I love cheese. You can ask my family any day of the week and they will tell you that my favorite food is cheese. Mac and cheese, cheese pizza, cheese sliced or cubed…really any vehicle to get me some cheese is welcome. The problem is, I can easily get myself into trouble with cheese. Those little cubes of cheese on the buffet, mindlessly eaten, add up and cause some big issues (or, more specifically, tight jeans). Eating that yumminess without really thinking or planning my day around a little excess caloric intake makes for a very unhealthy me. And over time, that mindless eating can cause some real, long-lasting trouble.
I tell you this little secret of mine because I see the same type of behavior in other aspects of life. Mindless living. Living without intent or thinking of the bigger picture. Dare I say living without thought of your legacy. Legacy, a word that we often assign to other people, usually someone more affluent, wealthy and prominent. But we rarely think about our own legacy.
The truth is, we ALL will ultimately leave a legacy. We will all have something that we will hand down to the next generation. What will that look like? Will it be the legacy of haphazard choices, drifting along through daily life? Or, will it be different? Will your legacy be one that is crafted with intention, love and the big picture in mind?
My desire is to leave a legacy that is the latter. One filled with specific, actualized goals that add up to one heck of a meaningful, rich life. But how in the world do I build my legacy?
Here is what I want you to do as your first step toward building your legacy. I want you to write a list or gather pictures that represent what you would want to accomplish by the time you leave this earth. What are your personal goals, career goals, spiritual goals, travel goals, health goals? The list of goal categories is as great as your imagination. Even if it seems far-fetched, write it down. Make the list as detailed as you can. Then step back. Do you see a picture of what your legacy may look like? Does it look like a life that is filled with joy and rich with accomplishment? I bet it does. Now, the question is how do you get there? You do it by setting specific, actionable goals.
So often, we set a goal like “Lose 10 pounds” or “Save $5000 for a vacation” but we don’t really think about the steps to reaching that goal. Or if we do, the steps aren’t broken down into smaller pieces that are easy to work through. I use the hamburger analogy a lot (are you getting that I like food?). When you sit down to enjoy a big, juicy hamburger, your goal is to eat that hamburger. But you aren’t going to eat it in one bite (I hope!). You are going to enjoy that burger in small, yummy bites. The same goes with setting goals. We have to break those goals down into the tiniest parts so we can see the steps and make it easier to work through them.
Let’s work through an example. If, on your legacy goals list, you state that you want to retire early and spend more time with family. That is a wonderful BIG PICTURE goal. But what are the steps to getting there? Your list may look like this:
These are great steps, but many of them are still pretty big bites to chew. Take for example “Prepare a budget”. There are a lot of things that go into preparing a budget like:
Determine current monthly income
Determine monthly expenditures
Compile investment allocation
What are the extra annual expenses (taxes, vacations, large purchases)
This list can get exhaustive, and it should. The smaller you make each bite, the more success you will see in reaching that goal. Checking each tiny bite off your list helps you to see the path toward reaching it.
I know that goal setting is a big job. It isn’t always easy and determining each “bite” can be challenging. But living with intention and leaving a legacy of joy and accomplishment is worth the investment. And remember that you aren’t alone. I’m here to help whenever you need me.