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Handwritten Notes

When is the last time you wrote a handwritten thank-you note? 

In this day of texts and emails, it’s so easy to send someone a quick text after you have a meal together, or perhaps you send an email after a client meeting. Of course, I do those things, too.

However, I am a big believer in the power of handwritten notes. This year, I have a personal goal of sending more personal, handwritten notes than I did last year. And last year I wrote 511 (yes, you read that correctly, five hundred and eleven—more than one a day)! Why would I do such a thing … and why would I track it?

I have found that making the time to pen a handwritten note makes me recall the person I am writing to. I recall the memory and the feeling about them. Whether it is a birthday card to a special friend, or a thank-you note for a special gift or experience, I love pausing to think about that person.

For example, I was at a produce industry show a few weeks ago and had the chance to chat with someone I had never met before at a cocktail party. He is a supermarket executive at a well-known company. We chatted for about 20 minutes, and I learned that he was just starting to play golf (like me), and he happened to share his middle name (which most people do not know). When I got back to my office, I could have easily sent him an email saying that I enjoyed chatting with him.

Instead, I went home, ordered an extra copy of a small book on golf that I am reading, and (after it arrived) I penned him a handwritten note. I squeezed in his middle name on the card (I thought he would chuckle), shared why I was sending him the book and then dropped it in the mail.

Just a few days later I received a text from him! It included a photo of the book cover, many smiley faces and this comment, “I can tell you listened to me” … and he wrote his middle name.

It’s my hope that each time he grabs that book or plays a round of golf, that he reminisces on our great conversation. This is the kind of personal connection that can’t be replicated through email.

So, why do I track the number of handwritten notes I send? For two reasons: First, I set a goal and the only way to achieve a goal is to track your progress. Second, filling in my “HWN” (handwritten note) number causes me to think of who else I could or should write a note to. (I recap my goals each month, so each week I glance at my calendar to see what actions I’ve taken. This provides a great reminder.)

Finally, you’re probably wondering how I wrote so many letters last year. When you track a personal goal, it can often become a fun, internal competition with yourself, however this goal empowered me to communicate with others in an authentic way and had surprising results. For example, when I wanted to reach out to a friend who was going through a rough patch in her life, I realized that sending a text was one thing, but I could make an even more positive impact by hand-writing a personal note, or picking out a “thinking of you” card and writing a short-but-sweet message. In fact, one friend confided in me that when she receives a note from me, it completely cheers her up.

So, the next time you are thinking of a friend, family member or business colleague, grab a pen, dash off a quick note, and bring a smile to their face. 

Do you have any hand-written note stories? I’d love to hear them!

Onward and upward,

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