This question has been on my mind a lot. Why? Because I don’t have kids to pass on my legacy to. I don’t want my life to be inconsequential. I want to be remembered as a person who cared and did everything they could to make the world a better place. But if you were to ask me, what do you want your mark to be? I would look at you as if I were a deer caught in the headlights because I wouldn’t have a clue where to start. There are people in this world who know exactly what their role in life is. Kudos to them. Some of us are still trying to figure it all out. There are many in this world who are free spirits. I look around me and see so many people struggling to make the changes in their lives because they’ve become complicit and it happened without them even realizing it.
When I say complicit, don’t get mad. The truth is that many people make sacrifices for their kids and their kids are their legacy. That’s a blessing for those who are able to pass on their core values and be a positive role model in their children’s lives. But what about those who don’t have what society considers to be “normal?” If you are single and older, you are looked at many times with pity. It’s true. I can’t tell you how many times my friends and I have been looked down upon because we were childless. News flash. Not everyone can have children and there are some folks who never wanted to have them. That doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy kids. There’s a lot of reasons why. Before you pass judgment on those that don’t have them, maybe a sensitivity chip needs to be inserted in your logic before you assume. That doesn’t apply to everyone because there are people who don’t assume but it’s been mine and friends of mine experiences that there’s been something wrong with us for not having the ability to procreate and reproduce. Yep, I went there.
One of my closest friends and I were having this conversation earlier. Why is it that society always asks what we want our legacy to be? In the same breath, society berates people for becoming obese, for not having better care of our health, for inciting violence, for breaking the rules and breaking laws. Folks, I’m not saying it’s okay to go out and hurt someone. What I’m saying is that sometimes the law is geared to those who are in power, wealthy, and to those who know how to play the game better than the average person. Sometimes it seems the only way to get to the top and leave a mark is to bend the rules. Once you get to the level you want to go, then what? Do you think that others are going to be talking about you long after you’re gone? Probably not. So how can you make your imprint on this world matter?
For one thing, get rid of the negative energy around you. It’s often easier said than done.
- Lack of focus.
Let’s face it. If you can’t focus on the positives in your life, it’s not going to matter what your friends tell you. People can tell you all day long that you are beautiful, unique, special, creative, and important but if you don’t believe in yourself, then you won’t believe anything that others tell you. It’s a mindset. When you make up your mind to live each day with a positive mindset, it becomes infectious.
2.Living the life others want you to live.
What do you think you’re accomplishing when you are living to make everyone else around you happy? If you aren’t loving your life and loving what you’re doing, that energy is going to rub off on everyone around you. If you think you’re good at faking, you’re either kidding yourself or others have figured out that you are just coasting. When we coast in life, we tend to lose interest in almost everything we do. It’s up to us to find our center and figure out what makes us come alive.
3. Bitterness, anger, and fear.
Have you compared what you have to those around you? I have. There have been days where I was so pissed at the world for having what I wanted that I neglected to understand that I was in the driver’s seat to change things. All I had to do was to let go of the anger, fear, and bitterness and allow the rays of hope and confidence to shift gears. After all, if you want to leave a legacy, first and foremost you have to leave a mark with yourself first. Change isn’t going to happen overnight.
4.Urgencies that smother priorities.
There will always be things that get in the way of what you want to do. It may be that you get a job to hold you over until you find something better and once you start working, you may stop looking for better opportunities. The kids may have needs that come first. Stop making excuses if you want more. Make up your mind to change things and move forward. I’ve always heard that when there’s a will there’s a way and there’s a lot of truth to this. If you really want something, you have to stay focused and go for it. No one else is going to do it for you. You can dream all you want but dreams can only go so far. Put together a plan to make those dreams spring into action. Staying stuck in neutral won’t get you anywhere except for waiting for opportunities to need repairing.
It’s easy to stay in what’s comfortable. But most of us outgrow comfortable at some point in our lives. When we’re young, we don’t think we’ll end up gaining weight or having the problems that those who were older had and yet it happens. When we have families, we want to protect those families through financial and emotional means. We do what we can to make a difference. It all boils down to planning and putting ourselves out of our comfort zones. Not everything will happen the way we want. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify at every opportunity.
6.Defeatism. “It won’t matter.”
Anyone who ever tells you this, mentally give them a smack. I like to call them the Gibbs’s head slap off NCIS. Everything we do matters. We matter. Every touch, sentence, moment, person, place, opportunity – it all matters. What matters is that we don’t let the drama and the constant negative energy transport us to a place where we feel defeated. Even when a game is lost to an opposing team, it mattered that the team that lost showed up and tried. It matters when we flunk a test because it’s a stepping stone to passing the material and eventually understanding complex studies. It matters because we all have differing opinions that force us to shape this world in the melting pot that it is. We are all connected. We all need one another to thrive in this world. Without the efforts of all parties, we are forever berating ourselves for things that were done incorrectly. That does no good. All it does is to create more negative energy.
When you’re ready to start embarking on a journey to leave a better legacy, consider some of the following options:
- Dare to be joyful. Serve in ways that bring you joy. Angry, unhappy people leave sad legacies.
- Monitor your impact on others. What are you doing when you make the biggest difference. Do more of that.
- Develop and maximize your talent, strengths, and skills. Know yourself – Bring yourself and Grow Yourself.
- Do what matters now. Everyone who’s at the end of life says it goes by fast.
- Seize small opportunities. Big may follow. Stop waiting to make a difference.
- Start with those closest to you and the ones you spend the most time with.
- Bring your best self to work and family. Everyone has at least two selves. Bring out the best one.
- Think service, not a success.
- Relax. Don’t run around building a legacy. Run around making a difference.
- Elevate the needs of others over your own.
There is no way to tell each of you what your purpose and legacy is. Only you can determine where you fit in this world. What you can do is be a positive role model for everyone you meet. You will have bad days. I had one this past week. I lost my cool with a client that had never been to our facility before. She wasn’t a customer. It wasn’t her fault but I had just gotten sad news from someone I cared for, my bosses didn’t give me a heads up that she was coming. She just showed up. No communication. Nothing. Something inside me just snapped. I wasn’t very professional and I deserved what I got. I don’t make excuses for it. I had just had about all I could take with the lack of communication on every angle in my life. Sometimes we show ourselves at the wrong time and our legacy becomes something of a negative mark. I wish I could take back that day but I can’t. All I can do is work on me and continue striving to make a legacy something work talking about rather than something to have a finger shook and say don’t be like her.