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Creating legacy the sensible way

‘Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyse you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.’  Bernice Johnson Reagon

Creating legacy and (not) killing yourself

Creating legacy is about stretching yourself just a little bit further every day. Where many people go wrong is that they are seized by an immediate urge to create legacy, suddenly realising that time is flying past them at dizzying speed.

So they take on legacy projects that are far beyond their current abilities, and then they work insane numbers of hours on these projects, trying to make as much progress as quickly as possible. Before the month or even the week is over, they’ve run out of energy and out of enthusiasm for the project, and then they decide that creating legacy is not something they are able to do.

I’ve seen this happening so many times I’m considering putting up a ‘health warning’ sign on my blog. Honestly, people, where did you leave your common sense? Although creating legacy does imply leaving something behind for future generations, it’s not meant to become the cause of your death, okay?  

Stretching yourself – the sustainable way

Okay, so what I’m proposing instead is that you should approach creating legacy one small step at a time. For your first legacy project, choose something you can get done in under six months, or maybe even in one month. You can always challenge yourself further next time.

Also, set yourself a low and realistic target for every day you are working on your legacy project, and don’t push yourself beyond that target. This may sound counter-intuitive, but particularly on legacy projects that require creativity (such as writing), it’s better to start the new day with lots of new ideas that you didn’t get to the previous day, than stuck because you’ve run out of steam.

For example, Kate DiCamillo, the award-winning children writer, limits herself to writing only two pages a day. Even if things are going well, she stops once she has finished her two pages, because she wants to keep plenty of energy and ideas in store for the next day. I’ve recently adopted this strategy as well with my own creative writing project, and find that it’s really working.

Of course, on days when I’m brimming with ideas it feels frustrating to stop right upon reaching my target, but what I do in that case is I scribble down my ideas in the back of the notebook, so I know what to start with the next day. This means I’m usually dying to get back to writing the next day, and I know exactly where to start the day’s session.

How do you make sure you don’t push yourself too hard while creating legacy?

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