In life, we often get so caught up in what's happened today that we often forget about where we want to be in our future. We also end up finding ourselves doing things that force us to spend time in places that we don't want to be, with people we perhaps don't even really like. It is important that you take time, to stop and realise this.
Advantages of Creating Your Legacy
One of the best ways that you can do that is to actually spend time and define what your legacy is. Once you have your legacy defined you'll be in the position to really have the confidence to be able to say, “no that's not important to me”, “no I don't want to be there”, and guess what? It's okay for you to actually focus on the things that matter to you. Your job is to build your legacy not to fulfil other pieces of the puzzle in other people's. So how do you go about building your legacy? It's not a simple thing to do and it's certainly not a one-time exercise and there is no one size fits all solution, but what I can share with you are the steps that I've personally gone through and also taken many clients through over the years. These are the steps that I've seen build the foundation blocks defining your legacy.
Get Ready To Be Uncomfortable
The key to getting this right is being prepared to be uncomfortable and prepared to be confronted with your own mortality. We need to think about what we want people to say about us when we're no longer here. Effectively, sitting down and writing our funeral eulogy. Yes, that is what I just said… Your funeral eulogy. It is also important that when doing this that you do not think about your eulogy today if something happened. Instead imagine a situation that you're 95, 100 years of age, who knows with modern medicine how long we are all going to live. But, most importantly thinking about the future. You've got 20, 30, 40 years, perhaps more time to build this legacy. So, what are the things that you want people to say not about you today but about your future self. As you sit down to write your eulogy you can break it down to three parts.
Your Family and Friends
The first is what is it that you want your family and your friends to say about you, your character, the type of person that you are, the difference that you've made in their lives.
The second part is around your community. What is the impact that you want to have on those around you? Now there's absolutely nothing wrong particularly for those of you who have family values as a very, very high value and priority, that perhaps all of your focus has been your family and extending outside of that may not be important to your legacy. But, it is still really important to define what you want to leave behind, the difference and the impact that you want to leave behind in your community. Perhaps it's environmental, perhaps it's just having a positive impact on the people around you, perhaps it's mentoring younger people. There is so many different ways we can have an impact on the community around us. And for many of us, that can also lead us to think about or perhaps what we might start volunteering towards with charitable time and perhaps actually physical monetary donations. But we'll talk about that another time.
The third part is your career and if you run your own business it's the same exercise. You need to think about the day you retire or you close the doors of your business, what is it that you want people to say about your career? What impact have you had on your industry? Who have you mentored? What have you grown? What have you achieved? It doesn't have to be a huge legacy, it just has to be the legacy that you want and the legacy that's important to you.
Peer Pressure Warning
I probably at this point should talk about peer pressure and social norms and things that try to make us conform. We are all individuals and there is nothing that anybody can say that stops us from all having our own fingerprints, our own ID, our own psychology. We are a combination of our stories, our experiences, our nature and the nurture that we experienced as children, as well as all the many experiences that we've had as adults. Sometimes those experiences we need to spend time and rewrite those stories and we also need to make sure that we have a healthy psychology. But for now, the most important thing is to remember as you write your eulogies, as you help define what your legacy is going to become, that you actually focus on you and not what other people may think about what you're writing down.
This is a personal document. You can share it if you want to, but you don't have to. This is a document for you to keep and keep close. It's for those moments in life where you're not sure if you're following the right path and it gives you a roadmap, it gives you a checkpoint to say will this new job help me create the legacy I want for my career? Is the relationships that I surround myself with going to enable me to create the legacy that I want? Am I building the right character traits? Will people be able to describe me in the ways that I want them to? So defining your legacy is about creating that roadmap. Break it down into those three pieces and start to think about you. And my last point is, you're allowed to be selfish. You're allowed to put yourself first and be confident with every word that you write.
- Dominique Bergel-Grant
Tall Poppy Woman (www.tallpoppywoman.com)
Financial Planner and Lifestyle Expert For Women Going Through Separation and Divorce