This was an exercise I learned from a great coach I had the luck to work with as part of a class during my MBA. Robyn and I have kept up with it every year or two since then. Here are the instructions. You could do it by yourself, but Robyn and I dedicate an hour or so and do the exercise together.
Letter from the Future: Instructions
Get a few pieces of paper and a good pen.
Find a comfortable place to sit, and try to eliminate distractions like TV, music, etc.
Get a watch / timer
Write the date at the top of the page that is five years in the future. So if today’s date is January 1, 2019, write the date as January 1, 2024.
You don’t have to do 5 years exactly, but the point is to choose a date a few years into the future.
Set a timer
You’re going to go hard, so try for at least 15 or 20 minutes. Robyn and I find that we extend the time to 25-35 minutes most of the time we do this.
Write a letter to yourself about the life you are living in 5 years
Rule - don’t ever let your pen stop moving for the whole time. If you can’t think of what to say, just scribble until your brain kicks in with a new idea
Rule - be very specific. If you’re at your desk drinking coffee talk about what kind of coffee. If you’re talking about a new job that you just got, talk about the name of the company and your specific duties. If you just came in from playing in the backyard with kids, be specific about what you were doing. The point of this exercise is to have a vivid image of what your life is like 5 years from now.
Rule - Talk about whatever you want, but try to give a full picture of life. Not just family, not just work, not just leisure, etc.
Rule - Write until the clock stops
Talk about your vision with someone you care about. For me, it’s Robyn. If you’re not married you can still do the exercise. Be sure to share it with someone, if you feel comfortable, that really knows you and can ask you probing questions.
Do something fun, you’ve earned it!