Getting to where you want to be in the future starts with clarifying your goals today, and future-self journaling is one of the most effective ways to do this. Studies have shown that when you write down your future goals and visions for yourself, you are much more likely to achieve them . So let’s take a look at some ways you can optimize future-self journaling to create a life your future self will thank you for.
What Is Future-Self Journaling?
At its core, future-self journaling is the practice of writing down and visualizing a brighter future you. This is a way to carve out your future by intentionally visualizing and stating who you want to be.
Studies have been conducted suggesting that when we imagine and visualize the dreams we have for our own life, our brains and bodies cannot tell the difference between what’s in a daydream versus what’s happening in reality . For example, if you have a fear of drowning, and you visualize the act of it, your body will respond as if it is actually happening. Your stomach may twist, your heart may start pounding, and your breath may become shallow and rapid. On the other hand, if you start to visualize an adorable infant lying in your arms, you may feel your muscle tension start to ease, your heart swell with love, and a smile coming to your face.
This is why future-self journaling is so powerful. You are visualizing what you want your future self to be, thereby retraining your brain to form new neural connections and patterns that align with that version of you. But future-self journaling is far more powerful and effective than just daydreaming about your future because the act of writing things down encodes your goals into your mind, thereby affecting your decision-making and long-term memory .
Rigid Mindset Versus Flexible Mindset
Author and self-development coach Dan Gilbert said: “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.”  As a result, many people develop a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset. When we think about our future, it can be difficult to conceive the fact that we are going to be a different person in ten years. But think about yourself ten or twenty years ago. Isn’t it true that you were – in some ways at least – a different person from who you are now? What were your beliefs, hobbies, and character traits? Chances are, there are many aspects of your present self that your past self from a decade ago would never recognize.
With this in mind, can you imagine how much more you’ll develop and change in another decade or two? And doesn’t this also show that our personality is not permanent? We may have ended up a certain way based on subconscious programming and beliefs but we now have the opportunity to shape and decide who we want to become in the future. If you are someone with a fixed mindset, you risk getting stuck in your ways with a very boxed-in sense of beliefs about yourself. That’s why it’s important to develop a flexible mindset instead. This means understanding that who you were in the past can be different from who you are now which, in turn, can be different from who you will become in the future.
This way of thinking opens the doors for expansion and elevation into the kind of person you want to become. If you can understand that you are creating your future self based on your current actions, that will pave the way to help you achieve the personal and professional success and happiness that you desire.
What Are The Benefits Of Future-Self Journaling?
Your subconscious mind is a powerful force. It shapes your beliefs, decisions, thoughts, and emotions. It is where your habits and automatic reactions come from. But this is not all. Your habitual mind also runs on the information you’ve previously been feeding it and reacts accordingly.
This is where future-self journaling comes in. It uses your conscious mind to retrain your subconscious. This way of visualizing your future packs a powerful punch and has some incredible benefits:
Helps You Clarify What You Want
You probably have a vague idea of the main things you desire (fulfilling relationships, good health, professional success, financial security, etc.). But in order to get to where you want to be, you have to have clarity on what that destination looks like in practice. Communicating with your future self, e.g. in the form of letters, can help you clarify what exactly you want or hope for in life and how you may wish to achieve these future goals.
Increases Your Self-Awareness
Another benefit of future-self journaling is that it can help you understand where you are in relation to where you want to be. This self-care practice also enables you to become aware of subconscious beliefs or attitudes that may limit your ability to achieve your goals.
Creates Excitement For The Future
And finally, future-self journaling is a bit like watching a movie of your future self unfold. Having this sneak preview of the amazing future you are creating for yourself, manifested in written words, gives you the motivation to push through when you are faced with a tough day or a bump in the road.
How To Do Future-Self Journaling: 7 Writing Prompts To Get Started
The following seven prompts for possible journal entries will help you get started with future-self journaling. Come back to these answers once every few months to see how your answers may evolve over time:
#1 – What is the future you are currently pursuing?
Future-self journaling prompt 1. This is an important question to consider, especially if your actions in the present are not in alignment with the future you desire for yourself. Getting honest about where you are now is going to help you clear up any subconscious obstacles that may hinder your progress towards your future self.
You can also assess the path you’re currently on by predicting future emotions you might have later in life, e.g. when looking back to your present self’s determination and efforts. What would your future self think about the life goals you’re pursuing today?
#2 – Is this the future you want for yourself? If not, then what can you do to start changing that?
Future-self journaling prompt 2. It’s also important to be honest about whether or not you’re moving in a direction that will take you to where you want to be. If you were trying to drive from one end of the country to the other, you would probably take a map with you or use a navigation system. But if for whatever reason, that system created a destination far away from the place where you actually wanted to be? You would waste a lot of time backtracking and redirecting yourself if you followed it without questions.
