What Will Your Legacy to Life Be?

Written by on October 2, 2015 in Self-Awareness, Sense of Purpose


Most of us associate legacy with the end of life rather than the present, but legacy is not bound by age or time and it represents more than physical things, it’s also about heritage and influence. It’s your contribution to the lives you touch every day either intentionally or by example.

You are building your legacy right now with each new experience and relationship. The way in which you live your life, each time you share your knowledge or reach out to help or inspire someone (or don’t) you are contributing to your legacy.

With this in mind, what if the most important gift we can give in this life is not material items at all, but a piece of ourselves?

Legacy is not what’s left tomorrow when you’re gone. It’s what you give, create impact and contribute today while you are here that then happens to live on. ~Rasheed Oguniaru

Begin By Defining the Legacy of Others

To begin to understand the value and nature of what your own legacy might be, spend some time considering all the ways in which you have been influenced by others. What life lesson have you learned directly or indirectly that has become a part of who you are?

The following three examples represent the legacy of people who have touched my life.

Always Reach Beyond What’s Comfortable

I’ve known many people in my life who have chosen the safety of living small lives over the risk of testing themselves or facing their fears. Michael C. literally changed the course of my life by challenging me to dream beyond what is practical, to reach beyond what is comfortable, to ignore naysayers, and most of all to not let fear get a foothold by immediately facing up to each task or experience that causes me to feel discomfort.

One Person CAN Make a Difference

There are so many problems in the world it’s easy to assume one person can’t possibly make a difference. Nate R. taught me to bring solutions to the table rather than problems, and that not only can one person make a difference, but we are obligated to do so as our contribution to this life.

His legacy of influence caused me to be an activist rather than an observer, to lead by example, and to never let the fact I don’t know how to do something stop me from trying.

Turn your wounds into wisdom. ~Oprah

The Imperative of Forgiveness

My Mom and dad well and truly sucked at the parenting thing, but I eventually came to understand that they had a lot of not-so-pleasant things going on in their own lives that they tried the only way they knew how to shield us from.

I learned from them tolerance and to not judge others on face value because we can never really know the full extent of another person’s burdens. In the end, we are all are just trying to live our lives the best – and sometimes the only way – we know how. As Maya Angelou once said so well, “Do the best you can until you know better when you know better do better.”

Defining My Own Legacy to Life

These life lessons have become a part of who I am and what I share with the world. Of course, I’ve learned a few lessons of my own along the way, some that have tested me in ways I never could have imagined, but I came out the other side stronger than ever before, and I will again the next time there’s an unexpected detour or obstacle.

And this brings me to what I want my legacy to be …

To challenge you to accept responsibility for the power and authority you have to create your own life experience. To show you all the ways in which to empower yourself and stand up to fear knowing that, no matter what obstacles you may face in life, you will be okay.

Knowing the legacy I want to leave behind helps me to stay focused on what I’m doing in the present so that my goals are in line with that intention. It offers a concrete sense of purpose in choosing what I am giving my energy to.

Each person leaves a legacy – a single, small piece of herself, which makes richer each individual life and the collective life of humanity as a whole. ~Author Unknown

We can never truly know all the ways in which we will directly or indirectly influence the lives of other people on this journey, but think of your legacy as the invisible cord that connects you to those whose lives you touch each day, and to the lives that they touch, and so on, potentially for generations to come.

This notion of planning your legacy is humbling, and yet tremendously empowering.

Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here.

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. Well said Jeannette! I may be naive but I honestly believe with few exceptions most people don’t intend to hurt others and that we all benefit from giving each other the benefit of the doubt cause if you’re human there’s going to come a time when you screw up. Thanks for sharing!

  2. So glad you liked the article Chin and thanks for stopping by!

  3. My condolences on the passing of your grandmother Kire but I’m so glad you found value in the article. It is my hope that this conversation will spark the notion that we shouldn’t wait to the end of life to recognize our legacy and that of those near and dear to us. Thanks for contributing to the conversation!

  4. Wonderful legacy you’ve defined for yourself Lea! Thanks for taking the time to share with us – always appreciated.

  5. Nothing I love to hear more than I’ve generated some food for thought Pamela! It is true that the word legacy is rarely used in conjunction with day to day living, but I think that’s one reason I found it so fascinating exploring the topic because regardless of what you call it we are in fact influenced by the behavior of others just as we influence the behavior of others and I think becoming more aware of that helps us to find meaning in life.

