If you knew in the next 20, 30, or 40 years that your memory would start to deteriorate and that you would begin to forget your life story, how would you prepare today? Do you have a plan for not only building a legacy but ensuring that your legacy is recorded and able to be shared the way you want it to be? My guess is that most of us do not, and that we are leaving our legacy to chance. This past week my wife and I traveled with our children to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. It was an unexpected trip prompted by the deteriorating health of my wife’s grandmother. Physically, she is doing about as well as any 86 year old person can be doing. Mentally, though, she is suffering from severe memory loss and most likely early stages of dementia.
While we were there, we spent time looking at family photos, reminiscing about past summers at the family lake cabin, and talking about life. It was very difficult for my wife because many of the conversations we had to have multiple times due to Grandma Jo’s short and long-term memory loss.
This experience impacted my wife and me profoundly. We left Idaho with a heavy heart, not knowing if Grandma Jo would even remember us the next time we saw her. As I drove for eight hours back to our home I could not help but contemplate the importance of proactively building, sharing, and recording my life story and legacy. Out of this experience I have committed to five steps that I believe can act as a guide to building an enduring legacy.
- Create a Life Plan. The beginning of legacy, for me, is found in Life Planning. This amazing exercise will help you identify a vision, purpose, and action plans to live the life you’ve always wanted. I highly recommend you get my new eBook, “Creating Your Personal Life Plan” to help you through this exercise.
- Capture the key moments in your life. Most digital cameras now give you the ability to shoot both photos and videos from the same device. Invest in a small camera that you can take with you on family trips, date nights, to school plays, and wherever your life story takes you. Flickr, Vimeo, and YouTube are a few sites that allow you to store this digital material.
- Record your story. There are so many ways you can accomplish this step. Use a blog, a journal, or a video camera to tell your story for yourself and future generations. Record where you lived, what you did, information on relatives, and all the little facts of life. A great site for helping you record your story is Ancestry.com.
- Share your story. Take the time to tell your story to your loved ones and friends. Explain to them how your story has unfolded so far. Talk about the key people and moments of your life that tested you and molded you into the person you are today. Ask to hear their story and share common experiences together.
- Serve others. A commitment to caring for others, lending a helping hand, loving someone that you don’t feel like loving, and extending grace to your enemies will stand the test of time and create an enduring legacy. Look for opportunities to serve your clients, loved ones, and strangers.
If I ever have to go through what Grandma Jo is experiencing right now, it is my hope and prayer that what I create out of these five steps will remind me of my life and loved ones. The choice facing all of us today is whether we will make our life worth remembering.
Make it a great day!