A story just came out about how China is trying to combat the “seven year itch” and slash divorce rates. How? Couples write letters to each other when they get married and give them to the Post Office to be sent out on a seven-year delay. Which means that just when you’re feeling itchy, you’ll receive the letters you wrote when you were gaga for each other—and hopefully fall in love all over again.
Me, I’m all about the later letter. Do I think it will turn around crumbling marriages in their tracks? Not necessarily. But I think it’s a great idea because there’s invaluable power in the writing of that letter—for all areas of our lives. Life is like a hurricane warning: If you prepare for the bad weather that will someday come, you won’t be hit over the head with a flying brick when it does! By writing a letter to your later self, you’re simply arming yourself with the truth: Times will get tough and the more prepared you are for it, the better.
For example, we go into relationships with chemicals flying and love oozing over songs that give us shivers in ways we swore we’ve never felt; we sometimes forget that in seven years (or three or ten), we’ll be yawning when they walk in the door and changing those songs on the radio. We also go into new jobs with passionate energy, ready to bowl over the company with our creativity and smarts; we sometimes forget that on some gray morning a year from now, we’ll be dragging ourselves out of bed, cursing the job that once had us giddy.
Life isn’t always lived on high speed. Energy dies down. Excitement fades. Hope levels out. And that’s okay. That’s just how life works! Life isn’t made to sustain high-octane over-the-top levels every day. And acknowledging that is a really big deal.
So how do you prepare for the future so you’ll come out of the hurricane feeling happy? Write yourself a later letter. If you’re single, write how you want to feel in the right relationship (say, adored, respected, appreciated and sexy as hell)—and when you dip your toe into your next romance, read the letter to see if you’re getting you what you wanted. If you’re embarking on a new business, write why you’re driven to create a dream job for yourself—and when you find yourself pulling your hair out and wanting to quit, read the letter again to renew your faith in the plan and yourself.
It’s easy to forget why we embark on new relationships, jobs, friendships, houses, plans. So as you dive into something new, write yourself a later letter to pull out just when you need it. This is your bad weather warning. However sunny today is, life will someday be hit with inclement weather. But if you’re prepared—with a “later letter” in your pocket—you may be able to find the passion and hope and love that you set out with in the first place. Just when you need it!
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