How to Build Your Legacy

By Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant.

First appeared on the Over Sixty website. {link:]

In a year that has seen multiple, seemingly unexpected deaths in the celebrity world, most notably that of David Bowie, it has caused many of us to take stock and consider, how will I be remembered?

Whether you remember him as a rock star, a fashion icon, or a champion for equality, one thing is clear and that is that David Bowie left an indelible mark on many. He pioneered a path for others to follow and to make sense of their world by being unconventional, innovative and willing to push the boundaries without fear. His memory, as with his music, will undoubtedly live on for years to come.

Whilst it may not be on the world stage, all of us have milestones and achievements that we should be proud of and remembered for. The challenge is that too often we become caught up in our day-to-day living and forget to reflect on the amazing things we have achieved throughout our lives.

Have you stopped to think what you want your legacy to be, and how your friends and family will remember you when you’re gone?

The good news is that it is never too late to start making a more meaningful contribution to the people and community around you. What’s more, it can help you to stay connected, relevant and fulfilled – a real challenge that many face when first transitioning into retirement. Focusing on one’s legacy presents an opportunity to positively impact others and demonstrate “I was here, I mattered, and I made a difference”.

When planning for retirement consider the legacy you will leave and how you can continue to create it in retirement.

Before you can create or build a legacy it is first important to celebrate you and to know the unique story you have to share. You can then take purposeful action.

  • Articulate your proudest moments. These may be achievements in both your personal and professional life. Try not to be too modest and then take a moment - when was the last time you celebrated these?
  • Recognise your strengths. What unique skills can others learn from you? If you’re feeling brave, you may like to ask people around you what they admire in you.
  • Know your passions. What excites you, or gets you riled up to want to make a stand?
  • Embrace the bad stuff. Life doesn’t always go to plan. Consider what you learned and how can you share this in order for others to avoid those same mistakes.
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” – Shannon L Adler

A legacy is not only a tangible item, such as an inheritance or bequeath. It is not necessary to earn one million dollars (or whatever arbitrary figure you choose) to be worthy of making a meaningful contribution to the people or community around you.

Below are three simple ways that you can create your legacy, starting today.

  1. Share your story with the people who matter most. Others need to know your story for it to live on - have your children or grandchildren heard the tales of your adventures (and maybe misadventures!), some of which may be before their time?
  2. Mentor others. If you have a field of expertise consider how you can pass your knowledge on, either formally or informally. Whilst you may feel doubtful as to how much of an impact you can offer 20 or 30-somethings in this digital era, you may just surprise yourself. Helping them to build relationships or see a new perspective on a problem are not things that require advanced IT skills.
  3. Support the causes that are important to you. Explore how you can offer your time, energy and/or voice to help your chosen charity to make a positive difference. There are so many ways to volunteer, such as a joining the board of a not-for-profit, contributing specific expertise such as HR or marketing skills, building schools overseas, or supporting one-off events. Find a good match for your skills and interests, as without a doubt there is a service or organisation looking for someone just like you.

Each and every day we have the opportunity to help and serve others – what will your impact be?

If you enjoyed this article you may also enjoy. 'I ummm...How to introduce yourself in retirement' and 'Is happiness really what we're after in retirement'.

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