Letters to the Future Manual

The challenge

The idea of this challenge is to write a letter about two possible future outcomes. First, ‘what does the future look like when current events continue unchanged?’ Second, ‘what is the ideal future when you can determine yourself what it will look like?’ So, in essence, the future on its current trajectory compared to your ideal future.

Having a vision and setting clear goals helps many people be more relaxed and positive in their thoughts. This is because it gives people energy to engage in activities they care about, and enjoy the journey towards their goals. In other words: the road towards completion is more important than completion itself. To think clearly about your vision and goals, it is important to put down eventual concerns about the future, and to compare them with inspired creative thoughts about your ideal future.

Beginning to write

Though you are free to use your own writing style and method, the following guidelines can help you on your way:

  • Address yourself directly.
  • Don’t be afraid to write down your thoughts first before turning it into a formal letter.
  • Ignore spelling and grammar until you are done writing, after which you can make edits and changes as you see fit.

Exercise 1: The future without any change in current events

To think about how you wish to see the future, it is practical to think about what will happen if nothing changes.

Begin by thinking about the current situation and how it influences people’s lives. How do you describe the current situation in the world you are living in?
Next, think about what the world will look like in 5-10 years.  What will the future look like when nothing changes, and we continue as humanity on the current trajectory?

Spend about 5 minutes writing about this. Allow the focus on what is most important to you.

To answer this, you can think about the following aspects:
  • What are the positive aspects in the current situation?
  • What are the negative aspects in the current situation?
  • To what extent are people able to have a social life?
  • How much freedom do people currently have?
  • To what extent are people able to fulfill their dreams?

Exercise 2: The ideal future for humanity and the world

Here you are going to are going to provide contrast to the previous segment. You are going to think about the ideal world and how this relates to the world in which nothing changes.

The idea is to draft an image of the ideal future as you see it, for the planet and her inhabitants. Further, describe what you want to contribute, and how, to create a better world for others. Be ambitious and pay no attention to how realistic this image may look to you. Dreams may not always materialize, though this better not keep you from having them.

Now allow yourself to daydream. Close your eyes and think about the ideal future you wish for the world when there are no obstacles. Define some goals for yourself and/or the world.

Remember, you are writing this for yourself! Choose the future scenario and goals you find important.

As soon as you have created an image, write about it for about 15 minutes. Feel free to keep daydreaming as you write. Perhaps you encounter something even better!

Exercise 3: Specify concrete goals

By writing about different possibilities for the future, you are structuring your thoughts. This will help you to be more motivated to actualise and implement changes. Changes that can lead to a better future for yourself, but also for others.

Think tangibly about what you can do to bring that ideal future for the world a step closer:

  • What can you do in your direct environment, and outside of it?
  • How can your knowledge and skills improve the world?

Briefly describe three goal examples based on the ideal future. Think about what you can do in your immediate surroundings. How you can make a difference and create a ripple effect. Your goals can touch on many different domains. These do not need to be great things but can also be small things you do every day. Below are a few examples:

  • Engage more often in random acts of kindness
  • Connect people who are willing to improve the world with each other
  • Do not only give, but also learn to receive. When you truly receive a gift, the giver can enjoy it as well.
  • Think about what you can do in your immediate surroundings. How can you make a difference and create a ripple effect?

Write down these goals and give a short outline for each one. Why is this goal so important to you?

Exercise 4: Prioritise

As you will not be able to realise all your goals at the same time, we ask you to list each of your goals from most to least important. Describe your #1 goal:

  • What is the first step you are going to take on the way to realising this goal? Be practical.
  • When will you start to work on this goal and how much time are you willing to spend on it each week?

Start small, for example 5-minute walks every day, if this is one of your goals.

Exercise 5: Identify and clear obstacles

The way to a better future can be bumpy. In life things aren’t always happy-go-lucky. Therefore, it can be very practical to anticipate possible roadblocks and obstacles. Research shows that people who create clear plans and think about what they would do when encountering hindrances, are more able to reach their goals than people who do not do this.

Write about every goal, the possible obstacles you may encounter, and how you can deal with them.

You can write it like this:
If obstacle then solution

Example: If people don’t appreciate my solutions, then I can first assess whether my solutions were indeed valuable, and then find people who will appreciate them and are willing to share feedback to help me realise this goal.

Exercise 6: How to continue now?

The last and still essential step is to share your vision about the future and to discuss it with a person you trust. Afterwards, it is a wonderful experience to discuss your ideas with your family or friends. If you have no problem sharing your vision with a greater audience, you can also share your vision on social media. Most likely, there are many more people who are craving positive inspiration. Who knows what your statement might stir up in others. Another objective in sharing your vision is feeling responsibility to implement your goal, because now people know
about it.

If you wish to take a first step in sharing your vision about the future with one person, please find a few tips below:

  • Make an appointment with someone who wishes to share your idea of a better world. Ask that person to be open-minded and non-judgmental, and read your letter to this person.
  • Discuss the future you have in mind. Listen well to what the other person has to say and write down their feedback.
  • Invite this other person to also take on the “challenge” and offer to talk about it together. In this way, you create a ripple effect, as more people who can inspire many more people start working on it too.
  • Make a three-panelled vision board:
    • On the left: My ideal world
    • In the centre: My goal for the world
    • On the right: How I can contribute daily

Illustrate and brighten each panel with images, text and drawings. Print it and hang it in a visible spot; for example, on the fridge.

  • Submit your letters to the future to the ikigaitv website (NOTE: This is not yet possible)
  • Make your own ‘Letters to the future’ movie, and upload it to the Great Citizens Declaration website (this website is under construction, this option will be available soon) and/or Great Citizens Movement Facebook page
  • Save your letters to the future; you will soon be able to submit them for a LETTERS TO THE FUTURE COMPETITION to be shared locally, nationally, and internationally. Your ideas may end up having real impact on many who may resonate with your vision and goal for the future. They might even spring into action!
  • Finally, you could write a step-by-step plan based on the five W’s – who, what, where, when, why and, while you’re at it, which way and what’s next. This can help you to create the future you dare to dream about.

Congratulations on making the first step to creating the world of your dreams!!!

You just began your journey in the direction of a different life, and perhaps even a better world. A life in which you get to choose and fulfil your purpose. Work on this as much as you can. If for example you chose to provide “Random acts of kindness”, then it is wise to keep at it for at least three weeks. On average, this is the necessary time it takes to learn a new habit.