Take your journaling to the next level with future self journaling. You’ve probably always heard “words have power” and “writing is powerful,” but how does writing and journaling actually benefit your current and future self?
Dr. Diana Raab suggests journaling can benefit you by:
- Allowing for emotional release
- Building for self-discovery
- Encouraging gratitude expression
- Helping you find light during a dark time
- Discovering inspiration to change
However, not all journaling is the same. In fact, different journaling methods have different benefits. The type of journaling we’re talking about here is future self journaling. Dr. Nicole LePera explains explains the value of this type of journaling:
“Future self journaling works because it creates conscious awareness around your behaviors and patterns. For many of us, this exercise is the first (and only time) we’ve done this.”
The goal of future-self journaling is to identify behaviors and aspects of your life that you want to change—and then use writing as a tool to get intentional about making that happen. Use these tips, ideas and strategies to try future self journaling today.
Decide What You Want to Change
Before you can begin writing about what you want to change, you need to identify that thing. The goal is getting specific. If you want to buy your first home, you might want to change your spending habits or your budgeting skills. The first step in future self journaling is figuring this out so you can intentionally move toward that.
In choosing what you want to change, focus just on one. Where focus goes, energy flows. If you give your energy to too many changes, you’ll struggle to make any of them happen. If you know you want to make a change, but you’re not sure what to focus on, use these prompts as a starting point:
- What does my ideal day look like? What do I need to change to make that happen?
- What challenge or frustration comes up again and again?
- What is my deepest desire and what needs to change to create that for myself?
Bring the Future Into the Present
It’s not enough to know what you want to change. That’s why you use future self journaling to cement those desires into place and start bringing them into reality. One powerful strategy when using future self journaling is writing in the present tense.
A study done by the National Institute of Health explains that your brain has a hard time discerning what has already happened and what is a projection of the future. As such, Dr. Deepak Chopra, when you write in the present tense and create a mental image, you and your brain are working together to make your goals a reality.
With this in mind, use these prompts to shift into the present, as if the change you desire has already happened.
- I am so happy to be _______________________________.
- I feel so light and free because ________________________.
- I am so grateful for __________________________________.
- I am so proud of myself for ____________________________.
Recognize the Resistance
When doing something new and life changing, resistance often flares up. As Stephen Pressfield explains: “The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
If this term is new to you, resistance is exactly what it sounds like: “the attempt to prevent something by action or argument,” according to the Oxford dictionary. It can show up in many ways, as fear and self-doubt that keeps you from believing in yourself or distractions that keep you from taking action.
The key to fighting this resistance during future self journaling is by noticing it, asking questions, and getting clear on what exactly is standing in your way.
Here are some prompts to dig into resistance so you can push past and start moving toward what you want to change:
- What fears do I have about making this change?
- What doubts do I have about making this change?
- Who says I can’t do it?
- What are three small steps I can take toward this change this week?
The goal is to see and identify the resistance and then determine a few small steps you can take so you can push past it.
Create Your Ideal Situation
No matter what you’re trying to change, there’s an ideal situation that can come as a result of making that change. Dr. LePera recommends writing how you’ll practice the new behaviors in your daily life and this is where you get a chance to do exactly that.
Grab your journal and get clear on exactly what that situation looks like, whether it’s a conversation with a loved one or a full day in your life. Use this as a chance to note only prepare for how you’ll bring this new change into your life, but to practice it too.
This can be a form of mental rehearsal, in which you retrain your mind and body without actually taking the action you’re preparing for. Dr. Joe Dispenza explains the power of doing this:
“If you mentally rehearse that unknown future with a clear intention and an elevated emotion, and do it repeatedly, then based on what you’ve learned, you should have real neuroplastic changes in your brain and epigenetic changes in your body.”
As Dr. Dispenza suggests, don’t just write what that future looks like for you—do it with intention and emotion. Feel it and see it as you write it.
The power of future self journaling doesn’t end when you put down the pen. To bring those changes into the present you need to take action. As Arnold Glasgow said “An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied.”
Now that you know what it feels like and looks like to make this change, and you are grateful that it’s already happened, it’s time to actively move toward it. Instead of setting goals that are too big—and set you up for failure—break them down. One way to do that is this simple method we recommend at Don’t Ask How:
The goal is to do one small thing everyday to get closer to where you want to go. Remember: Small steps are still forward momentum. Using this goal-setting method, you can start small and work your way up to the big change you want to make.
Use Future Self Journaling to Make a Change
To see real, life changing results from future self journaling, you have to do more than write down what you want to change and imagine what that change looks and feels like. You have to be willing to put in the work. You have to do the mindset work and the inner healing. More importantly, you have to show up for yourself everyday and believe that everything you desire is already yours. If you do, your future self will thank you!
Jessica Thiefels is a published author, host of Mindset Reset Radio, CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, and co-founder of Don’t Ask How. She's been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications including Forbes and Entrepreneur. Jessica is on a mission to empower women to make their own rules and live with intention so they wake up every day excited about the life they get to live. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.