Every January, we all get a blank slate of twelve new months ahead – which is why so many people come up with resolutions as a form of goal-setting for the year. While this can he helpful, it can also lead to setting unrealistic expectations, disappointments, stress, and anxiety. So rather than coming up with a lo--o-o-o-ng list of do's and don'ts for yourself, try something simpler and heartfelt: write yourself a letter.
I’ve been writing a letter to myself every year around January 1st since I was in middle school. Here's three of the biggest reasons I've kept at it, and why you should start your own letter-to-self tradition:
1. It’s a fun tradition to do alone
What started as a silly tradition my friends and I did together has grown into a moment I cherish with myself. New Year’s Eve and day can be long, loud and busy–so I enjoy setting aside some time on one of those days to just be with myself and reflect on my past year. First I read the letter I wrote myself last year and then I write one to my future self.
When you write the letter to yourself, you don’t need to share it with anyone else, so you can write something honest because you know you’re the only one who will see it. When I was a kid, I used to write about my secret crushes or the classes I wanted to take in high school. Now, I reflect on what I did in the past year and what I hope my future self will find happiness in when reading the letter a year from now.
You don’t need to spend the whole day doing this and though you could do a letter writing party with all your friends, I personally think this tradition is better spent alone. You’re already going out and celebrating with friends and family – so this is the time to celebrate with you and prepare for the year ahead without any added noise.
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2. You don’t have to think about it all year
Part of why some people don’t like to set New Year’s resolutions is because they will think about them all year. Most people set tough goals that they likely won’t accomplish–so when they think about that all year, it ends up bringing them down because they feel like they’re falling behind, thus, they set themselves up for failure!
That’s not a good way to both start the year. By writing a letter to yourself, you might think about it for a day or two after, but if you store it away in a closet or notebook, you’ll quickly forget about it – which makes for a nice surprise next year, when you sit down to re-read it.
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3. You'll actively see how you’ve changed in a year
Some people enjoy setting New Year’s resolutions because they like ticking off boxes or striking through goals as they accomplish them. But when you write a letter to yourself, you can see a lot about how you’ve changed just by reading your own words. You might notice a change in your vocabulary or that you sounded happier or sadder in the letter. You can read about your thoughts from a year ago – the people that were on your mind, what your mental health state was like, and how you were envisioning your future.
Those words from yourself will tell you a whole lot more about who you were then and who you are now.
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So what do you think? Will you give it a try?