As most of us reach the third and fourth quarters of our lives, our thinking begins to change. What once were thoughts of what we wanted to acquire or achieve, begin to shift ever so slightly to what we will leave behind. There is a realization that there is a finish line. We may then begin to consider how family, friends and our community will remember us. What will be the legacy I leave after I am gone?
No matter what “quarter” of your life you are currently in, it is never too early to start thinking about your legacy. In fact, the sooner you begin, the stronger and longer-lasting your legacy may be.
We all want to leave our mark. Here are some suggestions that will help you leave a lasting legacy,
- Demonstrate support for causes important to you. Most of us have at least one cause that is near and dear to our hearts. It may be finding homes for pets, fighting a particular disease or helping our community grow and prosper. If you want to encourage the support of others toward a cause you believe in, demonstrate your support for it. “Support” can take many forms. It may mean volunteering for or even creating a fundraiser. It may involve serving on a board of directors. Demonstrating support can be done through financial gifts as well. It’s never too early to embrace a cause that is meaningful to you.
- Share your gifts with others. Are you gifted at playing an instrument? Do you have the ability to sing or act? Perhaps you are a good storyteller or have the ability to make others laugh. You may have the skills to sew, knit or crochet. Consider the gifts and talents you’ve been given and how you can share them with others. Even an hour a week at a school, church or retirement home can make a significant difference in the lives of others.
- Be selfless with your time and money. We all may have limited amounts of both, but how we share our time and money can help build our legacy. Do we embrace it when someone needs our help or do we avoid it? Our we selfless with it or do we hang onto to it tightfisted? Consider how you want people to remember you.
- Offer your wisdom to others. Sharing what you know can be as powerful as sharing what you have. If you have a particular skill you can pass onto others, be sure to share it. Whether it’s woodworking or working on cars, someone can benefit from that knowledge.
- Consider a financial legacy. You may never have your name on a college building or have an ongoing scholarship in your name, but you may be able to leave a larger financial legacy than you think. Many communities have non-profit foundations that manage smaller funds left by individuals. You may even want to consider a life insurance policy with a non-profit organization benefiting from the proceeds upon your death. Of course, you can always leave a portion of your estate to a civic or non-profit organization as well. Be sure to specify your wishes in a will.
Many of us tend to view a legacy as some grandiose thing that may be out of our reach. We build ours every day, however, in how we act towards and treat others. We help create our legacy in small building blocks, one stacked upon another. Take some time to consider your legacy, and make sure you are taking steps to achieve it.