We are creating our legacy with every choice and action we take, regardless of whether we’re thinking about it. Thus, the most important question is not about how to leave a legacy. It’s about whether the legacy we’re making is the one we want it to actually look like.
Think about the life choices made in the following scenarios.
Do you choose to call the friend you know is in a tough time, or are you too busy right now? Will people remember how present you were in their lives, or how hard it was to see you?
Do you choose to practice listening? Will friends remember you as among the best listeners in their group, or otherwise?
Do you choose to allow yourself grace? Will the people in your world, especially the young ones, see someone who models wholeness and meaning?
Many of us hope to leave some kind of legacy, even though we don’t consider ourselves famous or wealthy, qualifiers we may think are necessities.
What Exactly Does Leaving a Legacy Mean?
A legacy doesn’t have to be something formal. In fact, it is happening without us even thinking about it.
For example, think about your favorite aunt or uncle when you were growing up. You may not have been a beneficiary in their will, but you do have memories. Let’s say you remember your aunt for her famous boiled custard, or your uncle for the math quizzes he always gave you when he visited. Both are true memories. But my aunt and uncle didn’t intentionally embed these memories in my mind.
Let’s consider if they had.
Perhaps my aunt really wanted to be remembered for her strengths as a teacher rather than for her cooking. How could she have accomplished that?
She’d have needed to start by having a desire to leave a specific type of legacy. Then she’d need to act intentionally to support her passion: “I want to be remembered as a beloved teacher,” or, “I plan to start sharing my favorite stories from my years of teaching.”
How to Start Creating the Legacy You Want to Leave
Start intentionally building your legacy by simply sitting with yourself and exploring your feelings about how you’d like to be remembered.
You certainly don’t have to be rich or famous to do this.
As you arrive at some ideas for the legacy you’d like to leave, consider small actions you can take to help cement memories of you. It could be a simple letter of gratitude, a recorded or written biography, or an ethical will. Or you could share with others how you want to leave your professional legacy, whether as a leader, mentor, or philanthropist.
Creating a Legacy Is About Living Life with Intention and Purpose
It’s about stopping now to think and act on what you want your life to stand for.
When the end of your days come, what do you want other people to remember you for?
And, if you believe in an afterlife: When you arrive there, what will you look back on with pride?
What qualities, actions, and memories will prove to you your life was valuable and positively contributed to those around you?
You come here with a purpose, with gifts and challenges to help you enjoy this life and grow.
Getting intentional now about your legacy can fill you with feelings of gratitude and peace as you realize the difference you’ve made.
Now you have a plan to ensure that lives on.