The Legacy Series
I believe good legacies are left on purpose, while poor legacies are left because they lack purpose. There are a number of important things in life that are easy to say, but hard to do. Leaving a legacy is one of those things. In this three-part series, I’ll share some thoughts and exercises that will ensure that your legacy has a positive influence on the next generation or two. The multiplied effect will result in a much better life for your family, and maybe even a better world.
Part II: Show Your Gratitude
We live in a world where it can be easier to focus on the negative than revel in the positive. This can seep into our relationships with our loved ones. Sure, they know we love them, but sometimes it’s really nice to hear it and learn what they love about us.
But this activity can be beneficial for you as well.
Many seniors struggle with the transition to life in retirement. The work that we do throughout our lives plays a big part in how we define ourselves and how we spend our time. Upon retirement, the routine and sense of self we’ve known for decades changes. It’s not unusual for new retirees to feel that they’re no longer useful or that they don’t know what to do with their days anymore. Depression can follow.
Taking some time to appreciate the people in your life can help get you out of that rut.
Legacy Activity #2 Gratitude Journal
In this exercise, communicate what you love about your loved ones. You can write it down or create a voice recording or video in which you describe the following:
- The mannerisms, behaviors, personal qualities, and other attributes of a person you love. Which of their attributes are you grateful for and why?
- Memorable experiences with loved ones and how they made you feel. These can be sweet, funny, challenging. Sometimes character is defined by difficult events.
- Why you are proud of someone you love.
- How you believe your loved ones’ strengths will benefit them (and others) during their lifetimes.
Depending on the number of people you choose to include, this exercise can take a bit of time. Don’t feel you have to accomplish it in one sitting. Take a few days or even a few weeks.
Begin by making a list of the people you would like to include. Then, complete two to four entries every day until your journal is complete.
A Gratitude Journal entry may look like this:
To my grandson:
Robert, I am so grateful for your kind-heartedness. I remember when you were a young boy, maybe 6 or 7. We took you to the 4th of July parade and found a place next to another family who had a daughter of about 4. The little girl accidently let go of her balloon and it floated away. She let out a scream and started to cry. Without hesitation, you leaned over and gave her your balloon as a replacement. I was so proud of you to be so kind at a young age. Your kind heart and intelligence will open many doors as you continue through your life journey.
Along with a gratitude journal, think about different ways you can share your gratitude through experiences. For instance, are you grateful for your grandchildren? Then make plans to visit them regularly. Instead of spending your nest egg on a new TV, hot tub, or some other amenity that’s just going to keep you home more, consider organizing a big family vacation.
Are you grateful for a close-knit group of friends? Now that you’re retired, you have more time for fun and socializing with them. Get some dinner dates on your calendar. Start a weekly card game or a standing tee time at your country club.
Maybe you’re grateful for your community, for the town you’ve lived in all your life, for the people who made your business a success. Think about the neighbors, schools, and churches that nurtured your children. In retirement you have time to give back. Replace your 9 to 5 job with a regular volunteer position. Use your lifetime of work expertise to set up a consultancy firm. Teach a class at your local rec center.
Above all, remember this: retirement is not an end; it is the start of an exciting new chapter in your life that you get to tailor to the things that matter to you. As you express your gratitude, hopefully some of that goodwill will bounce back and help you connect with the passions and people who will help you live well in retirement.
In the third and final part of my Legacy Series, I’ll discuss how to hold a Family Legacy meeting that will help you communicate your last wishes to your loved ones and involve them in your plan to ensure that your legacy continues to do good for generations to come.
Jack Davis is the founder and CEO of Navigation Retirement Group, an independent wealth management firm serving high achieving retirees and pre-retirees with investable assets between one and ten million dollars. For nearly three decades, he has been using his asset management and financial planning skills to develop and implement planning strategies that help pursue his clients’ unique goals. Passionate about education, he holds a Masters in Personal Finance and the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ credential. He is also the author of Cash Out! Retire on Your Terms, Live Well and Die Happy, a book that gives pre-retirees and retirees planning tools and insights that can help them flourish throughout retirement. Based in Oro Valley, he and his team serve clients throughout the greater Tucson area and around the country. Learn more by connecting with Jack on LinkedIn.
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