What is Your Legacy?

parents with toddler to demonstrate article 'What is Your Legacy?'

When I had some Life Coaching a couple of years ago one of the first exercises I did was imagine attending a function in twenty years’ time where someone is giving a speech about me. What would I want them to say?

How I Want to be Remembered

I wanted to hear that I had been a wonderful friend and partner, was loved by many and had brought joy into the lives of the people I knew and loved. I also wanted them to talk about my sense of fun, of the laughter and adventures they had shared with me and how I had built a successful business around my creativity.

At the time it felt like all of those things were sadly lacking in my life. I was feeling too despondent to have much fun or laughter and felt I was withdrawing from my friends and partner. And on top of that, my web design business was failing.

After I did the exercise it became clear that what really mattered to me was feeling connected with people and achieving success doing something I loved. And although I may not have all of those things now, at least I know what I want.

My Father’s Legacy

I was reminded of this exercise recently when thinking about my father. He has been very ill in Intensive Care in a hospital in South Africa and his prognosis is not good.

In recent weeks two of my friends have had to deal with the death of a parent and prepare thoughts for a eulogy at the funeral. I found myself wondering what I would say if I had to prepare a eulogy. What was my father’s legacy?

I thought back over my childhood and time spent with my father. And I could not think of a single happy memory. There was no joy, no laughter. No fun or warmth. I could only remember the anger, the distance, the sense that my father found his family a terrible burden and tried to spend as little time with us as possible.

In so many respects, my father is a stranger to me and I to him.

Yet, I don’t feel any anger. I gave up on that a long time ago. Instead I feel pity for him and sadness. I am sure that he wants to feel loved – he just doesn’t know how to love. He thought that if he provided a roof over our heads and food on the table, it would be enough. He didn’t have to do anything else and in return he would be loved.

But it didn’t turn out that way.

I don’t really know what my father wanted his legacy to be. I think he would probably want us to remember him as a good father and provider. Instead he has a wife and four children who would all struggle to find something positive and loving to say about him.

And that is the saddest part of all of this. Because now it’s too late. He’s old and ill and he needs us more than ever. And the past can never be changed. It’s done.

What is Your Legacy?

All this makes me think that it’s a good idea to think about your legacy before you die.

Because it’s only by changing the way you live that you will be able to create the legacy you want to leave.

Your legacy is what you pass on to the next generation and what are you going to leave behind. Too often people associate a legacy with finance. I’m talking about the values one leaves behind, the memory of love, the positive contribution to peoples’ lives no matter how small.

Creating My Legacy

Over the past year or so my life has improved. My relationship with my partner is closer and I’ve been spending more time with friends and definitely laughing more and having fun. I feel more connected with some people.

Through life coaching I realised that web design was not my passion and that what I really wanted to do was write about health and wellbeing. And so this Write Health website was born. I have not achieved ‘success’ yet, but I am on the path. I am creating my legacy.

How Do You Want to be Remembered?

How do you want to be remembered? Do you need to make any changes to your life in order to create the legacy you want?

What I’ve learned through all this is that it’s important to live your life the way you want to be remembered. It’s your legacy. It’s your life. Make the most of it.

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4 Responses to What is Your Legacy?

  1. Ingrid Beazley January 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    This is an interesting article. A sentence I struggle with is ‘Because it’s only by changing the way you live that you will be able to create the legacy you want to leave.’ This implies that at the moment you are getting it wrong. That you (who is ‘you’?) are not leading a satisfactory life, one that you want to be remembered by. But say ‘you’ have given your way of life a great deal of thought, and you simply cannot find ways you would like to change it. It is possible to be happy and content.
    If you knew you had, say, a year to live, what would you do with that year? Would you radically change your lifestyle? Would you try out new things or make sure you have completed things that you have started? Would you have more courage to say stuff to people, in the way that you wanted to say things to your father if you had had the chance? Material for another post perhaps!

    • Angie Macdonald January 12, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

      Thanks for your thought-provoking comment, Ingrid. I see your point and realise I did not consider people who might already be perfectly happy with the way they are living their lives. It’s not so much a case of getting it ‘wrong’ as thinking of ways to make it even better. I was thinking of people who might be on a journey, trying to improve their lives or those who have not given it much thought and might have regrets.
      Interesting questions. I don’t think I would radically change my lifestyle, perhaps just spend more time with people I love. And I hope that I would have the courage to speak from the heart and say the difficult stuff as well as expressing love.

  2. Angie Macdonald August 30, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    Hi Eladora. I’m sorry to hear that you’re struggling with your job at the moment. I know what you mean about staying in the comfort zone – I’m a bit of a comfort zone resident myself.

    In the past I have found that life coaching or counselling has really helped me make difficult transitions. It helps to have an objective third party to listen to you. If that doesn’t work for you, I recommend journalling – writing it all out as honestly as you possibly can.

    Good luck!

  3. Eladora August 30, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    This is quite a challenge, Angie

    I’m getting bogged down and struggling with day to day survival in my job at the moment. I’m trying to work out if I still really love it and have to find a way of coping with all the changes and admin or whether it’s time to move on. But that’s scary! I like sitting in my comfort zone!
    thank you

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