As the dawn of a new year approaches, you’re most likely busy thinking about all the things you would like to change right now to create a better life for yourself. What you may not be thinking about is your legacy—the impact you will leave on others after you die.
Yes, getting clear on your legacy — clear enough that you can summarize it in a single word — is the key to crafting an amazing life.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the responsibility, stress, and busyness of life. Over time we lose focus on what’s possible and what we are passionate about. If we’re not careful, we can end up living our whole lives this way.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, thinking about your funeral actually helps you understand your trajectory and how it relates to the present. Asking yourself, What do I want to be remembered for? is a tremendous motivator in honing your purpose. It’s not at all about worrying about the end. It’s about living in the moment with the end in mind.
Your legacy really isn’t about you. It’s about the impact you make on the people around you — the way you touch their lives. Your legacy is what people will remember.
But how do you figure out and actually live your legacy? By thinking about and choosing your Life Word. Your Life Word is the word that defines you and drives you to be your best and create the journey you’ve dared to dream of. It helps you maintain long-term focus on your goals, stay on track, and live regret-free.
The real strength of your Life Word lies in the powerful transformation that takes place not only in you, but through you. Sure, living by your Life Word certainly benefits you, but it also has the potential to change the world, thanks to the excellence and goodness it will help you achieve and share with others.
Our new book, “Life Word: Discover Your One Word to Leave a Legacy,” expands on principles laid out in our earlier book, “One Word That Will Change Your Life.” While choosing your One Word each year creates short-term focus that leads to long-term impact, your Life Word ultimately helps you shape your legacy over the course of a lifetime. Together these companion books help you bring dramatic transformation to your life.
Ready to discover your Life Word and begin the life you were meant to live? Read on to start building a meaningful legacy in 2017.
Discover your inner superhero. Understanding and harnessing your power is the first step to discovering your Life Word — and your “superpower” doesn’t need to be supernatural to be significant. Everyone is born with unique gifts, strengths, and natural abilities that they can use to serve others. What is your superpower? Maybe you’re a brilliant organizer or a gifted communicator. Or perhaps you naturally see the big picture or can find the good in any situation.
To uncover your natural gifts and strengths, you need to answer four questions. What do I naturally excel at? What unique characteristics describe how I am naturally wired? What strengths have I developed over time? What gives me joy when I do it? Let the answers inform you as you choose your Life Word.
Whether you’re naturally born with a gift, or you develop strengths through years of practice, your power is an indication of where you should focus your attention. As you continue to gain clarity, think about how you can use these talents and abilities to serve others.
Figure out what you’re here for already! Nothing in life is accidental, and you are no exception. Still, we don’t always immediately understand our purpose. Remember, it’s the small things in life that lead to your purpose and legacy. So don’t think that living an ordinary life means you’ve fallen short. On the contrary! You have a calling, and you are uniquely equipped to answer it.
To discover your purpose, ask yourself these revealing questions: What does the world need? What am I made to do to help fill this need? What can I do to make a difference and leave a positive mark? What breaks my heart? What’s at risk if I don’t do what I am called to do? The insights you discover will give you direction and meaning as you further explore your calling and your cause.
Make a passion play. It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what you are passionate about. Just take a look at your life! Passion is what drives you, and it is reflected in how you spend your time, your energy, and your money. Discover your passion and you will understand exactly where your motivation lies — keep this in mind as you ponder your Life Word.
Ask yourself these three questions to further identify your passion: Where do I invest most of my time, energy, and money? What matters to me deeply? What energizes me to take action and motivates me to make a difference?
When you’re living in alignment with your passion, your efforts are satisfying and sustainable — because your heart is in everything that you do. This is why it’s so important to pay attention to your dreams instead of tuning them out. That’s your intuition guiding you toward all that you deeply care about.
Locate your Life Word at the intersection of your Power, Purpose, and Passion. Now that you understand why you are here and what you hope to achieve, it’s time to choose the word that encompasses your legacy. Take some time to quietly look inward and ponder the words that come to mind. For more insight, consider asking a few close friends or family members to tell you the gifts they see in you. Finally, challenge yourself to imagine your funeral some day. What is it that you hope people will say about you? Let your vision for your legacy guide you to your Life Word.
There is a Life Word out there for every single person. When you do receive it, allow it to be your guiding hand as you live out your calling with joy and enthusiasm. Leave the mark you want to leave on the world—right now.
Immerse yourself in your Life Word. Your Life Word can work only when you keep it front and center in your day-to-day routine. So be sure to put it in the foreground of your life. Find special ways to keep your Life Word close to your heart and mind. For example, you might create a Life Word journal to write down your memories, moments, and milestones. Or you can devote your garden to your Life Word by engraving it on a rock or bench.
Consider buying (or creating!) a piece of art inspired by your Life Word. Or recite a daily prayer or meditation based around your Life Word. You can even create a Life Word wall in your home, with the Life Word painted upon it for daily reflection. Finally, don’t hide it from the world; share your Life Word and encourage others to find theirs as well!
The best part about building your living legacy is that it’s never too late to start. Whether you are just past kickoff, finishing up halftime, or are in the “fourth quarter,” you can turn your life around and make a positive impact on the world around you.
Let your Life Word be the jumping-off point, no matter where you are along your journey. As a new year begins, allow yourself to become inspired and impassioned by your legacy. A lifetime of meaning and mission lies ahead.
Jon Gordon is a best-selling author and keynote speaker whose books and talks have inspired readers and audiences around the world. His works include “The Energy Bus”; “The No Complaining Rule”; “Training Camp”; and his latest, “The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work.”
Dan Britton is a speaker, writer, teacher, coach, trainer, and marathoner. His passion is to help people live intentionally, maximize relationships, and invest in the next generation. He has coauthored five books including “Life Word”, “One Word That Will Change Your Life”, “WisdomWalks”, and also authored and edited 12 additional books.
Jimmy Page is a speaker, author, trainer, leadership coach, and Spartan racer. He has coauthored six books including “Life Word”, “One Word That Will Change Your Life”, “WisdomWalks”, “True Competitor”, “Called to Greatness”, and “PrayFit”.