Unboxed Life

Boldly existing outside the box through conscious living and constant learning.

The Legacy Of You: Creating A New World By Doing Something That Matters

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded. 

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Why am I here?” I know, right? It’s a pretty heavy thing to be contemplating but I think that all of us, at one time or another, find ourselves wondering what our purpose in this life is. Some of us obsess over it seeing nothing else in the world but the quest for answers. Others ignore the prompting completely, content with just drifting through life toward an end we all know is coming without care for what wake we leave behind. Somewhere in there is a middle that is ripe with potential and possibility for us to fully experience our lives. This is where the idea of legacy work is born and where I find the true meaning for our time here on Earth.

What is legacy work? Why should you care about it, and what can we do with it while we exist here together on this planet? I first heard of this concept while reading “The Tower” by Chris Guillebeau. This entire book is dedicated to becoming acutely aware of our impact on the world and deciding that with what time we have in life we will do something that matters. That is the key. Something that matters. What is meant by that is that we do something with our life that makes the world better, something that contributes not the decay of mankind or the destruction of that which is good, but to the addition of light into our sometimes dark world. That when we come to face our own mortality and are on the precipice of whatever comes next, we will be able to look back upon the world we will depart and see it better for us having lived and a future brighter for the next generation.

Whether you have thought about this concept before or are hearing it for the first time now, the gravity of its importance remains the same. Just look around the world we live in, tune into the local news, or flip through blogs and newspapers and you will find a place that is wrought with darkness and negativity. Is this really the world we want to live in or the one we want our future generations to inherit? Legacy work is the solution, our only weapon against complacency and mediocrity, the opponent of evil and the resolution to a fast-fading world. Your legacy matters not just to you, but to me and to everyone who lives and who will yet live on this planet. What will yours be?

I have been thinking a lot about my legacy work lately and where my life is headed. I have come to realize that just as our minds expand as we break free from our boxes, so does our vision of our legacy morph and change as we do as people. This is ok. In fact, this is necessary to make the most of the life we are given. The key is not that you narrowly define right away what your legacy will be, it is that you structure your life to allow your legacy to take shape. As Chris talks about in “The Tower” to truly see our chosen legacy come to fruition and take root in our lives we must prioritize it and rethink how we spend our time. For me, my goal is to be able to spend 80% of my productive time working on legacy work and the other 10% on other things. That currently is not the case but each day with steps taken I am moving closer and closer to it.

There are an endless number of paths toward the legacy you will leave with your fleeting time here. Each and every person’s vision is different and their means by which to achieve said vision will be as varied as human beings themselves. It is up to you to take action, to take control of your life and to create your reality with the passion that lives in your heart. It is there, waiting for you to free it from the bonds of doubt, fear, narrow-mindedness, and hesitation that can cloud the importance of your legacy. Realize that your unique path in life can be extraordinary no matter the curves and textures it is made up of. What matters is that it matters. What matters is that you choose not to be average, not to be passive, not to sit idly by while the world careens out of control toward a desolate future. You are the solution and your legacy is the tool.

Will you not pursue your legacy with passion and a fervent need to leave behind something that will outlast your life? What will it be? I challenge each of you to contemplate this idea and decide for yourself what will be done with it. Be honest, be self-aware, be amazing. But above all else I implore you to be open and to be conscious of the amazing impact you can have on this world and to not let it go unrequited. What will your legacy be? Let’s get started today!

All photos: taken by Tanner Colton, all rights reserved

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14 comments on “The Legacy Of You: Creating A New World By Doing Something That Matters

  1. lifeinthepastlane85
    July 18, 2012

    Very enjoyable read, puts things into perspective – thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Tanner Colton
      July 18, 2012

      You’re very welcome and thanks for the comment. I hope you come back and can find something here that is of help to you. Take care.

  2. kolena
    July 18, 2012

    This is a great post and great pictures. It makes you think when you look back at your life how do you want to feel about it. Did you really live your life doing what your passionate for? And did you do anything to help others? I think I can try to incorporate that in my life everday in a small way and a big way.

    • Tanner Colton
      July 18, 2012

      Thank you Kolena, your words mean so much. I really do think it starts with something as simple as asking yourself what you want from life. Then with that in your focus things will fall into place. We can all do extraordinary things with this life. I am glad you found the post helpful, take care.

  3. Angel B
    July 19, 2012

    Wow Tanner! I’m very inspired and will definitely add “The Tower” to my reading list! The Professor told me I would love this blog and I’m happy I took some time to stop and read you words if you wouldn’t mind I would love to put this post as a guest blog feature on my blog to inspire my readers as well as spread this legacy work concept, I think it’s wonderful! Thanks again for sharing your insights!

    • Tanner Colton
      July 19, 2012

      Thanks AngelB! I am glad that you found something useful here, it means a lot. I would be honored if you wanted to use this post, the more people it can help the better. Thanks again and let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Take care.

  4. Steve
    July 23, 2012

    I love that you think about stuff like this because I think about this too. I want to leave a positive legacy behind. I want to look back and see all the positive changes I made to world and leave it much better than it was when I arrived.

    It’s hard to try and fill your life with things that really matter to the world. Most jobs don’t really fill that role. Although I feel as if I’m moving in the right direction by pursuing a job in teaching. Plus, I’ve been trying to reach as many people through my blog to better their lives too. I guess I see both paths as ways to give back to the world as much as possible. I’ll continue to find other ways hopefully.

    • Tanner Colton
      July 23, 2012

      Thanks for the comment Steve. I think most people contemplate things like this in their lives, it just so happens most people place it in a box and put it somewhere where it will remain a thought and not an action. Your personal legacy is scary to think about and can literally alter your life if you take it seriously, which I think is always a positive thing! Teaching is an awesome way to create a legacy of positive, uplifting work that can impact many lives. I look at teachers and realize that I could never be as strong, skilled, and patient as it takes to be a great teacher and admire and respect them for that. I hope that you are able to create your own legacy through teaching because in the end nothing matters more than what we learn. Thanks again Steve, take care.

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  6. Frances antoinette
    July 27, 2012

    You have a very positive outlook on life! Keep it up!

    • Tanner Colton
      July 27, 2012

      Thanks so much. Things aren’t always great but it feels like my world can be shaped most by how I choose to react to the things in it. If I can turn some of the not so great things into learning opportunities then I feel better for it. Thanks for engaging!

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