Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Building a Legacy

Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

I've touched on the idea of goals a couple times in the past few months. Long term goals, mapping out a year's worth of growth with actionable steps, does not come easily to me. As a details person, it's much easier for me to write out a list of daily habits I want to adopt than it is to think of the person I want to be or the skills I want to develop over the course of twelve months and into the future.

But a few weeks ago I read a blog post by Lara Casey, the creator of Powersheets, and it shifted my perspective in a helpful way. Lara frames her long term goals as building a legacy. Legacies, she says, are the result of many purposeful actions over a long period of time. They look like memories from time spent together, influence on others' lives or work, and beloved objects passed down. You can't predict what your legacy will be, but you can take intentional steps to make sure you are a force of good in the lives of those around you.

Her mindset caused me to think differently. I shy away from questions like, "What's your 5 year/10 year plan?" because I don't know. I'm currently single, living in a big city, working for a name-recognized nonprofit - all or none of that could change in 5 or 10 years. And so similarly, it's hard to say what kind of legacy I could build when I don't know if I'll have a family one day or what the moments of my life will look like. If the average lifespan for a woman is 85, I still have, Lord willing, 60 years to go. I'm not even close to the halfway point.

But while I may not be able to predict where I'll be or what roles I'll have in the future, there are some mindsets and actions I can start cultivating now that will blossom into a legacy worth leaving.

// being a woman of faith. The rest of the list flows out of this one. There are women who reach old age with a deep, lived out experience of God, and there are those who still have shallow struggles. Being in the first group means walking faithfully through whatever hard seasons life throws at me.

// being a good friend. I fail at this in many ways - I take days to text people back, I begrudgingly accept social plans, and I don't usually take chances on new people. These are all things I can work on in the meantime that will at worst push me out of my comfortable normal and at best lead to healthier friendships.

// giving generously. I've mentioned before how I've spent less money than normal during this season of COVID. I've picked a couple causes to give to more regularly, and it's a joy to know my money is going where it will make an impact rather than to purchase more things I don't need in my life.

// being kind. It's far, far too easy for me to shift to sarcasm and gossip than to smooth over rough conversations with kind words. Controlling my tongue, stopping complaints, and being a peacemaker (both in smoothing over small wrongs and being confrontational when required) are all a part of this.

// working hard. No matter where I work or what context I'm in, I want to willingly take on challenges and give my best effort. It's easy to lose motivation or get frustrated with others, but remembering that I'm not in control of everything but still responsible for my part is a good way to re-focus and get back to it.
© A Little Life. Design by FCD.