Why understanding your career legacy is so important

I recently attended a funeral where I was quickly thinking about legacy. Firstly I was amazed by the numbers of people crowding into the Chapel, coming to pay their respects to a loved one, with standing room only. Like most people there, I was also genuinely touched by the wonderful send-off, especially the tender and vibrant words of the Celebrant’s eulogy. Rather than focusing on the loss, they painted wonderfully clear pictures, celebrating the life of someone very special and dear to the hearts of many people. In effect, their legacy and what they have left behind.

It really got me thinking. Many a time, either when coaching clients or in deep discussions with friends, who have been at loss as to what their next job or career move should be or challenging themselves about their purpose, I have posed the question… “What would you like your legacy to be?”  Not only is this a brilliant conversation stopper but also a great reflective exercise!

A Powerful Reflective Legacy Exercise


Imagine yourself at your own funeral. I know this might sound morbid but you will see why this can be helpful when you’ve done it. Imagine you can hear what people are saying about you, what you’ve accomplished, how you touched their lives, your legacy, how you made a difference to them. Their comments suggest your purpose. What are they saying about you? Write down what you’re hearing. This can be very powerful to help you move forward. You may have never thought this way about your purpose or even considered your legacy before.

Having established your purpose and what you want your legacy to be, now ask yourself the $64,000 question… is what I am doing in my job or career in line with my purpose and helping to achieve my legacy?

My mantra is “You spend more waking hours at work than in any other activity. Life is too short, so why be unhappy? Take the ‘leap of faith’ and do what you love!”  

Thought For The New Year

Now you understand the importance of legacy, something to ponder as we start another new year… why would you want to waste your life doing work that doesn’t achieve such goals or desires? 

Steve Preston is known as The Career Catalyst ®. A leading Career Coach to professionals and executives, MD of specialist Consultancy SMP Solutions (Career & People development) Ltdmotivational speaker and Internationally acclaimed Author of Career and Personal Development books and products, including Portfolio Careers – How to Work for Passion, Pleasure & Profit, Winning through Career Change and Winning Through Redundancy.