I used to be extremely focused on the idea of “legacy” (and now that I know my Enneagram is a 3, that makes much more sense). I spent lots of time really worrying about what I’d leave behind. What would my fingerprint on the world be? Would it be a book? A project? A prestigious job? I wanted it to be BIG.
I wondered what I’d feel like if I reached the end of my life and felt like that substantial legacy — whatever it ended up being — hadn’t been met. Would I feel regret, or like I’d lived an unfinished life?
(I really did think about this a lot. Anyone else?)
But in recent years, that focus has started to shift. Once I became a mother, it REALLY changed, and one day I realized that I was no longer obsessed with this idea of legacy in the same way I had been. My time felt best spent on the everyday things — mainly on the RELATIONSHIPS in my life — which, as it turns out, are the most important things in life.
(Duh. It just took me a while to get there.)
I’ve been thinking about the idea of legacy again lately, and so thought I’d dig into it a little bit here. It’s so very human after all, isn’t it? (Whether we are aiming for those universe-altering goals or just want to be remembered as a good person, thinking about legacy is a reminder both that we’re alive and that we won’t always be.)
It’s interesting to Google “quotes on legacy,” because you’ll be reminded of just how individual we all are. Sure, there are lots of common themes, but Peyton Manning’s idea of a legacy is being a good teammate while architect Julia Morgan cites her buildings as her legacy.
I especially loved the list included in this Huffington Post article, sharing five ways to leave a positive legacy behind. These are all wonderful, and also doable. They’re real and they’re lasting, because they mean a piece of you will live on in others. They’re ways to make sure you don’t just leave something good behind, but that you’re also living a very present, thoughtful, giving life for as long as you’re here on Earth. (And isn’t that the point, after all? I’ve certainly come to believe it is.):
1. Support the people and causes that are important to you.
2. Reflect and decide what’s most important in your life.
3. Share your blessings with others.
4. Be a mentor.
5. Pursue your passions (because they’re infectious).
“People think about history as all grand gestures or significant moments, but the most valuable lesson we can learn is the enduring legacy of the small, meaningful things in life.” – Deborah Harkness
Note: This hasn’t changed my motivation and drive to keep making and reaching goals. I’d still love to write a book, for example. But it no longer feels like there’s SO MUCH PRESSURE behind those goals. That weight has lifted (which makes running toward them even more enjoyable).
I’d love to know your thoughts on legacy. How do you define it in your own life? How are you actively working to pursue the legacy you’re hoping to leave in your wake? Please leave a comment and let me know.