Imagine what people will say about you when you’ve passed from this Earth. What will their lasting impression of you be? What difference will they say that you have made in their lives, in the community or in the world? Better yet, think about what you would like them to feel or say. In my experience, this is another way of getting to the question of purpose. So, what is your purpose? How do you define success in your life? Is it money, worldly possessions? Is it the project you’re working on? Is it dependent upon who wins the Super Bowl or World Series next year?
As a veteran of countless conversations on the subject, I can tell you that I want a) to live life to my fullest, b) to love completely and unconditionally, c) to learn important things (and then do something with the knowledge), d) to laugh loudly and often and e) to leave a legacy. Bessie Stanley put it beautifully in her poem “What Is Success?
To laugh often and love much;to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.
My challenge to you over the last ten days of 2011 is as follows: in addition to your planning for 2012 and for the next five years, spend some time reflecting on the legacy you’ve built thus far. Now carefully compare that to the legacy you’d like to leave the world, eventually.
- Where are the gaps? What can you do about them?
- What strengths can you utilize to bridge the gap?
- What’s the best first step? When will you take that step?
Yes, this is the standard goal-setting process, applied to a precious goal indeed – your legacy. If you take the time to do this exercise, I promise you that you’ll be weel on your way to achieving true success in your life, and leaving your mark on the world.
Merry Christmas to you and yours,
By the way, I don’t charge extra for typos. They are my gift to you.