If your life ended tomorrow, what would your legacy for your children be?
If you are a parent, just having a child is not enough. What are you teaching them? Do you take the time during your busy routine to really listen to them? Or do you stick them in front of the TV and hand them an IPad every day? What are the messages and behaviors you are showing them?
Last year, I was sitting in a friend’s office talking about our lives and the world we live in. “John” is also my client and 20 years my senior.
During this meeting, John opened up. He had a recent event where his mortality became very real; he had a near-death scare. During his recovery, he wondered what would become of his 11-year old son had he not pulled through. It caused him to question what the legacy he would leave his child. It was certainly not about money.
John came up with 7 Important Pieces of Advice, he wanted his son to remember.
1. – Family Matters
Your family is your core. Have you heard the phrase, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?” You may have your ups and downs with family, but you should always make the effort to maintain as many family relationships as you can. After all, you “chose” them. They are whom you should be able to count on, in good times and in bad.
2. – Choose Your Partner Carefully
Choose someone you love and who loves you. Make sure they have a sense of humor; they can communicate about their feelings, and are understanding. Do not jump from relationship to relationship. Give yourself time. Your life partner can shape a major part of your personal growth or lack thereof. Spouses can be dream builders or dream killers, so choose wisely. Above all, long-term partnerships are most importantly about companionship.
3. – Know Yourself
Do you know who you are? It’s important to be transparent. Invest time learning and knowing yourself. How much time do you spend alone? How much self-improvement time do you allocate? Do you like yourself? In the words of Shakespeare, “To thine own self, be true” and as Thomas Fuller said, “Be a friend to thyself, and others will be so too.”
4. – Have Courage
Be careful about what you let bring you down. Remember doubt kills – therefore, do not doubt yourself. Instead, be courageous. Follow your heart. People don’t follow titles, people follow courage.
5. – Let Go of The Past
It’s gone. Too often we spend our present – time traveling to the past or to the future. Do not relive your past – but learn from it. It’s important to move forward. And don’t spend too much time in “someday.” Don’t buy into thoughts such as: when I get into a loving romantic relationship, I will be happy. Or, when I leave this job or move into my new house I will be happy. Choose joy now. It’s really that simple.
6. – Life is a Journey
It’s important to not give up and to not give in. There will always be obstacles. These obstacles are what make you better. Overcome them and move forward. Be careful about letting them become distractions that divert your course. You are what you continuously do.
7. – Strive for Balance
Life should not be work and no play, or all play and no work. Balance your work life and your fun life. Also, learn to find fun in the workplace and realize your personal life also takes work. Worry less about separating the various aspects of your life – instead, unify them, as all of it defines you.
Our children are often our mirrors. What are they reflecting back to you? John realized he often gets busy with his job and his own personal life, and trying to teach and be present with his son every day is a challenge.
Once his mortality was brought into the forefront of his mind, John thought clearly about what was most important. What have I done for my son? There is so much more I want to teach him. There is so much more I can tell him, show him.
John came up with a plan. He now is more focused with his son, growing together in a more meaningful way, by creating and living this legacy now.
I think John came up a strong blueprint with excellent advice. How can you make this actionable for you? How will you implement it?
How will you prepare your legacy?