Future Self Journaling – 15 Practical Techniques to Catapult Your Results

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Future self journaling involves a practice whereby one imagines her ideal future and writes about it in depth. This visualization practice is a powerful way to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and to attune to the special future you want to manifest. This post covers how to get started, what it entails and the best techniques so you can maximize your results.

future self journaling

What is Future-Self Journaling?

What is future self journaling, you may ask? Future-self journaling is a practice where you use your imagination to think deeply and creatively about your future life. You may ask yourself certain questions to help prompt your imagination or you may be already able to visualize where you want to be and are doing the work of processing it further.

As a practice, future-self journaling can help you assess where you are in the current state of affairs. As humans, we have the distinct advantage over other creatures in that we are able to project out into the future. This ability to visualize, prophesize and ponder different realities is a unique skill that we can hone into much further than most people regularly do.

If you think you’re too busy to self-reflect in such a way, just remember that the quality of your life now may not be the same in the future, and for better or for worse, doing a little thinking about things is a way to manage your moments and ultimately your life. From a business point of view, future self-journaling is akin to strategic development or having a contingency plan. It helps one to develop resilience in case things don’t turn out as planned. More positively, it helps you maximize all of your current resources so that you live in your ideal way down the road.

Recap:

  • Future self-journaling is a process by which you envision your ideal future.
  • Future self journaling is also a means by which you can dynamically review your life as it sits now and use the beautiful resources at your disposal to take steps to live the life you envision.
  • Future self journaling is a process that involves deep thinking, practicality and humble self-assessment. The business environment does this all the time even if most businesses don’t call it future self journaling.

My Beginnings with Future-Self Journaling

As an avid journalist throughout my childhood, I’m the first to recommend journaling even though I went through a period of time where I loathed to journal. Let’s unpack that.

I remember getting my first journal as a child around the age of 8 or 9 and I was so excited to write in it. It was a space just for me to write down my own private thoughts about life and I kept a near daily log of the prominent events in my life at the time. Usually they involved my pet, sibling, family or activities I was involved in.

Later in my college years I began to have possibilities journals and logged both current thoughts/feelings along with plans that I thought would be cool to fulfill. I created my first bucket list and began to take steps towards those goals. I attribute that growth in part to the focused inner work I was doing at the time.

I also attribute the time I did not journal actively as a time where I didn’t experience as much growth. It may sound simple, but looking back, even when my journal began to sound monotonous because I was struggling with getting a problem resolved, eventually they all got resolved because I problem-solved my way through. Writing helped.

I find that the more practice I get with future self journaling, the easier it gets. It can be daunting at first, or even overwhelming depending upon your thought processes and life situations. Future self journaling can test your ability to think in the future. Not everyone is comfortable being a future-oriented thinking. Some are content to float day to day, and that is most comfortable. Sometimes it stretches us out of our comfort zones as is the case when we are simply too busy to process anything other than the current status quo.

But I attribute a lot of personal growth to paying attention to the details of my life now, and know that life becomes much more manageable once the details are under my watchful gaze.

What are Other Types of Journaling?

Future self journaling isn’t the only type of journaling.

There is free-style journaling whereby you might just write what comes to mind, such as your thoughts or feelings about what you did today. Or, you simply might write what you did today as a practice in remembering and gratitude.

There is bullet journaling where you may have your entire schedule mapped out into a beautifully crafted journal. These can include daily planners, tasks, goals, habit trackers, and the like. They can be helpful in implementing the vision crafted in your future self journaling practice.

Scrapbooking is a picture form of journaling where you might catalog a particular memory or event with visual images.

I would even consider vision boards to be a visual form of journaling. They are like future self journaling visualizations, in my mind.

Fiction writing and other story-telling could be thought of as creative expressions that have given meaning to ones journaling experience. They could be thought of as divergent thinking as a means to extrapolate other ideas and themes captured in daily life.

Remember those pre-historic cave drawings, the ones about 40,000 years old? It seems that even our pre-historic ancestors had an interest in capturing the important and noteworthy details of life in a written or drawn form. Perhaps self-expression is a need written into our very souls.

What are the Benefits of Future Self Journaling?

There are tons of benefits of future-self journaling. Let’s jump into some of the reasons!

1-Humility

When you start your own practice of future-self journaling, you must honestly assess where you are NOW, and that requires seeing things as they are. This is what humility is – an honest assessment of what is true. (False humility tends to protest the truth too much, on the contrary). What a gift to be totally and completely honest with yourself as you start a future self journaling practice that focuses on where you want to head NEXT.

Some would call humility “self-awareness” and the two terms are related.

2-Creativity

The process of thinking in divergent or convergent methods leads to other paths or paths not yet created. When you practice future self journaling your mind will either wander in one or both of these directions on its own, such as if you practice this type of thinking because you are a creative thinker or have practice with it, or you can teach it to think more creatively.

This will boost your problem solving skills. Read more in the Techniques section below.

3-Personal Development

Future self journaling and personal development go hand-in-hand. To have a vision of your future self and NOT take actions steps to achieve your vision involves a form of despair. Unfortunately, this is common, but there is another way. Have hope if your abilities and in God’s plan for your life. If you keep going, eventually the two plans will collide. 🙂 If you have been given hopes and dreams, then your mission is to reach them, or at least start down the path.

By developing personally, learning new things, taking initiative, asking for help are tasks you will learn along the way that will catapult you out of your comfort zone.

4-Increase Confidence

Future self journaling could give your confidence, as you think in new ways and develop new mindsets. Though, what will really give you confidence is the trial and error process of developing into the kind of person who reaches her goals. Once you see the first glimmers of change, your confidence will soar and you will be ready for more.

5-A Starting Point of Accountability

By writing things down on the regular you will begin to hold yourself accountable to your progress from your starting point. More on this below. This type of accountability will help you make better choices that support your ideal future self as opposed to hinder you.

