Conclusion of a Three Part Article Written by Randi G. Fine
You may not realize it but your life has been influenced by or benefited from the lives of those who have gone before you; your parents, grandparents, great grandparents. They have brought you to this station in your life.
Everything that happens to us trickles down in some way and affects the lives of our descendants. Each of us is a byproduct of all the ancestors that preceded us. They have left us the reality we currently live in. Their values and achievements affect our lives in ways we may not even realize.
If your life is not written down or recorded in some way, the memory of who you are will fade with the years. You do not have to write a book to document your life. Many people are not motivated or are unable to do that. But everyone can keep a diary or journal. We can all video or audio record aspects of ourselves that we want to share and live on. How exciting would it be to suddenly discover the diary of a long-deceased relative? Wouldn’t it be fascinating to hear how life was in those days?
We want to be remembered for how we lived, not how we died. We want to share the gifts we have with others while our eyes are open. We want to leave this Earth with no grudges or regrets. We must live every day as if it is our last, because it very well could be.
In the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Author Stephen Covey gives an exercise that involves writing our own eulogy. He says when planning our legacies we should think about our lives with the end in mind, not out of morbidity but to give us a clear focus of how we want our lives to turn out. The eulogy is to be written from the perspective of four speakers; a family member, a co-worker, a member of your house of worship, and a friend. We are to ask ourselves what these people would say about us if we died today.
These eulogies become mission statements that help us define the legacy we hope to leave. They help us determine where we are now and where we need to go to reach our destination. Covey says that our mind creates a thought first and then a physical action follows. So thinking about the end helps us to manifest the things we want.
There are no guarantees that your legacy will live on exactly as you hope it will. Some people feel more comfortable prearranging a plan of action for the legacy they want to leave. That method will boost the probability that their wishes will be fulfilled. If there is money, property, custody issues, or other assets involved that is advisable. But you do not have to have material assets or even a plan to leave a legacy.
Be the kind of person you want others to remember. Be a giver not a taker. Keep your outlook on the brighter side of life. Be grateful for everything that comes to you. Take the good with the bad. Be honest and true in all your dealings. Be courageous and faithful. Be kind and understanding. Inspire others with the way you live your life.
Love your family enough to plan ahead for the day when you will no longer be here. Tie up all your loose ends so your family is not left with a complicated mess to clean up after you are gone. If you have children or close relatives and don’t have a will it is wise to have one drawn up. Make your wishes known. Families divide and fall apart when there is a death and the deceased did not make his or her wishes clear.
Evaluate the way you live your life and the memories you hope to leave behind. Touch as many lives as you can. Leave an imprint you can be proud of. Be aware, live consciously, and act deliberately. Make it a priority to begin living your legacy today. Tomorrow cannot wait—it may never come.
Author Shannon Alder summed this all up perfectly when she wrote, “Regrets are the last words you speak to your loved ones when you die and the one thing we all fear when we live. I’d rather regret the things I’ve done and said than regret the things I haven’t done or said. It is all the experiences and people you missed out on in life that you will feel the most regretful for in the end. God will forgive you of your mistakes, but there is nothing to forgive if you have never even tried, done or said anything that made a difference in your life or others.”