Assessing and reassessing where you are now within your future-self journal will help you to increase your self-awareness and continue to move in the direction of where you want to end up.
#3 – What challenges might keep you from realizing the vision you have for your future self?
Future-self journaling prompt 3. Once you’ve assessed and reassessed where you are in relation to where you want to be, the next step is to take a look at what challenges may keep you from reaching your goals. If your future looks promising, but obstacles and roadblocks always seem to get in the way of actually getting there, then this inquiry will help you determine which actions your might need to take to reach your full potential. Do you need to start looking for alternative strategies? Do you need more moral support or increase your self-motivation? What daily routines are needed to ensure successful progress towards your vision?
Try to acknowledge any difficulties that may arise on the way to achieving your goals, it is time to brainstorm and come up with solutions for overcoming your struggles and getting back on track.
#4 – What would your future self say about how you can overcome these challenges?
Future-self journaling prompt 4. This question aims at helping you visualize how your future self would deal with each obstacle that might be in the way of finding success and mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It seeks to encourage you to become a better version of yourself by learning from that future version of yourself that might be wiser and more spiritually evolved than your present self. What life lessons would your future self impart on you? How would they coach you through difficult times? How might they help you discover strategies for success?
Once you’ve answered these questions, the next step in your future-self journaling practice is to write down some action steps that will help you keep moving in the direction of your hopes, dreams, and positive aspirations.
#5 – What are some negative labels you have used for yourself in the past?
Future-self journaling prompt 5. Labeling is something we all do – it’s how our brains organize and assess the information that is constantly coming into our awareness. But often, the labels we use for ourselves are limiting at best and harmful at worst and therefore hinder our personal growth. Being aware of limiting labels and beliefs that you’ve had for yourself in the past will help you to disentangle your identity from them and make way for beliefs that align with your hopes for a better future.
#6 – What would happen if you stopped using limiting labels?
Future-self journaling prompt 6. Visualizing the sense of freedom and relief you would feel if you released these limiting labels is an incredibly powerful way to finally let go of all that no longer is serving you so you can align with your highest potential.
When you try out future-self journaling for the first time, ask yourself: What would happen if you stopped negative labels and started using empowering ones instead?
If limiting labels are names for who or what you don’t want to be, then empowering labels are names for the kinds of people and things that really do represent who you are right now and/or want to become in the future. Take some time to reflect on the question of what would become possible if you began using empowering labels for yourself on a regular basis?
#7 – What are some positive labels you can give yourself now that align with your future self’s dreams?
Future-self journaling prompt 7. It’s difficult to stop labeling ourselves in negative ways, but future-self journaling can help us to see ourselves in a positive light and develop a more caring perspective on ourselves. So, what are some new labels that you can start using now to help yourself into the future you want?
Here are some examples of positive labels you could use to empower yourself in the present and set yourself up for future success: Go-getter, Fighter, Dreamer, Achiever, Inspirer, Lover of Life. The sky is the limit!
Ask yourself now: What are some empowering labels you can give yourself now that align with your vision of where you’re headed? Write them down in your future-self journal. Give yourself permission to be awesome, to be successful, and to leave behind all those limiting beliefs about your present self.
Writing Letters To Your Future Self – Another Great Way into Future Self-Journaling
The concept of future-self journaling can feel a bit daunting if you’re new to it. But luckily, there are plenty of resources out there to help guide you through what otherwise could be a stressful endeavor. If you’re interested to learn more, our LETTERS TO MY FUTURE SELF e-book has many useful tips, instructions, support, and prompts for your journal entries to help you start writing meaningful messages to your future self so that you may grow into the person you long to be.
Letters To My Future Self contains expert guidance on how to create the future you desire in several categories – life goals, self-love, relationships, overcoming obstacles and challenges, and cultivating joy and gratitude. You’ll learn how to create the most effective messages for your future self with a variety of prompts and content ideas that will allow you to gain clarity into what you want your future to look like as well as how to get there.
With the digital format, you can choose to type your letters directly into the interactive eBook or print out your file if you prefer to write out your answers by hand. Do something your future self will thank you for and check out this helpful booklet.
The Bottom Line
Whether your future self lives in a duplex in a big city or cottage by the ocean, future-self journaling can be a great resource to help you get you there. Consistently clarifying and assessing where you are in relation to where you want to be will open up the swiftest, clearest path to your intended destination. So, why not give future-self journaling a try and begin by writing a LETTER TO YOUR FUTURE SELF today?
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