Choosing Legacy

When you think about legacy, what do you think of?

References in classic literature often refer to legacy in the context of finances, as though a person’s life’s value is based on the money they’ve amassed. A person dies and his beneficiaries inherit a financial legacy. For example, “After my mother’s death, all was to come to me except a legacy of three hundred pounds that I was then to pay my brother.” – Bleak House by Charles Dickins, and “There was also a legacy of one thousand pounds.” – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin.

Perhaps you think of career legacy, achieved when a person makes his or her mark through his work. He eats, sleeps and breathes his values and vision, into the operations of a company. This becomes the culture of the operation and his personal legacy. Ultimately, a legacy such as this influences the world at large.Think of Steve Jobs and his legacy of innovation and creativity with Apple. His career achievements have become his legacy.

Then there is philanthropic legacy. Money in the form of a fund or donation that keeps on giving, long after the philanthropist passes on. In support of education, J.D. Rockefeller founded and contributed $80 million to the University of Chicago. This is part of his overall legacy. Another example of charitable legacy can be in the form of talent donated for a cause. Eg. Bob Geldof’s efforts for famine relief.

These definitions of legacy are well known but many of us are unable to connect with them. Legacy is for the wealthy, the gifted, the driven, right?

Not so.

We each have our own unique legacy to consider.

A one word legacy.
(Photo Credit – Josie Nicole Photography)


Whether intended or not, when we leave this earth we’ll be remembered for something by someone, somewhere. Your life could be summed up in one word. “Her legacy was love” or “he lived with integrity.”




Let’s look at you and me. What does legacy mean to us on a personal level?

When we focus on legacy, we begin to ask questions like these –

  1. How is the world a better place because I lived?
  2. How would I like to be remembered?
  3. How do I live my values?

The answers may exclude any consideration of finances, career, or philanthropy and be about who we are at the core, as human beings.

Your legacy could be expressed by one word or, perhaps, in a short statement.

  1. I loved.
  2. I was a lifelong learner who passed on my lessons.
  3. I cared enough to reach out to those in front of me.           

We don’t have to wait until we are gone for others to declare our legacy.

That’s the good news. When we bring it into our awareness, we realize we have choices.

Why not be aware and live your legacy intentionally? If you look at your life today, what is the one word that describes you?

She is joy. She is kindness. She is patience.

Through self-reflection and a little digging, we can mine our lives for the legacy we have lived so far – the one we are living right now – then ask:

– is this how I want to be remembered?

– how am I influencing the world around me?

– what is my legacy today?

You get to choose.

You can live without giving it much thought or you can examine your actions so far. You can decide on the legacy you desire and act now.

What can you do to affect that one word that will sum up who you are/ were in this life?

It’s your legacy. What’s it going to be?







8 Replies to “Choosing Legacy”

  1. I would love to ask friends & family what they consider my legacy in their eyes. A good question to ask but think I will ponder this until next year and then ask the question to them before my big (60) birthday. My reality may be so different to their reality of how I live and an perceived.

  2. Very thought-provoking, Kathi. As you know, I’m working on my poetry legacy right now, in part because of your and the other Heart Writers’ encouragement. Thank you!

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