Most of us want to make a difference in the world; we want to leave a legacy behind. As you move toward or into this period of transforming your retirement, it is an ideal time to take time to both reflect on your life so far and look forward to what you want to add to your legacy in the years ahead.
There are different kinds of legacies, including:
1) how you are remembered as a person – your personality, the way you treated others, what people saw in you and learned from you;
2) the work you did and the impact it had on others,
3) the family you left behind,
4) contributions of time, energy, creativity and finances that enriched others, and more.
Perhaps you think it’s too late at this stage of your life to do anything about it. “Que sera, sera; whatever will be, will be.” That’s simply not true. Although you can’t go back and do things over, you do have the ability to interpret and draw meaning from your life so far and to add to your legacy. That can benefit both you and those who view you and your life now and in the future.
Perhaps you are thinking now that this seems self-centered and presumptuous. But consider this. We live in times where celebrities of various kinds have become the primary role models for many people. Our electronic media of all kinds have become the purveyors of values and significance. Too much information, much of it trivial, has blocked out the truly meaningful messages about life, contribution, family and legacy.
You have the ability and, dare I say, the responsibility to make your contribution to changing this sad state of affairs! Too many of our younger people seem to have little interest in what has happened in the past, either in the society and the world or in their own families. This should not stop us from doing our part. Each of us has a unique experience that is given to us as a gift and can be given as a gift to others.
It may be of immediate interest to your family; it may not. It may take years – even decades or centuries – for someone to sincerely look for who you were and what your life was about. If you haven’t documented that in a way that can be saved and accessed, it is lost.
I suggest that you do some legacy work, first of all for yourself – to look at this precious journey and what it has meant to you – and secondly, to influence and communicate the legacies you leave behind. It can be a significant part of transforming your retirement into a time of joy and fulfillment.