Sometimes the best way to reach an end goal is to visualize the goal as achieved and work backward. This article continues the series of processes and tools you can use to find your life purpose. In this process we’ll start at the end by assuming you’ve discovered and lived your purpose for many years, and we’ll work backward from there.
The end in this case is the end of your life; that’s right, if your question is “How do I find my life purpose?” one answer is to start by visualizing the end of your life. Not your actual death—that’s too morbid and will sabotage the whole process. Instead, think in more positive terms of what you’ll leave behind—your legacy.
What is a Legacy?
The dictionary definition of legacy follows from law: legacy is a gift or bequest of personal property granted through a person’s last will and testament. For our purposes in using legacy to find a meaningful life, we’ll use a much broader definition.
We’ll define legacy as your qualities and characteristics of being that you leave in the memories of those who care about you. If you’re living in alignment with your purpose you will make a positive impact on other’s lives—the nature of life purpose guarantees that.
Leave a Legacy
Without becoming morose by dwelling on your death, think about the way you want to be remembered. Think about the thoughts of loved-ones when they think fondly of you after you’ve passed. What wisdom, what strengths, what favorite sayings do you want them to carry in their minds at times when they most need them?
Think of your loved ones who have passed. What thoughts do you have of them? Are there times when something pops into your mind that was a favorite saying or a quality of someone you loved and respected? Do those memories provide guidance or help you make decisions, or make sense of things in your life? These are examples of legacies. They need not be profound, though they may be. For example…
A Legacy about Pain
If you’ve followed the articles I’ve written over the years you know that I often write about fears—the impact fears have on our lives and the tools for overcoming fears that limit personal growth. A legacy my deceased father left me eluded me for many years, just recently coming to the fore as I faced a tooth extraction.
I’ve had a fear of dentist-induced pain for many years, probably beginning when I was young, with a dentist who filled cavities without Novocain.
Now many, many years later, I was pondering the fear I was feeling for the necessary extraction coming in a few days. As if he were speaking to me, I could hear my father’s voice as he described a medical procedure he was to undergo. He said, “I’m not afraid of pain, what scares me is if they can no longer do something to help me.”
The part that stuck with me was, “I’m not afraid of pain.” Now my father wasn’t some macho guy, he was quiet and private, rarely sharing his feelings. Though I didn’t dwell on it at the time, this simple statement, I later realized, summarized much about him. Here was his simple legacy.
If he wasn’t afraid of pain, I wouldn’t be either.
That’s the practical kind of legacy I’m talking about, not Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or Martin Luther King-legacy, but a practical, every-day legacy that you and I can leave to our loved ones simply by living our lives in alignment with purpose.
What is your Legacy?
Make a list of the legacies you want to leave behind. What qualities, characteristics, and wisdom will you want residing in the subconscious memories of those who love you?
Reflect on your list. Do you feel good thinking of those you love remembering these things about you? These qualities and characteristics are clues to your life purpose. When you live a life aligned with purpose, you will be remembered and remembered fondly for the impact you’ve made on loved ones.
I hope the self-reflection introduced by this process helps you move closer to finding your life purpose. The articles listed below contain even more tools for finding the meaningful life you deserve. A useful summary of the entire process for finding life purpose can be found in Find the Purpose of your Life.
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Jerry Lopper – Personal Growth Resources
Build your life on a foundation of purpose