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Change Your Future with a Letter
Write a letter to your future self.

Change Your Future with a Letter
What would you say to your future self?

If you could talk to your future self, what would you say? It's not as crazy as it sounds. A friend of mine told me about an unusual letter she received. It was dated 10 years before, when she was in high school, and she had written it to herself.

My friends' teacher gave the class an assignment to write a letter to their future self. They talked about their hopes, their fears and what they wished they would accomplish over the next decade. Then the teacher had them seal their envelopes and put an address on it that they believed would still be active 10 years in the future.

My friend used her parents' address and because they didn't move, that letter from her past self arrived. What she wrote was extremely revealing.

As a high school girl, she had all the typical worries that students have at that age. She was nervous about tests, unsure about which college to attend and undecided about a future career. On a personal note, she was unhappy with her weight and she hoped her future self would be in better shape.

My friend had a plan for those tests that worried her. She met classmates after school and studied so she would pass. My friend had a plan for college. She applied at several she liked and was eventually accepted to one of them. My friend had a plan for her career. She did temporary work and volunteered until she found the perfect position.

Unfortunately, she didn't have a plan for her body. When she got the letter from her past self, she had gone from being a little overweight to more than 50 pounds heavier than she should be. By not putting a plan in place, no change happened.

People rarely move forward without a plan. That's true for relationships, careers and bodies. Simply wishing to be better isn't enough. It's what my friend did next that made all the difference.

She wrote herself another letter and dated it one year in the future. In that letter, she talked about her ideas to bring about change. She planned to meet with friends to cook one healthy meal a week. She decided to walk after dinner, and she wanted to explore one new fitness activity a month. Then she posted her plan on the refrigerator so she would see it every day. The letter was sealed up and she tucked it in with her holiday decorations so she would find it a year later.

When she opened the second letter, things were surprisingly good. She didn't walk after dinner anymore, but she had taken up biking to and from work. She loved her weekly cooking date with friends and had a freezer full of healthy home-cooked meals. Through the monthly fitness experiments, she discovered Pilates, paddle boarding, TRX suspension workouts and that she really enjoys weight training.

My friend lost 22 pounds over the previous year. She has more to go, but now she has a plan that's helping make it happen. You can do the same.

Start by writing yourself a letter dated one year from now. Describe how you feel in your current shape, and what you're hoping to feel when you read the letter. Outline specific changes you're planning. Put those plans on another sheet of paper and post it someplace you'll see every day. Then seal the letter in an envelope and write the date it should be opened on the front. Tuck it away with holiday decorations or give it to someone you trust to hold.

For those who prefer high-tech, there's a website called futureme.org that you can use to write yourself an email. Then it'll send your email back months, or even years later.

As the year goes by, keep working and adjusting the plan you started when you wrote your letter. Think of how much better things will be when you read your letter next year.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.