Your legacy in retirement

What is a legacy?

Legacy is a concept with two senses. The better understood sense is that of a financial bequest, perhaps an inheritance, from one generation to the next. But legacy also has a second, related meaning.

That second meaning comes about because each of us leaves a trace in the world, and some of that may be by accident, but if it is by design then that is a specific sort of legacy that we can think about.

Legacy and postwork

Supposing you are already retired, then your work legacy is effectively sealed in a box, a box that when opened may release fair and foul odours, but there is not a whole lot of useful work you can do on that legacy, once you have ceased employment.

Now that you are retired you can think about your legacy (trace in the world) in at least two ways.

Legacy number 1

First you can ponder the ways in which you helped or can help other people. This may come through charity work, through devotion to family or perhaps through friendship. You now have the time and space to work on this, if you choose.

Legacy number 2

The second legacy is related to the first but subtly different, it’s the things you achieved for yourself – perhaps selfishly, perhaps altruistically – but which define the way in which people will remember you: she was a good golfer, he was a fine cook; he enjoyed classical music, she was always friendly to the neighbours.


Now the sense of legacy is getting quite diffuse as compared with a simple endowment of money to a specific person. In some estimations this is a very important area for self-analysis, if you choose that path, but some may not. Perhaps you need help?