If you received news today that you had six months left to live, what three pieces of legacy advice would you leave your loved ones?
That question was posed years ago in a writing forum. When I read it I felt shocked, then scared, and finally a little sad. End of life isn’t a topic we love to talk about here in the United States. But as I thought about it, this is a really important question to consider.
I was surprised to find that the first two pieces of legacy advice came almost immediately. The third took a bit longer but I was amazed by how instinctively I knew the answer.
As I pondered these three pieces of legacy advice, I reflected on how clearly they echo my values. They revealed my struggles and triumphs. They unveiled my limiting beliefs and deepest desires. And they uncovered the value of sharing my story.
What could your legacy advice teach you?
Before I share the specific lessons I learned from my legacy advice, let’s turn the focus to you. Without too much thinking, write down the first three things that come to mind.
If you were preparing to leave the people you love most, what gifts of advice would you leave them?
Here are my three pieces of legacy advice
Enjoy the Journey
I don’t know about you but a large portion of my life was spent doing the things I thought would someday make me happy. It turns out they didn’t; surprise, surprise. Happiness isn’t a prize you earn, but an attitude and mindset you choose to learn.
Every day is filled with small miracles: the bees pollinating an apple tree, quality time with someone you love, and beautiful sunrises. Yet it’s easy to get stuck in autopilot and the monotony of work, chores, traffic, takeout, and TV news. But if you stop and pay attention, I guarantee amazing things will happen to you.
The sun sets daily on the horizon but it has never been the same sunset. Slow down. Take it all in. This moment will never happen again.
Be True to Yourself
Thank you universe for giving our generation Brené Brown and the power of authenticity. Finally, someone has given us permission to stop pretending to be who we thought we were supposed to be. And now we can start being ourselves.
I quickly learned, however, that this permission is just the start. I found that I couldn’t just flip the switch and be authentic. First I had to find myself. And now that I’m half a decade into the task, I’m beginning to realize it’s a lifelong journey.
“Finding yourself” is not really how it works. You aren’t a ten-dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket. You are also not lost. Your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. “Finding yourself” is actually returning to yourself. An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you.”― Emily McDowell
Throughout our lives, we are bombarded with messages about how we should look, behave, and what we should think. Yet, every single one of us is uniquely and wonderfully made. When we uncover and embrace our unique abilities our potential becomes truly limitless. All you have to do is choose to take one tiny step outside your comfort zone and let a sliver of your true self shine.
Don’t Hold Back from Giving
We live in a culture that tells us that in order to be happy and have value, we need to get, get, get. Once you have that bigger house, a newer car, a better job–then you’ll be happy. So we get the promotion, the newer car, and take fancier vacations and we’re still not happy.
Although I’ve learned this over and over, I still fall into the trap of judging myself for not having as “successful” of a career as someone else. For many of us, we have a deeply held belief that our value as a human is tied to our accomplishments. This programming can be difficult to undo.
Giving helps us learn to be grateful for the abundance we already have. It facilitates connection, helping you nurture relationships and feel less lonely. Giving has been shown to increase happiness, improve health, and even help you live longer. There are countless ways your life will be richer when you learn to give.“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough people get what they want.” — Zig Ziglar Click To Tweet
Writing your legacy advice is a quick exercise that will bring the clarity and direction you need to tackle your next step. Give yourself a gift and schedule some time to write out the three pieces of advice you would give. Consider why they’re important to you and how you can better incorporate them into your daily life. These lessons are way too important to be just a legacy.
What advice would you give? Share in the comments below or come say hello on Facebook. I can’t wait to hear from you.