How do you want to be remembered? It’s a question that will help you to reflect on what’s important in your life. It will guide you towards a life that is purposeful, for you.
In the movie, Gladiator, the Emperor of Rome is dying.
When a man sees his end, he wants to know there was some purpose to his life. How will the world speak my name in years to come?
Will I be know as the philosopher, the warrior… the tyrant?
It’s a good scene, and a great question.
Now is the right time to reflect. By doing so, you’re able to shape your life to achieve the legacy that you want to leave.
How do you want to be remembered?
As you consider how you want to be remembered, here are some topics to reflect on:
- What are the achievements that I want to be remembered for?
- What are the memories that I want family, friends and colleagues to have of me?
- What do I want people to remember as my core values, that guided me through my life?
- What do I want people to remember as my purpose, the focus of my life?
- What stories do I want people tell about me?
This is not a quick exercise and requires some reflection. For this reason, give yourself some time.
Write down your desired legacy
A eulogy is simply a speech in praise of a person. Writing your own eulogy is a simple technique to help you define how you want to be remembered (and hence, how you want to live your life!).
Reflect on the questions above. Then imagine the future, imagine that the people most important to you have gathered to celebrate you (perhaps at a ‘milestone’ birthday, or when leaving a job, or even at your funeral).
These people take it in turns to step to the front of the room and share their memories of you: what you’ve achieved, how you’ve supported them, your values, your passions, the focus of your life’s work.
Write down exactly what you want them to say, at that point in the future.
The benefits of writing down how you want to be remembered
There are many benefits to writing down how you want to be remembered.
Clarity. A well written eulogy clarifies the legacy that you want to build. Think of the eulogy as a living document, not just a one-off exercise. Start it, reflect, come back to it. Work on it over time and it can become a profound expression of everything that you want to achieve in your life. Having this clarity has enormous benefits.
Motivation. With clarity comes motivation. Once you’ve clearly articulated the legacy that you want to create, you’ll be more motivated to deliver it.
Decision making. There are plenty of times you must make tough decisions in life. A well-written eulogy helps to guide your decision-making. You’re clearer about what’s important to you and that will guide and inform your decisions.
Development. The eulogy also becomes a benchmark against which you can evaluate your life. What are you already doing well? How do you need to improve? These kinds of considerations feed into your continual growth and make sure that your investment in yourself is focused and pays off.
Charting your life’s path. Finally, a eulogy can help guide our way forward. Reflect on what you want people to say about you at the end of your life, it’s a useful way of exploring your values and goals in life.
Align your day-to-day with your desired legacy
Ultimately, your eulogy defines the legacy you want to build and it becomes your guide.
Make sure that your day-to-day behaviors are aligned to the outcomes you’ve defined.
There are three powerful techniques to help you do this:
Seep feedback. This is one of the most powerful (and most frequently ignored) opportunities for development.
Find time for reflection. Finding time for reflection is an under-valued activity. Consider this quote:
Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.Peter Drucker
Write a journal. Take reflection a step further, write a journal. This will provide a rich source of further reflection as you build up your entries.
Writing down how you want to be remembered (in the form of a eulogy) is a great way of keeping yourself on track and shaping a life that is meaning-full.