Last year, while prepping for my first set of yearly Powersheets, I hit the prompt about my legacy and froze. Often, when I think about my legacy, I somehow put it in the same box as planning for retirement. Easier to do tomorrow (or twenty years from now) rather than today.
The reason why legacy has such a 'someday' reputation is that it always seems easier to think about creating an impact when we're wiser, more financially stable, or have more time on our hands. How often do we look at the word "impact" and think it's only attached to large donations, timely projects, or skilled labor, when we're actually able to create positive change right here, right now?
We are called to give back, to be contributors to the common good rather than just consumers. But how do we move from being a mere consumer of everyday goodness to an actual contributor, and start creating a legacy of joy, love, and kindness?
The good and very encouraging news is that there are things you can do that make a difference for those around you without a lot of time or preparation. Here are some of my favorite easy to implement ideas that you could factor into your everyday routine to make an impact and build your legacy. Most of these take five minutes or less!
Google or Facebook Reviews for local small businesses
You know that dry cleaner, hair stylist, dentist or cute boutique you love? Someone else can love it too! Last year, on a Thursday before leaving town for a Saturday wedding, I looked up and realized Shawn's suit hadn't been dry cleaned.... since our wedding. Since we had just moved to California, I had no idea what to do or who to call. Thanks to Yelp, I found a local cleaner who offered to clean the suit in 24 hours. When I went to pick it up and asked how I could repay them for their prompt service and great customer service, her only suggestion was "leave me a great review so others can find us like you did!" The idea is simple, but the potential influence is huge!
Take two minutes out of your day today to write a review for a local business you love. These 120 seconds can make a huge difference in generating new business and sustainability for an actual human being.
Taking a friend or family member out to lunch/dinner and buying their meal
I sat next to a couple in a small group a few years back who mentioned they extended their idea of tithing to include meals for others. I love this idea because I believe some of the best conversations and connections are made right across the dinner table. On a budget? This act of kindness doesn't have to take place at a five-star restaurant. PIck your favorite breakfast spot and offer to treat someone you care about.
Paying for the coffee of someone in line behind you in the drive-thru
Why don’t we do this more often? Is it because it’s intimidating? Is it because we might not receive recognition? Whatever our excuse may be, let’s ditch it and replace it with excitement to cheer someone up, or help them keep the kindness going. For those of you who get stuck in front of that minivan full of teenage girls with a minor Frappuccino addiction, just tell the cashier to add a few extra bucks to your charge for the sweet, patient driver behind you. $3 off a $30 coffee bill is still something!
Complimenting someone’s smile/outfit/hair/shoes/earrings/whatever
While this seems SO simple, it’s one of the most effective ways to contribute to someone’s joy. Whether a woman is eight, eighty, or somewhere in between, by highlighting her selected feature we’re also saying “I see you, and you’re special.” Who doesn’t want to hear that?
Writing someone a card - even if it’s a quick hello or reminder that you’re thinking about them or praying for them
In the world of digital recognition and affirmation, sometimes the written word can be the most impactful way to reach out to someone on your heart. Get some cheap cards or stationery (HomeGoods is my go-to for cheap and easy paper goods), make a list of people on your heart, and get to writing!
Having trouble coming up with names? Put it on your prayer list that God would put people in your path who need some special recognition. Be on the lookout for Facebook friends, family members, or random neighbors who could use a pick me up.
Offering to help with someone’s workload
Whether it be a co-worker, a spouse, or a neighbor, there’s something to be said for offering your help or support when someone feels overwhelmed. Already watering your garden? Offer to tackle the neighbors garden while you’re at it! See a fellow employee overwhelmed with their workload? Replace the typical “what can I help you with?” with this life-changing question: “what is the next thing on your to-do list?”
Small monthly recurring donations to a non-profit
Whether it’s 5 dollars or 25 dollars, little by little these donations add up and make a huge difference for the non-profits you could serve financially. Swap a weekly coffee for a contribution! Needing recommendations? Next time you're at a party, use this conversation starter for ideas: "If you had one million dollars and had to give it all to a local or international charity of your choosing, who would it be and why?" Then, sit back and take mental notes on the suggestions for some great organizations and causes you could potentially help serve.
Am I the only one who forgets to do the small, day-to-day acts of kindness because I forget how large of an impact they can make? Share your thoughts, or add your ideas to the list. What are some little things you like to do that make an impact on your community and leave a positive legacy?
Joyful Takeaway: We are called to give back, to be contributors to the common good rather than just consumers.