This Is What You Want People to Say about You When You’re 80 Years Old

coffee cup, what you want people to say
Image via Galit Breen

What do you want to be remembered for? Is it the way you lived your moments, loved your people, did your thing like no one else could possibly do it?

I love this kind of question and find it helps me reflect on how I want to be right here and right now.

Psychotherapist and Relationship Coach Toni Coleman, LCSW, says, “When we think about how we would like to be remembered by people–attributes like positive, accomplished, good to others, and made a difference in someone's life come to mind. Unlike wealth or celebrity [status], these are the things we leave behind that endure. So how can we start right now on leaving a legacy like this? Wake up every day and spend a few moments reflecting on one or two things you are grateful for–this will help you stay positive.

“Take time for the little acts that would make a difference to those around you–a warm smile and hello, an offer of assistance, a listening ear when someone is in need, a quick happy birthday or anniversary wish so others know you remember that they matter, or just being a calm, supportive, and non-judgmental presence in the midst of calamity or conflict, helping others to know they're not alone or forgotten. Lastly, start today to do your best at whatever you undertake at work and in your leisure-time pursuits and passions. No matter how hard the challenge may be, if you give it your best, you will succeed, and this is something those around you will admire, remember, and want to emulate.”

Five women share what they want to be remembered for and what they want people to say about them when they're 80 years old.

Image via Marta G.

Marta G. is a working mother of two, struggling with getting older (while her close friends seemingly aren't), moving back to Chicago (where she's from), and just generally wanting more out of her life, budget, and self.

When she's 80, this is what Marta hopes people are saying about her: “When I'm 80, I hope to be lounging in an ocean near Bora Bora, but I also hope that when people think of me, the word that comes to their mind is kind. More importantly than pretty, or funny, or even smart, I want my kindness and generosity to be what I'm remembered for. It's a trait I most value in both myself and in others. It's kindness that keeps the world going forward, pushing us, and lifting us. And if I, in any way, can contribute to that, then I think I will have had a life well lived.”

Image via Alyson Herzig

Alyson Herzig writes about the constant disasters in her life and other random ridiculous things that pop into her head.


When she's 80, this is what Alyson hopes people are saying about her: “A theme of Alyson's life is ‘no good deed ever goes unpunished.' I remember this one time her son, who was 10 years old at the time, and [she] traveled to Washington, D.C. It was just the two of them and her 67-year-old aunt. The highlight of the whole trip–the reason they had come–was for her son to see his great uncle's plane in the Smithsonian Museum. To say this boy loved history would be an understatement–he was obsessed.

“But in true Shitastrophy style, it didn't quite work out as Alyson had planned. She had planned the whole trip and was looking forward to the moment she would be crowned the greatest mom ever. It was going to come all together, until … the exhibit was closed. CLOSED! They had traveled 800 miles to see this plane, and instead of being greeted with an ear-to-ear smile from her son, she was instead witness to a very, very upset child.

“This kind of thing happened often in Alyson's life, but she was never one to let the bad get the best of her. She persevered. She continued to plan trips, take her kids places, help friends, and give to those that had less. Oftentimes, the end result was some sort of Shitastrophy, but it never stopped her. One thing we can all take away from her 80 years is that even if life poops on you, there is always a funny story somewhere in there.”

Image via Julie DeNeen

Julie DeNeen is a blogger and web designer.

When she's 80, this is what Julie hopes people are saying about her: “When I'm 80, I want people to be talking crap about me. I want them to huddle in corners and gossip about my crazy life and my impulsive decisions. I want to be so full of vim and vigor at 80 that I have enough going on to warrant anyone saying anything at all! Sure I want to be known as a good wife, a good mom, a good citizen of the Earth–all that stuff–but those things to me are a given. We all try to be the best we can be in whatever roles we're assigned. But what a thrill to still be living at 80 in such a way that one can make people's heads turn!”

Image via Lea Grover

Lea Grover‘s blog is an account of life as a feminist housewife, tackling topics like interfaith marriage, life after cancer, and vegetarian cooking.

When she's 80, this is what Lea hopes people are saying about her: “I've come to learn that all my visions of the future are pure fantasy. When I was young, I thought I'd never get married and raise a horde of adopted children in a cabin in the woods. I thought I'd run for president in 2020 (spoiler alert, I'm not). I thought I'd always be thin and cool. (I can hear my sisters laughing somewhere in the distance, as if reminding me I've NEVER been cool.)


“That said, I have a pretty good idea what people will think of me when I'm 80. I think I'll have made myself a bit of a local fixture, banging on doors to get people to donate blood, with paint and ink all over the clothes [that] I'll have been wearing for several decades. They'll think I'm a kind, if pushy, well-intentioned old lady with a killer sense of humor. I think some of them will hide when they see me coming because they'll know I'll corner them and ask about their parents, but resign themselves to telling me about their loved ones with a smile, knowing I truly care.

“I think some of them will make a point of bringing their kids to my house at Halloween so they can get the books I pass out instead of candy, knowing I'll ask them about the books they read last year and their grades in school, never judging and always encouraging. And I think they'll mostly think of me as the aging lunatic who drives around with all the windows down, blasting music so loud it makes everyone almost as deaf as her. Because Poe's ‘Haunted' will be as awesome in the 2080s as it was in the 2000s. Just like me.”

Image via Shannan Ball Younger

Shannan Ball Younger is the writer behind Mom Factually and the Tween Us blog on ChicagoNow.

When she's 80, this is what Shannan hopes people are saying about her: “When I am 80, I'd be thrilled if people said, ‘Wow, she's still really going strong! Can't wait to see what she does next!' I'd like if they said that I am kind, thoughtful, and helpful. I hope that they say that my happiness and enthusiasm is contagious and that I was making a difference in the world. I'd also be happy if people said that it was clear that I love and adore my family and that I'm really spoiling my adorable grandchildren.”

{ MORE: What Happened When I Hired a Housekeeper }

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This Is What You Want People to Say about You When You’re 80 Years Old

Galit Breen is the bestselling author of Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching your child to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. She believes you can get your child a phone and still create a grass-beneath-their-bare-feet childhood for them. Galit’s writing has been featured on The Huffington Post; The Washington Post; Buzzfeed; TIME; and more. She liv ... More

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