I often find that I am stuck in someday. In my mind I build a legacy of memories and experiences that I plan to accomplish in the future. And in doing so, I can’t help but feel that I am somehow shortchanging my now for my when – for a time that I’ve seen all the things I wanted to see … had all the conversations I wanted to have … made time for the people I promised I’d make time for. I could be wrong, but I don’t really think that living for the future is living the best way.
Imagine creating that legacy now. I believe it can happen if we are intentional about not letting too much time pass in “searching” for ourselves inasmuch as “creating” ourselves and the life we demand worth living. I think it takes a great deal of bravery to step into life just as you are. Because now is really the only aspect of your life you can control. And don’t you want a say in the legacy you’re forming? I know I do.
Below are twelve ordinary ways to transform your living legacy in an extraordinary way.
They are suggestions for re-awakening the magical possibility that you do, in fact, have a voice and a choice in the direction your life is leading. It is my hope that you find prosperity in planning an life that is filled or overflowing with the promise that someday will be happiest indeed.
- Write down one moment each day that moved you.
It could be as small as a compliment, or as big as seeing one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Whatever it is you find to be inspired by daily, dedicate a special notebook to memorializing these treasured moments in your day. Looking back over these simple notes will define more of your year than you could imagine.
- Volunteer once a month (at least).
Building a legacy is about building meaning into your life. There is nothing that could ever mean more than the time you carve out for others to make this world better than you found it. Step outside of yourself and your problems and bask in the reality that you alone can and do make a difference. Go play with animals at a shelter. Go play a board game with the elderly. Go through your belongings and donate toys or movies to a children’s ward of a hospital. Clean up your neighborhood with a friend. Whatever you can do … do it. You will feel whole and accomplished in your actions.
- Look at old photographs regularly.
We are often so obsessed with the future, that we forget to nourish the past, and a host of important memories slip through our conscious without us even having given our minds permission to forget. Look back on pictures when you were a child, when you got married, when you had babies, when you explored your world – each of these images offers a gift of your own life back to you. Take time to see who you were, and appreciate her.
- Do something new weekly!
Once a week, build your experiences by trying something, anything that you’ve not tried before. Take a cake decorating class. Hike a new nearby trail. Go out for ice cream and dip into a new flavor. Make a new playlist to dance to. You will never regret the memories of stepping into something bravely undone before.
- Reach out to someone intentionally every Sunday.
Sunday is a day of rest – of reflection … what better way could you feed into your own legacy than through reflecting on the people you invite into your life? Relationships take work, but sometimes even a one-line text to a distant friend, or a ten-minute phone call can make someone’s whole day … inevitably, that someone will be you. Rest in the love you share with those who look forward to hearing from you.
- Invest in the children in your life.
Whether you have your own kids, nieces and nephews, neighbors, or children of friends … get involved. Investing in the lives of children is investing in the future of our world. Read to them. Go on adventures with them. Color pictures. Build campfires. Jump on a trampoline. Go out for a treat. The memories of youth are fleeting fireflies … quick to disappear, but beautiful lights to recall in dark times. Be a light-bright memory to a child.
- Write letters.
There is something eloquently magical about seeing your words go out into the world. Whether writing to a friend, a lover, or a pen pal across the globe – put your words into print and send them. Find comfort in knowing that they are no longer inside of you, but are tangibly held in another’s hands, giving weight to all the things you have to say. By doing so, you are literally extending yourself and your influence in ways that a conversation never could.
- Catalog family recipes.
Get a fancy, vintage recipe box and call on the members of your family to share a favorite with you. Whether it was your grandmother’s famous butter cookies, your dad’s barbecue, your aunt’s pumpkin pie, or your mother’s vegetable lasagna … revel in the accessibility of memories through taste! The legacy we create for our lives is given and exchanged in every part of us and “coming to the table” to share who we are is one of the most beautiful gifts we could offer. If you loved a meal, chances are your guests will too. Share the plenty.
- Go on vacation (at least) once a year.
Sometimes the least extravagant vacations end up being the most meaningful. So whether it is a four-mile away stay at a charming bed and breakfast, or a four-hundred mile away expedition in a jungle … let yourself be a part of the world in new dimensions. You never know who you might be just by the experiences you allow yourself to have once a year.
- Consciously give yourself five minutes a day to relax.
Play a favorite song from your teenage years, close your eyes and go to your favorite vacation spot, light an ocean candle and pretend you’re really there … whatever you do, give yourself permission to recharge. Five minutes will not break your day, but it will lengthen the value of your life.
- Build a library.
Whether it is a colorful, haphazard stack of books in the corner of one room, or one of those multi-tiered dream rooms with ladders that roll across the bookshelves – build a library. There is no such thing as giving your time to a book without the book leaving its print on you as well. By building a library for yourself, you are adding to the legacy of the words, ideas, worlds, and characters that have built you! Taking the time to collect books shows that you believe in the power of the written word and its influence on generations to come.
- Save what matters; let go of the rest.
We often equate legacy with accumulation. This is not so. There is a difference between saving things that have value, and saving things simply because they were a part of your past. It is healthy to purge things that might bring you pain. In the same respect, it is valuable to give space to the items in your life that bring you joy. Take time to filter through what you’ve held onto, and consciously decide if you want it to continue to be a part of your daily legacy.
So, this list is not a recipe. It’s a suggestion – a way to get started living your beautiful someday right here and now. Your legacy has already begun precious. What do you intend to add to it? I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me … another great way to ensure your legacy and imprint on this life.