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Creating a fulfilling legacy

The greatest goals ripple out into your life. Chances are, they are not about money.

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by Pamela Mitchell

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I’ve always felt that I need to make millions of dollars to do what I want to do. Now, at 50, I’m trying to figure out how to create more realistic goals that represent legacy, significance, and continuing to live a good life with my wife and kids. How can I do this without feeling I’ve settled?

Coach Pamela: Our society uses money as one of the primary markers of success. Because of that, we often create belief systems that tell us we need a certain amount of money—usually a lot more than what we have at the moment—to do what we want to do in life. And we channel our efforts toward reaching that goal. You’ve reached a moment in your life where you’ve decided that legacy and significance—and continuing to live a good life with your family—are more important than financial remuneration. But sometimes our ego falls in love with the numbers, creating a void when our priorities shift. All of a sudden our goals feel smaller, and we’re left wondering how to fulfill the part of us that wants to make a bigger impact. Just as when you drop a stone in the sea the water ripples outward, the legacy projects you work on also have a cascading effect. So if you can look not just at what you’re doing but the concentric circles of impact you’re having, you’ll start to see that there’s a much larger influence going on.

Here’s the rub: the amount of information our brains can store in short-term memory is limited. The problem this creates is that when we go through our day, doing things that make an impact, we forget what we’ve done. So we’re left feeling unsatisfied because we literally think nothing’s happening.

To combat this, I recommend keeping a daily success list. Get a journal, and make it a habit every evening to write down at least four good things you’ve accomplished during the day. This discipline forces you to remember what you’re doing, so you begin to feel a sense of progress as well as to see the day-to-day impact you’re having. The daily success list provides concrete feedback to satisfy that part of you that wants to tally up numbers to show that you’re reaching your goal.

Even if you’d kept the target of earning big bucks, to get from zero to a million would still require you to come up with a plan and execute a series of steps over time. So instead, focus on the steps you’re executing towards creating your legacy, making a difference, and living a life you love, and you’ll have the richest payoff of all—the sense of gratification and happiness that comes from accomplishing goals that are important to you!

Pamela Mitchell is founder and CEO of The Reinvention Institute, a boutique firm that offers seminars, workshops and group programs for individuals interested in transforming their lives. Got a question for Coach Pamela? Submit it for consideration for Pamela Mitchell’s bimonthly column by emailing her at askcoachpamela@lifereimagined.org

Photo credit: Hand and water circle Philip Lee Harvey/Getty Images