By Laura A. Roser
Your Personal Legacy Statement
Your Personal Legacy Statement or Personal Mission Statement is your declaration of how you’d like to live your life and impact others from an ethical standpoint. It’s different from goals, which are about achievements. The objective of a Personal Legacy Statement is to clearly state your principles, how you intend to treat others, how you plan to care for your spiritual needs, and how you will share your legacy.
Seneca wrote, “Cherish some man of high character, and keep him ever before your eyes, living as if he were watching you, and ordering all your actions as if he beheld them. . . . For we must indeed have someone according to whom we may regulate our characters; you can never straighten that which is crooked unless you use a ruler.”
Whether you have an actual person you hold yourself accountable to or base your principles on traits you respect in a variety of individuals, the key to developing an effective Personal Legacy Statement is identifying the ideal character you wish to cultivate and progressing toward that end.
Important Things to Remember
- Keep your Personal Legacy Statement private, for your eyes only
- Follow your Wiser Self and only write what resonates with you
- Know that sometimes the process can take a while and your Personal Legacy Statement will change as your life evolves
- It’s better to start with something and perfect it over time rather than spend weeks or months trying to write a masterpiece; just get something on paper and start reviewing it regularly
How to Use Your Personal Legacy Statement
The simplest way to use your Personal Legacy Statement is to refer back to it regularly and compare it to your behavior. I would suggest at least weekly. Many people read it once or twice per day. Over time you will feel a gentle reprogramming of your thoughts and behaviors to be in greater alignment with your statement.
Examples of Personal Legacy Statements and Personal Mission Statements
The following are some examples of Personal Legacy Statements. You’ll see each one is unique and reflects the personality of the one who wrote it.
Integrity: In all I do, I endeavor to act in the best interest of all parties involved and exercise integrity with my personal and business dealings.
Being a Giver: I give of myself first in any new relationship and operate under the assumption that the other person is a giver until experience proves otherwise. I forgive others for their mistakes and try to understand things from their point of view.
Positive Thinking/Speaking: I focus on the positive attributes of others. When I speak to or about another person, I never say something for the sole purpose of hurting them or blemishing their reputation.
Responsibility: I do not blame outside circumstances or others for my mistakes or problems. When something bad happens, I see the role I played and admit to my part. I also treat others’ possessions and public spaces as if they were my own and exercise the same kind of care. I don’t expect others to clean up after me or take care of my needs.
Humility: Everyone has their own brand of intelligence. Everyone fights a battle. I am not better than others. There is always something to learn from those around me. Sometimes I’m on top, sometimes I’m at rock bottom, sometimes I act smart, sometimes I act like an idiot—just like everyone else does.
Order: I keep my life simple, free from clutter, disorder, and things that steal my energy for negative purposes (e.g., addictions, gossip, worry, trivial concerns).
Curiosity: I am open to all kinds of outcomes. When things don’t go my way, I act as a third-party observer and try to see my situation from a state of curiosity rather than disappointment.
Action in Spite of Discomfort: When I know something is right, I immediately take action, even if it’s hard or causes short-term discomfort.
Self-Compassion: When I make mistakes, I forgive myself and have compassion for my shortcomings. I create an environment for myself that is safe, healthy, and caring. When I need help, I ask for it.
Fun/Adventure: Life should be passionate and engaging. I see the wondrous every day. The ordinary becomes extraordinary to me because of how I love, who I interact with, and the joy of my pursuits.
Nourishing My Soul
Throughout the day, I take breaks to recharge myself. This includes running, working out, spending time in nature, meditation, baths, painting, writing for fun, or reading. I spend several hours a week thinking about ways to improve my character and learning about new concepts and ideas.
My purpose in my family is to support my family members in their dreams, have fun with them, create lasting memories, be open and truthful, and be a good example.
I focus on finding and cultivating deep friendships with people who have similar values and whom I admire and trust.
I am responsible and pay my bills but focus on work that energizes me. My vision and calling is more important to me than simply earning a high wage. When working with clients, I endeavor to do what is best for them and, at the very least, do no harm.
Every year, I review what I’m doing to help others to be sure I’m on track. I make an effort to meet new people from different backgrounds and learn from everyone I come into contact with.
I eat an unprocessed diet focused on vegetables, healthy fats, proteins, moderate fruit, and limited carbohydrates.
Every day, I move my body and expend enough energy to feel healthy, balanced, and in good shape.
Sharing My Legacy
I make an effort to document important life moments as they happen and store this documentation in a safe place. I write letters to those who inspire me either as it happens or once a year when I review the happenings of my life. I make a consistent effort to tell others how grateful I am to have them in my life, and I’m specific about what I appreciate about them.
To be honest, to be kind—to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence, to renounce when that shall be necessary and not be embittered, to keep a few friends, but these without capitulation—above all, on the same grim condition, to keep friends with himself—here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy.
—Poet and writer Robert Louis Stevenson
I will approach my life in a thoughtful and intelligent manner. I will treat people with compassion, kindness, and fairness. I will approach each day with energy, creativity, and humor. I will not forget to relax. I will keep the dance of delight in my life. I will not work too hard, and I will give time to literature and life.
My Family Role: I will conduct myself in family life in a manner that enriches our home by my presence. My family will be happy when I’m home. I will be a leader to my extended family.