  6. Glad you liked the article Krystyna and yes the thread analogy is certainly relevant because we never know who we will touch in our lives just as we will never fully grasp how others will influence us but it’s definitely something to be aware of. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  7. Glad you found value in it Doreen and I think the legacy you’ve chosen for yourself is wonderful!

  8. Marquita — another thoughtful post and a subject I’ve been thinking about as I’m of a “certain age.” I hope my legacy will be that someone will say, “She was a good person.” That’s broad but I hope I’ve brought joy into the lives of my friends and family as they have to mine. I hope I haven’t hurt people — even unintentionally — although I’m sure I have, so please forgive me now. I want people to think of me and be happy and not sad and remember all the good times we had together.

  9. Thank you for this post Marquita, awesome!
    “A great way to focus your life is by defining what legacy you’d like to leave”
    it is important that we create our own destiny everyday.

  10. Kire Sdyor

    This post comes at just the right time. I’m struggling with the passing of my Grandmother and have been trying to put into words what she has left her family. The word Legacy wasn’t in my mind as I mulled over my thoughts, but now that I’m thinking about it as the Legacy she left, it seems to come into sharper focus.
    Kire Sdyor recently posted…It was Such a Big List, I Began to ListMy Profile

  11. Lea Bullen

    I want my legacy to be more about how I’ve helped others turn their lives into one that they enjoy and can be proud of. It’s really unfortunate when people don’t take advantage of what they have complete control over. I want the impact I leave on the world that your life is yours and you can live your own happy.

    Lea Bullen recently posted…6 Surprising Reasons Why You Need To Be StressedMy Profile

  12. pamela chollet

    Your posts always give me pause Marquita. I’ve been sitting here for the last 10 minutes thinking about the word, “legacy”. The word suggests, grandeur to me, I don’t know why. Probably because I associate it with historical figures. Since losing my parents I’ve found I have these “little waves of feeling moments” , kind of like remembering moments with feelings instead of words.. I came across a Forsythia tree last spring and had a a flush of happiness . My mom had one in front of the house she loved and every spring she mention something like, “…but then I looked out and saw the forsythia was in bloom” ‘d like to leave these moments of happiness.
    pamela chollet recently posted…Preschoolers Temperaments-Part 1My Profile

  13. Lots of food for thought there! How inspiring to take a term like legacy and look into it more deeply. Of course, it can be like a thread, can’t it? I like to think of my mother, and the legacy that she passed on to me of courage and persistence. I would be honoured if that would be my legacy to those around me!
    Krystyna Lagowski recently posted…How a 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT helped me find kittens and stardust.My Profile

  14. Excellent post, Marty. I appreciate all the thought you put into it.

    My legacy is to encourage people to smile and enjoy the moment. I learned from my mother (who left this world at far too young an age) that loving people and showing them that you care is the best possible gift you can give anyone.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…PV Cuisine hits the mark in both gourmet and street food offeringsMy Profile

  15. We don’t require a family or offspring to for a legacy William and you’ve provided some excellent examples of why that is so. In fact I believe for most of us our legacy will touch many more people we are not related to than those of our immediate family … which is what makes this notion so powerful. Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation!

  16. I can well imagine Meredith. I think those or very similar thoughts must go through the mind of most parents. Thanks for contributing to the conversation!

  17. Thanks for stopping by Sherill, glad you liked the article.

  18. Sounds perfect for you Beth!

  19. Your father sounds like a wonderful father and role model Rose. I’m glad my article inspired you because your post sounds fascinating and I’ll looking forward to reading it. Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation.

  20. Yippee! What a lovely compliment Donna. You and I have so much in common because my journal is also my “go to” place to think things through. Thanks so much for your kind words and for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  21. Glad you enjoyed the article Donna. I do love challenging readers to look at things from different perspectives. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Thank you Sabrina for taking the time to let me know you enjoyed the article and what a wonderful example you shared about your parents! I still recall the excitement of picking up what little we owned and moving to Hawaii with no jobs or place to live. It was crazy, but when you’re 21 you do crazy things. I can’t imagine picking up and moving to another country although my great grandparents came to America from England. Sadly I never got to meet them, it would have been wonderful to hear their stories.

