When I was in the fourth grade, Mrs. Mahoney had us write letters to our future selves and seal them in envelopes. We were supposed to open them upon graduating from high school. My parents came across mine while cleaning out their file cabinet a few years ago. I was more than amused by the things I wrote, relieved that my future aspirations changed greatly. I’m sure it was a great experience in personal reflection and writing but getting to look back at my thoughts from years ago was absolutely priceless. I wonder how many of my classmates actually had an opportunity to open their letters.
I was excited to stumble upon a couple of digital tools that are likely to increase the likelihood of a student reading such a letter by delivering it to them at a specified date in the future.
Students visit futureme.org and complete a simple form:
Write your letter.
Choose when you want it delivered by clicking on 1, 3, or 5 years; you can also manually choose any specific date through 2068.
Choose to keep your email private, or anonymously share it publicly on FutureMe.
Enter your email address.
The default email subject is “A letter from (today’s date).” You can change the email subject in full-screen mode.
Click “Send to the Future!” once the form is complete.
You then have to click on a link in a confirmation email to set a password to complete the process.
Requiring all users to create an account, allows students to go back in and change the delivery address if their email changes. They offer some extra features through a paid account for teachers (currently $24.50/year).
Letter to My Future Self
Go to LetterToMyFutureSelf.net and simply fill out a form with your name, subject, email address, and your message. Select when you would like to receive your letter from a drop-down menu:
1, 3, 6, or 9 months
1, 2, 3, 5, or 10 years
Click “View Preview” when your form is complete, then make any edits or approve your email to send it to the future.
Students are not required to create an account. Scheduled emails are encrypted so that even the folks at Letter to my Future Self can’t read them.
Test out both sites to determine which one you think will best meet the needs of your students.
Many teachers emphasize the need for privacy in order for this to be a truly personal experience.
It might not be a bad idea to print and seal the letters in envelopes (especially if they are set to open in the distant future). Email addresses change and tech companies frequently go out of business.
I’ve seen this exercise used where students receive their letters in as little as a few weeks, to as long as years in the future. The amount of time really depends on what you want your students to get from the experiences.
Writing a letter to your future self is a powerful reflection and goal setting exercise, but don’t limit its application. Consider some other ideas like using it to receive motivational letters at regular intervals.
Share Your Ideas
Why do you have students “write a letter to your future self”? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter.
Back to the Future GIF via GIPHY