We are fast approaching what for many people is not only the busiest time of year, but also the most stressful. There’s shopping to be done, deadlines to be met, friends and family obligations to be fulfilled, and so on. As tension and anxiety runs high, so too do the hormones that make stress chemicals. With all this added stress, it’s easy to lose focus on our goals and meditation practice.

You probably think you know what I’m going to say next—now is the best time to turn off the outward stimulation and go deeper within. While yes, I am tempted to say this, I want to instead give you a very simple but powerful practice to make you pause, look around, and look within. In this very act of looking inward, you’ll be forced to look outward toward the brilliant future ahead of you—whether it’s a future of health, wealth, joy, abundance, love, family, wholeness, and so on.

Are you ready for the exercise? I want you to schedule a date with yourself to go to a coffee shop, somewhere in nature, or some other quiet place, and write a thank you letter to your future self. Whether it’s one year from now or fifty years down the line, I want you to thank yourself for all the courageous decisions you made. Thank yourself for the people who graced your life, the adventures your curiosity took you upon, your healthy body that carried you on these adventures, all the times you overcame yourself, the hard-learned lessons that became your life’s greatest blessings, the love you received and gave, and the beautiful and unexpected way your soul’s journey and purpose unfolded.

The most important thing for you to do when you get into the process of writing your letter is to embrace the powerful, elevated emotions you will feel when your creations come to fruition. Combine these elevated emotions with each sharp and distinct memory of your future—which from the exercise’s perspective—is you thinking about your past.

The reason why this is important is because from a neurological standpoint, your brain doesn’t recognize the difference between a memory of your past and a memory of your future. But because emotions create long-term memories, the more you move out of your resting state (or the emotions that anchor you to the past) and into the elevated feelings and emotions of your future, the more you’ll not only be biologically changed by the memory of your future, but drawn to it.

When these emotions are connected to the thoughts and visions of your future, you’re laying down a new set of neurological tracks that are imprinting your future into your brain. By passionately feeling the emotions of each experience, you will not only be giving your body a taste of the future, but also priming your brain into making a long-term memory.

Now as far as the letter, there is no limit on its length or what you can create in your life. I just want you to do this so you can anchor your energy in the future—a point in the distance upon which you can focus—because every time you think about that future, you are magnetizing yourself towards it.

When you’ve finished your letter, mail it to your address. Next, I want you to buy a treat or memento. It can be a trinket or something silly, or an article of clothing you think your future self will look dapper wearing. This act of buying yourself a gift anchors you in the present, and you are going to bring that gift with you when you open your letter in the future.

Buying a treat and bringing it to meet yourself in your future is just another way to be playful with the universe while still being intentional. You might want to place it somewhere you can see it, or if it’s clothes, wear it from time to time to remind yourself where you’re heading. It’s basically an external cue for you to stay focused on your goals and practice, as well as a reminder that creation doesn’t have to be hard, grueling, painstaking work. It’s supposed to be full of fun, whimsy, wonder, surprise, and awe. When you’re doing it right, fun, whimsy, wonder, surprise, and awe is exactly what’s reflected back to you.

When you receive the thank you letter several days later, do not open it. Rather, think about what you wrote, then stash it away in the bottom of your dresser draw or someplace where you know you’ll find it in your future. If you want, you can put a reminder in your calendar, or you can just leave it to chance that you’ll discover it at the right time.

So now find a day on your calendar to treat yourself and remember that when you invest in yourself, you invest in your future.