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When and How to Focus on Building Your Legacy

This post is a duplication of our newsletter, The Weekly Reset, where we review a key theme each week. In the spotlight this week: When and how to focus on building your legacy. Are you working on building your legacy before retirement?

A note from Johann

Your legacy is how you will be remembered

It’s the footprint you leave behind

Retirement is a time to take stock of how you want to be remembered and what legacy you’d like to leave behind. In your third chapter, you start thinking seriously about the impact of your life on the lives of your children, on your wider family, on your community, and on all those you have interacted with in your life. Sometimes legacy can include wealth that we leave behind in trust. We may also find satisfaction in having conducted a good life and believing that our values and character will be what people remember.

These are some of the obvious aspects of having built a legacy and being remembered. But there is a less obvious aspect of having created a sound legacy. It is in the relationships that you have managed in your life and particularly in how you have loved. Who has benefitted from your love? Who has experienced the impact of your loving kindness and who has been developed by how you have loved them? Your immediate family, like your spouse and your children, would be in front of this queue, but who are the ones in your broader social environment and who are the ones in your working life?

This may sound like an unduly sweet series of questions, but bear with me. Your legacy is not only who you loved, but can also be about blind spots or regrets that you might have about relationships that weren’t fostered with equal affection. Inside families, there are often clashes that harbour conflicting personality issues. There are many examples of how famous families, even royal families, had embedded in them conflicts and the sadness of heavy disagreements which spill over from generation to generation. How have you helped or not helped when others, perhaps in your family, are in conflict? Whatever your stage of thinking about your legacy, also think about how the impact of your life will be remembered by those important to you. You can still address any regrets you may have around such matters.

When we talk about legacy, our focus is usually constructive. We may have some areas we want to correct and improve upon while we have time. Having a good sense of self-awareness can be useful in assessing which areas of our lives we’d like to have reconciled so that our lasting legacies are positive ones.


Our top pick this week:

How To Deal With Regret: 10 Tips

Regret is a universal emotional response experienced when “the outcome of a decision is worse than the outcome of an option foregone.” Fortunately, there are many techniques you can learn and use as ways to cope with, understand, and manage feelings of regret when they arise. Mental health professionals with a specialty in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help with this process.

In the course of a lifetime, people will experience regrets both large and small. These regrets can lead to motivation for personal growth or they can take you down a pathway to depression and self-chastisement. How regrets are managed can make a real difference in terms of understanding and coping with these difficult feelings.

Here are ten useful tips on how to deal with regret:

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
  2. Avoid Obsessing About Past Regrets
  3. Assess How You Cope With Your Regrets
  4. Show Yourself Some Kindness
  5. Give Yourself Time to Heal From a Past Regret
  6. Distract Yourself
  7. Create a New Set of Goals
  8. Consider Counseling
  9. Ask Yourself Hard Questions About the Situation
  10. Recognize the Physical & Emotional Toll Regret Can Cause

Final Thoughts on Dealing With Regret

We only experience regret over a bad outcome when, at some point in time, we could have prevented the negative outcome.7 If you don’t take the opportunity to develop, change, and grow from a negative experience, regret can become all-consuming. Identify why your regret is so profound and how it reveals more about your personal values and feelings. Doing so can create greater self-understanding, more meaning, and purpose.

Click here to read the whole article on Choosing Therapy

Our Spotlight video:

When and How to Focus on Building Your Legacy

Weekly spotlight

Other Highlights of The Week:

How Thinking About Death Can Lead To A Good Life

Statue of seated pose
Image as in My End

There is scientific proof that suggests that contemplating your demise can have positive results for your own life and that of others. According to research, an awareness of mortality can improve physical health and help you re-prioritize your goals and values. Even non-conscious thinking about death — say walking by a cemetery — could prompt positive changes and behavior.

The dance with death can be a delicate but potentially elegant stride toward living the good life.

(I)n a 2015 study, researchers identified what they call mortality legacy awareness. This is a form of mortality awareness that drives the need to leave something behind after we have gone – thereby outliving and transcending death. This could be a highly creative force.

The need for a legacy turned out to be an important part of effectively dealing with the prospect of death. It helped lessen feelings of hopelessness and a lack of purpose. Legacy awareness correlated with striving to be healthy and striving for spiritual growth (such as believing that life has a purpose).

Therefore, those interested in passing down their heritage to future generations as a way to transcend death, are likely to take responsibility for their health and internal development.

So the next time you are reminded of your death, remember that focusing on what you would like to leave behind could help you turn something scary into a positive motivator.

Click here to read the article on My End

Weekly Poll

This week’s poll: Do you think of giving back in retirement as your responsibility or an opportunity for meaningful interaction?

Click here to answer the question in our Facebook group

Last week’s poll and finding:Where are you on building your legacy?
Option A: I’m too busy to worry about my legacy. – 58%
Option B: I think about my legacy but that’s about it. -14%
Option C: I have a plan to build my legacy that I will get to eventually… – 14%
Option D: I’m building my legacy daily and making good progress. 14%

Circular percentage graph
Circular percentage graph of poll responses

Most Popular Post of The Week

The Swedish phenomenon of de-cluttering before you die

Click here to watch the full video on ITV News

Most Popular Quote of The Week

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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To leave the world better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. - Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote
Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Johann is the founding partner of Reset Retirement where we focus on assisting people with planning for the non-financial aspects of their lives after full-time work. He had a long career in executive search and leadership as the founding partner and chairman of Heidrick & Struggles in South Africa where he was the head of the company’s board practice.