A legacy can be simply defined as a gift. It is what you leave behind as a treasure box for others to search for and open. Since everyone loves giving and receiving gifts, why is it that most people don’t leave treasure boxes worth finding? Why is that many people decide not to pursue the treasures they’re supposed to be benefit from. In the UK, where I reside, research has shown that almost half of the workforce want a career change. What is interesting is that 66% of 18-34 year olds want to leave their jobs. This may suggest that many of the younger generation want to challenge the status quo and create something where they have direct input, instead of working for long-established companies or organisations where many aren’t recognised for their contributions. Some may not even be given the opportunity to shine. It maybe years after they begin their entry-level position before they get their big break. All of this just leads to job dissatisfaction and diminished morale. You may have noticed the huge rise in young entrepreneurs and the magnitude of the impact their innovations have on large groups of people. To put the statistics simply, a large number of people hate their jobs. This trend is worrying because although many people are not content with their jobs, very few do something to change their situation.
In the developed world, the majority of people have virtually unlimited access to the vast resource we call the internet and access to the wisdom of past and present-day legendary figures. The people of old did not have the privilege of just opening a blog post on a smartphone to obtain priceless advice at their fingertips. They would usually have to pay for someone else’s time or travel long distances just to hear a few words of inspiration which would change their lives. These words instilled a mindset ripe for leaving the great legacies we still hear about today and may use for reference in our own lives. Isn’t this what we should all be striving for?
If you’re having difficulty in finding out your purpose, there’s, fortunately, a common pattern of behaviour you can apply to your own life to help you find the answers you’re searching for. There’s a catch though. You must be willing to take a hard look at yourself and make the necessary and sometimes unpleasant adjustments. Drop the ego and the self-entitlement and get to work on your masterpiece. This is the very thing most people don’t do so they remain stuck complaining, moaning and whining when all the resources they need for change are at their disposal.
I enjoy exploring what a person can do to take control of their own lives and put a halt to a loathsome lifestyle. I know many are looking to lead a fulfilling life which actually brings the ultimate emotion: contentment. From my own life experiences, I’ve realised there are certain things one must recognise to achieve a desired meaning to life.
Let’s explore a few.
1. Quit the talking
In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. – Proverbs 14:23
What I find is that many people entertain themselves frivolously with serious and worthy causes. Many people, through social media, ‘like’ or share statuses, ‘retweet’ traumatising news or pour out their hearts into rants about war, hurt, tragedy… the list can go on forever. Some even go as far as ridiculing well-known people, who decide not to speak about issues they don’t believe in, simply because they’re in a position of influence. They claim they’re supporters and activists by paying lip service or ‘keyboard service’, but what they’re missing is the fundamental component of action.
Action is what determines whether you lived a life of meaning or not. What you will find is that mere talk does quite the opposite; as they say, empty vessels make the most noise. Having feelings or being emotional about what you care for is not the same as doing anything about it. You may inspire others to take action… but what are you doing about it? Remember that there are two sides to every coin. Talk is one side that can drive motivation, but the other side is action which drives innovation and concrete solutions. Innovation is what really matters. When you see something tangible for your efforts, you cut problems in half and will always be content with the fact that you did all you could with what you had available. Sit down and figure out ways you can solve the problems in your immediate environment, and if you make a start on implementing your ideas you’re on your way to making a great and satisfying contribution.
2. Just take action
Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned. – Peter Marshall
People often ask me how I developed my mindset. My answer to this is going back to the past, not to dwell on it but to learn from it. The great minds of our past discovered a paradigm of success that can be applied to anyone’s situation and the major theme is ACTION. We don’t have to wait until a doctor announces to us that we have 3 months to live just to call an old friend to ask them how they’re doing. It hit me recently that I hadn’t spoken to number of my friends from my primary and secondary schools and sixth form for YEARS. I realised that what helps to make us truly complete is keeping connected with the people we come across in our lives. A good friend of mine even passed away during my time of inaction which was saddening. Procrastination really can be harmful. I was compelled to go through my whole list of friends on Facebook and make a list in my personal planner of what people were doing, how I had met them and I took action to catch up with them. This task was satisfying and it again confirmed to me that there will be day where I won’t be here to check up on my friends. Nevertheless, what I can do while I am here is create something that will live with those I will inevitably leave behind someday. Something that will bring all kinds of positive emotion when it’s time for my eulogy to be read out.
3. If you want recognition create something of high value
Don’t worry when you are not recognised, but strive to be worthy of recognition. – Abraham Lincoln
People thrive off recognition and feel low when their contributions aren’t acknowledged. This is fair enough, however, many people want to be recognised just for existing. As idealistic as this may sound, it’s not how humans beings operate. The truth of the matter is that nobody owes anybody anything, absolutely zilch. You have to work super hard to obtain things or maintain whatever you inherited at birth. As my father taught me: ‘you have to be the best to survive’.
