Future Self Journaling – Guide to Collecting Your Thoughts

If you could talk to yourself 5, 10, 50 years in the future, what would you want to ask them? Would you ask if they were successful, or happy, or in love? Future Self journaling is doing exactly that. It’s imagining yourself in the future and setting the foundation for making that perfect future happen. 

Future self journaling is writing journal entries as if you are able to talk to yourself in the future. In general, it can help you to achieve your goals, practice better/healthier habits, and have a higher self esteem. It’s easy to get started and you can begin today.

Many people are getting more into structured forms of journaling such as bullet journaling and mindfulness journaling. Future self journaling is just one of many paths you can take on your journaling journey and it’s pretty easy to get started.  

What Is Future Self Journaling?

Future self journaling is a form of journaling about who you are and where you are at the current moment with an emphasis placed on your future self. Though you still write about your current experiences such as things you’re thankful for and habits you would like to change, you’re writing with how you’d like your life to look in the future in mind. You can write down goals and accomplishments you’d like to make and possible routes to get there. 

Future self journaling requires you to take a deep look within yourself to set goals that will help you develop into the person you want to be. You imagine what it might be like to have accomplished those goals and think about the challenges that may get you there. Future self journaling is a positive tool that can help you lead a more fulfilling life.

Journal with assorted writing pens - Future Self Journaling - Gone Minimal
Journal with assorted writing pens

Benefits of Future Self Journaling

There are many benefits to future self journaling. Reflective journaling in general has many noted benefits on mental and even physical health. Future self journaling has benefits on top of those that come with reflective journaling. You build habits to appreciate delayed gratification rather than immediate gratification which can help with saving money, eating healthy, and spending habits. By keeping your future self in mind, you also build better decision making skills.

Similarly, your problem solving improves when you are thinking several steps into the future. Journaling with an ideal future self in mind can also help you to get really excited about the future- planning out goals and achievements can make the future much less intimidating and unknown. 

How to Start Future Self Journaling

Many Sites offer templates for future self journaling, but one good place to start is knowing there is no wrong way to do it. The next step is to carve out a chunk of time to do your journaling every day. Some people write best first thing in the morning after they’ve woken up, some journal best right before bed. Find out what time works best for you and pen it into your schedule.

When you start journaling it helps to start each entry by listing all that you’re grateful for at the moment and what you hope to be grateful for in the future. You can make a list of habits you’d like to change or work on, a list of goals with a focus on one at a time. When doing these writings, try to focus on things you can control over what you cannot and try to do some writing every single day. 

Grateful sign - Future Self Journaling - Gone Minimal
Grateful sign

Some Future Self Journaling Prompts

Luckily with formatted journaling like this, many prompts for what to write have already been thought up. There are many sites that have a list of prompts for this kind of journaling, and some that even have printable templates that you can print and paste right into your book. One you get the hang of writing to these prompts, you can eventually start thinking of your own, and even share them online in blogs or on social media to help other people with their journaling endeavors. 

Some prompts to start with include:

  • What I’m grateful for today
  • Things I have accomplished today that I am proud of
  • One habit I would like to change and how it will benefit your future self. 
  • What kind of goals and projects will get me to the future self I’m imagining
  • What would my future self choose in this situation
  • What encouragement and love would your future self give to your current self if they could?

Helpful Future Self Journaling Insights

When getting started in journaling, it can help to understand a little more about the approach, options, and benefits. Let’s explore more below to provide more insight into what we can think about and how to get the most benefit out of this practice.

Why Should You Keep a Future Journal?

Future journaling helps your goals get feet. Rather than sitting home thinking “I wish I did this, I hope someday I…” you start mapping out the path to those goals from a time in which you’ve already accomplished them.

Think of future self journaling as having a conversation with you in the future. What decisions would your future self need your current self to make in order to achieve their goals? Once you can imagine the goals already achieved, it becomes more clear to understand what you need to do to make them happen.

In addition to helping you to get started on your long term goals, it can be motivating for everyday goals as well. Say you imagine your future self being able to do a handstand, with that goal in mind you can start figuring out what can be done today to make that happen.

Or perhaps you imagine your future self eating really healthily, well you can start with breakfast tomorrow morning on that goal. Knowing what your future goals are can help you to figure out the small steps you need to take now to achieve them.

How Do I See My Future Self?

It can be awkward at first to try to connect with your future self but once you get the hang of it, over time it will become more and more natural. Start with journaling to your future self as if they are a pen pal. You can also try journaling from the perspective of your future self.

Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they would say. If this is still a struggle, write to your past self. Tell your past self about all the goals you have accomplished, everything you’re grateful for and all the decisions you wish they would have made and how it would affect you now.

Now you understand how your future self will talk to your current self because you know how your current self talks to your past self. Also don’t write with wishful terms. No “I hope in 5 years I have a promotion.” write as if it has already happened “I finally got that promotion I worked toward and here’s what helped!”

Here is a helpful video that dives into how to Future Self Journal:

How Do You Connect With Your Future Self?

Start with a letter! The future can be intimidating and your future self can seem imaginary, but if you can personify them for yourself it can help with that connection. So an effective place to start is by writing a letter to your future self. Tell them about what’s going on right now, something you did today that you’re proud of, things you’d like to do.

Tell the future you all about the current you as if you are two different people beginning a friendship. You don’t have to do this but I recommend keeping this letter, hiding it away and reading it in the future. Your future self is not a stranger, but they do more about you than you know about them.

Luckily, you get to create the future you, and building a relationship with this future version of yourself can help you work together with this idealized future self. 

Should I Journal Every Day?

Yes! Practice makes perfect and habits take time to build. If at first journaling everyday feels unnatural, give it time. It takes about 2 months for something to become a habit in your life so it will take a couple months before you write on autopilot.

Something that can help is deciding when you can best write, morning, afternoon, or night, and setting an alarm and a timer so you have to start writing at a certain time every day and you have to write for 20 minutes. Chances are, you’ll write for much longer than 20 minutes but giving yourself a set time limit to write can make it feel less intimidating.

Future Self Journaling Topics – From Real People

I asked 10 family and friends if they can share some of the most important personal topics for them, and I learned some interesting things about what they would value doing future self journaling on. Here is what they shared:

Material Thing# of People
Physical health6
Mental health7
Creative endeavors4

Other Resources:

When we talk to our future self, like with this kind of journaling, we tend to picture an idealized version of ourselves. We picture what we want our life to look like as if we know for a fact that that’s what will be. In doing so, we begin to realize what foundations we need to set now in order to achieve that future self that you want. If you find yourself saying things like “I hope you asked for that promotion” or “I hope you and _____ finally broke up for good.” you can begin making those things happen. 

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