Delayed gratitude

Here’s an easy formula for showing gratitude in a way that’s certain to make an impact.

First, express your thanks (here’s some advice on how to do it well).

Then set a reminder (use a calendar or an app) in the future based on when you think you’ll have something to show for the help you received. Extra help in a class might mean a reminder five days from now, right after the big exam. A letter of recommendation for college might mean a reminder five months from now when you know where you’ve been accepted. Advice on your college savings strategy might mean a reminder one or two years from now when you know how much you’ve saved and how much it’s grown.

You can see the punchline coming.

When the reminder does its job, reach back out to the person who helped you, thank them again, and tell them specifically how the advice has benefited you.

A second, delayed expression of gratitude extends your goodwill. It makes it more likely that the person will help you again in the future. And it’s just a nice thing to do.