My Ideal Self, 10 Years in the Future

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

o a letter from my future self describing my ideal self

This is the time of year when many of us set goals. In fact, I spend the first few days of the new year thinking through my personal and professional goals. It was a useful exercise and I’ve come away with clarity and enthusiasm for this upcoming year.

In general, our goals have to do with what we want to do and accomplish. But I want to suggest that another type of visioning has to do with who we are becoming. What inner qualities of being do choose to come from as I go about life? How do I choose to show up in my relationships and as I participate in the world?

Although both types of goals, doing and becoming, are interrelated and important, I want so share something about my journey of becoming.

A Very Personal Journal Entry

I’m doing so by disclosing a very personal journal entry written on September 3, 2019. I wrote the entry to give form and life to my “ideal self,” the person I desire to be some ten years in the future. In other words, it is a letter from my imaginary 78-year-old self to my 68-year-old self (at the time, some three years ago). My purpose was to instill in my mind and heart a vision of the person I desire to become.

The letter has been meaningful to me in the years since I wrote it. In fact, I keep a copy in a black binder that I carry with me and I get the letter out, once in a while, and read it as a reminder of my ideal self. Of course, I have to qualify my letter by saying that it is an ideal. I don’t live it perfectly and that is okay. Like all of us, I have my shadow self.  And yet, my letter from my ideal future self still has a consequential influence on my attitude and behavior. I choose to rely on it as a guide in my journey of becoming. I use it to ground me in who I want to be as well as to humble myself and self-correct as I fall short.

Here’s the letter:

(Please be aware that the letter reflects my spiritual and religious values. I don’t share them with you in a moralistic way or impose them on you, but as a reflection of who I am and what I believe.)

Dear Roger,

I am looking back at a long life, some 78 years. I am no longer a young or a middle-aged man but am elderly. So I want to share some thoughts with you, my younger self, about who you are becoming. I hope that my words will offer you hope, courage, and guidance as you journey through these upcoming years.

My Health

I’m in excellent health. I have taken good care of myself physically by following a healthy life-style. I have eaten a plant-based, whole foods, and low-fat diet. I’ve exercised daily, including running, walking, biking, and/or lifting weights. I do my relaxation or meditation every day, not only to relieve day-to-day stress but achieve a state of complete mental and physical relaxation. I sleep at least seven hours a night, following a good evening routine. I think of my physical health as the foundation of my overall health and well-being.

Mental and Emotional Health

I take good care of my mental and emotional health. I do this by quieting my mind through breathing and meditation. I live mindfully (witnessing what is happening within and around me in a nonjudgmental way) and pause, frequently, throughout each day to simply notice and respect my inner experience of feelings and thoughts. I do my best to live from a mindset of abundance by challenging negative thinking and converting it into a positive story that aligns with my vision of myself and my life.  I take time, daily, to savor little experiences from walking to viewing a sunset to seeing the beauty of nature or being fully present with another person. I also take time for gratitude by writing in my gratitude journal or expressing the beautiful things (hand of God) in my life this day.

I Trust My Own Authority

I have worked hard, through the years, to know myself, who I am, and what is important to me. This has been a challenging journey because of my natural tendencies towards co-dependency and pleasing others. Certainly, I care for others but don’t want my life to be about pleasing them. I know what I think, feel, value, stand for, need, and want. I trust my own authority. I can be honest and speak my truth.  I don’t need to pretend to be something I am not. I can be me, seen, and known for who I am. Living in this way is freeing. I know I can depend on myself, my thoughts, perceptions, feelings and promptings. I refuse to give my power to others. I reserve the right to decide what I think best or right in the various circumstances of my life.

Being Here for Me

One of the biggest gifts I’ve given myself is to accept me for who I am. As Popeye says, “I am what’s I am.” I am enough. Far from perfect, but enough. For years I withheld love from myself because I wasn’t good enough in one way or another. Of course, I’ve always had a front row seat to my mistakes, weaknesses, imperfections, and emotional immaturity. How can I love myself when I’m such a flawed person? Furthermore, I was always comparing and coming up short. At the top of the list was that I was not smart enough. I told myself that a lot…and gathered lots of evidence to prove it. That one has haunted me since grade school.

But I’ve decided to be my own best friend, to treat myself kindly, to soothe, love, and support myself when I make mistakes and face hard times. I remember a song by Ray Charles that we used to play years ago in the HDI “Making Things Happen” course. A few of the lyrics go, “…And there’s no place you can hide. You’re up against the wall. Can’t nobody hear you cry. You got to help yourself, yourself…. Be your own best friend.”

That thought brings tears to my eyes. Our most cherished friends are people who know us and like us for who we are. They are there for us in good times and bad. They extend kindness and support to us through the tough times of life. So, I now treat myself like a good friend when times are tough for me—when facing pain or stress, or things haven’t gone as I’d like, or I’ve made mistakes, failed or come up short in some way. I choose to embrace my not okayness. I ask myself what I need and how I can support myself in a loving way. I don’t turn to self-criticism or abandon myself when things get tough.

