How to Define Your Legacy

Heidi K. Isern
3 min readAug 11, 2021
photo by Philip Graves

My friend Carrie had escaped cancer. (hurrah!).

However during the surgery and wait to find out if the mass was malignant or benign there was time, too much time, to think. Legacy. Purpose. Love.

All the things we question when we face our own inevitable mortality. We were both Type A individuals. Achieving and succeeding defined us.

We spoke last night and tried to determine what mattered most as we move forward through the second half of our lives. Life is precious, especially after being confronted with losing it.

What would deem us successful human beings? Was it fame? Our family? Our career? Our master work? Or was it better simply to focus on just being a good neighbor? If we were all to die, what makes us at peace with that? What makes us say “At least I did XYZ… or “At least I was ABC…”

When I was younger I didn’t have these questions. I felt I was immortal. I drank, I smoked, I jumped off cliffs into pooling waters. I dated dangerous men and went to dangerous places (From abandoned roads of Nicaragua to bargain basement sales at Sak’s 5th Avenue). I didn’t worry about my legacy because I was too busy living my life. I was Type A, but I was type A at being a hedonist.

Now there is a nagging feeling that everything must MEAN something and I should think about my…

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Heidi K. Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker. let me help you tell your story. Published here, there and elsewhere across the world. @hisern / www.heidiisern.com