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Retirement Planning – Managing Your Investments (III)

“At the end of everything, our successes will be ‘measured’ more by how much we supported others to succeed than by the value of the…

“At the end of everything, our successes will be ‘measured’ more by how much we supported others to succeed than by the value of the mansions, cars, and televisions we leave behind!” – Musbahu El Yakub

Today we will take up ‘Legacy Management’ as the first part of ‘Legacy and Estate Management’ under ‘Managing Your Investments’.

Legacy Management: There are variant linguistic definitions of ‘legacy’. It could mean a ‘gift’ that is passed on from one person or generation to another person or generation. It could be a physical gift or the soft examples of a worthy life a person is living (or lived) that others can emulate.

Elsewhere, legacy planning is often associated with the organisation of personal and financial affairs to deal with scenarios such as mental and physical incapacitation or death. But here, we leave health and death issues to health management and estate management respectively, both of which we will also take. Instead, we define legacy as the desirable contributions we make to the lives of others as they go about pursuing their legitimate dreams and which we hope to be remembered for. A laudable legacy is always about some positive impact your life has on others such as family, friends, colleagues, the young ones and even strangers.  It is usually derived from our values and the things we think about, say and do alone or when we are with others.

There are many personal and societal benefits of working towards leaving a legacy. At personal level, it makes us empathetic to the needs of others, thereby making it possible for us to give back to the society that has made our successes possible in the first instance. It helps us focus on the things that are truly important in life. Thirdly, it helps us make better use of resources (that could otherwise be of limited benefit or wasted) and gives us purpose, meaning in life and fulfilment. From a societal perspective, love and well-meaning are engendered in communities where individuals and organisations provide voluntary support to others. Sometimes, this involves building skills, creating jobs and enhancing productivity with consequential security benefits. Equally important, others are inspired and encouraged to be positively engaged in helping other individuals and their communities in their own ways.

According to Dr. Taryn Fernandes, “Studies have shown that helping others can decrease cortisol, the stress hormone, while increasing oxytocin, related to positive social interactions and generosity… Additionally, acts of kindness can lower stress levels, promoting feelings of happiness, calm, inspiration, and generosity. These factors improve mental wellbeing, reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, and sustain mental health by fostering social interactions.”

We can begin at any time: Some individuals decide on what legacy they want to live and leave behind early in their lives and careers. Thankfully,  others can also decide and begin to do something good at any point in time. Interestingly, most people begin to get more interested in thinking and beginning to give back to society as they age. We don’t have to wait until we retire to begin to do the right and voluntary things that will help and support others. Instead, we can begin to do them immediately we make the decisions in whatever small ways.

Think through what you consider as important. Before we begin our interventions, we need to think through and decide on the support we can provide. Thankfully, as we progress through life, our experiences, observations and knowledge begin to bring out the kind of things that we noticeably see as being important in life. To plan for our legacies, we need to think and ask questions: Think of your values; What are you passionate about that can help others? How can you be a worthy role model? How can you contribute to others beyond those that are your direct responsibility anyway? What gave you your break, can you provide it to others? What pains you, that you can help save others from? What skills and capacities do you have that can be of value to others? What legacies have some people that you respect and admire left behind, can you pursue any?

As we finetune our thoughts about what value we want to add, we will need to develop clear and simple plans about how we can go about doing that and to whom. Thinking through, planning and taking action about the contributions we want to make is essentially what legacy management is about.

Start small and take it one step at a time: One of the issues that members of my generation and those after us tend to have is that we always want to start whatever it is we want to do in a ‘big way’. But that is not how most things in nature work and succeed. Instead, we should be happy starting ‘small’ and gradually and organically building our capacity to do more, one success at a time.

Let us assume, you feel there is a great need to train young people on entrepreneurship and provide whatever support they may require. You can start immediately by getting some young person who is showing promise and take them under your wings; Provide them with guidance, tools of their trade, etc. that you could. You can add more mentees as you progress and get like-minded friends who join in to support you. Remember that it will be a marathon and you will need to spread your ‘energy’ (read: resources) over the long distance.

Do what you can do well: Leverage your expertise, skills, and contacts and come up with areas of intervention that you can do well and that you can afford. Don’t start with what stresses you in terms of your time, finances, lack of skills, etc. Other important matters in legacy planning are that you should be honest with yourself and congruent with others.

Next week, we will take up Estate Management.

 

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