5 Steps to Practice Future Self Journaling

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When I first heard about “future self journaling,” I thought it was just another feel-good hack. You know the kind, right? Where some influencer or blogger promises you can and will have the life you want, provided you simply write to your future self.

While I was skeptical initially, I thought “why not?” and began journaling to my future self. I quickly realized that if I put in the work, I could build the future I envisioned for myself. And I’m here to tell you: I’ve seen the shift. Visualizing my future self and all the things I want for me has helped me plan what I need to do to get myself there.  

So how does it work?  Lucky for you, I’m somewhat of the expert now and have come up 5 steps you need to put future self journaling to work for you.  

What Is Future Self Journaling? 

In simple terms, future self journaling is the practice of linking the present you to your future you by visualizing and manifesting the “you” you want to be. By journaling about your feelings, emotions, thoughts, and dreams… you get in touch with your inner self, learn about your present actions, behaviors, and patterns that prevent the future you from becoming a reality.

From there, you can make whatever changes necessary in order to make your goals and dreams come to fruition. The power of self-awareness, self-healing and self-growth (aka personal development) can turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones, making it possible to prepare for the future and focus on a way forward.       

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By journaling about your feelings, emotions, thoughts, and dreams… you get in touch with your inner self, learn about your present actions, behaviors, and patterns that prevent the future you from becoming a reality.

The idea of journaling to your future self requires that you show up for yourself every day and become conscious of how and why you react to the stimuli in your environment. This is the only way to understand yourself better. This lets you see why your future self seems so far out of reach and unattainable. 

Put your future self in your present self’s shoes, and ask how they would handle what you are going through and feeling. Focus on identifying what behavior needs to change. Change how you behave so there’s only space in your life for what makes your soul happy. This makes it easier to achieve your future self’s goals and dreams.   

Other Types of Journaling 

Besides journaling to your future self, there are various other kinds of journaling too (and sometimes, these overlap depending on your journaling goal): 

  • Reflective journaling: process experiences and emotions by reflecting on your life; therapeutic practice to get to know yourself better or help visualize your future
  • Daily journaling: creates time to check in with yourself, write about what happened on this day so you can process 
  • Gratitude journaling: helps build your habit of being grateful
  • Stream of consciousness journaling (or free-writing): just start writing, let the words flow, and only stop when the time’s up 
  • Bullet journaling: combines various journaling goals into one – daily diary, reflect and process events space, task manager, calendar, etc. 
  • Visual journaling or illustrated journaling: log your life through doodles or illustrations (comic book, anyone?) 

There are other types of journaling too… from pregnancy, food, travel, nature, and future goal journaling to project, Bible and/or prayer, scrapbooking, mind mapping, dream, art, self-care, and meditation journaling. 

Benefits of Journaling to Your Future Self

There are tangible benefits when you journal to and about your future self. And the best part is nobody has to read it but you, so you’re not inclined to hold back.  Here are some of the key benefits

  • Improves self-awareness because who you want your future self to be is rooted in who you are 
  • Reduces stress as you can put pen to paper and provide an outlet for your dreams, thoughts, and feelings 
  • Helps you focus when you can visualize where you want to be and plan how to there
  • Enhances problem-solving since you can work on solutions to make your future self attainable 
  • Reminds you of your purpose in life (especially when you know what you want) 
  • Makes you grateful as you improve your ability to skip immediate gratification in exchange for delayed gratification (focusing and working on your future you comes with longer-lasting benefits) 

Future journaling is a great way to gain foresight and prepare for the road ahead, while other types of journaling focus on the present and/or past. 

While an aspect of future journaling also looks back, it is only so you can understand where you are coming from and what’s holding you back. Once you understand, you can identify what needs to change for you to become the best “future you” that you can be and plan how you will get there.  

5 Steps to Getting Started With Future Self Journaling 

It may seem pretty simple to journal to your future self. After all, once you have your app or pen and paper ready, you just write, right? Well, that’s until the blank space and a blank or overly full mind trips you up. 

Here’s how to get started:   

Step #1. Create a Schedule and Habit  

Most people who start journaling do so for the first few days, and then a skipped day becomes three, and then there’s no more journaling. But you want to reap the rewards and work toward your future self.

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Change how you behave so there’s only space in your life for what makes your soul happy.

So set up a schedule for journaling. It doesn’t have to be every day, so find what works for you. And then journal consistently on those days for three months so you can form a new healthy habit.   

Step #2. Visualize the Future, Reflect on the Now 

Imagine what your future self looks like. Think about everything until the finest detail. See it. Smell it. Taste it. Touch it. Hear it. 

