Good reasons to work on your legacy before retirement

Old hand holding a young hand

Image: CHOReograPH/

Talking about your legacy may be misinterpreted as talking about your death. Well, yes it is—and partly it isn’t.

Obviously, what you leave behind when you die is your legacy—and in the context of retirement, the last stage of your life, it’s something you’ll probably think more about when you retire.

Everyone leaves a legacy—for good or bad. It’s how we’re remembered. But a legacy can be grown. It can be a deliberate, planned, and purposeful thing.

The high-flying business person who leaves money enough to build a library, fund a university chair or a hospital wing has most likely worked hard to put the funds aside to make that happen. It’s a planned legacy that will keep their name alive.

Most of us won’t have the ability to do something like that, but we can still leave a positive legacy that’s even more significant than bricks and mortar. The positive impact we have on people is really the best legacy. And it also lives on after our death.

What do you want your family and friends to say about you at your funeral? You won’t be there to hear it, but you can impact on what will be said by how you live and how you interact with them now.

Our legacy in the people we know can be as intentional as business people and entrepreneurs who decide to donate to a cause after their death.

Hugh Mackay, in The Good Life, puts it this way: ‘You don’t have to be rich to leave a positive legacy, you don’t have to be intelligent, famous, powerful or even particularly well organised, let alone happy. You need to treat people with kindness, compassion and respect, knowing they will have been enriched by their encounters with you.’

We can start practising this on our family. And we shouldn’t wait until retirement. The sooner we start, the greater our impact can be.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Legacy

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