What gets you out of bed every morning? What motivates you to keep going when you’re exhausted?
I’m confident of just a few things in life, and one of them is this: Making money is not enough in the long run. Having a lot of money is enough for the monetary things in life, but it’s not what we’re going to wish we had more of in those last days of our lives.
Money is for the moment and a must — it helps to bring joy when we give money away or spend it on the people we care about. It enables us to help those in need. Making money your focus will not bring fulfillment. You have to have a purpose to drive the money into your life and use it well.
I suppose I’ve always known that on some level, but it took a long time for it to really sink in. Fear and a lack of self-confidence led me to negative self-talk, which limited my opportunities. I had to learn to get out of my own way.
Eventually, I realized that doing what I loved — whether or not I earned a lot of money — could bring me excitement and joy each day. Luckily for me, that means helping other people discover their full personal and professional potential.
Still, I couldn’t unlock my own true passions and potential to help others until I put creating a legacy above earning a living. It takes hard work and discipline, but there’s infinite value to intentionally crafting a legacy that will change the world around you.
Looking Outside Yourself to Make a Lasting Impact
We’re all interested in being successful and making money, but there’s little to gain by chasing money at the exclusion of a meaningful life. Being rich doesn’t mean you won’t feel sadness, wonder about your purpose in life, fall on hard times, or be hurt by people you care about.
In fact, one study found that people’s happiness level wasn’t significantly improved once they began earning more than $75,000 a year. The idea that happiness was connected to riches, researchers wrote, was “mostly illusory.”
Instead, a different study suggests that engaging in meaningful activities and nurturing relationships — instead of seeking only wealth — paves the way to true happiness.
Take Milton Hershey, for example. He built a chocolate empire worth millions, but his deepest impact was on the people around him. As his company grew, the entrepreneur gave back generously to his community, building schools, parks, and public transportation.
Hershey manufactured chocolate for soldiers in World War II, established a school to help orphans, created a mini-housing boom to hire new workers during the Great Depression, and built a medical center to train doctors. Meanwhile, his product has delighted generations of people around the world.
Another entrepreneur whose legacy has lived on to inspire others is Steve Jobs. He refused to settle for the status quo, obsessed over beautiful simplicity in design, and let his passion fuel his life. His impact on technology affects millions of people’s day-to-day experiences.
Think about how personal your iPhone or MacBook is to you. This is Jobs passing on a piece of his best work every day.
This is what it means to leave a legacy — creating a message, mission, or dream that will inspire or help other people and have an impact on the world.
Instead of thinking of your work as a way to only make money, think of it as an outlet, an opportunity, and an expression of your legacy.
I’m not saying your legacy must be as big or as far-reaching as Hershey’s or Jobs’. Your personal legacy is something you should craft meticulously from the sum of your values, experiences, and individuality.
Creating Your Legacy
The first step in creating your legacy is defining it. Obviously, you have to know what you want before you can ever hope to achieve it. But don’t get caught up in the details right away — it’s not necessary to have everything figured out from the outset.
Before Hershey could build his empire and create his chocolate-funded charities, he had to learn all about candy making. He apprenticed and worked for several candy makers and started two failed businesses before he finally founded a successful caramel company. Still, he didn’t find his true calling until he discovered chocolate making several years later.
Likewise, don’t worry about the specifics right now. As you grow in experience and knowledge, your dreams and aspirations will adjust. Just keep the goal of finding your true calling in mind the whole time.
Second, be sure your desires are coming from the right place — from selflessness, not from ego.
Instead of thinking about how you’re going to impress people or make it big, think about how you can improve something or help someone. For Jobs, he obsessed with improving every detail, from the typography on the personal computer to the feel of the mouse in the user’s hand.
Next, get a burning desire to see your legacy come to life. Allow that hunger to fuel your efforts every day. If your goal is aligned with your core values and natural talents, it will automatically motivate everything you do. You’ll need that deep-felt passion to help you get through the ups and downs of the journey.
Finally, keep your focus. Don’t be distracted or discouraged by setbacks. Keep your goal at the forefront of your mind, and use it to align your daily actions with your long-term legacy.
You’re destined to leave a legacy, whether or not you mean to. It’s your time to make your mark on the world. Whether it’s long-lasting or temporary, positive or negative, wide-reaching or only affecting a select few, your life, your thoughts, and your actions matter.
September Dohrmann is the president and COO of CEO Space International. CEO Space believes in cooperation among businesses; they seek to build a community that encourages, educates, and fosters new relationships with like-minded people in a conference setting.
Photo by teelip