New Year’s Letters (2020 Edition)
How writing a letter to yourself can help you recalibrate before the end of the year
Every year for the past few years, at the end of September, I set a small challenge. Here’s how it works:
Before October 1st, handwrite a letter to yourself that you will open on January 1st. The letter is due by the end of day on October 1st. Seal it in an envelope and keep it somewhere safe.
The challenge is a way to pause and recalibrate before the fast pace of fall and winter activities. And there’s something special about opening a letter on the first day of a new year.
I just looked back at the letter I wrote last year. I wrote about my travels, relationships, health, favorite projects, the moments I struggled, and hopes for the coming year. I ended with a simple admonition, “You know how to keep building. Just slow down a bit.”
There’s power in traditions like this, even if they are self-made. They become life’s mile markers showing us where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.
I’m asking you to join me again — to pause long enough to check in with yourself. With everything that’s happened in 2020, I’m sure there will be a lot to write about.
A few guidelines:
- Schedule time to write the letter between now and Monday. 30–60 minutes should do.
- Handwrite the letter. Get off your computer/phone. Grab a pen and piece of paper. Handwritten letters are always more fun, especially when it’s your own handwriting.
- Place your letter in an envelope. On the front of the envelope, write Dear (insert your name). And the words “Do not open until January 1st, 2021.”
What to write about
There are no limitations here. The audience is you. Here are a few questions to help you begin:
- What do you want to remember about your year thus far?
- What have you seen?
- Who have you met?
- How have you changed?
- What do you wish were different?
- What have you celebrated recently?
- Where do you hope to be this time next year?
Compile all of those memories, thoughts, and bits of wisdom before the year speeds to an end. Use the first fresh days of fall to capture important words before the rest of the news cycle and the chaos of the year bangs on your door. Then, as you start 2021, you’ll have your own words as clues and guides for your next step.
Sign Up For A Reminder
So go on, schedule those 30 minutes, turn everything off, and write that letter. I’ll be doing this with you.