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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Retirement Redesigned

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When and How to Focus on Building Your Legacy

The real legacy that you leave behind is in your stories

A note from Johann

It is in retirement that we often start thinking abut the inheritance we could leave to our children and grandchildren. Our financial circumstances and assets like property are very much in our thoughts at this stage. But besides any material assets that you may leave to your heirs, it is the most memorable stories of your life that will define your legacy. It is what all those who knew you will remember about you.

As the world prepares now for a life without Queen Elizabeth, the television interviews with people that had contact with her, or have a story to tell about her, are making the most powerful impression of her life. She was a very wealthy woman and the owner of vast assets of property. Her family will inherit a great deal. But it is the way she touched people’s lives for which she will be remembered.

Everyone that has some cherished memory of her wants to share it now. Some kind gesture or evidence of her impressive commitment to service is what they talk about. It is the way she committed her life to service that people hold in their hearts. Filing past her coffin after standing in long queues, each person honors her, and when interviewed after leaving Westminster Hall, they remark on the profound nature of the experience.

Few of us have the same vast anthology of stories that the ninety-six-year-old monarch must have collected in her many years of rule. But we do have a lifetime of impact on our friends and family. They are able to talk about and remember us, maybe with laughter, or even sentimental feeling when we are no longer here.

Heirlooms and favoured keepsakes can be the physical reminder of the care passed down from a family line. A crocheted blanked lovingly made had every length of thread pass through the hands of the maker before becoming a piece of warmth and comfort for us in the present day. In our family, treasured photo albums help us recall special family holidays and celebrations.

Our grandchildren love hearing about ‘the olden days’ and the naughty adventures that their parents got up to when they were children. It is these and the many other stories that have given shape and colour to our lives that are remembered. They are the stories that make up the legacy that we leave behind. Whatever we have left as a legacy gets filed away in the memories of all the people with whom we have shared our lives.

We’re focusing on what it means to live our legacy. In our lives after full-time work we may have more time to focus our attention on important issues that may have been deferred in the busyness of life. A portion of this task can seem daunting and may entail thinking about some big issues, but getting to work on our affairs will leave room for joy and satisfaction as we live our planned legacies.

Our top 3 article picks this week:

12 Ways to Leave a Meaningful, Lasting Legacy

A person holding a key symbolising the key points to leaving a lasting legacy

Our take:
Much of our working lives may be spent dealing with the urgencies of life and we may not have given much thought to our living legacy. What do we want to be known for? What difference can we make in our families, communities and in the world? What steps can we take to make our legacy wishes a reality? This article is a helpful step by guide for anyone wanting plan their legacy and achieve it.

Article excerpt:
As humans, we often long to make a connection to something bigger than and more enduring than ourselves. A lasting legacy captures some meaningful aspect of our unique presence and preserves it for the benefit of those who follow us. Whether through work, family, or community, we all have the opportunity to leave a one-of-a-kind mark on the world.

  1. Ideas for Leaving a Legacy for Your Family
    In the context of family, legacy means inter-generational continuity. Just as we have individual legacies, there are family legacies tied to each family’s culture, lore, traditions, values, and contributions to society. Passing these along, as well as your individual story, continues the larger narrative of your ever-changing family and weaves it into our shared history.
  2. Write about life in these times
    Think of how interesting it would be to have first-person accounts of major events in the world told by your own family members.
  3. Curate your family’s history
    You may recall stories and have access to documents that your descendants will not, so you could be in a great position to become a family historian.
  4. Tell your life story
    Telling the story of your life in your own words can be one of the greatest gifts to loved ones. You might wish to put your history on paper via a journal, autobiography, or memoir.
  5. Make an audio or video recording
    Why not start by making a collection of keepsake audio or video recordings that you and your loved ones will treasure? Consider it a part of your digital legacy
    Click here to read the full article on

How Thinking About Death can Lead to a Good Life

Death awareness – contemplating your passing

A plant as a symbol of life

Our take:
This article covers some of the benefits of mortality awareness including our desire to leave a legacy which can be a focusing and creative process. It points to the many scientifically proven positive elements of having mortality awareness.

Article excerpt:
Let’s get real: I might die any minute, and so could you. Whether this thought makes you scared or not, it’s still the reality. So what if I told you there are two ways to deal with this reality? The first way will bring you fear and anxiety and the second way will bring you joy, love, lust for life and many other good side effects. Which one would you choose?

Scientific proof
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 power of legacy
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.

Shifting your perspective
Thinking about death all the time, however, can be paralyzing. The philosopher Alan Watts points out that forgetting about death is just as important as remembering it. If you spend all your time thinking that you will not be around someday, you could lose motivation to do what you have to in life.

But just like you sometimes need some sleep to become more productive the next day, Watts says, you should reflect on death in order to appreciate life more. Avoiding it altogether is foolish because contemplating death can be one of the most powerful and uplifting tools. It helps shift your perspective: ultimately you’ll die, and dealing with that will help you understand why it’s so remarkable that you’re here at all.
Click here to read the full article post on

How to Deal with Regret: 10 Tips

An older woman looking out over a view symbolising her contemplating her regret

Our take:
One aspect of leaving a legacy can also be dealing with unfinished business or regrets. This article is a helpful guide to thinking about past regrets and how to deal with them effectively. Being free from our past regrets can help us move forward and thrive in our third Chapter.

Article excerpt:
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.

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

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
  2. Avoid Obsessing About Past Regrets
  3. Asses 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
    Click here to read the full article on

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Other highlights for the week:

Most Popular Daily Thought

Could there be a greater gift than being so fully satisfied with one’s life that the prospect of death brings no fear?
There is always discomfort in contemplating our own mortality… so we tend to avoid it and get on with life. But embracing the idea of death can become a powerful force for living life. Through the ages, many cultures, religions and schools of philosophy have employed memento mori – pieces of art or symbols that serve as reminders of our mortality so that we may live life and each day to the fullest. Steve Jobs’s life may have been cut short but he lived a full one. In his famous Stanford commencement speech He said ‘Death is very likely the single best invention of life’. He channeled his own sense of mortality to ensure he lived a life of purpose. He didn’t get it all right, but this leads to an interesting thought: Could there be a greater gift than being so fully satisfied with one’s life that the prospect of death brings no fear? What do you think – is this possible?
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Quote from the Reset Team – Could there be a greater gift than being so fully satisfied with one’s life that the prospect of death brings no fear?

Weekly Question

Last week’s question:
Which aspect of leaving a legacy motivates you most?
Some of the responses we received:
• Making sure my kids and grandkids are spiritually and securely educated, it’s my daily reminder.
• I want things settled for my son.
• Since I don’t have children I would say I hope my legacy was that she was a person of integrity, kind, fair-minded towards others, and a loving human being.
• Taking care of my sons.
• The love shared.
• To be a good role model to people around me.
• Kindness.

This week’s questions:
Are relationships one of the aspects you’re preparing for in your retirement?
Click here to answer the question in our Facebook group


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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.