I’m in the financial industry, so it’s my job to help people grow their wealth. One of the topics that comes up a lot in these conversations is leaving a legacy. A lot of people think that building a legacy starts with dollars in the bank and elaborate estate planning, but that’s not where the real wealth is at all. It has become increasingly clear to me after having over 3,000 of these conversations that people want to know that their life has significance and meaning. American philosopher and psychologist William James said, “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it”. Humans are wired with an innate desire to make a contribution that is remembered beyond their days here on earth. There have been a few common threads that clients have taught me over the years about how to live a life that leaves a legacy. Let’s take a look at five things that anyone can start doing today.
1. Never stop growing:
How do you avoid sleepwalking through life? Never stop growing...
It may seem counter-intuitive to start the legacy conversation focused on yourself, but a lifelong commitment to growth is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, those you care about the most, your community, and the world. Part of growing is investing in yourself to stretch beyond routines and comfort zones. When you grow and become a better parent, grandparent, spouse, business owner, artist, writer, speaker, or anything else, something magical happens. You now have more to give, and that leads right into our next item.
2. Invest in Others:
Investing in others is what legacy is all about. If you pass something along that is living in somebody else, then a piece of you will live forever. Which do you think is more valuable, leaving your child a million dollars or spending the time to teach them how to create a million dollars? You can leave a legacy of good health, integrity, hard work, or any other thing that you would like to live on in others. You have to be intentional with investing in others and you have to make time now. Schedule time in your week for those meaningful relationships that are most important to you and create lessons and experiences that will last forever.
3. Invest in Experiences:
Creating memorable experiences is another investment that can last forever. I’ve talked to many retirees over the years who share their favorite stories of childhood, raising their family, work, hobbies, and life. These memories are some of their most treasured assets. These memories come from memorable experiences and the good news is that you can intentionally create them. How? Just like investing in your meaningful relationships, you have to get out your calendar and make time for them right now. A memorable experience doesn't have to be an extravagant vacation or a big production. It’s great when those happen, but most memorable experiences are more subtle. It could be 30 minutes at the park this week with your kids or making time to go have lunch with a sibling. Challenge yourself to pencil in one new memorable experience this week.
4. Find Your Mission:
Why do you do what you do? It’s one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves. Finding something that lights you up will lead to a more fulfilling life, and an example of a life well lived is one of the best things we can leave behind. The key is to find something separate and bigger than yourself that you live for. It could be building a successful business, finding a cure for cancer, or raising a healthy family. Being crystal clear on what that is can make all the difference in the world on how you live your life, and the impact you make while you’re here. Once you have a mission that inspires and motivates you, it’s time to enjoy the journey.
5. Enjoy The Journey:
Contrary to popular belief success is not a destination (retirement, a million dollars in the bank, starting a business, etc). Those are all great goals, but to live a life that lives on in others you have to enjoy the journey toward those big goals. You have got to be present on the journey for those meaningful relationships and memorable experiences we discussed because those are the things you can’t get back or buy with money.
You live on in the people and things that are impacted by your example of a life well lived. If you have millions to leave behind too that’s great, but the most powerful and longest lasting legacies are built on the 5 investments I mentioned above and they are something money can’t buy.
One of the things I work with clients on is creating a one page Legacy Plan that includes goals and commitments in each of those areas. The key to making your legacy plan work is that you have to make it intentional.
Get Started Today:
To create your personalized Legacy Plan today simply make a list including: Investment in Yourself, Meaningful Relationships, Memorable Experiences, Mission, and The Journey. Add one goal you can do this week to each area on your list. Review and update weekly and you are on the way to living a life that leaves a legacy.