There are many people out there looking to gain a better understanding of who they are by researching the people who came before them. Some of us have treasured stories of relatives who faced significant challenges and rose above them. We wonder how they developed such a powerful legacy amid the difficulties of their day. The truth is, in most cases, they never realized they were creating a legacy—they were simply doing the best they could with the cards they were dealt. Yet they inspire us still.
Wouldn’t we all like to be remembered like that? You can. Creating a lasting legacy is more than just living your best life. It’s about living with purpose. Here are four specific steps you can take to strengthen your legacy.
Decide what kind of legacy you want to create.
Your legacy will be the cumulative effect of the work you perform each day. Most of that work will be mundane and ordinary, but often the smallest things make the biggest difference. The secret is to understand what matters to you. What message would you want your life to send? What would you like your family and friends to say about how you lived your life?
Take time today to determine what motivates you. What matters most to you? What are your governing values and top priorities? Understanding this is essential because in order to live your life to its fullest, you need to know what fulfills you. Then when you plan each day, make sure you are including activities that are centered on those essential priorities.
Remind yourself that you have limited time.
You may never pass this way again, so it’s important that you make each day, minute, and moment count. If one of your governing values is kindness, don’t miss an opportunity to be kind. If you value teaching, take every opportunity to share what you know with others. Don’t wait to make a difference—procrastination is far too easy. A simple act can go farther than you may imagine, so act today on your good intentions. You’ll never regret it.
Develop and maximize your talents, strengths and skills.
The skills, strengths and talents you have will grow as you use them. Set regular goals to improve your skill set. As you work to improve your talents, share your newfound skills with your family and friends. Even if your skills aren’t perfect today, your efforts can still benefit others. The more developed your skill set, the more you can serve those around you.
Elevate the needs of others over your own.
Selflessness is one attribute that will be remembered for generations. If you can develop the ability to place the needs of others above your own, you will create a lasting legacy. Look for ways that you can serve others through your kindness and generosity. Set aside a few minutes during your daily planning to think about friends, family members, and neighbors who could use your help, and determine what you’ll do to lift their load.
The only way to do this is to maintain your own ability to produce. Some things that may look like selfishness, such as exercise, quite study time, and meditation, may provide the charge you need to help empower others.
Keeping these four elements in mind each day will have a powerful impact on your family and your community. Someday, when each of these steps have become habits, you’ll realize that you’ve created a legacy that makes a difference.