Midlife Signpost 5: Legacy-How will they remember you?

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How will they remember you?

The Five Midlife Signposts explored what awakening to midlife is like for different people. Then, it looked at the benefits of refining who you’ve become over time. It then examined embracing your true self. The fourth signpost encouraged the freedom to be your unique, quirky, imperfect self and how liberating it is in midlife finally feel at home in your own skin. This fifth signpost is all about the future and a guiding question: How will they remember you?

What kind of mark do you wish to make in the world that will positively impact the people you leave behind?

Legacy: anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.


Generativity Versus Stagnation

According to psychologist Erik Erikson, midlifers are faced with two choices in the 7th life cycle stage – generativity or stagnation. Generative midlifers are those who feel a sense of self-actualisation, while keeping in mind that we are in ever-evolving life cycles. In contrast, stagnation relates to feeling disconnected and uninvolved with community and society.

What do you want to achieve with your life?

On the one hand, it’s said that we have the freedom to create our future and we can be anything that we want. But our choices are limited by social, environmental, cultural, and biological realities that influence what we believe about ourselves, our abilities and what’s realistically possible for us to achieve in this world.

On the other hand, scripture tells Christians that we were born with spiritual gifts and unique abilities to live generatively. How do you reconcile the two?

In an earlier article in this blog series, Five Midlife Signposts, I explored the importance of filtering through the voices that influence our behaviours to re-evaluate, and reframe anything that prevents us from fully stepping into our truest selves.

Once you’ve done such filtering, you can explore ways to pool your innate strengths and abilities, passions, interests, skills, and resources to live your most meaningful and purposeful life.

Parker J. Palmer writes that one of the ways our inner selves can direct our generative expressions is by noticing our actions and reactions, our intuitions, and instincts, and our feelings and bodily states of being.

Parker encourages us to notice when we are drawn to certain experiences and interests, and repelled by others. If we can learn to read our responses to our experiences it can help guide us towards generative living.

Palmer concludes that we all have places of fear inside us. But we also have other places with names like trust, hope, and faith. We can choose to pursue a meaningful and purposeful future when we approach it from such a place of promise instead of letting fear and anxiety hold us back.

After I worked through the first four milestones in my midlife transition, I felt motivated to engage with the world in a more trusting and hopeful way. It has enabled me to embrace midlife and live a meaningful and purposeful midlife season.

If you need more support to help you uncover more precise ways to live generatively, see the 2022 Mind Map. I designed this practical tool to help you write your personal manifesto, a guiding word for a year, a life purpose statement, and clear, SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely pursuit to help you thrive on purpose in midlife!

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A final word on legacy

Western society tends to emphasise individualism, notoriety, and external validation. As I neared the end of this 2022 blog series, Thrive on Purpose in Midlife, I kept circling back to the idea of non-attachment to the outcome of this work.

I relished every moment spent developing the content shared on this blog because it fits perfectly with my introverted personality needs and strengths, a passion for personal and spiritual growth, and my zeal for creative writing. Now, in the end, I have to release it into the world and trust that the insights shared will reach and impact whoever it was meant for and whoever needs it most.

As a Christian midlifer, passionate about meaningful and generative living, I needed to keep in mind that I am part of the body of Christ like a branch connected to a tree. And, that I am, and always will be, a work-in-progress.

I am the true vine; and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

John 15:1-3

In my midlife journey, I continue to learn and grow, while seeking personal meaning in my life chapters. Whatever outcome flows from this work, this much I know:

In Christ, my identity is secure. I am loved unconditionally. He calls me the apple of His eye and He delights in me. His thoughts toward me outnumber the grains of sand. In Him, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. With such a secure love and identity, any external validation pales in comparison.

Anything good that flows from my life, is a result of my identity and purpose in Christ, and every expression of that identity and purpose serves to Honour that identity. To God be the glory!

This concludes the 2022 Blog series.

If you’d like to have all five milestones combined into one resource, I’ve gathered everything in an eBook, The Midlife Hours: An Introvert’s Guide to Thrive on Purpose in Midlife as well as a Workbook available to download. The Ebook includes more personal stories that relate to personal growth. These resources aim to help you explore these concepts in a more personalised way on your midlife journey to inspire you to thrive on purpose in midlife!

What legacy do you wish to leave behind for the generation that will follow you? Feel free to leave your comments below.

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