I used to think that leaving a legacy meant leaving a bucket of cash behind to fund something. While that’s one way to leave a legacy, I’ve come to loosen my definition of the term. Maybe becoming a parent helped me see that legacy is more about leaving a mark or impression. Or maybe it’s that my financial goals are more practical: I want to help my kids go to college and be able to have some flexibility to travel and enjoy working less in retirement. The fact is, you don’t need cash to leave something behind for others to enjoy and appreciate. That’s just one way.
With a broader perspective on what legacy is, it’s easier to think about being known for something.
Some just want to be the best at whatever they do. In fact, make that most people since I don’t know many people who strive for mediocrity. My view is that we should all think about what kind of legacy we want to leave behind because that helps create priorities in life. For me, the legacies that are important and attainable are less about a financial goal. That seems too abstract and, frankly, achievable. But I have the opportunity to leave behind the legacy of two daughters. I want them to be kind, fun, involved in their communities, interested in others, and admired by their friends and family for how they live their lives.
To realize that goal, I’ve got to also have a strong partnership with my wife so we can model a healthy relationship to our kids; I’ve got to make time to understand each girl, help them sort through challenges, push where I know they are holding back but are capable, protect when I see them moving toward danger. The list goes on. But to me, the goal helps clarify the priorities and makes it achievable. Thinking about legacy also identifies where goals conflict. An example of this is that making lots of money almost always means personal sacrifice. If one goal is making lots of money and other is raising well-adjusted kids, which one trumps the other? I’m not making a value judgment here, but I am suggesting that the more clarity we have around our legacy goals, the easier it is to prioritize time and organize our lives.
We organize our days, assigning priorities to each activity. Think about your legacy goals as you prioritize your day. You might be surprised at how your day changes.
What do want your legacies to be?