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Be Remembered For Your Work

Want to leave a legacy? Start making it happen today

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by Kara Baskin

Work
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At midlife, a lot of people start to think about what their work really means. Have they accomplished everything they hoped? Will people remember them after they’ve cleaned out their desk? Kerry Hannon, author of the new book Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness, explains how to make the most of your remaining office time to leave a legacy that lasts.

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Stretch yourself. “Ask to be assigned a signature project you’ve always wanted to launch or volunteer for a new role,” says Hannon. “At this stage, it’s easy to coast, but this is the time to try something new. Strut your stuff!” After all, your reputation is made, you have nothing to lose—and colleagues will likely remember you for your final big accomplishment. 

Become a brand ambassador for your company. Join a nonprofit board or volunteer your time at an organization that’s important to your industry. “If you’re near retirement, you’ll be valued on a board for your expertise,” says Hannon. “This is a way to give back to the company, and it’s also a way to build your resume if you want to serve on boards after retirement.” Another added bonus: Hannon notes that many companies will give you time off from work if you’re serving or volunteering on their behalf. 

Mentor someone. “It’s so important to leave a legacy by mentoring a younger worker,” Hannon says, either through a formal program overseen by human resources or on a more informal basis. It’s a great way to infuse your job with a sense of purpose. “Not only will you pass on knowledge by teaming up with someone younger, you also might even get re-energized by your career instead of burning out.” 

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Prepare for what’s next. “While you still have a steady job, now’s the time to test out what you might want to do next,” Hannon says. Dying to open a café? Moonlight at a restaurant one night a week. Want to get into teaching? Volunteer to guest lecture at a local college. And while you still have a steady income, make sure to pay down any lingering debt so you have the freedom to explore.

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