A life well lived. Contributions to mankind. Your family. Your stories. The way each of us creates a legacy is as unique as the way we live our lives.
Some of us preserve family history through our stories, while others build businesses and leave them to their heirs. Some leave money to charitable organizations and others leave a legacy through the student lives they’ve touched with a career in teaching.
No matter how humble or grand your legacy turns out to be, it’s important to note that the actual planning of your legacy is entirely fulfilling on its own. That qualifies it as something that’s good for you and good for your health.
Here’s how that works.
5 Ways Legacy Planning is Good for Your Health
One way to think of a legacy is the need to be remembered for the special impact you’ve made in the world. And as each of us well knows, our lives are unique, making our legacies just as unique.
As unique as each legacy might be, however, there are 5 different ways that planning a legacy might be good for anyone, no matter who they are or what they do.
Legacy planning validates your unique brand of living.
By planning how you want to be remembered, you’re giving credence to the idea that you’re unique and special life matters. In other words, legacy planning is a form of life validation, a way of celebrating what you’re all about while you’re still around to join the party.
Thinking about your legacy helps you lead a purposeful life.
Planning your legacy also helps you guide your life. Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner said it well in their book, “A Leader’s Legacy:”
“By asking ourselves how we want to be remembered, we plant the seeds for living our lives as if we matter.”
Some people start planning early on in life. Indeed, discussions about your legacy can take place over a lifetime. Maybe you began thinking about the type of mark you wanted to make on the world when you were in your 30’s. Or maybe you and your circle of friends first began thinking about legacies when you all started becoming grandparents.
Whatever the case, it helps you direct your life in purposeful directions.
Planning promotes self-reflection.
Leaving a legacy requires self-reflection, which is good for the mind and spirit. Both are linked to better overall health.
It increases your social activity.
Legacy planning can be inward (self-reflection) and then it can also be outward (sharing your legacy). Both forms do great things for your psyche.
When you share your legacy, the social connections you develop are good for your heart. Let’s say your legacy is rooted in your lifelong support of pets and the Michigan shelters that care for them. You touched the hearts of many pet owners through your dedication to volunteering over the years.
By deciding that’s going to be your legacy, you’re apt to increase involvement with those activities, thereby promoting a more social lifestyle for yourself. Social connections are increasingly important to health as we age.
Legacy planning encourages you to pursue your passions.
When you’re passionate about something, you may not let advancing age stop you from enjoying it. Your relentless pursuit of passions can serve as an inspiration to others. That’s a fine legacy to leave!
Whether it’s ballroom dancing, yoga, or playing the piano, a passion can have a significant positive influence on your health. Passions involving physical activity will keep your body healthier longer, and those involving mental acumen will keep your brain healthier longer.
Plan Your Legacy by Sharing It with Others
Choosing to share your legacy with others is a key part of legacy planning. Through connecting with friends, spending time with family, or reaching out to the community, you’re not just planning your legacy; you’re creating it as you go.
Leaving a legacy is especially important to older adults with memory loss. If your aging parent in Michigan has dementia, you may be interested in learning more about StoryCorps and their efforts to help with legacy building for people with memory loss.