I have just returned from a memorial service for a dear friend who passed away just before the weekend. Have you ever noticed how much the death of someone close gets you thinking about your own life and legacy? I think it’s good to reflect on how our own life is going, and consider where we are, and where we are headed.
As I looked around the room at all the people who came to honor this amazing lady, I thought about how her accomplishments added genuine value to the lives of so many. There was about a hundred people there, and she had touched the heart of each of them in some way. Isn’t that a wonderful testimony to a life lived well? What a great legacy she made for herself.
Don’t we all want a legacy like that?
I actually found myself asking: “If my life ended right now, how would I be remembered?” What would people say about my life and death? What would they remember about my personality, accomplishments, reputation, or my contribution? Would they feel better for having knowing me? Would my legacy bring a smile to their faces?
Does that seem like a weird thing to think about? I believe that this kind of thinking has value, and here’s why.
If you don’t like the answers, you can still change them!
You see, once death enters the picture, it is too late to do anything about how we will be remembered. But we’re not gone, and we can still choose what kind of lasting impression we make on the people in our life.
Never, ever, feel helpless when it comes to changing the way others perceive you, or your perception of yourself. You can become whoever you want to become, once you make a decision to change. You can write your own legacy.
Most of our limits exist only in our head
A friend of mine likes to say “Cut loose your full potential on the world and see what happens.” What do you think would happen if you actually did that? Do you think it would change people’s perception of you? Do you think it would change your legacy and reputation? Would it alter your accomplishments and reputation? Absolutely!
It would also completely change the way you see yourself, your sense of personal identity. This is because your true self knows what you are capable of, and longs to unleash the power necessary to achieve your goals and dreams.
So what it comes down to is this: Do you want to use your life to be the best you can be, or are you willing to settle for some watered down version of yourself? If you said “the best you can be,” then you need to come up with a plan to make it happen.
Here’s a little exercise to help you find direction.
Write the Book of You
Sit down with pen and paper, and briefly recount all the high points of your life that brought you to where you are today. Now fill in the rest of the story exactly the way you want it to turn out. Write in the first person as if it had already happened and you’re doing a biography of your own life.
Make it vivid by including the details and feelings for each of your accomplishments and experiences. Don’t impose limits on yourself. Write the story of how you unleashed your full potential to create an amazing life and left behind an amazing legacy. Get fully involved in the story and let it reflect the incredible joy and satisfaction of a truly rewarding life experience.
After your death what will your legacy will be ?
If you do the exercise, I guarantee you will be inspired, but then what? Obviously, inspiration needs to be acted on or nothing will change. You can only look back on those accomplishments if you go after them now. You can only build that legacy if you start working on it now. That’s because this is your life and your opportunity. It’s up to you what you leave behind.
The truth is, you will be remembered the same way you lived. So the real question is, how will you choose to live? It’s a decision that only you can make and the sooner you make it, the sooner your life goes from ordinary to extraordinary.