A Good Day to Write a Thank You Letter

Being the day before Thanksgiving, I have a 30-minute “task” for you that will make you feel good and bring you many future blessings.

Step One: Take out five sheets of paper. Nice stationery, if you have it.

Step Two: Think about the people in your life who help you. And not just in the obvious ways. For example, think of someone who:

  • makes you laugh
  • inspires you
  • you can count on, no matter what
  • has taught you a valuable lesson
  • you love

Step Three: Handwrite a thank you note to each of them. It should take no more than two or three minutes per person. Ten to 15 minutes to write all five letters.

Step Four: Address five envelopes.

Step Five: Take them to the post office and mail them.

Question: Do I have to write them on paper and post them? Won’t e-mail do just as well?

Answer: No.

Problem: I’m not good at writing letters. This will take me all day!

Solution: The letters don’t need to be long, perfervid, or poetic. Just two, three, or four sentences that express what each person means to you. Be brief, but be specific. Identify — as simply, truly, and precisely as you can — the reason for your gratitude.

To make it extra easy, you can use this as your template:

Dear Harry,

I was thinking of you this afternoon and found myself grinning in public. It occurred to me that you have always brought a smile to my face. I wanted you to know that I am grateful for it.

Your friend,

Michael Masterson

As I said, you will get two benefits from this exercise. You will have a good, warm feeling when you write the letter. And you will be encouraging and deepening a relationship that is good for you.

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]
  • Michael:

    I want to THANK YOU for sharing your words of wisdom!

    Early-To-Rise has been an inspiration to me and those who have taken my advice to subscribe to your newsletter.

    After several years of searching… I’ve found my Alabama High School JROTC instructor in Florida (about two weeks ago). He retired the year I graduated (1976) and have not heard from him since.

    He was a great inspiration to me for several reasons. Firstly, he had a vast range of knowledge. You could ask him about anything and he knew the answer. Secondly, he had faith in my organization and leadership abilities and helped me hone those skills in JROTC.

    I’m sure I would have developed these skills in my own time… but his guidance helped shorten my learning curve.

    He shared his secret about knowing so much information by telling me you don’t have to remember the facts… know where to look for the information.

    He encouraged me to develop my organization skills by assigning me to the S-3 position in the Battallion. In the JROTC Army Program, the S-3 officer (for non-military folks) is in charge of Operations.

    It was my job to prepare class schedules so that the JROTC training classes would include all the topics the instructors and senior students were required to teach for a well-balanced JROTC Program.

    Until I read your article… I was procrastinating the time I wanted to take to write one of my favorite mentors.

    I’ve spent way too much time on my procrastination treadmill without any ROI. (Although, I believe there is a way to recoup those losses when I just take the time to turn those experiences into stories and market the info to the proper audience.)

    Thanks for your inspiration! I’ll be writing and mailing that thank you note to SGM Walter B. Dyess (U.S. Army Retired) this week!

    Looking forward to reading more of your excellent articles!

    Until next time… Frank

    p.s. – In my mind… I can still smell the smoke from his pipe and see him sitting at his desk with a book in his hand and a bottle of antacid near his feet that were propped up on his desk. – gfb3