Have you ever thought about what kind of legacy you would like to leave behind? A legacy is something transmitted or received from those who come before us. It’s what your actions say about you as a person and how they affect people’s memory of you.
You can think of it this way: if today was your last day on earth, what would you hope people remember about you? What contributions would you like to have made to future generations?
Thinking about what stamp we hope to put on the future can help us lead more meaningful lives. However, it can also be an intimidating thing to consider. So, how can you live life to the fullest while also creating a better future for family and friends? Read on to discover 21 creative ways to leave a legacy.
1. Be Kind
Leaving a lasting legacy starts with being kind to others.
Think about your daily behaviors, and consider how you can make other people’s lives better with simple gestures. Treat others how you want to be treated, and try to lift others up–even if it’s with something as small as a smile or a positive attitude. Remember: people forget what you say, but they remember how you make them feel.
2. Be a Mentor
Sharing your hard-earned wisdom via a mentor/mentee relationship is an excellent way to leave a legacy.
Everyone has wisdom and life experiences that can benefit others, whether you think so or not. By becoming a mentor, you help someone in their personal development and support them as they tackle difficult situations. You also help create new mindsets in the process.
And the best part of all? These relationships usually become quite meaningful. They frequently outlast the mentoring stage and turn into lifelong friendships.
3. Keep a Record of Family Recipes
Cooking creates a sense of belonging, and what we eat is very much a part of our legacy–which is why you might want to keep a record of your favorite family recipes. Think about the ones you can’t imagine not being passed down, and include them in a recipe book. After all, nothing brings back childhood memories quite like tucking into your grandma’s favorite pasta dish.
4. Give the Gift of Time
It may sound cliche, but it’s true: time is the most precious gift we can give to our loved ones. When your kids are grown, their memories of you are not likely to be the presents you gave them or promotions you received at work. Instead, they will remember the quality time you spent with them.
So put down your phone, leave that email for tomorrow, and be present with your friends and family.
5. Raise Your Children to Be Good People
If you have children, one of your most visible legacies is how you raise them. Teaching your kids morals, kindness, and humility will not only help them have better lives but will also help make the world a better place.
Volunteering offers a myriad of benefits and is an excellent opportunity to leave a meaningful legacy. It can help with personal development, such as building confidence and cultivating social skills. It’s also a highly rewarding activity, and it has positive effects on our mental health.
Aside from benefiting us, volunteering of course benefits others in many ways. If you want to make a difference in your community and ultimately make the world a better place, becoming a volunteer is a fantastic place to start.
The best part? There are so many different ways to volunteer and groups to help. Whether you organize a local beach cleanup, read to sick children at a hospital, or sort food at a food bank, the options are endless. All you have to do is find a cause that speaks to you and offer your time.
If you’re in a position to do so, use your finances to improve the lives of others. Donating to causes near and dear to your heart is an excellent way to leave a legacy, as it’s something you can see the direct effects of.
There are plenty of options to donate to charities, organizations, or causes. You might want to set up a recurring donation, or conversely, you might decide to set up a scholarship fund.
8. Demonstrate Your Love
Love is the greatest force in the world. Loving everyone, even strangers and people who aren’t wonderful to you, is the best way to create a peaceful world. Love those around you fiercely, and demonstrate your love as much as possible. You never know who need your love, and what better way to be remembered than as a person who loved without limits?
9. Create a Family Tree
Genealogy research is an excellent way to help your children and grandchildren understand their origins. If one doesn’t already exist, create a family tree to memorialize facts about your family.
A perfect starting place is genealogy websites, which can help you fill in the gaps in your knowledge. You may also want to take a DNA test with one of the popular heritage testing kits to see if you uncover anything useful.
Be sure to include as much info as you can in your part of the tree. Detail your relationship with your nuclear family, as well as cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. A family tree is also an excellent place for relevant family stories, and future generations can add relevant information too.
10. Pay Your Debts
Did you know that some types of loans can be passed on to next of kin? Your finances form part of your legacy, so if you can, try your best to pay debts. Knowing that you’re leaving your loved ones free from your financial burdens will help you rest easy.
11. Write a Will
No one likes to think about it, but take the time to draft a will. Even if you are fairly young, having a will is the best way to be prepared. It will ensure that your family benefits from financial assets you’ve acquired should the unthinkable happen.
