4 Ways a Legacy Mindset Will Make Your Life More Meaningful
How thinking about your impact tomorrow improves your mindset today
How can thinking about your legacy bring more meaning to your life now?
Most of us probably don’t think we need to consider our legacies until we’re older, wiser, and have accomplished many of the things we dream of in life. We think of a legacy as a gift or inheritance, or something extraordinary that the greatest athletes and artists of our time leave behind. But a legacy is really all about impact. It is the memories, stories, perspectives, and lessons you leave the people around you with after you are gone. No matter who you are, you leave an impact—and that means you leave a legacy, too.
You don’t have to be old to think about building your legacy. All of your actions and choices contribute to the impact you have on the world, and that means they also create the legacy you will pass on. In fact, thinking about your legacy can help make your life more meaningful now. When you think about the effect you do and will have on others, you gain an important perspective on how you live in the present moment. Your decisions become more intentional, and your life becomes more full. Here are some ways a legacy mindset can bring more meaning to your life today.
1. Get clarity on what is most important to you. When you think about the impact you want to leave after you’re gone, do you think about how many gifts you were able to give your kids at Christmas, how many basketball games you won, or how much time you were able to spend volunteering to clean up pollution on your favorite beach? What you want to be remembered for is different for everybody. Your legacy can have a material impact, like the college funds you leave for your grandchildren, but it can also come in the form of the values you demonstrate and the memories you make. Consider how you want people to think of you—both now and in the future. Do you want to be remembered for your adventurous spirit, but find yourself taking the same trip every summer? Think about what is getting in the way of whatever it is that’s most important to who you want to be. When you imagine the way you’ll be remembered, you will start to feel more clear on saying yes to what you want and saying no to what you don’t.
2. Gain perspective on stress and negative emotions. It’s important to acknowledge and make space for all the feelings that come up in the course of your day, a stressful week at work, or a difficult month in your family. But thinking about your legacy can be a helpful tool for giving yourself perspective on reacting to everyday stressors. When you think about the big picture, you’re more equipped to pause, take a breath, and think about how important the traffic in the grocery store parking lot or irritating meeting with your coworker really is.
3. Encourage you to take a risk. All of us have dreams that we envision becoming a tangible part of our lives. Maybe you want to move to another country for a year, or you’ve always imagined starting your own business. It’s easy to put off making these dreams a reality, especially when day-to-day life and responsibilities make taking those risks all the more frightening. But when you imagine the impact you want to have at the end of your life, you also begin to realize what aspects of your life you want to make sure you don’t regret. Some of these risks can be painful and hard, like choosing to leave an unfulfilling relationship or setting boundaries with a toxic family member. Those risks are just as important as the exciting dreams. We all get stuck in what is familiar, even when we truly want to make a change. Thinking about your legacy can help get you unstuck from something in your present life so that you can take even one step toward a new and better future.
4. Go after your goals. There is never enough time in the day for everything we have to do, let alone everything we want to accomplish. Many of our goals end up on the back-burner. You may have always wanted to turn your grandmother’s beloved recipes into a family cookbook, or you’ve been meaning to learn Spanish so you can have more in-depth conversations with your father-in-law. It’s difficult to fit the projects we care about into the time we devote to work, family, chores, and taking care of ourselves. But realizing that our time is finite is a powerful way to reprioritize your time so that you can accomplish the goals that are most important to you.
It can be a weighty thing to envision the legacy you want to leave behind, and none of us particularly enjoy thinking about our own mortality. But even taking small moments of reflection on what we want our impact to be can make a significant difference in the way we spend our time, energy, and thoughts. A legacy mindset allows us to live with more intention, focus, and perspective in the present moment.
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