IT’S THE LAST DAY OF YOUR LIFE.
Your family and friends have been visiting you in these last weeks, reminiscing about the good times. Soon, they’ll be gathered at your funeral, honoring your life.
But what exactly are you leaving behind? Is your life just a sum of your properties, cars, last will and testament? Or do you want to be forever known as a touchstone that guides generations?
What’s The Point Of A Legacy, Anyway?
Whether you want to change the world’s energy consumption, solve poverty or save the Amazon, building a legacy is the only way to leave a lasting footprint.
A legacy cements your life’s work as something that benefits future generations, though you may never see it come to fruition. It’s a drive to create something greater than yourself— something that forever improves the world.
Just like a farmer who plants an apple tree knowing he’ll never reap the rewards of the orchard, a legacy is a gift you leave behind without expecting a ROI. Think of Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights, Thomas Edison and electricity or Margaret Sanger and women’s health services. They died before their legacies were 100% fulfilled, but they’ll always be respected for their life’s work.
A legacy isn’t just a project. It doesn’t happen overnight. However, if you connect with your true purpose and create your legacy with dedication, hard work and meaningful contribution, you can make a mark that’s forever celebrated.
But you don’t have to give up the good things in life to start building your legacy now. Here are 5 steps to start building yours:
1. Define what ‘legacy’ means to you.
Before you begin, it’s crucial to understand why you’re leaving a legacy behind and what it personally means to you.
Business philosopher and author Jim Rohn’s definition is a great place to start. “We are stewards of this world, and we have a calling in our lives to leave it better than how we found it.”
Look around and you’ll see people leaving legacies everywhere, from Nelson Mandela to your parents, old professors and neighbors. What legacies are they leaving behind? How much BIGGER do you want to go with yours? Do you want to impact your community? Your country? The world? Decide what kind of legacy you want to leave and you’ll have a map to follow.
2. Understand your true purpose
What’s important to you? What are your values and beliefs? How do you want your life to impact others? What would make you proud? If you had to do one thing to improve your world, what would your contribution be?
The answer to these important questions will help you develop a meaningful philosophy that goes beyond just creating financial wealth. Your words will become the building blocks of your legacy. Share them with others. Write them down. Live them yourself.
Knowing what’s important, what drives you, and how you want to be remembered creates tremendous clarity in how you should live your life— and how you’ll eventually impact others.
If you’re driven to build a legacy but the answers to these questions aren’t clear, click here for my Impact Coaching. It helps leaders, philanthropists and businesses get crystal clear on their purpose and shows them the blueprint to make their legacy happen with NGOs, charities and nonprofit organizations who are perfectly-aligned with their purpose.
3. Cornerstone your legacy.
It’s not easy to put your life’s work into a focused direction. To know what you want to create on a global scale, look within first.
Begin by identifying your strengths. The most obvious place to look is your career—but don’t just focus on your working title. Think about your core strengths instead.
How are they applied? What do they say about you as a person? You’re not just a CEO of an education distribution company; you’re someone who gets things done. You’re not just a venture capitalist; you can spot the strengths in others and amplify their impact.
Still stuck? Talk to your colleagues, friends and family members for a little insight. Which strengths are mentioned most frequently? Often, other people see our assets more clearly than we do.
Also, consider what topics and activities you’re passionate about. What do you find compelling? What do you see on social media that really affects you? Do you find yourself ranting about healthcare? Pollution? Socioeconomic inequality?
Connect your heart with your head. Your legacy should be a labor of love—not a chore.
4. Write your memoir in 1 sentence.
Nothing focuses your legacy like one simple sentence. It poses a simple challenge: can you weed out the unnecessary and zero-in on the non-negotiables for your life’s work?
Plus, this one sentence can help you name your mission in life. Staring at a blank page can be daunting, but choosing one short, sharp sentence to define your mission and what you want your life to stand for isn’t so hard— and once you’ve clarified your mission, this laser-focus is energizing! Think of a few words that can define the footprint you want to leave behind.
5. Live your legacy and use your time wisely
Now that you have a plan of action, it’s time to implement it. What do you have to change so you work and live your legacy?
You also want to align yourself with people who can help you build your legacy. Unfortunately, we don’t have much time to create something important— 20 years goes by in a flash. Everyday is an opportunity to connect with people who can make your vision a concrete reality.
The best way to do that is with someone who’s done it before and can show you the way forward.
As the founder of Giving Africa, I’ve created a charity in Burkina Faso that’s helping 800 children rise from poverty. We’ve built Bethel Secondary School, where the children access high-quality education, relevant skills, medical checks, sponsorships and more. From concept to creation, I’ve been able to see my vision come to life and I’d love to help you with yours.
If you’re ready to get started, click here for a quick 15-minute call to discuss my intensive 1:1 Impact Coaching.
It’s where I’ll give you the motivation, accountability and tools to clarify your true purpose, connect with mission-driven organizations and build a legacy so your name is forever known for contribution, innovation and inspiration.