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Build Your Legacy Now, Before It Is Too Late.

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”
– Chuck Palahniuk

How will you be remembered? If you are a writer, involved in publishing or other creative arts – do focus on building your legacy only after a laundry list of other activities are done, including the laundry itself? Is it something you leave to those few spare moments you find each month? Are you investing in your dreams every day, or letting them slip away?

I found this incredibly compelling: The top five regrets of those who are dying, as described by a nurse who worked with those in their last three to twelve weeks of their lives:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

(Source: Avinash Kaushik, Guardian, and Bronnie Ware.

The author, Bronnie Ware, explains more fully:

“When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made… Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice… Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content… When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”

I work with writers every day, helping them through their challenges of balancing everything on their plate, and finding the time to create their legacy and grow their audience. To live a life that inspires them, and touches others in a way that leaves a lasting impression.

With many successful people I have spoken with, I find that their passion helps them work past barriers we all face: not enough time; too many conflicting priorities. Their passion helps them clarify their vision, and make the hard choices. Not to work MORE, but to focus on what matters most. This, of course, is different for each of us.

For those who feel that their writing or work needs to have an impact on the world and build their legacy, the time to do that is now. Little by little, every day. This is a challenge I have addressed for myself recently. My priorities: I love working with writers and publishers, and I want to be present in my 1.5 year old son’s life, as well as be there for my wife. This is why she and I made enormous changes in our lives in the past three years:

  • I left a corporate job of 10 years to start my own company.
  • We had our first child.
  • My wife quit her job as an art teacher to be home to raise our son.

Each of these decisions is filled with risk, and we have prepared for years in order to make choices like these. In a deep recession, we both left “safe” jobs, stable paychecks, and gave up amazing health insurance benefits. And we couldn’t be happier about it…

My days are spent working with those who inspire me: publishers and writers, and I am never far from my wife and son who I can spend moments with throughout each day. For me, my legacy will be built helping writers and publishers achieve their goals, and in being present in the lives of my family.

What will your legacy be? How are you working to build it every day?
If I can be of assistance in this process, just let me know.

  • Very inspirational, Dan. You and your wife made some big moves there with a lot of risk but you did what you were compelled to do. I admire that more than I could put in words. I still haven’t figured out what my legacy will be. I’m still working on that one. All I really care about is leaving my mark on the world and I’ve already done that. You see, the mark doesn’t have to be huge. For instance, I sold a copy of novel, The Unlimited, in Australia. To me, that’s a mark. Not only is that someone I didn’t know, but it’s on another continent on the other side of the globe! It’s the little things to me and I just want to impact one life at a time until my own runs its course.

    • Kevin,
      Thank you so much! I like how you are approaching this – a mark that matters.

  • I guess my big question is, how do you make that leap and very quickly again develop a safety net for your family? How do you survive on the income of your own business, that you started from the ground up? I know a lot about writing, and I’m good at it — but the business part gets me in a tizzy. How do you run your writing life as a business? Perhaps I should enroll in that 8-week course you’re offering for some help …
    Thanks for sharing. It’s a total inspiration

    • Thanks Kate – these are GREAT questions. I’ll send you an email to answer them directly.

  • Lovely story. It’s inspiring to see the risks you’ve taken that have been worth it. I’m trying to take those risks on too. I cannot wait to see where I go.

  • Elizabeth Bezant

    Great post, Dan, and a great reminder. It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday stuff, and forget what really matters. 

  • I was inspired by some of this same research, and by the early deaths of some good friends. Here’s my mission in life: to prepare for the hour of my death, one good day at a time. And to help others do the same. I put that mission on my Facebook fan page so that I can see it every day. Great post!