How do you write a future self journal?
And how did this become a thing?
You've heard of vision boards and have learned what it means to have a daily mindfulness practice.
In a future self journal, you sort of combine the two, but with a key difference.
You'll be using words, not images, to describe how you want your future life to look.
It's self journaling, which is probably not new to you.
But in this case, you'll be writing about the future self you want to grow into.
So, what does that look like, exactly?
What Is Future Self Journaling?
While you can begin your future self journal with some information on where you are now — as the backdrop for the changes you want to make — your journal's primary focus should be the self you want to grow into.
To that end, feel free to write about any or all the following:
- Habits you'd like to change — which your future self already has
- What you're grateful for about your present and future life
- Your personal aspirations — what you'd like to accomplish and why
- Your perfect day and how it begins and ends
- Your home (location, structure, design) and what you've made of it
- Your family — the people connected to you by blood, friendship, or both
- Your career and what it means to you
Write as much as possible about the future self you want to be, what that person does daily, and what that person loves about their life.
Or write about what you're doing in the present that will make your future self love you forever.
Why Keep a Future Self Journal?
Here are some of the key benefits of daily journaling with a future self twist:
- Reduced stress — because you have an outlet for your thoughts and feelings.
- Gratitude journaling can improve your mindset for the entire day.
- Clarity of purpose — because you're taking time to get clear on what you want.
- Excitement for the future — because you have something to look forward to
- Focus — because your big-picture goals remind you of actions you can take
- Problem-solving — writing about problems gets your mind working on solutions.
- Increased self-awareness — what you want deep down is tied to who you are
Read on to learn how to create a future self journal you'll love adding to every day.
How to Practice Future Self Journaling: 11 Ideas to Get Started
If you already have a journal, some of these steps will sound familiar. But this will be for an entirely separate journal, so we encourage you to choose a dedicated journal or notebook and give it an appropriate title
- “Dear Future Self”
- “[Your name], [future year of choice]”)
- “Time Traveling Notebook”
When your journal's ready, the following tips will help you fill it.
1. Make a detailed account of your average day.
Write down how a regular day goes for you, from the moment your alarm goes off (the first time) to the moment you fall asleep at night.
Before you can create the life you want, you need to be aware of the life you're living now.
The more aware you are of your daily actions (even the smallest choices you make), the easier it is to make the changes you need in your daily routine.
Everyone's got a routine; not everyone is fully aware of it. You need to be self-aware to choose better actions and better habits for yourself consciously.
2. Identify the habits you want to change.
List the personal habits you have, whether you've consciously cultivated them or picked them up along the way.
Highlight the ones you'd like to break and what habits you want to cultivate in their place.
Then focus on building one of those habits at a time. When you write as your future self, write as someone who's already cultivated those habits. Write about how you feel when you look back on a day well spent, even if everything didn't go “according to plan.”
3. Create a template for your journal entries.
A simple, structured template can help you get started with your day's entry more quickly by immediately giving your mind something to work with other than a blank page. This can make it easier to get your thoughts down in the morning.
You can use a list of questions, themes, or affirmations to help you focus or get started along with your template. Use them as prompts for a freewriting field in your template. Or write one at the top of the page to keep in mind during the day.
4. Start with a gratitude statement.
This statement can be the first part of your journaling template to ensure every day's writing begins with five or so sentences about what you're grateful for.
Picture those things and take a moment to feel the gratitude before moving on to the next section.
Your future self will be grateful to your present self for making this a daily priority.
5. Write to or as your future self.
On any given day, you can choose whether to write to or as your future self in that morning's entry.
If you're ambivalent, flip a coin or take turns from one or one week to the next. It's your journal, so you can always change your approach when the mood strikes.
Whatever point of view you choose for the day, keep the good of your future self at heart.
6. List your short- and long-term goals.
List all your goals — short-term and long-term — and write about the reasons behind them.
You know why those goals are important to you, and some of them probably excite you more than others. Pay attention to how you feel as you write about each one.
Then list specific steps you can take to reach each of the goals that excite you most.
7. Focus on what you can control.
Focus your journaling on things you can actually change — not on things you wish would change but that are beyond your control. Put your focus where you can put your energy to good purpose.
You want peace of mind and soul for both your future and present self. You can't have that if you're fretting about things you can't change.
8. Design a morning routine that includes journaling.
A good morning doesn't begin with grumbling and repeatedly pounding the snooze button.
Your day should begin with your mind telling your body who's boss. Your body wants to stay in bed; your mind knows better. And up you go.
Journaling gives you a chance to start your day with words that do you good.
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9. Set reminders to help you create a daily journaling habit.
You can even use a habit tracker app to remind you of your commitment to daily journaling — at least until it becomes a habit. With an app like Productive, you can build a streak you won't want to break.
And the longer your unbroken streak, the more your new habit will become an automatic part of your day. Plus, it feels good to swipe it off your list for the morning.
10. Keep your expectations realistic and your plans flexible.
Don't expect massive shifts or breakthroughs in your life as a result of journaling. That's not the goal.
The most lasting changes happen more slowly. Documenting those changes in a journal gives you something to celebrate and be grateful for.
Things rarely go exactly to plan. Keep that in mind as you make your plans and devise strategies for carrying them out.
Storms will come, and you need to remember that the more flexible you are, the less damage you'll suffer when forces beyond your control threaten your progress.
11. Remember the takeaways.
Takeaway #1: Ultimately, your future self depends on your present self, which is the one writing the journal entries.
Takeaway #2: Words, both spoken and written, are powerful. Use them wisely. Your journal should be a place where you practice being impeccable with your word.
Just imagine reading over your journal entries a year, three years, five years, or more into the future. Which of your present goals, actions, and ideas will you be grateful for then?
How Can I Develop My Future Self?
To develop your future self, you need to have a better understanding of who you are in the present, along with where you want to be. You can even use a future self app or website to send messages to yourself.
And if you're wondering, “What should I say to my future self?” here are few ideas:
- Present concerns and how you plan to address them
- Your current goals and actions you're taking to meet them
- How you see yourself and where you want to be a year from now
- Your daily routine and new habits you're proud of
- Changes you want to make and how you'll make them
In short, think about the life you want and describe it as vividly as you can. This is something you'll do on your own time, anyway. Resist the urge to self-edit.
Are you ready to start future self journaling?
Now that you know what a future self journal is and how to get started on one, what will you do this week to build this habit?
Are your fingers itching to start your first future self journal entry? After all, who doesn't love a valid excuse to daydream for a bit?
Writing in a journal legitimizes your biggest dreams (not that you need that). It also gives you a chance to test drive a dream future scenario.
Why not start by sending a thoughtful message to your future self?