Then reflect on your current self. What’s holding you back? Before you feel overwhelmed, only find one behavior you want to target and change. 

Start with one thing at a time, because slow and steady will help you achieve your future goals.  

Step #3. Find a Journaling App to Keep You on Track 

In today’s digital world, you may find it easier to journal on your smart device as you ride the bus, when you wait in line at the bank, or whenever you have a moment to jot down your thoughts and feelings and plan your road to becoming the future you that you want to be. 

Here are 3 journaling apps for you: 

  1. Reflectly (App Store/Google Play): encourages daily journaling to help you develop gratitude, decrease stress, and get perspective. 
  2. Grid Diary (App Store/Google Play): can journal with prompts, and use various templates to practice gratitude, keep track of your goals, plan your day, week, or month, and more.  
  3. Zinnia Journal & Planner (App Store): the ultimate customizable option where you can express yourself by writing, use washi tape, stickers, and decorative items to fill the pages, and choose a template to unleash your creativity.

Step #4. Use Printable Templates to Inspire Your Future Self Journey 

Sometimes I’m unsure what I want to write about in my journal, and I don’t even know where to begin. 

Printable journal templates to the rescue! 

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Future journaling is a great way to gain foresight and prepare for the road ahead, while other types of journaling focus on the present and/or past. 

These templates help inspire me when I stare at a blank page and the words just aren’t there. 

Here are 5 of my favorite future self journaling templates to get you started: 

  1. My Future Self by On Planners: A basic template, but it gets you thinking about your future self. The visualization section helps you add detail to the future you envision. 
  2. Gratitude Journal templates: Part of journaling for your future self is also being grateful for today. You also don’t have to visualize far into the future, and setting goals for your tomorrow self is a good small step to take. 
  3. Self-Awareness Happiness Assessment by Happier Mind: This template helps you explore what makes you happy so you can use this info when visualizing and planning your future self. 
  4. The Best Month Ever by Happier Mind: Use this template to reflect on a happy month you’ve experienced and/or visualize what the best month is for you.        
  5. Plan on a Page by Happier Mind: When you know what your future self looks like and what you need to address about your current self, you can start setting goals, taking actions, and meeting deadlines.  

Step #5. Work from Journaling Self Prompts to Shine as Your Future Self

If you’re unsure of what to write in your future self journal, use journaling prompts to direct your path. I often return to these journaling prompts as a way to see how much I have changed

Here is a list of great prompts to get you going:

  1. What does the future you are pursuing look like? 
  2. Are you on the path to a future you chose, or are you on cruise control? What can you do to take ownership again?
  3. What is the importance of gratitude in your life, and how do you practice it? 
  4. What is an ideal day like for your future self? (Be as specific as possible.)
  5. Your past self and your future self are having tea together. What do they say?
  6. How did you change and overcome your past? (Asking your future self.)
  7. What makes you happy? What makes your future self happy? 
  8. What are you scared of? Why? 
  9. What habits have you developed, and why? How are they keeping you from your future self?  
  10. Become aware of the labels you have self-attached. Why did you start using these labels, are these labels still relevant to you, and how are you limited by these labels? 
  11. What positive labels can you attach to your current self that’s in line with your future goals? 
  12. Your future self is flexible. List the ways in which you have lost the ability to change when necessary. How can you recover those? 
  13. What is your current strong point? How do you see that strong point as continuing to succeed in the future? 
  14. What is your most negative characteristic? How can your future self change this aspect?
  15. I have the chance to be my future self today when _________ (what happens?).
  16. What in my life is not serving me? 
  17.  What support, kindness, and love would your future self show your current self? 
  18.  What emotions do you experience on a daily basis? List the emotions you want your future self to regularly experience. 
  19.  (Answer as your future self) I am feeling so calm and peaceful now that _________. 
  20. (Answer as your future self) I am so proud of myself now that _________. 
  21.  What is your ideal lifestyle in 6 months? 1 year from now? 2 years from now? 5 years from now? 10 years from now?

Final Thoughts on Practicing Future Self Journaling 

Planning how you can actualize your ideal future and overcome what’s holding you back is freeing and oh-so rewarding. In order to be effective, future self journaling isn’t something you can just do once in a while… or you’ll risk losing momentum.

Making future self journaling a regular routine will help get you going… but you’ll need the other pieces to the puzzle in order for it to all come together. You must be mindful of what you journal, focus on what you need to change that isn’t adding to your life, and implement the plan to become the “future you” you seek.  

Not sure you ready for a journaling habit? Or afraid it’ll be like a New Year’s resolution? Then check out our ultimate guide to starting a journaling habit and sticking to it.]

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