How Does Future Self Journaling Bring Healing?

Open journal with tulips and a candlePhoto by Joyful

Future self journaling is similar to manifestation in that you become aware of your future and who you want to be in the future.

But unlike manifestation, future self journaling helps you add a really important step: how you’ll get there. It invites you to focus on the daily steps and activities that will help you get to what you want.

Journaling has also been shown to be an incredibly effective tool for mental (and physical!) well-being. Studies have shown that journaling can help your body heal more quickly, develop a higher IQ (!), decrease arthritis, asthma, and other disease symptoms, and even help make you happier.

How Do I Create a Future Self Journal?

1. Let Go of the Judgment

I know, I know--that’s easier said than done! Often, when we start paying attention to our habits or working to change our mindsets, the overthinking ramps up, or that mental mean girl gets extra loud!

Expecting that to happen can help a ton. The other thing that can help is not attaching judgment or merit to the behaviors and triggers you’re observing in yourself. While it’s ok to want to change them, there’s often a reason why you think or do the things you do. You’ve probably been trying to cope for a long time!

Be patient and kind with yourself. This will allow the healing to begin even sooner!

2. Journal Daily

It’s totally ok if you skip a day, but future self journaling will work best if you do it daily. Don’t let a skipped day convince you to quit altogether. Just start again the next day.

Plan to journal for at least thirty days, or until you see significant behavioral change. Then, you can move on to the next thing.

3. Make it a Ritual

I like to start by lighting a candle or adding a drop of essential oil in my hands, and then breathing deeply while I cup my hands around my face.

Both help my body relax and focus.

And of course, I love choosing a beautiful journal to write in!

The really great thing about journaling is that when you’re consistent over time, you can flip back through the pages of your journal to see how you’ve changed and evolved and adapted. It’s a powerful exercise, so I love to use journals that are special and meaningful to me.

A journal that has decorations and writing from a journal entry

4. Focus on Changing One Thing

You might feel like you have nine million things to work on, but resist the temptation and start with one.

Allow your focus to be on a single behavior or thought pattern. This will help you reach your goal faster.

5. Write Down the Habit You Want to Change

You’ll want to write down the habit that you want to change daily. Be as specific as possible. For example: I want to stop criticizing myself when I look in the mirror.

Or: I want to stop overthinking about work.

6. Journal Positive Statements About How You Will Achieve Change

Next, write freely about how you will change your behaviors. What will you do to make sure you’re successful? Will you tell a friend? Will you replace a negative habit with a positive habit?

For example:

  • Every time I look in the mirror, I will say 3 nice things about myself.
  • Whenever I start stressing about work, I will set a two-minute timer. After those two minutes, I will stop stressing and think about something else.

You can also write your positive statements as affirmations. For example:

  • I am worthy of taking up space.
  • I am perfect and beautiful exactly how I am.
  • I breathe deeply. I am calm.
  • Breathe out fear and stress. Breathe in peace and confidence.

7. Journal How Your Future Self Will Be or Feel After Changing

This is the really fun part! Journal about how you will feel or behave after changing. You might write about how much happier you’ll be about your body, for example, when you’ve learned to accept it.

You might picture how much you’ll enjoy your friendships when you’re not so worried about work all the time.

Be as detailed and descriptive as possible!

8. Choose Gratitude

Wrap up your journaling practice by writing things you’re grateful for. You could write about a different thing you’re grateful for each day, or you could make a list of ten things each day.

Either way, gratitude is a powerful way to increase your joy and help you choose positivity!

Woman smelling flowers

FAQ About Future Self Journaling

Do I Have to Do it in the Morning?

No, you can practice future self journaling any time of day! Morning is a great time because it can help you set the tone for your day, but if you’re a night owl, or you can only find a few minutes in the middle of your day, that’s ok.

What Happens if I Skip a Day?

Nothing! The worst thing that will happen if you skip a day of future self journaling is that the critical voice in your head might use this as a reason you should stop. Don’t listen to that voice! Just keep going…

What Happens When I Finish 30 Days of Future Self Journaling?

At this point, you’ll probably love it so much you won’t want to quit. So keep going! You can move back to a period of awareness, or you can move on to another habit or pattern you’ve become aware of.

You can also take some time to focus on journaling specifically about who you want to be, then “work backward” to determine what kinds of changes you need to make in your life now.

Do I Have to Stick to the Prompts?

Nope! We recommend you journal about both your future self and the habits you’ll put into place to get there, but people use all different kinds of methods and prompts for future self journaling.

Here are some additional prompts you could try:

  • Today, I will focus on:
  • Something I have accomplished that I’m proud of is:
  • One behavior, action, or pattern I’ve changed in the past is:
  • Because of my work today, my future self will feel or experience more:
  • If I were to write a letter to my future self, I would say:

What if Journaling is Hard for Me?

First of all, you’re not alone if you find journaling difficult. Some people may feel like it’s silly or childish. Other people may hit a mental roadblock, or maybe they have a hard time quieting their inner critic enough to write freely.

If that’s you, here are two tricks to try:

  1. You could try writing on scrap paper, or you could skip writing altogether to use your notes app, talking into your phone’s voice memo app... anything that isn’t--strictly speaking--journaling! Set a timer. Just do it for five minutes, even if it means writing, “this feels weird,” over
  2. Set a timer. Just do it for five minutes, even if it means writing “this feels weird” over and over again! Writing to get your true thoughts and feelings out takes a lot of time, and the resistance to it is real. Sometimes a timer helps you push aside all the mental chatter for long enough to get started.

Future self journaling is an amazing way to help you grow. It can help you increase your sense of joy and gratitude, and find ways to show up for yourself, today, so that your future self will thank you!

Sarah Guerrero
Sarah Guerrero
Sarah Guerrero is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She has a degree in international business from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and writes about sustainable business practices and ethical living.