We all want to be remembered for making a difference. But building a legacy is not top priority for most of us. When you are hard at work, you should not be legacy-focused; you should be focused on what you are doing now.
Dwelling on the past will not change the future any more than dreaming about the future will secure your place in it. Life is a day-by-day mission, the execution of a series of choices over time. The best steps toward building a legacy are to be a daily goal-setter and a daily goal-hitter. And that means making choices today that will resonate tomorrow.
Related: This Is How You Leave a Legacy
First you have to perform in the now, in this very moment. There will never be another now, so you have to make it matter. You have to ask yourself, What am I doing today that will move me forward in the future?
And you can’t let that sense of urgency or the burden of decision making paralyze you. You have to adopt the perspective that you and your position are not what is at stake here. We are all temporary. There are no irreplaceable people. Your allegiance is to the team you’re part of and to the people and challenges that will follow you. Your job is to leave things better than you found them.
The key to being this kind of good steward is weighing short-term objectives against the long-term health and success of the group.
Do what’s necessary to perform today but always look toward the horizon.
This focus requires a real balancing act: Do what’s necessary to perform today but always look toward the horizon. You might not always be doing what’s popular now, but use your best judgment to ensure your choices today will place the team in a much better place down the road.
Making these choices from moment to moment is tough. I struggle with wondering whether I’ve made the right decision. You have to look inside yourself, recognize you are an imperfect person who sometimes will make mistakes, but your heart is in the right place.
If you can lie down at night and know your motives are sound, living with the results is easier. And the more decisions you make, the more opportunities you will have to make the right ones.
I use the following tips to help me make the right choices now to ensure a great future:
- Gather your facts, balance short-term gains with long-term growth and make a call. Then live with the results.
- Not making a decision is in itself a decision.
- You will never know all of the facts.
- If you are a quick decision-maker, slow down by surrounding yourself with people who are more methodical and need more data. On the other hand, if you’re one of those people who always want more data before making a decision, then surround yourself with people who will push you to decide more quickly.
- Most decisions are not set in stone; they can be reversed over time. You make them with the best knowledge you have at the time, so keep learning and keep evolving.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
John Addison is the Leadership Editor for SUCCESS and the author of Real Leadership: 9 Simple Practices for Leading and Living with Purpose, a Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-seller. Renowned for his insight and wisdom on leadership, personal development and success, John is a sought-after speaker and motivator. Read more on his blog, and follow John on Facebook and Twitter.