11 habits of people who leave behind a powerful legacy, according to psychology

Avatar by Paul Brian | June 19, 2024, 9:53 am

What will your legacy be?

It’s a question that some people don’t ask until it’s too late. 

But it’s a crucial matter to consider, not only because it’s thoughtful to those you’ll leave behind when you go, but also because it creates more intentionality and empowerment in the present. 

By clarifying your core values, mission and what you want to leave behind, you can become more empowered and fulfilled in your daily life. 

Let’s dive in:

1) They help others 

Those who leave a lasting legacy do their best to be a net positive to those around them. 

That doesn’t mean they’re always happy or upbeat. It doesn’t mean they’re a saint. 

But it does mean they regularly engage in acts of kindness with a conscious intention to make a positive impact.

This can find many forms, including through community involvement and philanthropy. 

“Philanthropic deeds are especially important,” observes psychologist Lawrence R. Samuel, PhD., adding that “they can make a positive impact on society for generations and generations, ultimately improving the human experience in some way.”

2) They have a growth mindset

Those who leave a legacy to remember are those with a growth mindset

They see life as an opportunity to grow and continue to learn and improve, instead of a static chore to be gotten through.

They embrace challenges and view failures as opportunities for growth.

This makes their memory a blessing to all who knew them once they’re gone, and also leads to them accomplishing much more in their career and personal life. 

They don’t give up and they see life as a blessing which tends to become its own kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

3) They regularly reflect on their ultimate goal

Those who leave a powerful legacy take time to reflect on their actions, intentions, and the legacy they are building.

They have a clear intention for what they want to do in this life and why. 

“We risk going through life without a clear intention and understanding of the legacy we are likely leaving behind,” explains developmental psychologist Deborah Heiser, PhD. “Most people I speak with don’t realize they pass on their knowledge, skills, and values to others; they feel they are simply living and doing what they are expected to do.”

By becoming more self-aware and conscious of what they believe and what they want to pass on, they leave a legacy that lasts. 

Which leads to the next point… 

4) They build deep connections 

They build and maintain meaningful relationships by actively listening and being genuinely interested in others.

They find ways to connect with people from all walks of life in a way that goes above and beyond. 

Their legacy lasts and spreads in ways that other people’s legacies don’t for this simple reason:

They branched out more than others did. 

They made friends with people in more places and situations than others did. 

They communicated and had the hard conversations with connections they could have just let drop. 

They were kind when they could have just turned their eyes away and walked on. 

Which brings me to the next point: 

5) They boost and empower others 

Those who leave a legacy to be proud of are excellent at encouraging and supporting others to reach their full potential.

“Being generous, kind, and, if possible, enabling the happiness of others offers the greatest opportunity to achieve a kind of immortality, making this the legacy I now want to create,” writes Samuel. 

By believing in themselves first and foremost, they work outwards from this to also support others:

This creates a ripple effect where they begin to have exponentially positive effects. 

They become known as the one who can make great things happen and will cheer somebody on to follow their dreams. 

They are remembered for this long after their physical body is gone. 

6) They share and spread knowledge

Those who leave a lasting legacy are always curious and learning. 

They are also very giving and generous with their knowledge and mentorship.

They mentor and teach others without expecting anything in return, focusing on spreading knowledge and wisdom.

This leads to their ideas and inspiration spreading around them more and more:

Even once they’re no longer around, the legacy of their teachings and wisdom continues to grow and be remembered. 

7) They live in alignment with their beliefs 

Those who leave a lasting legacy are consistent. 

They consistently align actions with personal values and beliefs, avoiding the pressure to conform to external expectations.

They do what they believe in, rather than just talking a good game or half-assing it. 

This can take enormous courage, especially in a world which all too often encourages falling in line and doing what’s expected or predictable. 

“Many of us know how much courage it takes to leave a familiar place that may or not feel safe, to seek a different place where we can truly feel at home,” explains psychology writer John-Manuel Andriote. 

This is exactly true. 

Those who leave a legacy are true to themselves and what they believe, and they don’t betray that consistency. 

8) They stay resilient and learn from failure 

Those who leave a legacy are survivors. 

They show powerful lessons for how to live life despite its challenges by their own behavior and actions.

They demonstrate perseverance in the face of adversity, inspiring others by example.

Their legacy is the way that they persevered through challenges and setbacks in life. 

Their legacy becomes how they learned and grew in wisdom and strength through their life. 

Their legacy lives on through their family, friends and those who remember their strength in the face of adversity and disappointments. 

9) They focus on their long-term impact 

Those who leave a lasting legacy are focused on their long-term impact. 

They prioritize decisions and actions that contribute to long-lasting positive outcomes.

“Leaving a legacy is about more than money or material possessions,” notes Andriote. “A legacy can be the sum of what our lives have taught us or how we make others feel about themselves. Think about what matters most to you, and why it might be important to you to ‘leave it behind.’”

This is exactly what those who leave a powerful legacy do:

They focus on what they really want to accomplish and do in the long-term. 

10) They let their personal and professional accomplishments speak for themselves

Those who leave a legacy are the opposite of braggarts. 

They don’t need to put their name all over their projects or publicize themselves with big marketing budgets. 

They let their personal and professional accomplishments speak for themselves. 

They let their book be their legacy…

They let their children be their legacy…

They let the friendships and love they’ve shared be their legacy…

They let their invention and innovation speak for itself…

11) They work on building win-win solutions

Those who leave a powerful legacy make choices that reflect a commitment to the well-being of the planet

They take responsibility for their actions and always try to line up what they believe with what they do. 

They work on building win-win solutions and a legacy that has an overall empowering impact for everyone who’s touched by it. 

As the musician Ryan Laird sings:

“I want the very best for you for me 

For eternity 

When it’s my time to leave 

Make that my legacy.”

What matters most is where we go from here…

The past can be reflected on, understood and faced. But it can’t be changed. 

What’s in our control now is where we go from here and what we do next. 

Those who leave behind a powerful legacy keep their mission in mind and follow an authentic path that matters to them. 

They avoid regret and they also avoid daydreaming.

They focus on what they can do in the present to live in alignment with what they value and what legacy they want to leave behind.