For the last 10 years on New Year’s Day, I’ve written a letter to my future self with my goals for the year — to be opened on the following New Year’s Day. I always liked to surprise myself the next year and see if I had indeed accomplished all that I had envisioned for my life.
Klink was still alive when I began this and back then when I opened the letters to read — I found I was always disappointed. Our lives were full of uncertainty and chaos and the things that I wanted to do never came to fruition. Being a self-motivated and driven person, I really struggled with this. So one year I decided to make my goals smaller in order to reach them. But I found even those fell short. After a few years of this I decided to change my approach. Instead of setting goals that I knew would be difficult to reach, I would simply write a letter to myself as if I was a precious friend who I loved dearly. A friend who simply needed to know that whatever she did that year — was enough. I asked if she found happiness during the dark days, spent quality time with her friends, and took time for herself throughout all of the chaos. Nothing big or bold.
I told her that no matter what had happened, she had done her best.
This approached worked. It helped me to feel present with Klink and our lives together, and not resent him because I wasn’t able to do the things I wanted. It helped me feel as if I was still accomplishing something but there wasn’t any pressure attached.
It softened my life and allowed me to have hope that one day I could not only dream again, but actually be able to work towards those dreams.
In 2018 I wrote a letter to myself that was unlike any of the others. I had done the majority of my grieving the year before and decided it was time to have some goals again. I was able to look at the future with more optimism that I had in years and it felt as if anything was possible now. It was the first time in a very long time that I knew I had the chance to accomplish some new dreams and work towards my future and it exhilarated me. I remember thinking how odd that felt. For almost a decade I hadn’t been able to look ahead more than a week at a time and to think I could plan something to happen in six months or a year ahead was a completely foreign feeling to me.
But I got used to it.
Today, as I opened my 2020 letter, I knew in my heart what was inside. I am living everything that I had written to myself 365 days ago. The sale of my house, buying a teardrop, going on the road, meeting incredible people, seeing amazing places, sharing my stories, and experiencing life like I’ve never done before. It was all in the letter and I did it all. Everything I had dreamt about and wrote — I accomplished.
Some years our goals should be simple and easy. If there is an illness or some sort of chaos that is all-consuming it’s best to not put any added pressure on ourselves. Go a bit lighter, a bit slower. This gives us space to be big and bold another time. To take those softer years and build on them slowly so when the day comes to put our big dreams in motion, we can go full steam ahead.