21st Nov 2022
The recent death of Vicky Phelan has, quite rightly, resulted in a multitude of column inches being dedicated to the incredible legacy that this amazing woman has left behind. The women of this country owe her more than we will ever know.
This has also got me thinking once again as to what my own legacy might be. How will I be remembered when my time comes and more importantly what am I doing about all of that right now?
I’ll admit that as someone without children I’ve pondered on the question of my personal legacy, and who will remember me, probably more than what’s healthy. When I look around at all of my friends, I see that their children embody their legacy and one would hope that when that time comes, it will be their children who will speak about them and carry them always in their hearts.
I also observe people, changemakers, who are out there actively making a real difference in the world; those who are doing good beyond the ordinary and I recognise that they also will be remembered long after they have gone, simply for what they have done while they were here.
These thoughts of ‘legacy’ lead me therefore to ask you a series of questions, which might, at first, appear to be somewhat morbid.
What have you done with your life?
When you picture your funeral who there will shed a genuine tear that you have gone?
Who will speak about you afterwards?
What do you hope people will say about you?
Who will think of you often?
How will the world know you have been here?
When you think of the amount of time you invest in worrying about things that might never happen, or replaying events from your past that firmly belong there; doesn’t it seem a little daft that you most likely ignore how you are right now, especially when it comes to ensuring that you will be remembered for some more ‘worthy’ reasons, when your time comes.
How do you want to be remembered as a mother, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend? Do you want your contribution to the world at large to be richer because of something you did, were involved in or that you created? These are definitely the questions you should be asking of yourself constantly so that you can better understand what it is you need to be doing now to get you there.
For my part, I want to be remembered as the woman who was never afraid to alter her ways. I want, when people think of me, that they remember someone who kept trying to improve herself even if that meant countless changes and considerable amounts of tweaking. I want when people think of me that they might be reading my books or the words I will leave behind, and that it might inspire them to believe not just that change is possible but that it is entirely possible for them too. And I want my nearest and dearest to be very certain how much I loved them and that they felt that love always and still do. That would honestly be a worthy legacy of my life.
When I think of who it is that I would like to emulate, in terms of legacy, I go immediately in my mind to my dad. He will always be remembered as a man of honour, a kind and bright man and above all a very compassionate man. While you might think this is just a normal father-daughter thing, I am certain that he will be remembered not just by me, but by almost everyone whose life he touched. In any person’s language that’s a true legacy and one the rest of us can only hope for.
WHO IS IT FOR YOU?
When you think of the person who inspires you to want to create a worthy legacy of your own, ask yourself what about them made them so meaningful or memorable to you? How you want to be remembered plays a significant role in who you are right now and on how you are showing up in the world. Or at least it should.
When you know just how you want to be remembered it points directly to your values. Is who you are today going to get you closer to being remembered just how you want to? If it’s not, then it’s time to alter your course and begin planning to change your ways. When you think of an inheritance it relates to what you leave behind but when you think of a lasting legacy, think of it by what you leave in the hearts of others and just how many people will feel richer for having had you in their lives.
I’ll leave you to ponder about your own legacy with my favourite quote from the inventor Benjamin Franklin, “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Change & Transformation Coach and Author of GET UNSTUCK who through her private practice, writings, programmes, workshops and podcast has inspired, activated and helped thousands of people to make significant changes in their lives. She is an accredited Personal, Leadership & Executive Coach and the Lead Coach in the IMAGE Business Club. Instagram @1niamhennis. Her debut book “GET UNSTUCK” is available now from niamhennis.com/book and selected bookshops nationwide.
Featured photography from Unsplash.