6-Self-Expression

Self-expression is a human need that journaling can help in part fill. Self-expression can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression.

How to do Future Self Journaling? Maximize Your Experience.

If your are asking, “how do I start my future self journaling?” or “what do you write in a self growth journal?” you’re in the right place. In this section, we’ll cover some of the techniques that will get you going on the right path in no time.

1-Practice Free Style Journaling to Get Started

As we covered earlier, free style journaling can be a good way to do a brain dump and just get out what is on your mind. If you don’t have anything on your mind, it can be a way to help getting your mind flowing and prepare for deeper thinking.

If you have a lot to get out with this form of journaling, just write until you feel ready for future self journaling time.

2-Create an Intention to Practice Future Self Journaling Regularly

By getting into a habit, you won’t have to have a massive brain dump (or be numb to expression) when you sit down to journal. Instead, you will allow your mind to begin processing this new habit. Committing to a practice will help with processing time, thinking, making observations and having a space to share your new insights.

3-Assess Your Current Life (flywheel)

Tools such as the Life Flywheel can be a helpful starting off point when starting to journal in this way. It will help you assess 8-9 areas of your life. I share this free tool in this post on living an ordered life.

Here it is, too.

4-Use the FlyWheel to Design Your Life

After you assess your life as it is currently, use another blank template to write in what your idea life would include. Make a note in the Who, What, Where but not necessarily the When or the How. Make a note using your 5 senses what you See, Taste, Touch, Feel and Hear.

5-Focus on What Feels Manageable

Do you want to journal about one particular area of your life that you want to change or see differently in your heart? Great! Start there. Are you at a place where you feel called to doing a general life assessment? Then go into as much depth in each area as you would like.

6-Enhance Divergent Thinking by Making Lists of Possibilities

The power of this type of journaling helps you assess where you are now, future risks, benefits, negatives and abilities you will need along the journey. As life sometimes makes a mess out of our plans, by thinking many scenarios you will enhance your divergent thinking and enhance your creativity.

Maybe you have one scenario that you would just be over the moon to have in your life. Divergent thinking would have your make a few other options that you would also be over the moon about. This helps to not be attached to one outcome and to focus on the process.

7-Feel Your Feelings

Its helpful during these exercises to pay attention to your feelings as you write, process and try on new modes of living. And don’t let your feelings be mini dictators. Notice but don’t always blindly obey.

8-Practice Privacy for Yourself

Imagine that your future self plan as a small egg, with a fragile shell at first. As a broody momma chicken, guard your precious dreams until they are strong enough to hatch. They will still be small and in need of nurturing, but a small breath of negativity won’t be enough to crush them anymore.

9-Ritualize Journal Time

In addition to practicing this type of journaling regularly, create rituals around the activity. Set a time of day to do your journaling, such as the morning or evening. Use a similar space every time, like a private space that feels cozy or even a coffee shop (if you can go deep there).

10-Create Space with Journal Prompts

Sometimes, with journaling, we tend to write the same thing over and over without realizing it. By using journal prompts, you actually create additional space to think new thoughts and not get super attached the the same old same old. If you are someone that gets bored journaling, perhaps new prompts would feel more interesting.

11-Change Your Plans

A woman is always able to change her mind. While you don’t want to be super flaky about your dreams and commitments, it’s ok to be non committal until you are ready. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you could do today, but don’t take the bread out of the oven until it’s fully baked. The value is in the mean (not the extreme, usually).

12-Practice Living ‘As If’

Try out your plans for size now. Imagine you are living the life you want NOW. Does it still feel as exciting, or even more exciting? What about if it doesn’t feel like you after all. Get comfortable trying on your dreams for size to see if they are the right fit. Simply move on to something else if something notable catches your eye.

13-Commit When Ready

Like any good relationship, you don’t want to rush into things. Take your time getting to know your thoughts, feelings, dreams and aspirations. Try them on for size. Sit with them for a few weeks. Be open to other opportunities that may come your way. And, when you are ready, commit to your future self.

14-Use a Word of the Day for Inspiration

Using a word of the day or a word of the month can capture where you feel inspired to head next. One year, my word was nestle. That year I had some health issues and trust me, I did my fair share of nestling and got really comfortable with it. The word helped remind me that rest was an important aspect for my circumstances that year and it was ok to just be and rest.

15-Use a 30-Day Challenge for Inspiration

A 30-day challenge will certainly help you stick with your new or old habit of journaling! This is the template I use on a daily basis to keep track of my daily rituals and goals.

What Should I Write About?

If you are asking “What should I write in my future journal?” then I have some resources for you. Make sure to download your free Life Flywheel which lists 8 topics to address that affect every area of your life.

Do you have any areas of your life that you desire growth in?

Are there any areas that you are curious about changing?

Are you unsatisfied with a certain aspect of your life?

How would life be different if xyz occurred? How would I manage that?

What would happen if I took that job/course/proposal/house?

Let these be guiding points for you on your journey. If you are already contented in your life, don’t forget that getting too complacent can lead to regret later on in life. So, may address if you feel hopeless about making a change or if you are truly living your dream life. (Also, sometimes God will up and ‘move your cheese’ to get your attention :-)).

Future Self Journaling Examples

You can begin to see the dreams that others have and examples of things that might be included in your own aspirations – such as be a successful career woman, get married, have a family, travel, have a peak life experience. This form of journaling will help you imagine and lead with confidence in your next step.

When you’re ready to begin implementing steps to reach your dreams, check my post on managing your time optimally with time blocking.

Conclusion

If you stuck with me this far, congratulations! You are well on your way to future growth and development. Share anything you’d like in the comments below about your journey with trying on various future lives. Blessings!

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