One of the most comforting concepts to go up against the terminal nature of human life is that of a legacy. The idea of leaving one also kind of makes you feel like you’re on par with an accomplished inventor or a brilliant artist (Van Gogh vibes), or just straight up Mother Theresa.
So here’s everything you’ll need to know about legacy projects.
What is a legacy project?
A legacy project helps you tell your story and communicate nuggets of wisdom accumulated over the course of your life, to those who come after you. It is, in essence, a framework for documenting the meaning that you uncovered throughout your life, to paint a picture of where you found your purpose and to share the depth of your learnings along the way.
Even if you don’t have clarity about your legacy – or, the ‘part’ of yourself that you’ll be ‘leaving’ behind in the world – the process of working on the project can set you on a path to discover what it is you want to pass on to future generations.
Can you give me some examples or legacy projects and what one might look like?
A legacy project is a physical one – it’s created to share everything from a personal message to important life events, biographical information, personal accomplishments, wisdom and knowledge, philosophy or faith traditions, hopes and dreams.
The medium you choose to showcase some, or all, of these elements should speak to your personality and preference. Here are some ideas for passing on things you received in your life, in a way that communicates value, meaning and emotion:
Journaling is an accessible way to build an autobiographical document that you might even one day publish (look at you, such an author!). Telling the story of your life in your own words can be one of the greatest gifts to loved ones. It can also be a very therapeutic way to work through thoughts and emotions and discover things you didn’t even know about yourself by means of this active reflection.
Write letters to all the special people in your life, if there are different parts of your journey you’d like to share with each one of them. Use the letters to highlight memories, express gratitude or flex your poetic muscles to truly convey the importance of the role that person has played in shaping your legacy.
Video journaling is another engaging way to tell your story, if writing is not your thing. The clips can be short and sweet, simply giving small glimpses into the life you led. Or you might prefer longer format recordings that allow space to share in-depth insights, accompanied by your voice and facial expressions captured in that moment of time.
Scrapbooking and photo albums
Scrapbooking and photo albums are fun and visual ways to display your most treasured memories, or sides of yourself other people may not have seen. You can get as creative and crafty as you wish, or make use of the many digital tools available to present your life’s timeline to be accessed from anywhere.
Can I honour someone else with a legacy project?
Legacy projects are intentional yet highly flexible activities. They are about changing the way we think and act to make a difference in our own life, in our community, and in our world. This is why it’s also common for legacy projects to be centred around honouring the life of a loved one who inspired others or made an important impact.
- The partner or family of a loved one who was lost to a cruel disease might dedicate a project – such as an annual fun-run – to generate funds for research into the cause.
- A legacy project in the name of a loved one who was passionate about photography might establish a regular contest to attract photograph submissions from around the world in their honour.
- People whose lives were touched by the deceased might band together to launch a scholarship as a way of giving back to the community, and carrying on the legacy of that person’s generosity in doing so.
Ultimately, these projects ensure that our loved one’s memory lives on in meaningful ways. They also inevitably become intertwined with our own sense of meaning, thus shaping our own legacy.
When’s the best time to start a legacy project?
Now’s as good a time as any to begin thinking about your motivations in life and your story’s interconnectedness with the bigger picture. Start creating something that will outlive yourself, and we recommend thinking about your Will while you’re at it!