  23. Well said my friend! The notion of being comfortable living in your own skin is incredibly empowering. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughtful insights Irish – always appreciated.

  24. Glad you found the post and topic inspiring Erica! Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation.

  25. Yep, I’m a big fan of quotations myself as anyone who reads my posts can tell. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Phoenicia.

  26. Oh yea! Love those words Lenie and so glad you enjoyed the article!

  27. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and contributing to the conversation Jacqueline.

  28. You write such inspiring comments Dave you make me want collect them in a little book for those days when I wonder if anyone is paying attention. Thanks so much for your kind words – there’s nothing I like hearing more than something I’ve written has inspired someone to think about life … well, except maybe “You’re doing such a great job let me give you this pile of money!” but then that almost never happens. 🙂

  29. William Rusho

    I don’t have a family, so I have no offspring for a legacy. I think mine is my writing, and also my wrestling. I never made it big in wrestling, but I have trained others who are having better success at it than me. This knowledge I passed onto them, as it had to me, and they will pass it on to others. It is an unbroken chain that goes back a long time, and continues to move forward. I become a part of the future and part of the past.
    William Rusho recently posted…World’s Largest Garage Sale/Albany Comic ConMy Profile

  30. Meredith

    There are so many times that I’m dealing with my young daughters that I wonder to myself what my legacy to them will be. Will they remember me being impatient and frustrated, or will they remember all the hugs and times I listened to them? Definitely keeps me on my toes!
    Meredith recently posted…Surviving Creativity: Do Less in More TimeMy Profile

  31. sherill says:

    Hi, beautiful post. Thanks for sharing a very inspiring post. True indeed that we create our own destiny everyday.
    sherill recently posted…The #1 Reason to Have a MentorMy Profile

  32. Beth Niebuhr

    My newly acquired motto (last week) is to be somebody who makes everyone else feel like somebody. If I could do that, I would be happy!
    Beth Niebuhr recently posted…Customer Feedback is Priceless!My Profile

  33. What an impactful post at the perfect time, Marquita! I’ve been working on a post, “Is your life justified,” but haven’t quite got it where I want it to be. You’ve inspired me to get back to it.
    My Father was one of my greatest inspirations and even without him on earth, he still makes me think about my life in terms outside myself. He was a very humble man, and so much himself–no airs, no ego–that he lit up a room every time he walked into it. He absolutely had curiosity until the day he died and did what he could to share that with people.

    Thanks for helping me articulate that about him!
    Rose M Griffith recently posted…High School Reunion – Trepidation or Anticipation?My Profile

  34. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    You did it again…have me thinking! This is why I love to visit you. I realize now that we create our legacy every day. Never thought about it in that way until I read this.

    Gosh, I do have to spend some time after I reply to think this one through. It hit me right in my soul my friend. Now I have to start writing things down….that’s how I put my thoughts together….and I’ll name it Legacy.

    Thanks for another journey,

    Donna Merrill recently posted…Are Your Subscribers Responsive To You?My Profile

  35. Donna Janke

    What a great way to focus your life – by defining what legacy you’d like to leave. I will be thinking about this over the next while. Looking at legacies other people left you is a good way. I was very aware of the legacy my parents left me when they died – that people matter more than things, faith as a foundation, the value of family and community.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Canadian Museum for Human RightsMy Profile

  36. Sabrina Quairoli

    What a wonderful post! I really like the forgiveness quote from Maya Angelou. I totally agree to leave a legacy is not just for after you have left this earth. It is a goal to have an impact on this world and make this world a better place. Let’s not give in to hopelessness. Whenever I feel scared about taking a risk, I think of how my parents came to this country with very little and made something here for us. This was really needed for me this morning. Thank you for sharing.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…31 Mini Organizing ProjectsMy Profile

  37. Irish Carter

    Hi Marty,

    I love this topic. I really believe when it comes to creating our legacy we have to be good with your inner self and allow yourself to shine through your vulnerabilities. Like you said, we have to step outside the box. We have become ok with what and who we are ya know. Honestly when I think about it, I think sometimes some people (I used to) try to hard and that just creates conflict. When we just start being comfortable in our own skin and roll with the punches. Live your life being what you want to represent to others and be remembered for.

