Write Down Your Future and Change Your Life; or Save it in a Trunk for Later

“Journals are pointless,” I thought as I was cleaning out dozens of journals from a trunk in Long Beach…until I started reading them and realized that they can tell the future.

I’ve kept a journal my entire life. I’ve finished so many journals that I have a trunk in Irvine, a box in Chicago, two bags in Paris and a small portion of a basement in Baltimore dedicated to my journals from throughout my life.

The magical trunk in Long Beach

Well, I took two months off of work starting in October mostly because I was forced to wait for my visa before working in Paris (I know, quel dommage!). During this time I have managed to get a wicked tan, finish my second novel and go through my trunk full of journals in Long Beach that I haven’t looked through in over 8 years.

But before I divulge what I read in those journals, let me go back to a year and a half ago.

A year and a half ago,

I read an article called “How a Password Changed My Life” in which a man describes how his job forced him to change his password every 30 days. So, one day instead of getting annoyed at the password change, he decided to put those 30 days to good use. Every time he typed in his password he would remind himself of something that he wanted to change in his life. For example, “Forgive@h3r” was the first one he typed out every day to remind himself to forgive his ex-wife and move on.

Luckily, I had the same problem. I also worked at a company where I needed to change my password every 30 days. So, I decided to try his idea out. It couldn’t hurt. Plus, I love using my life as one big experiment.

And, it worked! In the past year and a half, literally every single thing I wrote down, I got — except the six pack. I still don’t have a s1xp@ck. (Frowny face). I wrote down things I wanted immediately. My passwords were things like “st@yf1t” or “l0v3mys3lf” or “f@ll1nl0v3”. I’m now in the best shape of my life, I actually do love myself, and I have fallen in love.

I was literally writing down what I wanted in life, and I was actually getting it!

The Secret, the power of intentions, black magic — call it what you will but I felt like I was onto something.

But passwords have their limits. You can’t write details in that many characters. So a few months after I started doing this, I wrote a journal entry in which I described on five pages exactly what I wanted in my man…and then I forgot about it. I do that often, I write so much and so often that I tend to forget half of what I write down.

One day a few months ago (about a year after I wrote this journal entry), I was with my current boyfriend, and I flipped back through a few pages in my journal. I read the passage in which I described my perfect man, and the passage that I had completely forgotten existed. I had forgotten so much so that I had to make sure it was my own handwriting. It was.

The passage was so startling and so insanely accurate that I had to share it with him. I didn’t tell him what it was I wanted him to read, only that I had a journal entry I thought he would find interesting. He read it and when he got to the end he looked at me surprised.

“You wrote down all my best qualities?” He asked.

“Well, yes,” I said. “Kinda.”

“Except I don’t have blue eyes,” he stated the obvious.

OK, so I missed out on one trait! But otherwise, in five pages I described him two months before I met him.

So now that I was in front of a huge trunk of my own writing from over ten years ago, I was intrigued what I would find.

What secrets would I unlock about my future? Was I just as clairvoyant back then?

Apparently, yes. Apparently this writing stuff is pretty accurate.

Inside the trunk

A bit of backstory: this novel I’m writing is a collaboration between a friend I have known for the past ten years or so. The thing is, we lost touch for eight of those years, and just got back in touch last year via Twitter. We then somehow decided to collaborate on a movie in Italy last October (another example of something I wrote down and came true).

The first thing I saw in the trunk were three paperback books that I saved. One of the books was “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.

I opened the book, and goosebumps erupted across my arms and back. Inside was a note that said

“Read this today. Don’t procrastinate. — CP, 2006”.

I immediately sent a picture to my writing partner, and asked, “Is this you?”

“Yup,” he wrote back. He made it a habit of buying crates of that book and handing it out to people. So that day, 9 years later, I stopped procrastinating and I read it all. In one day.

It is one of those books that changes your life when you are ready for it.

And 9 years later, it did and he did and we are writing a book together. And that book he gave me was waiting for me in that trunk in Long Beach the whole time.

Like WTF?!

Out of all the books I had at that time, out of all the people who gave me books (I like to read so it’s a common gift) and out of all the things I saved to fit in one little trunk, this book was one of them. And here we are, and at this moment I needed that book more than anything.

Another trunk story:

I wrote about three journals the year from 2004 to 2005 that I lived in Paris. A lot happened that year.

In those journals, I wrote down at least a dozen times that I wanted to find a job in Paris. I wrote down that my dream was to live and work in Paris after that year abroad. It may seem obvious now that I would end up back there, but I can tell you that a lot has happened in ten years and Paris certainly was not high on my list of places to live again. In fact, I have only been back twice in the past decade.

But lo and behold, here I am in Los Angeles waiting on my visa for my dream job to start in Paris in just a few weeks time. I had no idea this was my dream until I was reminded by my younger self.

And all because I hit “submit” on a job posting that popped up on LinkedIn.

There’s more to this trunk story:

I went with my mom to a one-day seminar back in 2007 to figure out a life plan. In my trunk in Long Beach, I found the vision board that I created that day. When I looked at it, I got chills once again. In big, bold cut outs from a magazine were the words “The New York Times” and a drawing of me holding a book next to the words.

Well, guess where I’m going to be working?

That’s right. The New York Times.

The funny thing is that I’m not writing for the New York Times, as you might think. I followed a different path in tech and digital advertising because that’s where my curiosity led me all these years later. So I’m going to be their Global Digital Business Director.

So in a roundabout way, my younger self had no idea what I would end up doing but also had every idea of what I would end up doing.

This isn’t voodoo.

This isn’t even luck, or chance. A LOT of things had to come into play in order for all of these things to pan out. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked hard on myself, at work and in the world throughout these years. This isn’t another excuse to sit back and wait because fate has it in for you no matter what.

The biggest point is that I kept on living; that I kept on following my curiosities and that I listened to my intuition. I forgot about the big dreams that I wrote down. I forgot about the dreams perhaps because I wrote them down. Once I wrote them down they were out of my head, and I could focus on what was before me, and not worry about how I would get there.

Could you imagine if I had focused on getting to Paris, worried about working for the New York Times AND finding my love?

Nothing would have made sense. All the roundabout ways I got here would have driven me crazy. I would have never ended up where I am, and certainly wouldn’t have accepted having a boyfriend in Los Angeles when I was living in London or about to move to Paris.

But it all works out. The universe knows, and that’s all we need to know.

So, seriously, write it down and then don’t worry about it.

Go live.

The point is that the dreams will work themselves out as long as you work on yourself.

At least that’s what I believe now.

I’ll forget about this too, and worry again. Such is life. But hopefully each time this happens, the faith gets stronger and the happiness stays a little longer.

In the meantime, try it. Write down your dream life, and store it away for later. Or write it down and keep it on display.

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to be big, be bold, be daring.

You never know, perhaps your 21 year old self does know that your dream is to live in Paris and work for the New York Times after writing your second novel with the guy you were friends with 10 years earlier and will make sure you fall in love with a foreign-born lawyer with a big family who is over six foot tall and loves to travel.

Either way, it couldn’t hurt, could it?