Once a Creative Writing Teacher asked my classmates and I to bring a self-addressed envelope to class. We all wondered why, but we did as she had requested. As it turns out her lesson goal that day was to have all of us write a letter to ourselves – about ourselves. Prior to beginning the writing process, she explained the following:
1. She wanted us to be kind to ourselves. Write with gratitude. Gratitude she explained forms a positive sense within us and people generally are more successful in their lives when they focus on positive emotions and characteristics than negative.
2. She wanted us to focus on improvements we could make in our lives, in our relationships, in all areas of life that were important to us. Write specifically about areas we could grow. Be kind to ourselves as we write – but be intentional about what improvements we could make in key areas.
3. She wanted us to take time to celebrate the successes of our lives. Identify good attributes, characteristics and accomplishments and celebrate them in our letter, knowing that dark days in life do happen and too often we forget the good in our lives when we are struggling. Her hope was that on a dark day we might open the letter to ourselves and be reminded that we are good people, with good things to celebrate.
I was in Grade 11 when our teacher had my classmates and I write those letters. As I write this it is hard to believe nearly 40 years have passed since that time. As it turns out, that Creative Writing class was one of the most influential learning experiences of my entire life and has become one of the most important annual activities I undertake every year.
Every November for the past 20 years or so years I have spent time thinking and writing about the successes of the past year and identifying the goals I want to achieve in the year ahead. For me, family is everything and so a lot of my writing is about evaluating my relationships with my family members (my wife, my sons, my daughters-in-law, my grandson). I spend time thinking about these people individually and identifying how I might be able to serve each one of them better in the year ahead. My goal is to help them have the best year they can possibly have. I find the happier my family and close friends are in their lives, the happier I am! The UBE4ME concept has been my focus for many years. Putting my focus on helping others who are important to me brings great joy and helps me grow as a person as well.
I expand my November writing into other areas of my life including my career goals, how I can positively impact people I work with, my personal fitness and wellness initiatives and so on. By writing these goals and initiatives down and putting some timelines to moving forward with them I find that I live life with real purpose. Generally, when I look back at the year that has just passed I realize that I’ve accomplished a lot of successful things and that spurs me on in a positive way as I move into the new year.
For some of you – you might say that a writing exercise like I have described is not for you. I’d encourage you in some fashion to give it a try. Be intentional with your thoughts and with where you want your life to go and how you want to impact others. You might find that you yourself will be the person most impacted by your writing, as I have over the years.
All the very best!