One year ago, almost to the day, I started a small tradition called, New Year’s Letters. The challenge was simple:
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.
It was a way to pause and recalibrate before the quickening pace of the fall and winter activities.
I just looked back at my letter again. It was hard to read. Here’s how it started:
You’re writing this letter while on the mend from the toughest year you’ve had in a long time. Your dad was diagnosed with cancer, one of your biggest ideas didn’t work, and some of your closest relationships fell apart…
But I love reading how it ended:
Not only are you still standing, but you’re moving forward. You continue to ask meaningful questions, build solid communities, care for your family and friends, and creatively approach helping people launch into their next step.
Your questions won’t be answered in the next three months. But keep doing the small things well. Exercise. Sleep. Eat well. Write. Read. Reflect. Ask for help when needed. Call your family often. Be surprisingly generous. And focus on only a couple of important things each day.
Your answers will come. And even if they don’t…you’ll be healthy and well. It’s going to be ok, Vic. Keep going.
There’s a lot more in the letter I can’t share. That’s how it should be.
I’m asking you to join me again — to pause long enough to check in with yourself.
A few guidelines:
- Schedule time to write the letter between now and Sunday. 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, 2018.”
What to write about
There are no limitations here. The audience is you. 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 sunlight of the summer and the freshness of the fall to capture important words before the cold takes over and the noise of “resolutions” rises. Then, as you start 2018, you’ll have your own words as clues and guides for your next step.
I’ll send a quick reminder on Sunday and again on January 1st. That’s all.
So go on, schedule those 30 minutes, turn everything off, and write that letter.
I’ll be doing this with you.