Mental Wellness Challenge – The Last One
Last week I challenged you to examine your day to day life and identify what kinds of stress you carry and where you carry it – along with working towards some means of relieving that stress, I challenged you to read the letter you wrote to “Yourself from 10 years ago” and to soak up the love and kindness that you wrote to yourself and lastly I challenged you to take 20 or 30 minutes of exercise every other day. I really hope that you were able to recognize benefits from those challenges.
This week I am going to challenge you to write a letter to “Yourself of a year (or 5 or 10) from now”. This letter can be as simple as a card “Thinking about you…” with some sincere thoughts for that person of the future or it can be a multi-pager… Totally up to you.
In your letter, perhaps tell the future you where you’re at in your circumstance, maybe what troubles you are having. You might want to tell the future you what stresses you, what things in your life you are anxious about or maybe write about something you are proud of. You might want to ask questions about how the future you is doing – where “they” are. Maybe you want to share “where you went wrong” or “what you regret”. Share some hopes and dreams you have for them. You might even want to list out some specific goals. There’s really no set format here… the goal is to look forward, to think a little about what you want for that future you, what words of kindness and encouragement you can share with that person.
Some of the reasons you are doing this little exercise are to: build a future vision for yourself, identify things in your current situation you are grateful for, create a memory or two for yourself that you can put into your smile box, put “memories” on paper that you can read a year or more from now to be more aware of your life’s path, grow additional self awareness and really – perform an intentional act of kindness for yourself.
Take an envelope, address it to yourself, put a stamp on it and then give it to someone you trust to put it in the mail for you – a year, 2 years, 5 years or so from now.
I did this exercise as part of a program I participated in years ago called “Excellence”. The first was “The pursuit of excellence”, second was “The Wall” and the third of five was “The advancement of excellence”. These three parts of the program were empowering and in some ways – life changing. The letter exercise was done in the third part.
When I got my letter 2 years after I wrote it I was so amazed! Amazed at where I come from, where I was currently at now and how sincerely appreciative I was of the thought I had put into my letter. You see, I was stuck in the rut of living in the “yesterday” of my life. I was in a place in my life where I wasn’t even living in the moment – I was building my future based on where I had been – not where I dreamed of being. Unfortunately, I don’t even remember where that letter is anymore. I didn’t have a “smile box” to put it in and it eventually got lost in piles of papers. The “clutter” of my life… But perhaps that’s another challenge.
I know that I get stuck in places where my circumstances define me, I focus on the “crap” I’m stuck in or battling and I lose sight of tomorrow. I don’t apply the “Don’t sweat the small stuff – AND ITS ALL SMALL STUFF” mindset. Writing the letter helps me to get out of the rut and start moving forward. Sure, I am still covered in the muck that I am walking in, but the letter helps me to look ahead – to set a goal or two for tomorrow.
The other thing I really recall from my experience writing the letter to myself is the truth that “Things WILL be better tomorrow if you let them be.” I grew much more than I ever thought I would have in the time between writing and reading my letter to myself. Some of my letter was dark, almost scary when I read it. Reading the letter, realizing that I walked through the dark stuff and made it out the other side better for the journey, helped me to know that I am resilient!
My letter was LONG. Multi pager… (who da thunk eh..) The piece of the whole thing that I identify the most is LOVE. Love for my kids, love for my wife, love for my family and friends and yes, love for myself. Even though I didn’t specifically write those words, the things I did write demonstrated that I mattered to me.
So – I challenge you to write a letter to “Yourself a year from now”. Put time and thought into your letter, and then give it to someone you trust will mail it for you. This challenge goes to intention, purpose, action, awareness, values, commitment, connections, and supports in my wellness model.
See you in the fall.