The Urge to Leave a Legacy

Sometimes, the legacy may be in terms of material wealth, cultural values, or personal achievements, passed on from one generation to the next.
The Urge to Leave a Legacy
The Urge to Leave a Legacy

By Suresh Sadagopan

"The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it." – William James

Imagine walking through a park and stumbling upon a bench dedicated to the loving memory of someone’s parents. Now imagine an entire park built for the public in the memory of a loved one. These kinds of legacies are blessings to others, acts of aloha!

There are other kinds of legacies as well.

Consider the timeless epics like Shakuntalam or Meghdoot by Kalidasa – such legendary works are remembered and celebrated across millennia. These are legacies, imprints left behind by individuals long after they are gone. But what compels people to leave such footprints on the world? What fuels this urge to be remembered?

Sometimes, the legacy may be in terms of material wealth, cultural values, or personal achievements, passed on from one generation to the next.

The motivations for wanting to leave a legacy are as varied as the legacies themselves. Some seek to be remembered, others aim to make a lasting impact on their community, and many desire to pass on wisdom or wealth to future generations.

Let us explore.

The Drivers

Human Nature

At the core of human nature is a deep-seated need to be remembered. From ancient times, humans have sought ways to ensure their names and deeds live on, even after they pass away. Beyond this, we all want to protect and pass on our wealth and possessions to our loved ones as the final act of our love for them.

Need for Purpose

Leaving a legacy, such as works of art, monuments, colleges, libraries, or hospitals is driven by a profound sense of purpose. It allows us to transcend the mundane and contribute to something greater than ourselves. Knowing that our actions today can have a deep, positive influence on others for all time to come, is a major impelling force.

Forms of Legacy

Tangible Legacies

Tangible legacies are the physical manifestations of our contributions. These include physical structures like buildings and monuments as well as the wealth and possessions we leave behind to our progeny. They can also be works of art, literature, and scientific discoveries – things that future generations can experience and appreciate.

Intangible Legacies

Intangible legacies encompass ideas, values, family traditions, mentorship, and social impact. They are the invisible threads that weave through the fabric of society, shaping minds and cultures long after we are gone.

Modern Legacies

In the digital age, our digital footprints, online content and social media presence create lasting records of our lives. These modern legacies can reach a global audience and endure in the virtual world, influencing countless others.

Legacy in Personal and Professional Life

Personal Legacy

Most individuals leave their most significant legacies within their personal circles. Through family, friends, and community, we pass on traditions, values, memories apart from possessions. Acts of kindness, support, and mentorship create ripples that extend far beyond our immediate interactions.

Professional Legacy

In the professional realm, legacies are built through career achievements, contributions to one's industry, and innovations. Mentorship plays a crucial role here as well, as guiding the next generation can ensure that our professional impact continues to be felt long after we've retired.

Challenges and Considerations

Ethical Considerations

Pursuing a legacy can raise ethical questions. Are our actions truly beneficial to others, or are they driven by selfish desires? It's essential to consider the impact of our legacy on others and strive for a balance that prioritizes the greater good.


The quest to leave a legacy should not overshadow the importance of living in the present. It is crucial to find a balance between creating a lasting impact and enjoying life's moments.

Many people live a cramped existence, as they pressurise themselves to leave a legacy. Legacies need not always be grand. But, if leaving a legacy is an important goal and is planned well, it will end up making a mark.

Creating a Legacy

Identify & plan

Reflect on what you value most and how you want to be remembered. Your legacy should align with your core beliefs and principles. Plan what legacy you would like to leave behind and how you would go about it.

Take Action

Identify beneficiaries especially for material possessions and when you want to share them. Some of the legacy may be shared during one’s lifetime as a gift and others may be shared later. A gift deed, will or a trust are proper documents to ensure the legacy goes to the right beneficiaries.

The beneficiaries need not be family and friends alone. With some of the legacies, the beneficiaries will be the communities or the society at large.

"What will your legacy be?"

This is not just a rhetorical question but a call to action. Reflect on your life, set your goals, and take steps today to create a legacy that you want to leave behind. In doing so, you will not only enrich your own life but also leave a lasting imprint on the world.

The author is the MD & Principal Officer at Ladder7 Wealth Planners and the author of the book “If God Was Your Financial Planner”.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in the above article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policy of the Outlook Media Group or its employees.

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