Humans are attracted to what they highly value and this fact can never be changed. It explains why many people would prefer to pay more to watch an athlete kick a ball, than for the life-saving work of a doctor. Most people’s priorities lie in entertainment and instant gratification instead of their own health since the entertainment industry has managed to create a product of great value to the vast majority of people. This is why it’s important to find your passion and personalise it in such a way that the impact it has compels others to pay great attention. The keyword here is pay. What are you doing to compel people to pay attention to your output? Attention is actually a form of currency. Having a passion isn’t enough, you must express it to the point that people think you’re weird. To me, being weird means you’re being unique and captivating. This is what personalises your contribution and provides a perspective which can actually bring hope and value to someone else’s life. Anyone can start a charity but is the charity doing something attractive enough to raise the funds needed for its cause?
Value is the way of kings and queens – contribute immensely and you get to sit on a throne, of your own permanent design, which stands for as long as the universe exists. Following your passions is the only thing that will make your life meaningful.
4. Remember you have a limited time left
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. – Steve Jobs
Time is your most important asset. The average life expectancy in the UK is 81.5 years. Let’s face it, it really isn’t that long. When I explain to people that we don’t have much time left, I am told that I shouldn’t be worrying about age and that I have plenty of time left. Well, I beg to differ. It was at the age of 14, I was forced to recognise how little time I had left. I was involved in a hit-and-run accident and as soon as contact with the vehicle I became unconscious. It was after I woke up in hospital, somehow not dead and without any snapped bones, that I discerned I had some sort of mission to undertake and that there was no way I am going to live forever to complete it. Many people worry so much about what bad may happen if they put themselves out there. They keep waiting for the perfect moment and focus on what others may say (due to a brain which makes a living from going into fight-or-flight mode for any reason even if there’s nothing inherently frightening around). Let be real here, who cares? Humans are self-centred believe it or not, so take advantage of the same innate characteristic within yourself and work on your self-interests. It’s by prioritising your self-interests that you can figure out how you can really help others. I say, if you really cared enough for what you claim to believe in, you would explore the possibilities and take action as soon as possible before your time on Earth expires. This expiry date can be at any time so urgency is a must.
A lot of people continue to wait until they’re sitting in a nursing home for their lives to flash before their eyes with only a vision of what they could have been. I implore you not the take your precious time for granted. I know deep down you don’t want to be in a wheelchair, barely able to move, speaking to your grandchildren with the opening line of: ‘I wish I had…’. Personally, this is worse than being forced into a cage fight with a bear (where you would give it your all to survive) because you could retire at 65 and live until 100 just full of regret and sorrow. I mean, who in their right mind would want such an end. DO SOMETHING NOW! START NOW! Don’t wait until next year, you might not even be here next year. Stop postponing plans until next year, your life may change drastically next year. If you have the means and the ability at present, do something now. I am doing all I can now while I have my youth to avoid a debilitating and horrible outcome of regret and bitterness. I don’t see why you should let this happen to you either. Are you content with such an outcome? If I am going to end up incapacitated I want to know that I did all I could to make a positive difference in the my life and the lives around me. This is how you truly rest in peace.
5. Forget about shortcuts at the beginning
Shortcuts make long delays. – J.R.R. Tolkien
Most people seem to love shortcuts: get-rich quick schemes, drugs to get in shape and dating sites for ‘easy catches’ and many more. The only way you can find so-called shortcuts is by taking ‘longcuts’ through hard work and consistency. When trying to eat a large cake neatly, you can’t put all of it into your mouth at the same time; it doesn’t all fit in one go. Although, it’s quicker to start eating the cake this way, you will only end up with cake pieces everywhere or crush the cake in such a way that it becomes less visually appealing. Looking at it from a health perspective, trying to stuff the whole cake down your throat will only lead to a huge insulin-spike causing you to feel weak and tired the rest of the day. Is all of this worth it just because you wanted to take a shortcut? To get maximum benefit from your cake-eating experience, you must cut up the cake, covering its entire circumference (longcutting), then you will have the shortcut (smaller cake pieces) suitable to make the whole eating process more efficient and enjoyable. You’ll also be able to pace yourself to ensure you don’t fall asleep an hour later.
It’s only once you’ve been through the process that you’re primed to make well-informed smart moves. You have to learn the basics before becoming a maestro. It will help you bounce back from failures and increase your output which in turn increases your value. Things earned or unearned quickly don’t last. Things worked for are truly valued and stand the test of time. Go into something you can thrive in and you’ll soon be able to do it so effortlessly others will say you were born to do it. It’s at this stage you’ll know you’re using your passion to live life to the fullest and your efforts won’t fall short.
It is vital to acknowledge that your current environment is the sum of your actions. Many of the great ones rose from the dirt to become prominent figures in our history. These are the ones who stood out and influenced future generations. Each of us can do the same. Even making a difference in one other person’s life is enough. Forget about how long the process takes, when the right opportunity comes you’ll shine if you build the right foundation. We must cut the excuses, organise ourselves, create action plans and execute. This is the only formula which can get you to where you want to be. Your legacy is the very thing you should put all your focus into. This focus will enrich your life and give you peace of mind. You’ll attract the people you need in your life instead of those who enjoy talking and intrinsically prefer a life of mediocrity. Your talents are worth more than that. Prove to yourself and others that you had a great purpose on earth and give your future generations something to be proud of so they can draw inspiration from your life’s work. It’s all down to you and only you.
Now take drastic action.
What actions are you going to take towards a great legacy? Comment below.
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