Are You Living Your Legacy?

contributed by Virginia Dhondt

As a financial planner, I help people define their goals and make plans to meet those goals. In many cases, some part of a person’s goals will include a desire to leave a legacy. For each individual, the definition of legacy may be very different, but most commonly are in regards to leaving assets to heirs or to charities. Sometimes, an individual will share a desire to teach the next generation how to manage assets, continue charitable foundations, or run the family business.

KeatsConnelly employs a total of about forty people in three offices. Our valued colleague and friend, Shelly Nelson, recently lost her battle with melanoma cancer at the age of 51. She married the love of her life, Lanny, in 2010 prior to starting her career at KeatsConnelly. In the office, she was a great part of our team, well-liked by employees, clients, and other professionals.

Starting the day of her death, her friends and family posted photos on social media of Shelly, always smiling, and these perfect comments about Shelly…”She knew how to love life.” “I have never met anyone and maybe never will who had so much zest for life.” “Shelly lived life to the fullest; as the saying goes she “never met a stranger.” Shelly was always the life of the party.” “She was always smiling and having a good time!” “Shelly always made everyone laugh and loved life.” “Shelly had the most caring/giving/loving spirit, could make friends with anyone she encountered and brought endless love and laughter to everyone in her life.” “Shelly always had a smile on her face.” “Everything about her was happy. I so admired her.” “She sure knew how to light up a room.” “She was the kindest women I have ever met. Always willing to do everything and anything for the people she loved.” “Shelly was a phenomenal woman and I am so grateful to have known and been friends with her.” “She was truly one of the kindest, caring, generous people I have ever known and I will miss her beautiful smiling face so very much.”

At her service, her friends and family and coworkers were, of course, saddened by her passing, but at the same time, the stories shared brought smiles to all of us. She was vibrant, beautiful, positive, caring. She didn’t have time for unnecessary drama. She was always up for a round of golf or a game of tennis.

I believe that Shelly left a legacy. She was amazing, special, fun, kind, funny, remarkable, and the life of the party.

Shelly was a ray of sunshine in my work day and she will be missed by all. What I learned from her is that you can live for your legacy. Your legacy is how you are remembered when you are gone based on how you live.

When you think of the legacy you leave behind, are you living for your legacy?

If you want to be remembered as fun, do you start the fun?

If you want to be remembered as someone who always had a smile for anyone, is your smiling face in photos your friends and family take? (Or do you duck out of the frame?)

If you want to be remembered as kind, are you kind to every person you encounter, every day, all of the time?

If you want to be remembered as generous, are you satisfied with how generous you are in your life right now?

A friend recently told me about his “greatest desire.” We talked about why he isn’t doing something to make that happen. If leaving a legacy, however big or small, is one of your greatest desires, make sure you are doing what it takes to make it happen. Live your legacy today.

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