9 Ways To Define Your Personal Legacy

03/02/2015 8:17 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST

Death may be the great leveller. But so are the 3Ms - marriage, motherhood and medical ailments. They compel you to think, touch something deep within, bring up questions, provide answers and burst your bubbles. And in that one moment, you ponder and wonder about life and legacy. For a vast majority of us, these moments centre on the birth of children or grandchildren, our kids touching specific milestones (say turn 18, getting married, etc), the loss of our parents, spouse or loved ones. For some of us, it may be our age (say 40, 50 or 60), or retirement from active work.

No matter what the trigger is, at some point in life most of us tend to think about the answer to the question, "What is my personal legacy?" Usually, the first response tends to be around financial assets. After all, money does make the world go round. But, many times I wonder, are we all not endowed with several other assets in life? Assets that we want to hand down to future generations. Ever thought about what can be an integral part of your legacy? Here are my views.


We live in the "knowledge era" - a time where knowledge is power, where it translates (directly/indirectly) to money, is a source of "competitive advantage", can take you through the good, bad and ugly that life throws at you.

Along the journey of life, you amass an incredible amount of knowledge through formal education, through self-study, through experience, through observations, through introspection, through practice, through interactions, through realisation. Have you ever reflected on the knowledge you possess and what you'd like to pass on to the next generation?


Anyone who has truly lived/experienced life has learned several lessons; I refer to this as the wisdom of life.

For example, the most important lessons my father taught me were (1) The importance of being a "lifelong learner"; (2) Having the openness to deal with life changes, irrespective of your age and situation; (3) The importance of being clear on your value system and living by it, no matter what. This will be the strength of your character.

What "wisdom of life" do you wish to immortalise?


Over the years, I have come to believe that your life is really a collection of habits - daily habits, weekly habits, monthly habits, yearly habits - all of which add to how your life eventually turns out. As individuals, the habits you inculcate and demonstrate as a part of your personal and professional life determine how your life turns out, and this will be part of your personal legacy. Something which can potentially inspire others, something which others can learn from you or something which others will always remember you for.

For instance, no matter when she sleeps, my mother will wake up every day at 5am. This gives her a head start to plan her day and get things organised around the house. Again, waking up early or even at a fixed time every single day of the year can sometimes be the one and only good habit that transforms your life.

Do you have any good habits that are worthy of emulation?


Broadly, there are two types of skills I have seen in people - skills they are born with and self-taught skills. Self-taught skills are built by individuals because of their interest, passion, years of repeated practice and/or necessity. These skills enable individuals to reach the pinnacles of success or achieve their life goals.

So what are those skills that you have picked up along the journey of life? Writing? Cooking? Music? Dance? Technology? Design? Communication? Whatever it is, identify it and find a way to share it as a part of your personal legacy


For those who have children, they are an integral part of your personal legacy. How your children eventually turn out, what they make of themselves and the difference they make in the world can be directly or indirectly linked to you, how you raised them and the role you played in their upbringing.


Within each of us lies a "creator", a "consumer" and a "critic". And while most of us tend to be active consumers and critics, we can also be creative. So many of us can create many beautiful things such as art, sculpture, poetry, writings, cards, software, movies, music, documentaries, videos, photographs, jewellery, and so on.

So, what have you created so far that is unique, personal and special to your talent and creativity?


Every reality of the world started sometime somewhere as an idea. Some ideas got the required fodder, environment, ecosystem, monetary backing and support to thrive and flourish. And some lay dormant for a while. Some died.

The reality is that you may have several ideas which flash through your mind every single day. And yet you fail to pay attention, you fail to acknowledge them, and you fail to log them. You believe that not every idea is worth capturing, but what if there's one that can change the world?

It is worthwhile to document your own idea journal or idea log. Who knows? It may be the next "game changer" of the world!


Your finances are a very important part of your legacy. The assets/liabilities that you leave behind directly affect the quality of life of your family - today and even long after you're gone. It takes a lifetime of toil to earn money, but it takes focused planning, investment discipline and periodic reviews to consolidate that money!


Look around you and you will agree that a vast majority of us spend a significant amount of our time on social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blogs etc). So would it not be relevant to plan to leave your very own social media legacy? After all, social media is really about three things: (1) Knowledge and wisdom, whether it is personal or collective, of the community or the world at large. (2) Thoughts and ideas which stem from confusion, consciousness, creativity, co-relation, collaboration, comprehension - of an individual/community/ world at large. (3) Interactions, relationships and networks - between an individual/community/world at large.

Hopefully, sometime in the future (say 10, 20 or 50 years from now), you would have built a rich social media estate - one which will be of value to the next generation.

What do you think can go into building one's personal legacy? Leave a comment to let me know.

Originally published on author's blog. Edited and re-published here.

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