 My Relationship with God

I have found peace in my relationship with God. Cultivating this relationship is the most important thing about my religion or religious experience. I’ve always had questions, even doubts. However, more important than my questions, today, is my personal experience of divinity. I choose to see the manifestation of God’s goodness and love in all of life.

I seek God through daily meditation and prayer, in which I express my innermost feelings and thoughts or simply still myself to feel his presence and listen to his voice. I also seek him by reading scriptures and other uplifting messages, through music, often reading or singing hymns which bring the spirit into my life. I have chosen to “be believing” and live by faith in his plan and purposes. I allow my experience of him to work inside and change my being and character, to become a better person.

My Relationships with Others

As a Christian, I believe that Jesus taught us how to live and so this is an important part of who I am becoming. He invited us to come and follow him. More important than what we know about him is that we imitate him. He taught us to live a simple life, not seeking riches, fame, power or honor but rather to love, not judge, forgive and serve our fellow man, particularly the poor and disadvantaged. He taught us to be humble and meek, lowly of heart and to seek, first, the kingdom of God and his righteousness above all else. So, I seek opportunities to serve and have given resources and time to causes that bless others.

Living the “Middle Way”

I have lived, these last several years, from what I call the “middle way,” especially during key moments. This means that I am fully present to my experience (feelings and thoughts) and act neither passively by ignoring or shutting down nor aggressively by acting out my feelings, but from a thoughtful response that aligns to my values and vision for myself and others. I don’t create drama. I don’t ignore, withdraw, or shut down in the face of difficult issues. Nor do I react defensively by emoting, fighting, or blaming. I get in touch with my authority, love, and courage and face issues and process or talk them through to a win/win for all people involved.

My Marriage

There are no relationships more important than immediate family. I love my relationship with Judy. I recognize her goodness and strengths. She adds a richness to my life through her companionship. I’ve often thought of the emptiness I’d feel if she were gone. She makes my life easier by her contributions to me and our family. I love our shared vision and time we get for the two of us, whether just talking, finding ways to serve others, spending time in our trailer in the mountains, or on a longer trip to see different parts of the world.

And I have found joy in nurturing her, as I focus less on what I’m getting and more on what I’m giving. I do this as I greet her with a silent blessing as I first see her in the morning; as I am present as she talks; as I see her deeply; as we talk through difficult issues rather than dramatizing; as I serve her by doing kind things for her.

My Kids and Grandkids

I love my family (kids and grandkids) and thoroughly enjoy being around them. It has been so fun watching them grow up to be great people. Our kids (now in their late 40s) are diligent, faithful and responsible problem-solvers. The challenges they face in the world today are greater than those of my generation and I admire how they are facing them and doing their best to build homes of love.

At times my heart goes out to them and I can feel over-responsible for them. I want to help but recognize their boundaries and my limitations. And so I step back and let go. I trust them in their journey. They are intelligent and caring people and parents who have to face life in their way. I find a deeper love and joy as I witness their respective journeys by being present during their struggles and celebrating with them their victories.

My grandchildren bring a particular enjoyment to my life. Playing with them has brought out the child in me these last 20 years. I love reading to them, chasing them, playing monster and hiding go seek, soccer, even video games. (I always get slaughtered, usually to their delight.) I’ve enjoyed watching sporting and school events (as many as possible). And now, as they grow older, I enjoy our deeper and more meaningful conversations, getting to know their aspirations and beliefs as they transition into adulthood. I hope and believe they feel my support. I feel blessed to have a good relationship with each of them. Our relationships get better as the years go by.  Being part of their lives expands my soul.

My Career

I look back on my career with pride. Not that it has always been easy. In fact, I’ve played a high risk and reward game of life. I’ve faced a lot of circumstances that brought out anxiety. But I feel good that I stepped up with faith, love, and courage. I experienced setbacks and made plenty of mistakes, but I also went as far as I could with the talents I was given. It was a good journey in which I touched lives.

And so, my younger friend. I hope you take time to read and ponder this letter. This is your potential. Not just your potential. This is who you are. These aspirations come from your heart and represent the deepest longings of your soul. I’ll be watching and cheering you in this journey, come what may.

With love and admiration,

Roger

A Final Thought

I hope my letter encourages you to think about your “ideal self.” Who are you becoming? How do you want to view yourself and your life as you look back, some years in the future. If it makes sense, take time to write a letter to yourself from this perspective. Let it come from your heart. And know that you don’t have to live it perfectly in order to have meaning.


About Roger K. Allen
Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation and family development. His tools and methods have helped tens of thousands of people live happier and more effective lives. To learn more, visit www.rogerkallen.com>.

2 responses to “My Ideal Self, 10 Years in the Future”

  1. Deb Bershad says:

    Excellent. Thanks for sharing!

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