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Write a Letter to Yourself

Updated: Sep 23, 2023

Open it in a year's time


A white page with the words, Dear Me, "I'm so glad to see you doing what you've always wanted to do . . . " A thin black pen lies bside it.
Write a letter to yourself.

Have you ever written a letter to yourself?


It's a good idea.


When our daughter Merribeth was in her senior year at high school, her English teacher assigned the class the task of writing a letter to themselves about what they would be doing a year from now. They were to put the letter in an envelope and write their address on the outside. When this was done, the teacher collected the letters and stored them safely in a folder.


Shortly afterwards, Merribeth graduated, and moved to Perth, Western Australia, to work.


A year later she travelled through Europe with her older brother, then went on her own to Ireland to work in cafes and bars as she explored the countryside and ran her first marathon, the Connemarathon, in Galway.


Meanwhile, we received an envelope addressed to Merribeth, so we included it in a parcel we were sending her. We were ignorant of what it contained, but it turned out to be the letter she’d written to herself at school, forwarded to her old home address by her teacher.


Of course, Merribeth had forgotten about the assignment and was shocked when she opened it and began to read. Then she phoned us and read it to us. It went something like this.


Dear Merribeth


I’m so glad to see you made it to Ireland. I see you walking down a city street in Dublin, enjoying the Emerald Isle, as I knew you would. You’re working as you travel around, making new friends and having adventures. Have you made it to Galway yet?


It brought tears to our eyes, as it did to hers.


A wise English teacher. A simple assignment. A young person’s dream that was yet to come true.


Too often we forget that we are where we are now because we envisioned it strongly in the past.


Years ago, I attended a workshop about achieving my potential (haha). I’ve forgotten most of it, but one task was to write down my ideal place to live. At the time I was living in a suburban house, with five children crammed into two small bedrooms. I wrote that I lived in the country in a two-storey house that had plenty of room for the kids, views of low hills, and I could hear the sea. Also, like Virginia Woolf, I had a room of my own in which to write.


Within months, I was in that house with plenty of space, views of low hills and the sound of the sea crashing into the shore two kilometres away, although I must admit that four of our five children had to leave home before I got that writing room!


A Letter to Yourself


Wherever we are on the spectrum of human life, perhaps young and on the cusp of a career, amid a growing family, or older and considering retirement, it can be helpful to commune with yourself and write yourself a letter, expressing your heart’s desire.


Don’t think just about money or prestige or achievement. Think about what your heart wants, then write it down in the form of a letter to yourself.


Don’t type it. Write it in longhand. Put it in an envelope and address it to yourself.


Then put it away somewhere safe and make a note to yourself to open it in a year’s time.


Here goes. Dear Marlane . . .


Sometimes we spend too much time communicating with others when we need to sit down and commune with ourselves.


Share this idea with your friends and family.


With love, Marlane


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