By Chris Chirgwin, Lanspeed
It might seem out of place to come across an article on legacy planning in a tech magazine. It’s not a topic that is typically front of mind and often gets put on the back burner. Yet, it’s a topic that we all eventually must face that requires us to make important decisions that impact our life and the lives of those around us.
Maybe your story is similar to mine. I became interested in technology at a young age and had a natural inclination for it. Eventually, I found myself working in the tech industry in my early twenties, initially as a web developer, then network engineering and eventually starting and running a managed services company. Raising three daughters and running my company consumed the vast majority of my time and energy. The days, weeks and months quickly passed, and before I knew it, years and even decades had come and gone.
It wasn’t until my early 40’s that I intentionally took the needed time to pause and reflect on where I had come, where I was and where I wanted to be. I had to be honest with myself as I thought about my life and what kind of impact and legacy I wanted the second half of my live to have. How was I spending my time and energy? Was I making a long-term, positive difference in the lives of my family, my friends and my employees? Was I finding my career meaningful and enjoyable? Did I have an end goal in mind for my business and career?
Defining a legacy plan is not an overnight or quick process, nor was it something I could work on while in the office. I found that hiking or sitting in a corner of a quiet coffee shop allowed me to think clearly and without distraction. Using a legacy planning worksheet provided by a peer group that I was involved with, I began working on my business, life and leadership plans. I received guidance and input from my wife, close friends and mentors as I worked through each area. One of the greatest pieces of advice I received was to start with the end in mind and work backwards. There were ten key questions I had to answer.
- What did I hope to give in my relationships?
- What are my annual health and fitness objectives?
- What are my money and finance objectives?
- What are my retirement objectives?
- What are my recreation and lifestyle objectives?
- What are my spiritual objectives?
- What are my service and contribution objectives?
- What are my happiness objectives?
- Define my Personal Mission Statement — What is my purpose in living?
- Define my Personal Legacy Statement — What do I want my life to mean after I’m gone?
My responses to questions 1 through 8 helped me define the answers to the two most important questions — 9 and 10. This provided the framework and direction I needed to make some significant and positive changes in my life. There were daily, weekly and monthly activities and goals I had to set and some significant changes I had to make in my life. I worked with an attorney and my CPA to come up with a financial safety plan for my family and a business continuity plan for my company and employees if something unexpected were to happen to me.
Five years have passed since I went through the legacy planning exercise. The time I took to think, plan, document and act has been invaluable. It has given me greater clarity on where I’m spending my time and energy and what I want to accomplish in life and in my business. I have measurable plans in place to track progress and have taken the steps to protect my family and my company. At the end of each year, I revisit my legacy plans and see how I’m doing and what changes I need to make for the upcoming year.
It’s easy to fall into a rut of day to day existence. I was there for many years myself. The good news is that it is never too late to put together a plan to define your life goals and legacy. Every one of us has a desire to make our life count, and with some reflection, guidance and willingness, we all can achieve greater clarity and purpose in our lives.
About The Author
Chris J. Chirgwin is the owner and CEO of Lanspeed, an IT services firm headquartered in Santa Barbara, CA. With over 25 years of technology and leadership experience, Chris has excelled throughout his career in providing businesses with a winning combination of deep technical expertise and sound strategic planning.