‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’
In our youth, we all face this perennial question, and it’s certainly important! Notably, however, no one has ever asked me what I want my life to ‘mean’ when it’s over.
No one has ever sat me down to talk about my life’s legacy.
Has your experience been different?
If not, I’m asking you to consider your life’s legacy right now.
This second question is more ephemeral, but also more important. In addition, it’s never too soon – or too late – to start thinking about it. In truth, regardless of circumstances, we each have the opportunity to decide what kind of legacy we want to leave in our wake.
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
– Woodrow Wilson
Think of your life’s legacy as the impact of your character as evidenced by your choices and demonstrated by your commitments. By this definition, it’s obvious that you don’t need to be wealthy or famous to leave a great life legacy. Nonetheless, the arc of life often seems long, so it’s easy to lose track of legacy in the cacophony of daily activity. Thus, it’s important to give legacy some thought. In the end, your actions will determine your legacy, and speak much louder than your words.
Anyone can leave a great life legacy by being intentional with choices and commitments!
Choices – First, consider your own habits! Are your actions in alignment with your words? Or, do you insist that others do as you say, and not as you do? There is a common double standard that we often apply without realizing it: We judge ourselves by our intentions but we judge others by their actions.
Think on that for moment.
Instead of applying a less-stringent subjective standard to yourself, consider what someone else might think of your actions objectively. I often rationalize behaviors because they are gratifying or comfortable. But considering a course of action from somebody else’s perspective helps me make better decisions. In the long run, good decisions compound into a powerful legacy.
“People will summarize your life in one sentence – pick it now.”
– John Maxwell
Commitments – Next, decide how you want to invest in other people, and commit to doing so. You have more potential than you realize! Take mentorship as an example. Believe it or not, you don’t need any special training to be a mentor – just the willingness to share your life experience with someone else.
You’ve already forged unique perspective and insight based on your successes and failures, and this wisdom is gold!
Share your joys and regrets to help others understand the results of good decision-making, see the potential in their own lives, discover the burdens God has laid on their hearts, and take action on their dreams.
Then, sit back and enjoy the positive impact of your life.
“Carve your name on hearts and not on marble.”
– Charles Spurgeon
Consider the trajectory of your life and the legacy you want to leave behind.
Resolve to act in accordance with that ideal, and serve others by sharing your life experience. Doing so will help others live a story worth telling, and make your own life significant in the process.
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