Life is all about money. Well, it seems so. Think about all the things you work toward. Chances are it stems from your level of income. You strive for that job promotion, you take two years to get a masters degree, and you strategize the best way to get a raise. You move for work, or you stick around for work. Either way, it’s most likely because of your paycheck.
But not so fast. Why is it that we’re so focused on our earnings? Why do we often define our legacy by our ability to stockpile wealth? It’s important, sure, I won’t deny it, but it also seems like we’re tricking ourselves. Humans invented money. It’s not like it started as a necessity like air or water. However, we’ve built a society where it’s become necessary. And since we constructed it, it’s therefore up to us as to how much we want to dictate the value of our lives.
But if we devalue money, where do reallocate our focus? Or, more importantly, how should we re-define our life legacy?
You see, at the end of the day, we’re all going to die. Morbid, I know, but also true. And we can’t take money into the afterlife as far as I know. So, wouldn’t our time be better spent in more life-affirming areas, rather than chasing the almighty dollar? Yes. The answer is yes.
This is how you can live your life legacy in three steps:
What’s the point of your life? No, not the point of life in general, but the point of yours specifically. Is it to be a loving father or mother? Be a good friend and family member? Make a million dollars? Have as many new experiences as possible?
Essentially, what is it that you want to be remembered for?
That’s where the focus of your life should lie. It’s your legacy, and it should supersede everything else.
First, let’s define legacy so we’re all on the same page. According to Webster’s, legacy is “an amount of money or property left to someone in a will."
Oh no! Even the modern definition of legacy is focused on money. Well, how about its second definition: Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor.
However, the first definition highlights an acute problem in life. We think our legacy, and therefore our personal value, is derived from money. This is not the case.
Rather, we need to think of our legacy as the positive thoughts and experiences we leave behind.
How do you want people to think of you? What impact do you want to make? That is your legacy. And none of it involves your lifetime earnings or your 10% raise.
So let’s make a change right now in the way we think. Forget the first definition of legacy and focus on the second.
Decouple your self-worth from money and couple it with your legacy.
So we’ve established that legacy is the most important thing in life. It’s the ultimate. However, it’s ambiguous as to what it actually is.
Which means, of course, that you can define it for yourself. In fact, you have to define it for yourself, otherwise your life won’t have a direction and you’ll look back on your deathbed wishing you could’ve done more.
And the beauty is it can be anything...even money.
So, what is your personal legacy? What is it that’s most important to you?
If you want to be remembered as an amazing spouse, make sure that all your actions make it so. If you want to be a loving father or mother, ensure that everything you do supports that. And, if you want to make a Steve Jobs-level impact, strategize accordingly.
It’s funny that all of us - myself included - are quick to define the job title we want or the annual income we desire, and yet we rarely define the type of person we hope to become. We know what we want, but we don’t know how we want to be remembered.
It’s a nuanced point, but it’s true. None of us will be here in 100 years, unless, of course, we download our consciousness in a Matrix-style sci-fi future. But that doesn’t exist yet, and let’s ignore it for now.
So, if we’re all going to leave this Earth within a century’s time, we should focus on having the best time possible, right? Yes! We should try to maximize our positive emotions. And in a very real sense, that is a part of your legacy.
You see, when we focus on positive experiences, a natural byproduct is that we spread good tidings and cheer. What a great legacy to have!
But legacy doesn’t stop there. It’s also our multi-generational legacy. It could be through an industry-changing impact like Google or it could be through the lessons and values you teach your kids, who in turn teach their kids, and so on and so forth.
Either way, your legacy is a two-parter: First, it’s how you live your life while you’re here, and second, it’s how people remember you once you’re gone. And the beauty is that if you live your life the correct way while you’re alive, your multi-generational legacy will take care of itself.
However, the ultimate definition of your dual legacy is up to you.
Ok, so we’ve established that legacy is the ultimate and we’ve discussed the importance of defining it. Now the only thing left to do is to live it.
Remember: If you want to be a loving spouse, only commit to actions that forward your legacy. If you want to build a billion-dollar company, conduct yourself in a way that’ll make it so.
But it’s easier said than done. No matter what your legacy is to you, there will be temptations that try to knock you off your path.
Take me, for example. I want my legacy, among other things, to be a commercially successful author who spreads ideas and makes people think. However, as is the case with most careers, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication before you reap any rewards.
So, when I look at some of my friends climbing the corporate ladder and enjoying multiple six-figure incomes, it makes me wonder. I question my path. I was making six-figures before I left the corporate world to embark on this journey, and it seems a lot easier to just give up and head back.
But no, stop right there.
When I think about it, and when you eventually think about it yourself, I know in my heart-of-hearts that I won’t be happy or satisfied if I do that. Building a career in novel and screenwriting is hard, sure, but it’s rewarding. It’s what I want to be remembered for.
And it doesn’t stop there. While the going is tough in the beginning, there are a ton of rewards when you break through on the other side. I have friends making $6k a week as staff writers for Paramount Pictures and other studios. So, even if I’m distracted by my friends’ income levels, if I continue to live my legacy, I may very well reward myself with a higher income than I’ve ever imagined.
Which brings up the final point: If you live your legacy, not only will you feel fulfilled, but in almost every case, the money will follow.
Which means that it’s actually a bad investment to follow a “safe” path rather than live your legacy. It’s much better to allocate your time toward something you both love and something that can yield incredible results in the long-term.
Don’t be afraid if your legacy doesn’t pay off in the short-term. You’re playing the long-game. Remember: Your legacy is the complete body of your work.
Legacy, legacy (trying to get that keyword density up! …kidding). I’m sure you’re tired of hearing the word legacy. But it’s important, and it should be beaten into your head. Use it as a beacon of light, the guiding force of your life. Define it for yourself and use it as your decision-making process. If something will get you closer to your legacy, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t. Trust me, your vigilant focus will pay off, even if you don’t see it now.