We’re faced with so many choices each day.
Some are little, like “Should I post this on Instagram?” While others have a big impact on our lives, like “Should I change careers?” or “Should I move to a new city?”
After a while, these decisions can start to weigh us down. When faced with a major life choice, sometimes we just want someone to step in and decide for us, because couldn’t possibly know what the right decision is. We end up in a spiral of overthinking—and then we feel too overwhelmed to take action.
To help me make decisions in my life, I like to ask, “Will this help me live my legacy?”
If I’m considering a career move that will help me reach more people, then yes, it will help me live out my legacy. Posting my breakfast on Instagram? Not so much. 😉
If you’ve never thought about what kind of a legacy you want to leave, now is the time.
At first, the idea of your legacy may be a little overwhelming. But reframing your life in terms of your legacy can actually make it simpler and easier.
How? By making it about other people.
A lot of people make the mistake of making their daily life all about them or their ego. But when you make your life about inspiring and helping others, making decisions becomes easy and life becomes more fulfilling in general.
Many people come to this realization when they have children. Before you become a parent, it’s easy to make your life all about you: Your career, your travels, your dating life, etc. But when a child is in the mix, suddenly every decision you make becomes about them—and you end up treating yourself differently as a result.
For example, before I had kids, skydiving may have sounded like a fun idea. Would I do it now that I have three kids to provide for? No way!
I felt the shift even before I had my kids—when I was pregnant. I realized that I couldn’t push myself as hard. I had to take better care of myself because my baby’s health was dependent on me. Furthermore, I wanted to be a positive role model for him, showing him that it’s important to take care of yourself as well as others.
Now that my kids are older, I see that we truly do leave our legacy through our children. Some of this is deliberate, like the values we instill in them and the guidance we give them with regards to school, work and relationships.
But we leave our legacy through our children in more subtle ways too. The way we treat ourselves and talk to ourselves rubs off on them. If we’re always talking down to ourselves and nitpicking how we look, for example, our children will model that behavior. If we take care of ourselves and model self-love and confidence, our children will carry on that legacy instead.
Just recently, I was away for work and when I came home, my daughter had left me some tea and an aromatherapy spray for good sleep beside my bathtub. This small action made me realize how my rituals have influenced my daughter, and how this is a small way I am living out my legacy through her.
But children are not the only way we can leave a legacy. We can also do it just by making a commitment to help others.
One cause that I feel passionate about is homelessness. And on my birthday for the last 20 years, I’ve helped that cause by handing out backpacks to the homeless.
This past year, since it was my 53rd birthday, I had 5,300 backpacks made with the words “I am a blessing” printed on them. I got 53 friends to help me, and we filled those backpacks with items like baby wipes, combs, gloves, hats, etc.
We each took 100 backpacks and put them in our cars. Now when we see homeless people on the street, we give them a backpack.
Now, I have not done 5,300 backpacks every year, not even close. In early years when I didn’t have a lot of money, I filled a few plastic bags with whatever I could afford to give. But I did what I could, and it’s something I’ll always be proud of.
So, take a moment to think about your legacy. Here are some questions to answer:
- What does legacy mean to you? Is it through your children? Your business? Your art? Your charity work?
- How do you want to be remembered?
- How are you living your legacy?
Once you have clarified what your legacy means to you, live it through every action that you take.
When you are considering doing something new, ask “Will this help me leave my legacy?” Use this question as a guide as you navigate your life, especially in the toughest moments.
Every action has a cause and effect in your life. When you become more aware of how your actions affect your life and the lives of others in a deeper way, you live with more focus and intention—and you leave a lasting legacy that you can be proud of.