten about the letter writing activity completely!
If you’d asked for the detail of what I wrote to my future self, I would have struggled to remember (I have a notoriously rubbish memory!) The only part I’d registered was that I’d set a very ambitious financial goal for the year ahead.
As my son’s birthday and ‘Letter Day’ approached, I had the uneasy feeling that, upon opening and reading it, I would feel the full weight of my own self-disappointment.
One thing I knew for sure was that I hadn’t reached my lofty financial goal.
Nowhere near it in fact.
When the letter finally dropped onto the mat, I opened it with a mixture of curiosity and dread.
My Unexpected Reaction
As I read the words I’d written to myself, instead of feeling the pit of disappointment I was anticipating, I felt a different emotion.
Coupled with a dash of pleasant surprise.
As I absorbed the kind, encouraging words I had whispered to myself on the page, I felt a warm feeling spread throughout my body.
The first thing I was pleasantly surprised to learn was that I had indeed achieved, or made massive progress towards, most of my goals.
But not necessarily in the ways I’d expected.
The path to achieving what I wanted, in some cases, hadn’t happened at all as I’d imagined.
But the end result was the same.
The second unexpected surprise, the one that evoked the feeling of pride, clearly had nothing to do with my financial goal ‘fail.’
It was about the qualities I had began to embody more of in the past year.
It was about who I was in the process of ‘becoming’ in the pursuit of my goals.
One of the final lines in my letter to myself reads:
“You walked through the fear, the uncertainty and the self-doubt. You did it!”
Yes, I did.
And I continue to walk through it. (Newsflash: While we’re alive and growing – it never ends!)
Those emotions have been, and remain, my constant companions as I evolve in my work as a Wife Coach and as a person.
They are part of the deal of being human and the accompaniment to all personal growth and the pursuit of anything that’s important to us.
It’s Hard Sometimes – And That’s Ok
I still have days when it feels too hard, the self-doubt gets too loud, and I want to give up and go and get a ‘normal’ job.
The last year has been particularly challenging personally for my family: a bereavement, serious illness, behavioural challenges, increased financial pressure. And more.
It would have been all too easy to say: It’s too much, I’ll focus on my goals next year.
But I’m proud to say – I didn’t give up on myself.
I kept walking through the fear and the uncertainty and the self-doubt.
Those scary emotions were my companions as I finally created and offered my brand new group experience, The Untethered Wife** to the world.
Until I had the courage to create it and put it out there, I couldn’t know if women would be willing to come together in an intimate group and share their most vulnerable thoughts and feelings about their lives and marriages.
When they did sign up, ‘first night’ nerves were ever present as I began to deliver the very first Untethered Wife Programme to the small group of amazing women who placed their trust in me and each other (we’re now in Week 3!)
When you’re willing to walk through the fire and take tiny baby steps every day towards what you want, amazing things can and will happen.
Here’s what I learned from my experience of writing a letter to my future self:
1) Setting goals and intentions from the energy and mindset of ‘already done’ is very powerful (even when you forget about them afterwards!)
2) While you must take consistent action to bring your goals to fruition, your subconscious mind is always working in the background to support you when you are aligned with your goals.
3) Having the right support network as you stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone is invaluable and, in my experience, essential.
When the going gets tough and fear and doubt raise their ugly heads, it’s tempting to want to give up and lose faith in yourself. Having kind, supportive people on your side who believe in you, even and especially when you forget to believe in yourself, is what will get you through and keep you on track.
4) Your goals may manifest in ways you can’t imagine or foresee from where you are now. So it’s essential to remain unattached to ‘how’ you achieve them.
5) Achieving the goal is not the most important thing – it’s who you become in the pursuit of your goals that really counts.
That’s where the real growth happens.
The pursuit and the effort is where you find your courage, your strength and your resilience.
It’s where you find out who you really are and what you are truly capable of (it’s always so much more than we realise!)
While I didn’t get anywhere near my financial goal, I achieved far more, including financially, than I ever would have done without that aim.
So, I’d love to know – what would you write in a letter to your future self?
What’s the goal that seems out of reach from where you are today?
And what would it be like to see and feel that goal as ‘done’ one year from now?
If you’d like to share, please send me an email to Julie@JulieMarah.com.
**Registration for The Untethered Wife is currently CLOSED. It will re-open again December 2017. To be on the ‘first to know’ list for the next class starting January 2018 please join my mailing list by entering your details below.
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