It was most certainly this existential exercise, which led me down the rabbit hole of self-inquiry. I found myself simultaneously both awestruck and dumbfounded. A year ago when I was working with my life-coach she posed the following questions, “What 30 things do you want to be, have, and do before you die?”
At first I thought it would be an easy exercise…after all, I knew – that I knew – exactly what I wanted out of life. After all, I had all the answers; well at least that’s what my ego would have me believe.
So I sat down with my journal and began with all of the things that I wanted to do before I departed this beautiful life. I sat down and realized for the first time that I’d never really thought about what I wanted to accomplish over the long term (or short term) of my life.
Sure I had some short term goals – the normal – be successful, have a family, find love, but I had never made a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish. I had never sat down and put enough thought into my life to even try and categorize what I wanted my life story to be.
Thirty-two years had passed, and somehow I had never thought it (life) or (I) was important enough to try and figure out what I really wanted.
“Aaron what do you want to do with your life?” – I asked myself.
So I began an exercise that took me over a week to actually complete, starting with:
What do I want to do before I die?
I began with this question thinking it would be the easiest…and I was correct, of all the questions posed, this was the easiest to complete.
My only rule was no matter how stupid, insane, or idiotic the idea was – I had to write it down if I truly wanted to pursue it.
I must warn you – if you wish to complete this exercise yourself without bias – do not read any further. Take the time to make your own list without seeing mine.
Now that I’ve given you fair warning – I’ll proceed with what I want(ed)* to do while alive.
*As with everything in life, impermanence rules supreme, and even a year later I’ve certainly made changes and/or addendum.
What do I want to do before I die?
- Travel to South America
- Travel to Africa
- Travel to Asia (India, Nepal, Thailand, China, Japan)
- Travel to Australia
- Go Skydiving
- Hike in Nepal
- