Imagine how much better the world would be if everybody was living to their full potential, working on their legacy business instead of just existing as another cog in the great wheel.
Everybody wants a lifestyle business–getting to do what you want to do and where, on your timeline and with who you choose, all while getting paid. It’s a step out of the constraints of the cubicle and corporate structure, a shift toward freedom and the holy grail of “making it.” And yet–if you have been blessed with the ability to create this lifestyle for yourself, then you know that for the people who have made it, the big secret is that there is another step.
Once we take care of the fundamental needs of food, clothing and shelter for ourselves and those we love, secure meaningful employment and sip a few piña coladas on the beach of lifestyle success, something inside us starts to feel unsatisfied. We want more. And not just more stuff, but more meaning. You might look around and wonder, what’s it all for? Or you might ask, now what?
As human beings, we come pre-programmed with an innate yearning for our lives to mean more than just a grand accumulation of physical assets. It was Abraham Maslow who made it his life’s work to understand what motivates people to go beyond the scope of satisfying basic needs. Maslow developed the hierarchy of needs triangle, identifying self-actualization as the pinnacle of psychological betterment and the point at which we finally stop seeking. Psychologist Carl Yung developed a similar theory with his “Four Stages of Life” archetypes, describing man’s process of individuation as the lifelong work of “becoming what you are.”
However or whatever you call it, all of these models have one thing in common: we won’t feel completely satisfied until we reach that final stage. Developing a lifestyle business is a vital step along the path that takes us one-up from merely surviving, but creating this lifestyle is about more than just breaking free from the cog-in-the-wheel mentality. It’s about taking 100-percent responsibility for your life. When you give up blaming and complaining, you are also taking up the cause of your personal betterment, and so you are right to ask the question, now what?
It was the famous philosopher and educator William James who summed up the answer in one of my all-time favorite quotes: “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” This, in a nutshell, is the final step when creating a lifestyle business. It allows you to take your personal success and turn it into something bigger, something meaningful that will outlast not just your physical stuff but your physical self as well.
I think of this final stage as turning your lifestyle business into a legacy business. It’s the process of taking your gifts and talents, your experience and wisdom and using all of it in the service of others. Your legacy business is your gift to the world. It’s what you have to give away to make life better, but it also has a way of making you better.
Legacy by definition isn’t just the financial wealth we leave behind; it’s anything that can have a positive influence on others. We are all the product of such legacy when you think about it, whether from the grandmother who taught you respect or the teacher who first believed in you. We all have moments that shape us, habits or sayings that stay with us and make up your way of being in the world. This inheritance is what make us better people, and so the best way I know to honor that legacy is to add a piece or two of your own.
This legacy step doesn’t have to be huge or hard. Think about what’s important to you and start small, perhaps in your neighborhood. There are all kinds of causes you can plug into from helping animals to supporting a green initiative or whatever cause excites you most. You’ll also gain even more clarity about your lifestyle business when you think about your work this way, in terms of how your unique gifts can have a lasting and positive impact on the world.
For me, I’ve identified financial literacy as the area of my legacy business. I have made it my goal to reach 1 million children through books and live presentations that I have started delivering personally to local schools. No matter how big my business grows or how many awards we receive, it’s giving financial literacy to children that excites me the most because this is what can last through generations. Whether in the mind of a child who then becomes a parent, or for the parent who was never taught these principles and so first learns them with their kid, I want to give people access to simple tools and knowledge so they can do one better than what was done before.
Imagine how much better the world would be if everybody was living to their full potential, working on their legacy business instead of just existing as another cog in the great wheel. Once you take care of your personal success, ask yourself, how can you take what you know and pass it on? Helping others will complete the loop, making you both truly rich and fulfilled.
Photo: Flickr/ Christoph Spiegl