Think carefully about how your properties or things can benefit your family members, and give accordingly. For example, you might want to ensure your son receives your good cookware if he’s a chef. Or if you’re the owner of a house you share with a spouse, set things up so ownership of the house will pass to them.
12. Advocate for Disadvantaged People
If you’re in a position of power, help those who aren’t to make their voices heard. It might be someone young and new in your office who isn’t being listened to, or it could be someone of a different race, gender, or ability. Amplifying other’s voices, especially in situations where they are actively disregarded, will both help them succeed and be a part of your legacy.
13. Start a Journal
A journal is an excellent way to transmit your values and life experiences to the next generation. If writing isn’t your thing, not to worry. Journaling needn’t be a daily habit; instead, you can use the pages to keep a record of important events in your life, such as:
- Job changes, including when you got your first job
- Significant achievements
- Any serious illnesses
In this manner, you can help your family remember key moments. A journal is also an ideal way to tell your life story in your own words, and it may very well become a treasured family item.
14. Record Family Traditions
Often, some of our most cherished memories are traditions we participated in as children. Traditions instill a sense of belonging, regardless of whether you still do them, and they form a vital part of your legacy.
Be sure to record yours in some way (by writing them down or taking videos). If you have abandoned some traditions, this idea may provide the impetus to start doing them again. Otherwise, recording traditions helps ensure their survival.
15. Share Skills
Sharing knowledge is a touching way to leave a legacy. Even if you think your skills are less than useful, pass them along to your children or grandchildren. Getting together to share knowledge is a fun way to bond, especially when it comes to grandchildren, who often appreciate this token of love.
Similarly, be giving with professional skills you have. Share your valuable insight with anyone who has less experience. Taking the time to do so can help others grow and in the process make your industry/company better.
16. Pursue What You’re Passionate About
Think about the things you’re passionate about–how do you feel when you do them? Words like happy, fulfilled, and centered probably come to mind. You likely engage in these passions, whatever they are, fully and with intensity.
Always make time for and pursue your passions because the things we’re passionate about are the things most likely to impact others. At the very least, the happiness we get from doing them helps make us better people.
17. Live Fully
It may sound cheesy, but there is no time like the present; don’t wait to fulfill your dreams. Seizing the day is one of the best ways to live a life with meaning and make sure that you leave a lasting legacy. Do things that scare you so that, in the final hours of your life, you will have no regrets.
Aside from helping you live a fuller life, this passion for living is contagious. Your friends and family will remember it when you’re gone.
18. Help Your Community
If you see a need in your community, be the first to fill it. Does the local children’s playground need updating? Spearhead a fundraiser for it. Are residents having trouble with recycling? Start a recycling program. Elderly neighbors unable to rake their yards in fall? Offer to help them.
There are many ways to be of aid to your community. Taking an active interest in your neighborhood is a fantastic way to leave a lasting legacy on it.
19. Memorialize Family Stories
Think about curious family anecdotes and memorialize them for future generations in writing
Was your grandfather a Vietnam War veteran? Does your aunt have three different degrees? Perhaps your cousin learned to speak French fluently as an adult. Write them down.
While these stories may not seem incredibly interesting now, they may provide fascinating insight for future generations. You will offer them an incredible look at where they came from by taking the time to share these anecdotes.
Even when life seems hard and overwhelming, there is always much to be thankful for. Be mindful of all the blessings you have, and share those blessings with others whenever you have the opportunity.
Similarly, share what you have–whether that’s time, advice, effort, money, or things. Share without expecting anything in return, and share as often as you can. Creating a legacy of giving and sharing is one of the most beautiful legacies you can create.
21. Draft a Legacy Letter
Finally, there’s no better way to leave a legacy than by telling the people closest to you how much they meant to you with a legacy letter.
Imagine what you’d say to your family and friends if you knew you were at the end of your life. Avoid practical matters, such as funeral arrangements or where to make your house payment, which should be addressed elsewhere.
Instead, a legacy letter is a way to speak directly to those that matter and tell them things you may not have gotten a chance to. To tell your wife how much she meant to you, for example, or let your children know how proud of them you are.
There you have it–21 creative ways to leave a legacy for others. As you can see, there are many different ways to do so, but first, you must ask yourself what you want to live on after you’re gone. Strive to live your most outstanding life, and you will create a long-lasting legacy.