My Work: I will influence people with example, in walking my talk, in principle-centered living.
My Role as a Citizen of the World: I hold the following principles: By the Grace of God; Forgiveness; Empowering Others; Growing a Garden of Empowerment; Diversity of Race and Culture Is a Gift; I will sustain life in physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual areas. To forgive myself more, and get on with doing good work.
—A. Roger Merrill
To find happiness, fulfillment, and value in living, I will seek out and experience all of the pleasures and joys that life has to offer. My core values are not limitations restraining me on this hedonistic quest for fun. Rather, they provide a framework for identifying, pursuing, and achieving those pleasures that last the longest and are the most satisfying. The greatest joy of all is being worthy of the respect and admiration of family, friends, and business associates.
—Ronnie Max Oldham
To serve God with all my heart, soul and mind (neither to burn out, nor rust our but to wear out for the Lord). It is my goal to ‘die young at 80.’ To accomplish this, I will keep actively involved with my family (children/grandchildren) and with the youth of the Christian church. In addition, I will commit myself to continuing my education to remain stimulated and mentally active. It is my desire to be an excellent role model for my wife, family, business, clients and friends. This can only be accomplished with God’s help, and it is my goal to daily read and study the scriptures to help me to this end. I pledge myself to be faithful to my wife, to love her unconditionally and to care for her forever. I value our differences and view them as strengths. I seek to build a complementary relationship with Chris. I value her life’s experiences and seek to learn and grow from her. It is my desire to be a Christ-like role model for my children. It is my desire to be more than a financial provider. It is my goal to be physically present at as many special events (games, concerts) in their lives as is possible. I hope to teach them to work and develop their unique talents, but to not take themselves too seriously. My motto which I hope to convey is ‘don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s all small stuff.’ I want to be fun-loving, forgiving, and love them unconditionally.
—Monroe M. Diefendorf, Jr., CEO of 3 Dimensional Wealth Advisory
In order for me to agree to a performance, it must:
1) Educate others
2) Entertain others
3) Make enough money I am not in want
4) Be something my grandmother would find respectable
5) Build healthy relationships
—Paul W. Draper
I will follow my intuition and take immediate, bold action because that is the most loving way. I will only commit to things I can fulfill. I will speak with integrity and reveal my feelings openly and quickly, even if it is uncomfortable at times (and may not please everyone). I will only speak about others in a way that would make me comfortable if they were standing in the room.
I will only take actions that move me towards the light. In all my actions, I will be honest, transparent and only do things that I would be proud to reveal to my closest friends and family.
I will approach each day with creativity, love, gratitude, curiosity and humor. I will not forget to take breaks and relax. My life will be focused on developing my soul and helping others evolve theirs. I will thoroughly enjoy the journey no matter what happens!
I will forgive quickly, apologize quickly when I have hurt someone and have great compassion for myself when I make mistakes. When I do make mistakes, I will look inward and use them to help me grow and learn.
Family Role: I will conduct myself in a way that makes my future children (and husband) proud. I will be loving, giving and supportive to my family. My presence will always uplift, but I will have the backbone to speak the truth in a kind but direct way even if it is sometimes uncomfortable.
Work: My focus will be on God’s will and having fun! I will influence people with my example and have great integrity in all that I do. I will be guided by intuition and know that there is always a solution to any obstacle. When I commit to something, I will give it all of my attention and endeavor to deliver the highest quality possible. If I know that I cannot devote my time, heart and soul to an endeavor, I will pass on it. I will encourage and uplift others.
Citizen: I will strive to uplift those around me and take actions that benefit my community. I will use my skills and talents to serve. My focus will be on empowerment or bringing out the light in others, helping them recognize and expand their abilities and see their intrinsic value.
Health: I will move every day. I will eat foods that nourish my body, mind and soul. I will refrain from alcohol, drugs and other harmful substances. I will not be too uptight and will enjoy life!
To love God and love others.
—Joel Manby, CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment
To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.
To have fun in [my] journey through life and learn from [my] mistakes.
—Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group
To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma, and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net worth of women around the world.
—Amanda Steiberg, founder of DailyWorth
To constantly evolve myself, have fun, and lift up others through kindness, curiosity, and creativity.
 Excerpt from his 1892 travel memoir, Across the Plains.
 Stephen R. Covey, How to Develop Your Personal Mission Statement.
 Ronnie Max Oldham sells data integration solutions in Austin, Texas. His personal website (ronnieoldham.com) lists more information about his hobbies, travel, and interests.
 Paul W. Draper is an anthropologist, academic, and award-winning mentalist, magician, and filmmaker. He can be found at mentalmysteries.com.
 Stephanie Vozza, “Personal Mission Statements of 5 Famous CEOs (And Why You Should Write One Too),” Fast Company (February 25, 2014).
 Drew Hendricks, “Personal Mission Statement of 13 CEOs and Lessons You Need to Learn,” Forbes (November 10, 2014).
 “Sir Richard Branson: On a Mission to Mentor,” Motivated Magazine (May 4, 2011).
 Vozza, “Personal Mission Statements.”
 This is my shorter public statement. I started with the longer version referenced earlier.
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by Laura A. Roser
CEO and Founder of Paragon Road
#1 Expert in Meaning Legacy Planning
Author of Your Meaning Legacy: How to Cultivate & Pass On Non-Financial Assets