I think it’s time we have The Talk. Don’t you? You know, the one about the Legacy you wish to leave. It’s a subject that deserves serious thought.

Leaving a Legacy is how you achieve Greatness. It goes right to the core of why you’re here and the mark you wish to make on the world you leave behind.

Some of you know exactly what it is. Mine, of course, is that there are a lot more financially empowered women running this country as a result of my work. And a lot fewer abused women who can’t afford to leave their abuser.

But many of you may be scratching your heads, wondering, ‘huh, what’s mine?’

Your legacy doesn’t need to light up the sky. It could be the tiniest footprint in the sand. All that matters: your legacy reflects your purpose fulfilled.

Need help? Try this exercise.

Imagine that it’s far in the future. You are lying on your deathbed. You’ve lead a long and meaningful life, but it’s now drawing to a close. As you lie there, you begin to review your past. What gave you the most satisfaction, outside of your family, to know this is what you’ll be remembered for? It need not be limited to one thing, either.

Once you pinpoint what it is, come back to this moment. Then ask yourself: What can I do right now that will contribute to the legacy I wish to leave?

Please share below by leaving a comment…I can’t wait to hear your insights.

GivePhilanthropy is usually the least thought out, most disorganized part of our financial activities. We know charitable contributions save us taxes.

But the question we rarely ask is: How can I maximize not only my tax benefits but the power that philanthropy gives me?

The more thought and planning you give to your charitable donations, the more—so to speak—bang you get from your buck—financially, socially, emotionally.

To this end, I put together Six Principles of Powerful Philanthropy:

1. Educate yourself financially. The number one reason women don’t give more is lack of knowledge. No matter how much money a woman has, if she’s afraid, insecure, and/or ignorant around money, she’ll be restrained in her giving . In a recent study, 73% of women felt that passing money to children and causes is important, but only 14% have conducted detailed financial planning to ensure an effective wealth transfer.

2. Get your financial house in order, with your spouse. Review your finances regularly. Smart money management follows 4 rules:

  • Spend less
  • Save more
  • Invest wisely
  • Give generously

These rules must be followed in this order. Giving without following the first three rules is an act of self sabotage. Not only do you jeopardize your future security, but you diminish the impact you can make with your money.

3. See yourself as a philanthropist in your own right. Too many women think it’s their husband’s money, so charitable donations are his responsibility. But women outlive their spouse and will ultimately be in charge of the family estate. Another reason women don’t engage in planned giving is because, if they’re not a Carnegie or Rockefeller, they don’t think they have enough. Not so. Small amounts can add up to big changes.

4. Give serious thought to the legacy you want to leave. I once saw a poster with the word: “will it matter that I was?” Ask yourself: How do I want people to remember me? What changes would I like to see in the world. What do I value most? Does my giving reflect my values?

5. Work with professionals. Figuring out how much is possible and advantageous to give is a complex issue. It should be a team effort. Find reputable estate planners, attorneys, financial advisors, accountants. Studies show, however, 9 out of 10 people don’t mention charities in their will. So if a professional doesn’t bring it up, you be sure to.

6. Make it a family affair. Use philanthropy as a way to teach kinds about values, money management, and life goals.

The most powerful philanthropists are not the ones with the highest net worth. They are the ones who are financially educated, financially secure, and passionate about a cause.

I once kept a quote on my wall: “We pray to God when our foundation is being shaken, only to find out it’s God who is doing the shaking.”

I often recall those words when I coach women.

CalculatorJust yesterday, I talked to a client who was almost in tears. Her husband’s business unexpectedly went belly up. Suddenly, they had no income. She was forced to get a higher paying job.

“Do you think this crisis has anything to do with my decision to make more money and my lack of action?” she asked.

Obviously it was a rhetorical question.

I see this pattern all the time. Women do not get serious about money—making it or managing it—until a crisis hits. Either their world falls apart, or feels like it’s about to. That’s when they finally take action.

I did it myself. I waited until a million dollar tax bill almost wiped me out. Not smart!!

How about you? Are you avoiding financial stuff until the pain gets worse than the fear? Are you looking for a way to get going without having your very foundation violently (or even mildly) shaken.

If so, try this experiment. Focus on what inspires you and stop dwelling on what scares you. Forget all the things that can go wrong. Instead consider all you can do when you have more money. Not just buying more shoes, but making a difference. Think about the joys of philanthropy, leaving a legacy, contributing to causes you feel passionate about, helping your kids, your parents, people you love.

That’s what I finally did. I started thinking about what kind of a role model I wanted to be for my daughters instead of obsessing about screwing up. When I made that shift, I had no choice…I could no longer let fear stop me!

I’d love to hear other ideas for getting unstuck. What worked for you?