    Irish Carter recently posted…Eye Care For The Whole Family: Protecting Valuable Vision At Any AgeMy Profile

  38. Erica says:

    I love the idea of your legacy being now. We’re taught to worry about how much money we have, or about how many followers we have on Facebook. But it is the things we quietly, consistently do every day that can make a difference for others and can define our legacy as we still live.
    Erica recently posted…The Top 5 Sweeteners for Good HealthMy Profile

  39. Phoenicia

    Wonderful post!

    The points/quotes that stood out to me were;

    “Please think about your legacy because you are writing it every day”

    Powerful! Often we forget that everything that we do has consequences, whether good or bad. What we do today (however mundane we believe our life to be) contributes to tomorrow.

    ” Do the best that you can until you know better, when you know better do better”

    We cannot feign ignorance when we know.

  40. Lenie

    You’ve done it again Marquita. Written a post that challenges us to look at ourselves – some areas are good, others definitely could stand improvement.
    I love this quote by Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better, when you know better do better.”
    Lenie recently posted…Winter Readiness ChecklistMy Profile

  41. Thanks for an enlightened look at the term legacy. In contemplating this, I realized that I too had misunderstood the term. This has way more to do with actionable things than heirlooms or memories.
    Jacqueline Gum recently posted…BACK FAT… WHERE’S THE JUSTICE?My Profile

  42. Dave

    As always, Marty, you give us a new perspective on an otherwise overused word or concept. I am one of those that fell back on the safety of legacy being defined as what we leave behind later, totally dismissing that fact that we are building that legacy with each choice we make, every single day.

    Every article you post, every word you write, moves us farther along toward action instead of thinking about action. Thank you Marty, for sharing such personal experiences with your readers, and for nudging us along towards becoming all that we can be 🙂
    Dave recently posted…Easy MoneyMy Profile

  43. Delighted you found value in the article Kathleen, and there is nothing that makes me happier than to hear that something I’ve written has caused someone to think or even do a little soul searching! Thanks for contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  44. Excellent point Diane about sharing the value of the ways in which people have contributed to our lives. Thanks so much for stopping by and contributing to the conversation.

  45. Marquita, I love how your article got me to look at the legacies of others in order to assess where I am in life with my own. It takes a bit of soul searching to do that but it is such an uplifting experience. Sometimes we forget that one person can make a difference, and that person can be me. Thanks for the reminder.


  46. Diane Topkis says:

    Marty, I love how you think of your own legacy by first thinking of what others have influenced you. I have a pretty good idea of who – besides my parents of course – have had a significant impact on me. And I plan to tell them the influence they’ve had. I don’t think people always get that kind of feedback. Thanks.

  47. I felt exactly the same way when I read your post Kimba! And I’ve come across at least four other articles by fellow bloggers writing about life lessons … definitely something in the air.

  48. Kimba

    Marty, this is a little spooky: “To understand the nature of what your own legacy might be, begin by looking at all the ways in which you have been influenced by others.” And my writing this week is about my dad’s legacy?! The Universe is speaking to us chica!!
    Kimba recently posted…Life Lessons from An IrishmanMy Profile

  49. Glad you enjoyed it Suzie. It seems many of us are in a similar place in our journey right now. Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and share … always appreciated!

  50. Glad you like the article Mark. The topic seems a bit heavy I know, but I think the main point I wanted to get across is that we each have an opportunity (obligation?) to make a contribution to this world and it’s up to use to choose what that will be. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, always appreciated. 🙂

  51. Suzie Cheel

    Marty I love this and it is so close to my heart right now. I am just finishing Wayne Dyer’s autobiography I can see clearly now, it has moved me to tears and has me making sure I don’t die with the music still inside.
    His passing has made me stop more than once in these past few weeks. Thanks for the challenge xxoo
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…Meditation For The Full MoonMy Profile

  52. Mark

    What a truly awesome post M! And i really love that inspired quote by the late great Mayou Angelou!

    As well as the one by Rasheed Oquniaru! I’d never thought of the impact of our legacy, in the present tense as you’ve so beautifully articulated here!

    This is so eye opening!Thank you!And Nate R. was very wise and I can really appreciate the sound advice he shared with you!

    Thanks for sharing such an inspiring post!You’ve definitely opened my eyes, to a whole new set of potential possibilities!
    Mark recently posted…How The Alluring Rabbit Hole Of Affiliate Marketing Trips Up So Many Promising Newbie Marketers!My Profile

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