When it’s all over and we’re gone, we will generally leave behind a few things in our wake. There’s our friends and family for instance who will keep us alive in their memories, there are our belongings as well as our finances which we will pass on to our loved ones and hopefully use to make their lives easier, and then there are the things we do in our careers that we will hopefully be remembered for outside of our immediate circles.
All of these things we leave behind contribute to our legacy, and to the ‘after image’ that outlasts us and that people use to judge us long after we’re gone. But the question is how you go about ensuring that your legacy is a good one, that you are remembered for a long time and that those memories are good ones. How do you develop a legacy?
The Things You Do In Life
If you want to be remembered fondly by your friends and family then you of course need to think about the way you are living and the way your actions are affecting others. Ultimately it’s our actions we will be remembered for and judged on.
This is actually something that a lot of self-help literature tends to focus on: if you want to know how you should live your life, then you should think imagine your own funeral and your own eulogy. What would you want people to say about you? And does the way you’re currently living correlate with that? If not, then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your behaviour and your priorities. It’s never too late to change, so perhaps you should start creating the memories you want to leave behind.
Your legacy really refers to anything that you leave behind after you’ve gone in terms of your reputation and the way people see you. Often though we will hear the word ‘legacy’ and assume it refers to the great things we do and the contributions we make to history. People like Einstein, like Churchill and like Lincoln have legacies – not people like us.
Of course this is not the right way to look about it though, and actually anyone can have a legacy and be remembered for doing great things. The easiest way to be remembered by strangers though is to try and make a big impact in your particular field, or to create something that outlasts you.
That latter point might mean writing book. They say that everyone has a story in them, so if you want your thoughts and opinions to outlast you, then maybe now is the time to start writing. Alternatively, if you can do something to stand out in your field: whether you run a restaurant or you research colour blindness in animals, then you will likely have people writing and reading about you long after your gone. The aim here is to be different, it’s much easier than being the best.
It’s also important to get your affairs in order. Usually this means making sure you have written a will, and that you have life insurance/plans for your funeral and burial or cremation. This is how you can say goodbye to those you love, so don’t miss out on your opportunity to make the right last impression.