Choosing How You Want to Be Remembered

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"If I'm remembered for having done a few good things, and if my presence here has sparked some good energies, that's plenty." - Sidney Poitier, on the topic of How I Want to be Remembered

We all want to leave behind a legacy. Mr. Poitier is a cultural icon as well as a revered actor. His legacy is a powerful reminder of the enduring force of an extraordinary life lived to its fullest.

Unfortunately, we can’t all be boundary-breaking artists, but each of us has within us the chance to be remembered for making a positive impact on peoples’ lives. The drive to live a life full of meaning and love, one that resonates throughout history long after we’re gone, is only natural.

Have you taken the time to think about what you’ll leave behind someday? You do have a choice in the matter. It all comes down to how you live your life, the plans you make, and the messages you choose to convey.

I want to be remembered as…” 

In essence, choosing how you want to be remembered is really all about the small life choices you make every single day. To help guide you in the right direction with those choices, here are four ways to be remembered a hundred years from now.

1. Be Authentic

“Being dependable, calm, focused and trustworthy is how I want to be remembered if I were to die tomorrow.”  
Anonymous

We can’t all be famous and we can’t all be heroes. However, what we can be is authentic. What that means is speaking and acting truthfully in ways that align with your deepest values. That’s not always easy and for most folks, it’s a lifelong pursuit.

Most people find that being true to themselves becomes easier the older they get. That’s one of the reasons grandparents and grandkids make such great partners!

One thing you can do right now to impact the way you’ll be remembered is to share your true self with your grandchildren. In a chaotic world, what you can do is be there for them. Be a shoulder to cry on, an ear to bend, a sounding board for their ideas and dreams. Tell your stories and help them understand the world around them.

In fact, opening up to all your family members and sharing your thoughts with friends can make a difference, too. It’s is a powerful way to leave a lasting legacy.  

2. Be Loving 

I want to be remembered as a man who had a wonderful time living life, a man who had good friends, fine family – and I don’t think I could ask for anything more than that, actually.”  
- Frank Sinatra

When it comes to legacies, the singing and acting legend Frank Sinatra really sums it up beautifully. It seems like a no-brainer, but truthfully, a lot of us could stand to revisit the issues of love and family. The world moves fast. It’s easy to forget to carve out time in your schedule for family and friends. Everyone is guilty of this.

Spending time with friends and family, sharing the moments and milestones of your life is how the best memories are made. Your family’s fond memories of you are perhaps your greatest legacy. It’s not the things you buy that you’ll want to be remembered for. It’s that you were loving and kind and that you lived a life full of wonderful moments. It was true of Sinatra and it’s true for the rest of us!

One thing you can do right now is to call a friend or family member who lives far away and whom you haven’t talked to in a long time. Reconnecting can be a heartwarming act that makes a positive impact on you both. 

3. Be Helpful

I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.”  
- Rosa Parks

What’s better than the feeling you get when you help someone out and lift them up? Thinking of others is a noble pursuit. If you scan the words of famous historical figures talking about their legacies, being helpful is a common thread that runs throughout. From civil rights heroes to presidents to sports figures and celebrities, it seems everyone wants to help make the world a better place.

You can do your part on a scale that suits your lifestyle. And it doesn’t matter if it’s making a stand like Rosa Parks famously did, or it’s simply encouraging someone to do their best. There are millions of ways that you can be helpful to those around you. It’s not only gratifying but also one way you can choose to leave a lasting legacy.  

4. Be Thoughtful

I want to be remembered as being a thoughtful and caring person.”  
- Anonymous

When we try and imagine the world from someone else’s shoes, we are practicing compassion. Compassion, in turn, is rooted in thoughtfulness.

When you’re being thoughtful, you’re taking the time to think of what others may need or what might delight them. It’s a giving act. When you repeat that giving act over time in numerous small ways, it can amount to a substantial impact on the world… a positive impact.

Thoughtfulness can be something as grand as leaving a college education fund for your grandchildren. It can also be the countless times you asked your son-in-law if he was doing okay during a stressful time in his life. It can be the heirloom quilts you hand over to your daughter, knowing she has always treasured them. 

Something Thoughtful You Can Do Now 

A legacy of thoughtfulness is also impacted by the way you handle your financial affairs. One thing you can do now is arrange for some financial planning so as not to cause stress to your family in the future.

Your family’s last memories of you shouldn’t be clouded by the anxiety they felt when determining how to say goodbye. Planning your funeral in advance saves your family money on funeral costs, and it’s a good way to relieve them of the burden of trying to make decisions of what you would have wanted while they are grieving.

Paying for funeral costs now is a powerful way to be remembered, because it can free your loved ones from added stress, allow them to focus on love and reflection. Even if it’s decades away, it’s a thoughtful legacy to leave behind. Learn more about pre-planning with our free burial planning guide.

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