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Do you have a career legacy?

A career legacy is something that is still in the works for myself. For other’s their legacy has impacted many women and men in the workforce. What I discovered writing this article is the passion behind a legacy is key and this may be the “why” behind re-evaluating yours.

Each and every single one of us was put here on this Earth to do something. We all have a purpose, but oftentimes discovering what that purpose is can be difficult. 

It’s completely normal to change your mind, especially when it comes to choosing a career. I feel like it is extremely rare to find someone who has always known which career path they’d like to pursue. 

When I started college in the fall of 2015, I thought I wanted to be a physical therapist. I hadn’t formally declared it as a major yet, but I took one 100-level science class and quickly realized that it just wasn’t it for me. 

I felt lost because I pictured myself working in the medical field for such a long time. However, that next semester, I took an intro to business class and that changed my world. The professor I had for that class was so incredibly inspiring. I loved going to that class so I could hear his stories and words of wisdom. 

That was the class that made me want to pursue business and I haven’t looked back. After taking some time off from college, I went back last year to finish up my business degree and I also have been self-employed as a dog walker and writer for almost two years now.

I hadn’t heard of the term “career legacy” prior to doing research for this article. Sarah Roberts describes the two terms as “a career is a collection of individual accomplishments that can be assessed, applauded, and recognized. A legacy, however, is the lasting impact someone has on other people and a gift they leave for the world.” 

In essence, a career legacy is a combination of both of these definitions. It is the impact that we leave on our workplace based on accomplishments and important milestones, or at least that is what my interpretation of it is.

If you think about it, our careers take up such a large chunk of our lives. If there are 168 hours in a week (24 hours a day multiplied by seven days) and the standard full-time work week is 40 hours, then we spend nearly one quarter of our week working. For some, it may even be more.

The career legacy in which we leave behind can certainly be a positive or a negative one, but if that much of your time on this Earth is spent working, wouldn’t you want your career legacy to be a positive one?

I guess I can’t really speak for what it means to leave a career legacy, let alone the need to potentially re-evaluate it because I’m only 24 years old and still learning the ropes. However, I came across a Forbes article written by Terina Allen, a contributor who is a management consultant and executive coach. 

In this article, Terina begins it with “have you been as intentional about your legacy as you’ve been about your career, or are you so busy building and working a career that you haven’t considered the lasting legacy that you actually want to be attached to it?”

I love this quote and wholeheartedly agree with it. I am a hardcore believer in being passionate about your work and being proud of what you do. I think that if the passion is prominent, the legacy will follow. If this is not the case for your current career, it may be time to take a step back and re-evaluate what you’d like your career legacy to pan out to be. 

Terina’s article shares three different categories of questions that can be pondered in order to help decide how deeply the impact of a career legacy can be evaluated. The preliminary questions include:

  • Are you so preoccupied with creating your own path that you fail to help others with theirs?
  • Do you find that you’ve been willing to set aside or compromise your integrity or ethics in order to advance your career?
  • Have you been so busy working in your profession that you don’t actually seem to have time to build upon and contribute to it?

This career legacy evaluative assessment consists of three different categories and each one has a number of questions within them. The idea is to answer them as honestly as possible. That way you can effectively assess the direction you are moving in creating an impactful career legacy. 

Category one is “creating uplifting and impactful experiences for others,” category two is “leading yourself first and demonstrating solid integrity and ethics,” and category three is “contributing to your community and to your profession.” You can read all the questions in the article here

In summary, the category one questions ask you to reflect on what you do in the workplace to make a positive impact on those around you, no matter how big or how small. How much of an effort is made to uplift your colleagues? Do you offer help or advice when they need it?

Category two is all about your professional standards, values, and ethics and how well you adhere to them. How important is integrity to you? Hopefully very important, which is why it is essential to “not sacrifice integrity while pursuing a career advancement or goals.”

Category three focuses on what you do to not only contribute to your workplace, but to your community as well. What does your involvement within your community look like while still relating to your career? Have you created a presentation or written something to elevate your profession? Have you acted as a mentor to someone young who is pursuing a career in the same field?

Leaving a positive career legacy behind is definitely something worth evaluating, or re-evaluating, and Terina Adams provides excellent questions to ask yourself.

Our time on Earth is not infinite, and while it is up to us to choose how we spend it, making the choice to leave an impactful career legacy is a wise one. Think about how you’d like to be remembered, and make the steps each day to ensure that. 


Elle Veranth
Elle Veranth is a writer, dog mom, and a lover of coffee and wine. She always knew she had a passion for writing and once she started taking it seriously she hasn’t looked back. When she isn’t writing, she can be found watching “90 Day Fiancé” and exploring new restaurants and wineries in the DFW area.
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