When preparing for a new education adventure, whether that is an academic program, a clinically-based project, or some other engaging professional development opportunity, you likely take on various forms of planning. Perhaps you start with a written list of goals or an organized calendar, or maybe you pause and brainstorm steps of your anticipated practice. Whatever it is, you likely use the same tried-and-true process that prepared you for success many times before. Today, we propose something different. Let’s look at writing a letter to yourself—a message that includes your goals and plans, along with what you hope to see and what you would like to avoid, at least for now—to serve as an encouraging reminder when you need it most. Adventure brings forth exciting, novel experiences, so why not try trusting you for advice and guidance? A letter to yourself may be just what you need to feel confident going forward! You may be the person you need to advise yourself.
An awesome by-product of relying on you is increased self-esteem. Think about times when you listened to a colleague share their struggle or discuss a dilemma. Sometimes advice for others presents itself more readily. It’s almost like living writer’s block in a way. We live our lives all day every day, so close to the details. Oftentimes, we know the answers to our own dilemmas; we just need to recognize them. Writing a letter ahead of starting something new, gives the opportunity to think about it before being in the thick of it. Including considerations that serve as useful starting places may prove beneficial. Your letter doesn’t need to be linear and certainly doesn’t need to contain just words. Make it work for you! Since you are your target audience, pull out what works best! Maybe that involves a few primary ideas with secondary thoughts plugged in, or perhaps an inspirational drawing that works through some anticipated knots could be nice.
As this letter is designed to serve you, and only you, include what is interesting and supportive in that context and leave out anything that feels like it is there only because it "should be." Content that doesn’t have purpose doesn’t belong. Here, by "should be," we are referring to the "should" that comes to mind regarding writing, formatting, and basic obligation, not the "should" that arises from values. Bringing goals into focus can produce many feelings; therefore, a letter that includes both realities and values may encourage recognizing these true feelings. In your mind’s eye, see yourself participating in your upcoming education adventure. Picture yourself beginning, contributing to, and completing this plan. Fortunately, simplifying the road ahead by putting together something useful, can streamline the process of seeing goals through, even in challenging situations.
We hope that this letter boosts and reassures you when you need it most. Stay true to you and your personal mission statement. Be aware of your internal voice. This letter isn’t about being polished; it’s about being effective. And as far as that exciting new education endeavor goes, we send you our very best for all that is positive, as curiosity through learning brings about incredible opportunity, both for you and for those your work touches. Stay curious.