Writing Your Next Five Years

Image - Spiral Notebook

"Where do you see yourself in five years?"

The question is ubiquitous, but how often have you explored it beyond the canned job interview context? Have you ever sat down and drilled into this as an exercise in setting intentions and creating your future?

In August 2004, a spiritual coach gave me a writing assignment. Simple in its rules and parameters, the exercise took the better part of a single day to initiate, but I've waited five years to assess the results.

The Assignment


  • A pen -- not a pencil; there is no editing or refinement -- no "perfectionism" allowed -- the ink is for a sacred, binding, contractual commitment.
  • A new, one-subject spiral notebook. You use a single-subject spiral notebook for a couple of reasons -- it's generally the least expensive, easiest to find -- it's "disposable"; you don't want a "precious" journal here -- and the spiral represents Time on a conceptual, magical level.

Rules of Execution

  • Imagine your life as it will be (as you desire it to be) five years from now, in as much detail as possible.
  • List every detail of your future life you can possibly think of -- no matter how fantastic or mundane.
  • List each item / detail in the present tense.
  • Start each item on a new line with an empty line in between -- this is a huge list, not paragraphs of prose.
  • Use only the front side of each page.
  • Fill as much of the notebook as you can, preferably in one sitting and no longer than a single day. (I wrote most of my list in an afternoon and part of that evening, leaving the book open and coming back to it throughout the day as I thought of new items to add.)
  • When the day is over, your notebook is full, or you run out of new details to list, whichever happens first, you seal the pages in an envelope. (You can tear the pages out and put them in a regular letter-sized envelope, or you can put the entire notebook in a large, brown magazine-sized envelope.)
  • Address the envelope to yourself and date it exactly five years into the future. (Be sure and put your name on it, so that if someone else were to run across it, or you forget what's inside, at least it's understood who's supposed to open it.)
  • Put it somewhere safe, somewhere you can both forget about it for awhile and eventually find it again.
  • Do not open it until that date five years into the future!

At the time I did this exercise, I had not started writing about or teaching intention manifestation, but today I feel that the premise is obviously built around some basic concepts:

  • Focus on manifesting the What, not the How
  • Once you get clear about the What and commit it to words, your Order to the Universe has been delivered
  • Constantly re-stating the What keeps unnecessarily restarting/ rebooting the Intention
  • Once your Mind has seen/ witnessed/ experienced the detail, even if you consciously forget, it is stored forever at a sub-conscious level

My Experience Five years ago, I was NOT in a good place -- it was absolutely one of the lowest I hope to ever know -- my basic health and survival were in crisis; I was financially destitute; I had lost two jobs in a row; I lost my cat, Cera, who had been my companion for fifteen years, my entire adult life at that point...many of my long-term friendships had evaporated... I was quite literally suicidal.

I wrote my future in desperation, with some faint remaining crumb of hope that I still had a future at all...

Finally opening up the envelope this week to assess the fruition of the intentions I had set all those years ago was like unlocking a time capsule from someone else's life. The most revelatory part of this experiment was seeing not just What wishes had "come true" for me, but the unpredictable, unimaginable ways in which they have manifested. I'm blown away by how the things that might have seemed the most far-fetched -- the biggest Long Shots -- have indeed become this better reality of my Today. Had I revisited the list I had written in the interim -- say one, two, or even three years in -- I would not have thought I could possibly have been on the right path.

There are very few of the items I envisioned that have NOT come to pass, actually. I have a new found faith in my power to create profound, positive change. How might another round of this exercise benefit from an infusion of that life-altering perspective? It's time to write my next five years.

Slade's signature

Image credit theilr via Creative Commons on Flickr