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Building a Legacy Project: A Good Blueprint For A Life That Matters

Posted by on Jan 24, 2012 | 9 Comments

Chris Guillebeau is one of my favorite authors.  His book The Art of Nonconformity has been a continual influence on my major life decisions.  I love his work for a variety of reasons.

First, he champions using unconventional methods to solve problems.  Not only is it remarkably effective, it’s also fun.

Second, he champions the idea of living your life on your own terms.  Our “traveling around in an RV with three small children seeking out new running adventures” lifestyle is certainly an example of going against the grain of societal expectations.

Third, he champions the idea of creating legacy work.  Legacy work is something that makes a difference in the lives of others.  It’s work that leaves a lasting impact.  It is a powerful idea, especially when executed under the gift economy framework.

Guillebeau himself follows this ideal by producing awesome work on his blog and occasional downloadable mini-guides, including this one that sums up his ideas about legacy work (it’s a pdf):

The Tower

All too often we get caught up in the details of life.  We fall into a cycle of  managing our lives and lose sight of our place in the world.

Think about your day.  I bet you have a routine.  If yours is anything like my old life, it went something like this:

  • Wake up, unload the dish washer
  • Take shower and get ready for work
  • Wake kids up, bring them to daycare
  • Go to work, toil away for about 8 hours
  • Come home, do the laundry
  • Pick kids up from daycare
  • Spend quality time with kids
  • Clean up messes
  • Start kids’ bedtime routine
  • Load dishwasher
  • Relax for an hour or so
  • Go to bed

This cycle repeated itself day after day after day.  We were surviving.

Eventually I started to get an itch to create.  It was about this time that I started blogging.  I had no idea what I was doing, but eventually found kindred spirits in the writings of people like Guillebeau.

My process of creating became more organized and systematic.  The more I built, the more focused my efforts became.  Guillebeau’s idea of legacy projects resonated with me- create something that will have a lasting impact on others.  It started with barefoot running, then spread to ultramarathons, then helping people become bloggers, then helping people escape their “traditional” lifestyle.

The Challenge

Start a legacy project today.  Start something that is going to make a difference in the lives of others.  When you’re lying on your deathbed many years from now, this will be something you can look back on and say

This was my contribution to the universe.

It doesn’t matter what it is, just pick something you feel passionate about.  It could take the form of a blog, writing a book, making a movie, starting a business, taking a leadership role… whatever.  Read The Tower mini-guide.  It will give you some ideas.

I’m going to set one ground rule: You cannot consider your children to be your legacy project.  I’ll explain why in a future post.  😉

If you choose to take the challenge, give me the details in the comments section below!




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  1. Read.Learn.Write.
    January 25, 2012

    I loved the book as well. Working on a project to encourage reading in adults. Good luck with your work!

  2. Jon
    January 25, 2012

    Hi Jason,
    I started a project a few months ago called 2 Fat Nerds. My buddy and I wanted to blog about the trials and tribulations of our path to fitness. As two “gamers” we thought we could bring an interesting view to the fitness world.

    Since then we opened up our weekly “tracking” to whomever wants to join, helping people get into working out regularly and giving the opportunity for people to post their reflections whenever they want. We’ve logged 900km as a group so far, and hopefully many more to come.

    I was spurred to start this project after reading Born To Run, which got me really motivated and interested in changing my lifestyle.

    I truly hope that this project will have a lasting impact on the people who get involved, and if one person goes from unhealthy to in shape, then I feel like that is a major accomplishment and the work will be worth it.

    Feel free to check us out at!


  3. Flint
    January 25, 2012


    I need to be more careful when and where I read you, because I keep getting epiphanies 😉

    I was going to start explaining it all, but then realized my attempt at “legacy” is of no interest to anyone but me.

    I am fully aware that I am making no sense whatsoever right now.

    Thank you, Jason. Your articles mean a lot to me.


  4. geri herlihy
    January 25, 2012

    After reading born to run and unbroken I thought about my legacy. I decided that since I have gotten so much enjoyment out of running that I would start a running club at my kids school. A small step to honor someone like Louis Zamperini!

  5. Mad Matt
    January 25, 2012

    Fantastic! So excited to put this into my already growing projects!

  6. Barefoot Ted
    January 25, 2012


  7. Jason
    January 25, 2012

    I can’t recommend Guillebeau enough. His ideas will REALLY resonate with you, Vanessa. Can’t wait to hear about the idea!

  8. Vanessa
    January 25, 2012

    I put that book on my Amazon wish list and I’ll read the PDF. I’ve actually been thinking on similar lines for a few weeks now and I have an idea up my sleeve that I should be announcing shortly shortly 🙂 Stay tuned!

    • Rick
      January 25, 2012

      This is a great post Jason! I read Chris’s book early last year, and it definitely impacted me. I love Guillebeau’s blog too!

      I’m pretty sure you have read LINCHPIN…Check out The Flinch (an Ebook)on Amazon. I believe it is still FREE, and you can read it on the Amazon Cloud. The Flinch expands on the RESISTANCE. Cheers!