The Stanford School of Business has students complete an exercise that offers an opportunity to examine personal impact, accomplishments and identity. The simple activity is composed of several questions designed to have the students think about what information their obituary would contain. The exercise requires reflection on their life, from character traits and values that were routinely demonstrated to major accomplishments to areas where enthusiasm and passion were evident. It also touches on whom they provided care for and how they may have impacted or changed these people. What the assignment is really asking is for students to consider what their legacy is, both now and after they are gone.
For us, today, the idea of building a legacy is not something we need to miss out on. If you’re reading this, you still have time. There are several steps you can take to begin the process of building your legacy; here are a few.
1. SUPPORT THE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE WHO ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the daily grind of life. Sometimes, the only way we can keep our heads above water is by focusing on what we (or our immediate family) may need to get by. But many of us identify ourselves as being part of at least one network. These connections may include extended family members, close friends, a spiritual community, etc. If this is true for you, try setting aside a small amount of time every week (it doesn’t have to be a lot) to check in, encourage, pray for or share a meal with somebody you identify as important to you. Besides investing in them, you may be surprised by what it does for you.
2. CONSIDER WHAT AREAS OF YOUR LIFE YOU WANT TO GROW IN
Whether it’s personal or professional, this may involve going deeper and engaging in some honest reflection on your part. What are the areas of your life you feel you could do better in? Once you determine what matters most and where you want to grow, you can work to identify skills, abilities and talents that support further development in these areas. Keep in mind that sustained growth is seldom easy. You may need to be willing to make sacrifices (e.g., giving up certain habits, behavior, etc.) in order to evolve in a positive way.
3. FIND WAYS TO GIVE TO CAUSES THAT ARE CLOSE TO YOUR HEART
It doesn’t only have to be money. Time, knowledge, expertise and emotional support can have a huge impact that can be just as significant as donating financially. The sustained contributions of these gifts may lead to a lasting collaborative effort, such as a community, environmental or social project. The important thing to remember is that even a small investment can lead to a big change.
4. MODEL, MENTOR OR GUIDE OTHERS
Many of us would not have gotten to where we are today without the assistance of at least one person (if not many more). Upon reading this, someone specific may come to mind. These individuals provide us with a helping hand when we are at a lower point or different stage in our development. Take inventory of the people who have entered your life. Perhaps you have come across someone who has potential and would greatly benefit from the insight, life knowledge, wisdom or technical expertise you have to offer them. They may not be close to you, but what you share with them may change their life. This is one of the most powerful ways to create a legacy.
If you would like to obtain further assistance in discussing how you can create a legacy, contact Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500 for a confidential consultation or appointment. You can also obtain additional information by visiting our intranet site at http://intranet/intranet/ESS/Index.htm. As always, be well.