Every man dies, but not every man lives. –William Wallace (Braveheart)
I want to leave a legacy.
I want to be remembered for something worthy.
Did I choose to love? Did I choose to sacrifice for the good of others? Was I the best dad I could be?
Inside all of us, there is this desire to be significant. To be famous maybe. But to have our feelings, thoughts, opinions, and ideas validated as important and REMEMBERED.
We all want to matter.
Make your mark. And make it hard to erase.
Thing is, we “wait” to leave a legacy. We pretend we will not know what our legacy is until after we’re gone. It’s like someone will pull out this worn, tattered scroll at our funeral and reverently read the words and, sentence by sentence, our legacy is revealed.
That’s BS and we know it. Our legacy is being built everyday. Our legacy of yesterday is revealed today.
What kind of legacy did you leave…YESTERDAY?
Over the past year, I’ve experienced funeral preparation up close and personal. Gathering together all the pictures and memories to get a “snapshot” and tell a life story in just a few moments.
The two funerals in the past six months have been of one life of mostly unfulfilled potential and the other of a mother at the end of a valiant battle still trying to put others first. While maybe not a fair comparison, the legacy’s left behind are a dramatic contrast in the same bloodline.
I witnessed a third story of a suffering woman the midst of this tragedy. A story of the growing legacy of this woman.
The importance and significance of TODAY give us the opportunity to leave a legacy everyday. The fact is, we are already doing it.
You already leave a legacy.
We leave a legacy everyday. The only question is whether or not it’s “GOOD or BAD?”
Shouldn’t this help us place more significance on the moment? Live more in the present?
How can you focus on living a legacy today?
- Start the day in the right frame of mind – For some it might be meditation. For some it might be a morning run. For others it might be some quiet time praying and reading the Bible. But starting the day with the right mindset puts everything else into perspective.
- First things first – Focus on the important things before the urgent things waste your day. Prioritize your “to-do” list. Make sure you work on your dream everyday. Leave room for margin. Don’t try to do too much.
- Develop a personal mission statement – A personal mission statement could be as simple as a favorite quote or scripture verse that really resonates with you. Or it could be as detailed as identifying the various roles you have in life and having short-term and long-term goals within each role.
- Relationships have the biggest impact – When in doubt, relationships rule. Work on deepening and / or healing key relationships. With your relationships in a good place, many of the other things either fall into place or don’t matter as much if they don’t.
- Stay healthy – Being healthy via exercise and diet, means you are able to focus on others versus them having to care for you. This won’t last forever, but for today, you need to be healthy to build that legacy.
- Set a good example – How many times have your heard, “A reputation takes years to build and just seconds to throw away”? The legacy you leave will be determined by the decisions and choices you make everyday. We all make mistakes. Some are just harder, hopefully not impossible, to overcome. Make good choices. Live with integrity and honor.
- Post-it notes – Leave yourself reminders. You’ve heard of visualization and leaving pictures of desired goals where you can see them, right? Well how about leaving little quotes or words of inspiration in obvious places to encourage you. I’d had “Live a Better Story” taped to my rearview mirror since 2010. It reminds me to focus on the story my life is telling everyday.
- Find a cause – It could be an established charity like the American Cancer Society or the SPCA or one you start yourself. It could be a ministry within your church or mentoring a neighborhood kid. Find something bigger than you to pour life into.
- Read – A reader is a leader. Read motivational and inspirational books on topics that will make YOU a better YOU. And when I say ‘read’, that includes my favorite “reading” via audiobooks (Audible.com). Or find a favorite blog. Here are some related “Legacy” post from writers I enjoy:
10. Look yourself in the mirror – Eyeball to eyeball, are you happy with your day-to-day life. Let’s face it, we KNOW when we are living a good story or not. If you’re not happy, take the responsibility to change it today.
We all want to be remembered and missed by those we impacted.
Start living today with a “NO REGRETS” type attitude and the legacy left from yesterday will be worthy of remembering.
Has someone in your life left a legacy that impacted the way you think or live?