“When you love people and have the desire to make a profound, positive impact upon the world, then you will have accomplished the meaning to live.” —Sasha Azevedo
The decisions we make today will define the stories that get told about us in the future.
We are all writing a story with our lives. And it is going to be retold. This is inevitable.
We are going to talk about it. Our kids are going to talk about it. Our grandkids are going to talk about it. Our friends are going to share memories about it. And the lives we shape along the way are going to share pieces about it.
The life we live will be the story that gets told about us. It will be our legacy.
Ultimately, our legacy is going to be positive, negative, or a combination of both. But make no mistake, there are no neutral lives being lived.
People will talk about the positive impact we left or people will talk about the lasting harm we inflicted. People will talk about our presence or they will talk about our absence. They will talk about what we gave to the world… or they will talk about what we took from it.
But the story of our life is going to be told. So let’s make it a story that inspires and motivates others wherever it is shared.
Here are eight helpful ideas to move us in the right direction:
1. Look to other stories.
Who are the people you speak the most fondly of in your life?
No doubt, there are people who have left a positive imprint on your life and talking about them brings joy deep in your soul. Look to those people. Because their example can help shape yours.
What decisions did they make that shaped their story? What were the values and principles that made them who they were? And what were their underlying reasons for choosing them?
2. Focus on long-term impact.
It is easy to become so enamored with the here and now that we forget to consider the long-term impact of our decisions.
But the pursuit of pleasure or fleeting wins in the short-term can sometimes hold disastrous outcomes for the long-term. We would be wise to consider both. Always.
3. Notice the distractions that keep us from meaning.
Our world is full of distractions—both new and timeless—that have the potential to keep us from our most meaningful pursuits.
Possessions are not immoral, but the constant pursuit and accumulation of them can become a distraction from a life well lived. The same can be said of money, praise, leisure, comfort, and luxury… just to name a few.
If we want to leave a positive legacy for others to build upon, noticing the specific distractions that consistently trip us up is an important step.
4. Just do the next right thing.
Whether it be a small decision we make in the moment or a larger goal we’re working towards, taking the time to consider our options and make intentional choices that align with our values and priorities can have a profound impact on our well-being and sense of purpose.
Ultimately, the very next decision is the only decision we can make right now. But every decision we make builds upon the last. So let’s work hard to choose correctly in every present moment.
5. Invest our limited resources wisely.
Every hour of every day, we invest our lives somewhere. We make decisions about where to put our money, our time, our energy, and our focus.
So let’s invest into a story worth telling. We accomplish this by valuing relationships, service, and good-will to others. These investments will always shape the arc of our story towards a positive end. And will result in a better story than chasing money, power, or fame.
6. Get some help.
It is nearly impossible to live life effectively on our own.
There is nothing wrong or weak about asking for help. In fact, whenever we find ourselves struggling in any area of life (marriage, parenting, finances, lack of direction, destructive habits), there are people in this world who can help (or who can direct us towards help). Find them.
Our problems and struggles are not unique—but help doesn’t often arrive until we are ready to look for it.
7. Become an active listener.
Cherish the input of people who care about you. If there is someone in your life warning you about the choices you are making, listen to them. Take their words to heart. They may be wrong. They may be right. But you’ll never know for sure if you ignore their voice.
Make humble and active listening a priority.
8. Change with one small step.
Until life is taken from us, change is possible. And it always starts with just one decision to head in a new direction.
If you need to reshape the story of your life, make at least one small change today.
Remember, your first step in the right direction does not have to be a big one. But when a change needs to be made, a step needs to be taken.
The stories of our lives are going to be told. This is inevitable.
Let’s work hard to leave the legacy we want told about us.