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.
How to Leave a Lasting Career Legacy
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.