When you define what your legacy will be and act upon it, you gain a sense of meaning and purpose. 

“Immortality is to live your life doing good things, and leaving your mark behind.”
—Brandon Lee

Legacy is about how you impact others, and how you impact the world for today and for the future.

It can be as simple as bringing joy and laughter to your family and friends. Or, it can be spending time creating leaders as a teacher or mentor, or supporting youth through programs like those at the Y. Another avenue might be dedicating yourself to building a thriving community through civic work, volunteerism and philanthropy—how you choose to do it is up to you.

Research shows that having a higher sense of purpose in life—the first step toward creating your legacy—lowers the risk of developing chronic disease and provides benefits for longevity, resilience and brain health.

Start now

It’s never too early or too late to think about your legacy. Pick one, two or three things where you want to make a difference, and then write them down. Some people create a mission statement for themselves to help focus their purpose.

For example, an anesthesiologist who sees pain and loss in his work every day, recently sat down and wrote the following mission for himself:

  • Empower and love my wife
  • Spend time with my kids
  • Invest in my family
  • Help others avoid pitfalls that they should know exist
  • Give abundantly to those in need

Act on your mission

Creating a legacy starts with the activities you choose to pursue every day.

For those who need the discipline, keep a journal and write down decisions, activities and plans that allow you to fulfill your mission in your daily life. Soon you will train your mind to automatically choose activities that move you toward fulfilling your mission, and rule out those that don’t.

If you are a storyteller, share stories about your passions, your purpose and your experiences in pursuing your mission. This is one of the most effective ways to spark excitement in others and pass on your values from generation to generation.

Be generous and share with others

If your legacy is to bring joy and laughter to your family and friends, then plan game nights, learn to tell jokes, practice laughter, be available for conversations and connection, and donate to causes that bring people happiness. 

If your legacy will be to help those in need, volunteer for causes you believe in, bring meals to friends when they are sick or need a helping hand, find a way to help others at the holidays, and support charities like the Y that are on the ground doing the work every day.

The more you share your legacy in the world, the greater your impact.

Carry on your legacy through planned giving

Planned giving is a form of giving that is available to everyone. You do not need to be wealthy to establish a planned gift. You just need to have a purpose you care about, and the desire for that purpose to continue after your lifetime. 

Very simply, a planned gift is a gift you set up today that goes to the organization you designate after you die. It can be a gift of a few hundred dollars, or significantly more, typically through a will or retirement account.

A gift designated to the Endowment Fund at your favorite YMCA branch or camp is a forever gift because the principal is kept intact, and the earnings support the mission and work of the Y in perpetuity. 

It’s a gift that keeps on giving—in your name, and in your memory, to support the mission and values you believe in. It’s your legacy.

To find out more

Please contact Kari Rambo, the YMCA’s Senior Director of Planned Giving, at or (612) 330-3074 for more information or to share your giving plans.