What would you say to your future self?

Welcome back and merry Christmas. Deana Watson just sent me an IM with a link to an article titled Web Sites Let Users Send E-Mail to Future . If you could send an email to your future self 1 year from today, what message would you send? What message would you send to your future self in 5 years? 20 years?

Whatever your message, you can send it to your future self via futureme.org. As the New Year approaches, and we think about who we’ve been in times past and the people we want to become, try this exercise: what email message would you send not only to yourself but to those you love? Your spouse or your kids?

What do you think?

into the mystic…

Alex McManus

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20 thoughts on “What would you say to your future self?

  1. My first thought in reading this article was “I wonder if I’ll have the same email address 5 years from now?”.

    Then as I thought through 5 years from now…Max will be 7…Abbey 12…will we still be here…will we be doing something different…will Max be walking and talking…will I have my Chai House…will Steve be working for the same company??????

    This is the time Steve always thinks in…5 years from now…he’s always thinking ahead and dreaming. Thinking ahead makes me dizzy! It takes a bit more for me to think ahead when there is so much to do today.

    So even after reading this article and thinking about it…I don’t think I can send an email to myself for the future…life has thrown way too many surprises in the past 5 years to expect that anything I forsee will be reality in the next 5 years.

  2. I’m going to that website to see if I can fool it into sending email to my oldest son (for whom I’ve just opened a separate email account), scheduled to arrive a couple of weeks before his 13th birthday.

    If it lets me, I’ll tell him I have been looking forward to his Rite of Passage for years, and “now” near the end of 2005 I am planning it in earnest. I don’t know if my plans will come off well, or at all: “a man plans his way but the Lord directs his steps”, and that bit in James about not bragging about going here and there and doing this or that someday, for who knows what the future holds? But it is enough to know Who holds the future (most of you saw that one coming), and to know that He loves you, son, very much.

    And so do I.

    Okay, off to see if futureme will let me carry out THIS little plan.

  3. …it works, but you can’t leave a “from” email address. Futureme.org is the sender. That’s okay though. I simply signed it “Dad”.

    Interesting to think, I’ve just sent a missive I can’t retract, to a target I must trust will still be valid later, and it will take years to arrive… through the near-instantaneous medium of cyberspace! Hmmm…

  4. Alex.

    Thanks for the last IMN letter. I enjoyed the following words: “The first step a leader must take, then, is to ask this question: Have I received the gospel in such a way that I MUST share it? Am I becoming the kind of person that if you got close to me, really close, you would discover that for some unexplainable reason, I care about people I don’t know, and hope that in some way I might be able to share with them what Christ has given to me.”

    I guess that is the important part, constant personal transformation, that leads to missional activity!

    Merry Christmas to you guys in the US!!!

  5. I like the idea. Its very similiar to a thing I have seen done with a couple mens groups. Basically they write two letters. One to their wife or if not married some other special person in their life and tell them why or how they have impacted them. The second is written to themselves that is mailed 6 month later. It outlines some of the things they committed to in the meeting. I remember when I got my 6 month letter, I had actually forgotten it was going to come. It was a great reminder and check point for me.

  6. it would be so much cooler if my ‘future self’ could send my ‘present self’ a message…

    i went to a small group once where the leader had everyone write letters to themselves with things they were learning and might need to remember for some self-encouragement down the road. we placed them in self-addressed envelopes and sealed them, giving the envelopes to the leader. then the leader prayed over each letter, mailing them to us as he sensed a need. it was kinda cool. this idea reminds me of that one. of course the trick is who knows what email address i’ll be using in 5 years. 🙂

  7. Hermann, I’m glad you enjoyed the newsletter. Merry Christmas to all of you in South Africa.

    Brian, You and Candyce have already had the experience of sending messages to your future selves. Did writing that letter shape your future selves in any way?

    Nic, “rites of passage” —way to be a forward looking dad.

  8. I wish I could send letters to the me I was five years ago! Or even six months ago. So many things I had to learn the hard way. But then, perhaps it is the pain and despair that make the eventual discovery of beauty and joy so poignant. Perhaps I would not have truly learned and grown, had I not done so the hrad way? And really, all I could have told myself was to have faith, and keep on hanging on.

    By the way, for those who keep up, I just got a job…a real job…doing what I’m good at, with a non-profit that does family and community development work with residents of an extremely under-resourced part of Cincinnati. And not a month too soon, as I was about to become under-resourced myself. 😉 So, to the past me, the current me, and the future me, hang in there. Jehoveh Jireh; the Lord will Provide.

  9. I actually had a high school english teacher who had us write a letter to our future selves when we were sophomores. He sent them ten years later – what a revelation! It was amazing to see how I’d grown in that time, to see how my concerns and priorities had changed. I’m sure a similar thing would happen again this time, if I can hang on to the email address long enough to make it happen…

    Keith

  10. Wow…what to say…I think I would aim for something encouraging, something offering hope in case 5 years from now I am in challenging times. It would be good to encourage myself in areas I currently struggle in… not to lose focus, to seek a group, focus on my stengths, never stop taking risks… It’s hard considering that I don’t even know what life will look like 10 months from now…

  11. It was a great thing for me. You know sitting at a retreat, listening to a great speaker/teacher, then sharing time with other guys in the same life stage I was in. Well… at the retreat it was easy to see the things I wanted to change… it was easy to be all charged up and ready to change my world…

    But of course as we all know, that doesn’t always last once the ups and downs of real life begin to interfere with “the plan” So for me, receiving the letter from myself really helped me see how I had taken for granted some things that I truly valued but had let sort of coast.

    I imagine a letter 5 years down the road would be much like going back to an old journal and discovering a glimpse of time captured from your life.

  12. alex, thanks for asking… 🙂

    in the case i mentioned, it was a matter of weeks between the time i wrote the letter and the time i received it. so it didn’t really ‘shape’ me in a clearly discernible way, but i did end up getting the letter at a time when i really could use the self-directed pep talk. 🙂 it was encouraging. prayer works. who knew? 🙂

    i just remembered now that my eighth grade english teacher had our class do something similar, where the letters were mailed to us as high school seniors. receiving that back was such a funny experience, reading the words of a much younger self, remembering how i used to be. i have the same experience when i go back and read old diary/journal entries from that time (seriously, folks, guaranteed entertainment!). perspective can be humorous. it can also be healing (at times, like csi or house for the soul). i love reading old stuff i’ve written, just to see those experiences through the lens of hindsight.

    if i wrote a letter now, it would probably be something similar to what lori wrote, something reminding me to hold out for the dreams God’s written on my heart, to continue offering beauty, to never really settle down. i wonder what my reaction would be upon receiving such a letter. maybe it’s more useful to have the letter in a place where it will be seen daily. the thought of forgetting vision in 5 years and needing a letter to remind me is a bit scary.

  13. Alex- you so gotta get a hold of Raphael Giglio’s song “Future Me.” Raphael co-pastors with Michael W. Smith at New River Fellowship outside Nashville [Raphael and I grew up in the same neighborhood in Jersey]. This song is about an old guy who travels back in time to have a conversation with his younger self. You would love the song.

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