At the end of the year, most people are busy working to meet year-end career goals or furiously planning for the next year. But there’s one even more significant thing you may not have considered mapping out: your professional legacy.
The dictionary defines legacy as:
A gift or a bequest, that is handed down, endowed or conveyed from one person to another. It is something descendible one comes into possession of that is transmitted, inherited or received from a predecessor.
In terms of your career, your professional legacy is what will remain after you’re gone—from a leadership role, a company or life—and how you’ll be remembered for what you have contributed to the world.
Consider this: If you departed today, what would yours be? If you’re still unclear, here are four questions to consider to help you cultivate awareness of and better define a path for developing your professional legacy.
1. Why Do You Do What You Do?
Said another way, what intrinsically drives you? Simon Sinek taught us that the most successful companies and leaders have something beyond profit or product that drives them. Your “why” is linked to your passions and interests—those things that have made a difference in your life and with which you find yourself curious. Your “why” also defines how you want to impact the world, and naturally attracts others to you because you’re operating from an authentic place and resonates with your true self.
When you begin to align your life and career around why you do things, what and how you choose to them becomes clear—and helps you more easily define your destiny.
2. What Matters Most to You?
Closely linked to why you do what you do are your values and what and whom you hold dear. Think about causes and organizations you support and people with whom you give your time willingly. Reflect on your professional journey to discover which events represent meaningful milestones and times in which you felt most alive: were you leading a team? Mentoring and inspiring others? During a difficult period, were you forced to examine some hard truths and gracefully found your way out, turning your life around in the process?
The moments that challenge us often define us. Pay attention, for they will give you clues to what matters most.
3. Who Do You Want to Affect?
By definition, a legacy is something that is handed down from one person to another; at its highest level, it is a sacred covenant, an exchange between you and your successors. Consider then that greatest legacies are gifts you bestow and are carried on long after you are gone. For a legacy to live on, you must consider who you wish to impact: your team and colleagues? Your employees? Your customers and clients? Your industry? Family and friends? Those you’ve never met?
The strength of your legacy is directly related to the impact it has on others; choose wisely.
4. How Can You Achieve This?
Once you’ve articulated why you do what you, what matters most and who you wish to impact, you’ll need to consider how you can achieve your legacy. The simple truth: for your destiny and career story to become one, you need the help and service of others.
Nothing of lasting value is ever created in a vacuum; being a lone wolf will only get you so far. But be forewarned: Building a legacy requires courage, for you must communicate with others your deepest-held desires and wishes. It asks you to trust in those with whom you share this knowledge in the hopes that they, too, see your vision, and it forces you to relinquish control to allow other to carry on in your absence.
In other words, you’re connecting others to your legacy, ensuring that it lives on long after you’re gone.
The views of the author of this article do not necessarily represent the views of Gradifi. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained here. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax or financial advisors to understand the tax, financial and legal consequences of any strategies mentioned in this article.