I believe the perfect time to ask yourself this question is NOW.
Being remembered will take a lifetime so starting now is better than starting later. The longer you wait to answer this question and design your life around the answer, the shorter period of time you have to impact how you will be remembered.
I know when I was in my 20s and even 30s, legacy thinking was not apart of my vernacular. I didn't even remotely begin to think of this question until my Mom passed away suddenly at the age of 52. In the midst of my grief, I was amazed at how our family and friends remembered my Mom. What was most striking is it was the little things and how my Mom made them feel about themselves that people remembered the most.
None of us can know for sure how we will be remembered by others and what exactly they will say at our eulogy but what I have found is that at least considering the answer to this question helps you mentally think about what impact you can make on a daily basis with those you come in contact with whether that be at work, on a board, at the local grocery store, at the doctor's office or at church.
In our hustle and bustle, it would be easy to forget that we each have a choice of how we will positively impact people and what they will remember about us. Being present and mindful of that potential impact is apart of whether you will be remembered.
And don't think this has to be something big or complicated. Sure, it can be you making a large donation to your favorite charity or spending six months in Kenya at an orphanage.
However, it can also be small things:
- I always remember the people who look me in my eyes when we are speaking (instead of looking around the room) and who makes me feel like I'm the only one in the room for that brief moment;
- I always remember people who stick their neck out for me and believe in me and my abilities. This is not the same as someone who does something for me out of their own convenience (although I appreciate it). This is when someone literally extends themselves (grace) to do something above and beyond or that places faith in me. It is so touching that it makes me be great at whatever I am doing as a recipient of their grace;
- I always remember people who call me out of the blue, send a card or send me an email saying "I was just thinking about you". They don't want anything or need me to do something. They are just calling because I crossed their mind...I am always moved to tears when this happens.
- I always remember kindness. This kindness can be in the form of someone allowing a mother with two small children to take the closer parking spot so she has less to walk with a stroller, a random act of kindness where someone's restaurant tab is paid for out of the blue, or when someone is the first to say "I'm sorry. I must have misunderstood. Can you help me understand?"
- I always remember the thankfulness of employees of nonprofit organizations whose funding was cut. The need is so great that every volunteer hour and dollar means that many more people in need will be served through their mission. I am always touched.
And isn't that the purpose of life?