Who do you think you will be remembered by, what for, for how long and what do you think your life’s work will be remembered for? What will your legacy be?
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Your Legacy – what will you look back on?
If you were to imagine yourself at age 90, with all your faculties about you, and to be reflecting back on your life’s work, what do you think might prevail – satisfaction or regret? Who do you think you will be remembered by and what do you think you will be remembered for? Go on: just allow your mind to wander through this future pace.
Unusual request, isn’t it? Is that maybe due to the fact that we are so busy “doing” on life’s treadmill, that we don’t seem to allow sufficient time often enough to reflect on and plan and put ourselves onto a journey for that which really matters to us? You know the dreams and aspirations we experienced as students when we thought we could and wanted to change the world? What happened? Did we perhaps let “life get in the way?”
In my coaching work, this is one of the very first questions my clients are confronted with in their pre-coaching questionnaire. And it is interesting indeed how many people really struggle with this.
Grandparents and other Generations
Can I ask you to do something for you? What do you remember your grandparents for? What legacy have they left you? What do you know about them? Was theirs a life of adventure and excitement and learning? And maybe also struggle and adversity and challenge? Do most of you remember them? Now please do the same for your great-grandparents. If you’re anything like me, could you be struggling a bit more with this one?
I was recently involved in a wonderful task – translating my dad’s handwritten “memoirs” from German into English so that all the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of our family are able to have a memento of his (and my late mum’s) remarkable life together. (He turned 94 this year). But alas, nothing like that exists for my grandparents, only one of whom I met, let alone my great-grandparents, whom I know hardly anything about.
So where might I be going with this blog? If I have your attention for a moment now, could I follow up with the question: “what will your legacy be”? If you were to allow yourself some time with a scratchpad over an hour or so, and then over the next couple days or weeks, what would you like your children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren to remember you for? If you continue down your life’s path as you have been for the last 5 or 10 years, what might your legacy be headed for?
Will it be exciting, interesting, full of adventure and awe and great experiences and learning? Perhaps having developed something new and different that everyone can benefit from? Or will your grandchildren or great-grandchildren already be struggling to know your legacy, as we might be at the moment?
Or will it be a substantially lower version of what is possible for you? One where you knew that you had everything inside you to truly make a difference, but you didn’t have the courage to “have a go”? Or maybe that you felt insufficiently equipped to do so or had an obstacle that was holding you back? Or maybe you are so busy doing, that you have never devoted the time to think about, to plan and then to focus your life and life’s work on what really matters to you?
I am known these days for acknowledging with gratitude that I am now doing in my life’s work what I was born to to do. Let me challenge you right here and right now: if you aren’t yet doing or have a plan to be working towards what you were born to do, what are you waiting for?
That’s what I’d like to leave you with today – as a follow up to my Goals Trilogy. Why not set some big, hairy, audacious goals that take your breath away and inspire you to make a difference to and for your life, your life’s work and for and with all those loved ones around you? Most things extraordinary were achieved by ordinary people like you and me doing something extra. Getting out of the comfort zone and blazing a trail, with passion and enthusiasm; making mistakes along the way, but finishing up (maybe at age 90) to look back in satisfaction instead of in regret.
So why not You?
Wherever you are in life right now, it’s never too late to start. Why not start right now? And if you don’t know where to start, why not talk to a coach to see how they might be able to help you on a path ending in satisfaction? And then hold you accountable to achieving what you really aspire to?
Isn’t this one great thing that can make the big difference in your life that differentiates whether that reflection as a 90 year old is indeed in satisfaction and not in regret?