Imagination has power. One way to set yourself off on a positive direction for the year is through writing a “Letter from the Future.” This is an activity you can do personally or use with groups to activate the visioning capacity. Begin by choosing a time a year from now or at the end of a current project. Think of someone who takes great pleasure in your success and wants the best for you. This could be a friend, a colleague, a family member—even someone who has passed away. Using the technique of freewriting, write a letter to this person, from the vantage point of the future, describing the past year as a positive experience of meeting your goals—even outdoing yourself.
Freewriting means that you write without worrying about punctuation, spelling, or grammar. You simply let the words flow from your mind onto the page. No looking back and no crossing out. Keep your pen moving and if you don’t know what to say, just write “What’s next, what’s next, what’s next” until your next thought comes. Encourage people to be as descriptive as possible. What does it feel like and look like at the end of this project? Who are you working with? What has unfolded? Let people know they will not have to read their letter aloud to anyone.
If you are leading this activity, give participants 5-7 minutes to write the letter. If you are doing it on your own, spend as much time as you want. Once the letter is complete, read it to yourself and circle ideas that you like. If you are with a group, invite participants to share ideas from their letter with a partner or, if they want, to read their entire letter. If you have a group of 10 or less, participants often choose to read their letters to the entire group. It’s inevitably exhilarating and motivating. Here are a few situations where I’ve used this activity with great results:
- Youth or adult participants in a leadership training imagine how they will apply what they’ve learned
- Members of a team imagine their ideal team culture
- Board and staff members of an organization imagine their vision for the organization
- Team members of a project imagine how the project will unfold
Freewriting opens channels in the brain though which your inner brilliance can flow. Have fun and expect to be surprised by the results!
Author: Peggy Taylor, MEd is the Co-founder and Creative Director of Partners for Youth Empowerment