How to Leave a Lasting Career Legacy

 Craig Stephens
  24th-Jun-2018

Building a career is a challenging and rewarding endeavor often lasting the majority of a lifetime. It can sometimes be difficult to come to terms with leaving behind an organization that you worked so hard to help grow and thrive. Your impact on the organization over many years can quickly fade away when you leave the office. But you can leave a lasting legacy if you take steps to cement your accomplishments and remain engaged up until your last day and beyond. Focusing on your legacy during your final years on the job will benefit the organization, and you'll exit with a deeper satisfaction from your career.

Here are seven ideas to help you leave a lasting legacy in the wake of your career.

Mentor. During the tail end of a career, older workers sometimes steer clear of new and younger employees. It does take some effort to be available and friendly in an office environment, and not everyone likes to socialize on the job. However, making time for younger employees is a way to stay engaged with your job as you close out your career. Make yourself available to mentor a younger worker who is eager to learn. Introduce him or her to colleagues, share your past successes and failures and help lay the groundwork for a successful career.

Embrace change. Mid-to-late career workers tend to find comfort in routine and the status quo, often shying away from change. But change is inevitable, and organizations need the wisdom of the most experienced professionals to chart the right path forward. As your career is winding down, the organization needs forward thinking, not backward. Don't hold them back. The wisdom of your experience can help navigate the changes, so offer your guidance to help the organization stay relevant into the future.

Transfer knowledge. In the months leading up to your retirement, think about all the processes and essential documentation you use to do your job. Write down any information specific to your position that is in your head and not documented. Create a checklist or spreadsheet with the tasks applicable to your position. Include any specific files or processes required to complete your regular tasks. You may not be required to train someone to do your specific job, but everything you do will need to be continued. Leave proper instructions, reference materials and resource information on a shared hard drive and distribute the location to your colleagues. Your coworkers will appreciate the effort long after you're gone.

Publish. During a long and illustrious career, you've spent countless hours developing your expertise and knowledge. Certain discoveries may be worth sharing with the world. By publishing what you've learned, you can leave an enduring mark on your profession. Self-publishing a book is a popular choice for sharing knowledge because you can avoid the gatekeepers of the traditional publishing process. If there isn't a large market for your book idea, publishers might hesitate to take on the project. But that doesn't mean your book idea won't help and influence people in your field.

Other publishing options are also available to quickly and inexpensively share your expertise. Starting a blog is an easy way to publish content one article at a time. All you need is a computer, internet connection, URL and website host to get started. Another inexpensive option is to create videos and post them online. Minimal investments are required to publish online, and the global distribution power of the internet ensures your expertise will carry on while you enjoy your retirement years.

Maintain relationships into retirement. Many adults find true friendship in the workplace. Unless you're the last of your era to retire, you'll be leaving old friends behind when you stop working. That shouldn't mean you never see them again. But you'll need to make a concerted effort to maintain relationships. Start or join a sports league or club of your peers and schedule regular meetups. Meet for lunch with former colleagues to reminisce about past projects or offer your advice on retirement preparation and execution. Listen to your colleague's updates on the business or office politics. You may be a trustworthy associate who can uniquely relate to their situation.

Stay connected to your former industry. Leaving the workforce doesn't mean you should completely abandon your field of expertise. Continue to read and learn about industry trends in your field. Even if the subject exhausted you at the tail end of your career, you may develop a rekindled curiosity when work is optional. Subscribe to magazines and email lists from your favorite publishers. Dig deeper into topics within the industry that you never had time to research. When you run into your former colleagues, you'll still be abreast of the latest trends. And if you change your mind about retirement or need to go back to work, your knowledge will be current.

Unretire. For many professionals, work is not only a means to earn a living, but a part of their identity. It's not uncommon for retirees to become bored and uninspired. This can lead to some retirees wanting to return to the workforce. Experience, longevity and a genuine interest in the field make these returning workers ideal employees. If you want to resume working, consider the implications for your original retirement plans and the expectations of your loved ones. Also, look for a part-time or reduced work schedule to ease back into the workforce or straddle between work and leisure. Unretirement is not for everyone, but if you miss the professional satisfaction and comradery of your former career, don't ignore the calling.

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