Your legacy is a footprint in the sand of time
“Try not to become a man of success — but rather a man of value.” — Albert Einstein
The value of your life goes beyond yourself.
Your actions and emotions influence everyone you touch. You change others. The memories you create live in others — they become part of who they are.
American poet Henry Longfellow wrote: “Lives of great people remind us we can make our lives sublime and, departing, leave behind footprints in the sand of time.”
Your legacy is like an echo — it will continue resonating once you are gone.
Choose your words wisely; turn your story into something worth listening over and over. If you think you are too young to design your legacy, you are wrong. Start now.
What footprint will you leave in the sand of time?
Let your path inspire others to walk in your footsteps.
Your legacy is much more than a memory
“The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Building your legacy is your life’s purpose. That’s why Jeff Bezos has this image on his fridge — it’s a daily reminder of his life’s purpose. Don’t let everyday distractions derail you from what really matters to you.
The sand of time is history. The footprints you leave behind last for generations. However, don’t confuse being remembered with your legacy.
A legacy doesn’t have to live only in memory.
A nameplate on a bench in Central Park can boost your ego, but not your impact. A legacy isn’t only about leaving what you earned but also what you learned — those who attain wisdom become immortal.
What if your most important gift to others is not tangible, but a piece of yourself?
A legacy is a powerful way of connecting with those whose lives you touch. Your roots, culture, family, connect you to those who came before you. What you leave behind connects you to your descendants and community.
Turn your imprint into something sublime — let your deeds and words inspire others to become the best version of themselves.
Legacies live on — they continue to affect people once you are gone. However, you don’t have total control. You can manage your behavior, not how people perceive you. Wanting to be remembered, loved, and revered is natural. But don’t make it about yourself.
A legacy is an act of generosity — your footprint can help make the world a better place. Remember, we don’t own the planet, we are just curating it for future generations.
You have an invisible touch
“You can’t make footprints in the sands of time by sitting on your butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?” — Bob Moawad
What impact do you want to create in the world?
Building a legacy requires you to be an active player, not just an observer.
You don’t have to be Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson or Steve Jobs to change the world. I’m not discouraging you from becoming a first-class change agent by any means. The truth is, most people get stuck by comparing themselves to exceptional leaders.
Regardless of the size, every drop of water turns the ocean into what it is. Don’t undermine your value. The world needs your uniqueness — don’t fear the power of your own light.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’
Actually, who are you not to be?”
— Marianne Williamson, Our deepest fear
You have an invisible touch. Don’t think you are nobody. Do you want to change the world? Being famous is not a necessary condition for creating a positive impact. Start by inspiring those around you.
As the African proverb says:“It takes a village to raise a child.”
It takes a village to achieve any meaningful change in the world — from reducing violence to fighting poverty. Effective change requires participation. You can fight the good fight and inspire others to join too.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
You passion brings out the passion in others — the invisible touch is contagious. As you let your passion shine, you will be amazed by how others feel free to do the same.
Besides material possessions and money, there’s so much that you can give others. People need inspiration, solutions, knowledge, and wisdom.
What’s your gift to the world?
Be true to yourself
“No legacy is so rich as honesty.” — William Shakespeare
The best legacy is one that is consistent with your values and lifestyle.
The purpose of your legacy is not to make you look good. On the contrary, your life should make your legacy proud. People will remember the impact you had on them and the memories they shared with you. One way or another, your stories will be echoed.
Your uniqueness is your best legacy.
Don’t try to become someone you are not just to be remembered. Identify what matters to you. How does your unique self contribute to making the world a better place?
As Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner remind us in A Leader’s Legacy: “By asking ourselves how we want to be remembered, we plant the seeds for living our lives as if we matter.”
Keep your legacy present. Think of it as a compass that will help you act with purpose even in the darkest hours. Use the following questions to reflect on the footprints you want to leave behind.
What is important to you? What would make you proud?
If you can only do one thing to improve the world, what would your contribution be?
How do you want your life to touch others? How can you increase the well-being of those around you?
What actions would it take to create your legacy?
The planet needs your help too
“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” — David Brower
You cannot define your legacy without considering your impact on the planet as well.
By 2050, scientists predict there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans. That’s no joke. In the meantime, clueless politicians deny the damage we are causing to the environment.
The U.S. is the king of trash, producing a world-leading 250 million tons a year — almost 4.4 pounds of waste per person per day.
Developing countries are more efficient because they have to. Being wealthy shouldn’t turn us into predators — we have to act smartly.
Don’t add unnecessary things to your life. Try repairing what’s broken rather than throwing it away. Don’t upgrade because you have to. If your car or computer is still working, don’t change them. Small behavior can create a huge impact.
Remember, the impact on the planet is part of your legacy too. Being a successful entrepreneur means nothing if you don’t care about the trash your organization creates.
The zero-waste movement is growing. There are an increasing number of people — often young millennial women — whose yearly trash output can be small enough to fit inside an eight-ounce jar. They embrace a minimalist lifestyle that saves them both money and time. We can all dramatically reduce our waste without getting to that extreme yet.
While you reflect on the legacy you want to leave behind, consider how also to reduce your garbage footprint.
Five exercises to design your legacy
1. Write a six-word memoir
The Six-Word Memoir is the brainchild of Larry Smith — it’s a simple way to get to the essence of who you are and what matters the most. The challenge is simple, but not easy: “Can you tell your life story in six words?” Learn more here.
2. Create your own visualization
Imagine your elderly self, rocking back and forth in a chair. Reflect on your fulfilling life. What have you achieved? What have you done for the world? What is your legacy? Engage your senses. Record your voice narrating those memories as if you achieved them already. Check out the eight-step exercise here.
3. Write your own obituary
This exercise confronts you with your own death — that’s why it’s so powerful. Writing your own obituary is a moving experience. We take time for granted, but when you face your own death, all excuses vanish. Crafting your obituary encourages you to live your life the way you want to be remembered. Download the exercise and instructions at the end of this post.
4. Write a legacy letter
This document is similar to a will though it focuses on the wisdom and impact you want to give others rather than on possession or material things. Writing a legacy letter is not only a useful exercise, but it’s also a beautiful gift for your loved ones for once you are gone. Here’s a simple way to take a first stab at it.
5. Define your values
As I mentioned before, your values define your choices in life; they are the foundations of your legacy. Even if you think you know what you stand for, it doesn’t hurt spending some time reflecting or revisiting your values. Follow these steps to prioritize your core values.
We all have a purpose in life. Designing your legacy will bring clarity — it will help guide your actions and priorities.
Your legacy is not about you, but about the mark you leave in those whose lives you touch. It’s a generous act — there’s no room for egos.
What footprint will you leave in the sand of time?
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