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I’m sure I’m not the only one who has struggled in the past to write a genuine, heartfelt note in a farewell card for a colleague or friend.

Everything that you can think of to write sounds embarrassingly shallow and tacky and you cringe at the thought of them reading it.

I recently had to write a farewell message to a person I’d had a long professional relationship with. I hated feeling awkward not knowing what to write, so I’ve come up with a simple formula to help me, and you, sound less “Hallmark” and more “thoughtful friend.”

It’s quite simple and I’ve found it to be pretty effective. It’s comprised of the following three elements.


A memory or inside joke

Mention a memory you share, or a memory you have of them that they’ll appreciate. If you know them well, you’ll likely have a heap to pick from.

Alternatively, an inside joke that you’ve shared over the time you’ve known each other.

If you don’t have any big memories, a little one will do. Just something to let them know that you’ve been paying attention.


A quality you’ll miss

If you’ve spent much time at all with them, you’ve likely picked up on a personal or professional quality of theirs that you appreciate. Maybe they’re always bright and happy, or they’ve always been supportive of you, or they’re super organised.

I had a colleague who had a nice habit of greeting everyone he came into contact with personally. If there were ten people in a room, he would greet every single person by name.

If you’re struggling to think of a quality you like, imagine you had to defend them. Say someone commented that the person was incredibly annoying. What might you respond with? “Sure, but at least she gives 100% all the time.” Or, “Yeah, maybe, but he has a great sense of humour.”

Whatever you come up with, find a way to mention it in a positive way, and let them know you appreciate the quality and will miss it.


A wish for the future

This element on its own can sound tacky, but combined with the above two elements makes it seem much more genuine.

What you’ll write depends on what the person is doing. It’ll differ if they’re moving onto a new job, or heading overseas on an awesome adventure, or retiring from the workforce entirely.

Here are a few examples that you can use or change up to suit your circumstances:

  • All the best for the future
  • I wish you the very best in all your future endeavours
  • Happy hiking!
  • Good luck at your next job.


If you’re looking to purchase a card, you can find recycled and other earth-friendly cards here and here. You can find recommendations for a simple but meaningful gift to go with the card here.

What do you like to say in a farewell card? Do you have a special formula too? Let me know in the comments!

Image credit: Freddy Castro on Unsplash

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