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How do you want to be remembered by your children? What gifts do you want to leave them that will enrich their lives and influence their actions? The answers to these questions will help you build a legacy for your child so they may remember you for the positive influence you had on their lives. Surely, this would be the wish of every parent.
What is a legacy?
A legacy is something that is created throughout your life that will be of benefit to generations in the future. You create your legacy knowing that you won’t be around to see it fulfilled.
A legacy can take different forms and these include monetary, possessions, property, ethics, values, life lessons, wishes and instructions. Your legacy might contain more than one of these forms.
You don’t need to amass vast amounts of wealth or property in order to be able to leave a legacy for your children. In fact, research has shown that the majority of people value non-monetary aspects of a legacy, like life lessons, ethics and values more highly.
How do you determine your legacy?
The best place to start is at the end of your journey. Imagine your funeral; what things would you like people to say about you? What memories do you hope your children will share with others present on that sad occasion? How will they describe the influence you had on their lives? What would you like to have written in your obituary?
The answers to these questions will form the basis of the legacy you plan to leave behind. Write them down in a notebook or journal so that you can refer to them or revise them.
How do you build your legacy?
Your legacy will be a reflection of how you lived your life, so the time to build your legacy is while you are living. Invariably, it won’t be one big event that becomes your legacy; it is much more likely to be based on how you lived your life day by day.
|Start by evaluating your life so far. Compare it to the list in your legacy journal that you created in the step above. Make notes of the areas of your life that are moving you in the right direction and those that are taking you away from the legacy you want to leave behind.|
You need to be living the legacy you want to leave. You need to make the things you want to be remembered for, a major part of your life. Your legacy isn’t something that can be organized in your later years, although your grandchildren may benefit from your influence when you are older.
It’s the little things that count
Think back to your own childhood; it is often the little things, maybe inconsequential at the time, that form your fondest memories of a family member. Don’t underestimate the power of the little actions in the building of your legacy. Small actions join together to create the legacy you would be proud to leave behind. It is often the small day to day things that speak loudly about who you are and what you stand for – making cookies together, building cubby houses, turning up for every game, singing in the car, helping with homework, taking time to listen to dreams.
Here is what some have said about their parents/caregivers:
- I have been inspired by my parents. From my mom I learned love, honesty, and kindness, and my father inspired me to work hard, and to be adaptive to any kind of situation.
- My dad inspired me. He is so calm and composed; he knows how to handle the worst situations, how to get the maximum from others. He also always tries to learn new things, even as a senior.
- My parents have taught me how to overcome any critical situation by thinking positive.
- I learned patience and hardworking from my mom and sincerity and optimism from my dad.
- My grandfather: He inspired me to value relationships and to try hard to make things happen rather than wait for them to happen.
Everyone will leave a legacy – what will yours be?
Come up with a life statement that summarizes your life, which can then become the legacy you wish to build for your child. Your life statement will set a direction for how you live your life, while determining the legacy you leave behind. Compare how you are currently living against your life statement and determine the areas you need to change or tweak in order to ensure that the legacy you build is how you really want to be remembered.
|Be present with your family. Don’t allow your mind to drift to work issues. Be with them in body and mind; kids have great intuition and get when you are not really ‘there’.|
Allocate time for friends and recreation
Just like family time, time for friends and relaxation has to be planned. Keep in touch personally, not just via Facebook. Invite friends over for a family barbeque on the weekend, go on family picnics or hikes with another family, catch up with friends for a drink after work or for a quick lunch.
You need downtime from work and the support and sharing with friends and family but it won’t happen unless you plan it. Use these strategies to balance your life and enjoy the benefits of spending quality time with the people who bring meaning to your existence.
|Note for Non-Parents: Even if you don’t have kids, you can still concentrate on how you would like to live your life and what dent in the universe you want to make. Do you want to be someone who has left a contribution for the good or do you want to be a person who has left a mess for future generations to clean up? The choice is up to us!|
So, what kind of legacy are you going to leave behind? What kinds of things are you doing in your life now to build that legacy?