Written by Sharon Lee
One Friday night a few months back my husband and I were walking around Culver City after spending a beautiful night out at the Culver Hotel. We were having the same conversation we've had countless number of times. We were talking about our future. What our hopes and dreams were, where we wanted to be, the impact we wanted to have and the change we wanted to cause. I was anxious - I knew I wanted to do something, but I wasn't exactly sure what it was. I didn't know what the next step was, I just had a feeling of wanting change and wanting more for my life. I had been there at the same place for a number of years - at the corner of "desire, passion, longing for fulfillment and impact" and "not having clarity of vision, unclear on my strengths and fear". My husband, the ever insightful psychotherapist and thought leader that he is (IMHO), said something that suddenly clarified everything for me. At the time, my journey felt and looked like one of those poles with wooden arrows pointed in every direction: confusing, conflicting and where you just stand and stare for a long time before walking away without choosing a path. His words made made all those arrows straighten out and point in just one clear direction, and I knew exactly in which direction I would run.
He told me that instead of focusing so much on my future I should focus on my legacy.
Anxiety, he said, comes from thinking too far into the future. It rips you away from the present and takes you down a rabbit hole of "what ifs" and "I shoulds". It's paralyzing. If you think purely in terms of the future, you make decisions based on the unknown - it's really anyone's guess as to how things will pan out. For me, that leads me to choose to do things that I may not enjoy so that I can hopefully reap the benefits later. It also leaves me wanting and delaying.
But when you shift your mindset and think in terms of building your legacy, your decisions are then based on your present actions. Building your legacy is about the decisions you make now that stem from the things that bring you, and will continue to bring you, a sense of fulfillment and purpose. It's from where things will grow to build the life and story you are proud of. You experience the benefits in real time and know that the decision you just made was an affirmative building block to the legacy you want to leave behind. Your legacy is what remains, long after the future you were once contemplating.
That night, I made a decision to commit to feeding my curiosity and to lean into the things that brought me joy and fulfillment. Had I focused on only my future, I would have probably walked away from the pole of confusing arrows and still be at the stage of "lost and unsure." To be clear, I'm still in the process of figuring all that out and I fully accept that things may change. I also continue to plan for the future because I believe that's important too - it just can't be the only thing I do.
If you don't know what to do next, I challenge you to ask yourself, God, the open air - what is my legacy, and who is the person I truly want to be? Then buckle up because once you open yourself up to answering that question you may find yourself quite surprised at what comes your way. Be on the lookout for answers and opportunities - they come in all shapes and sizes.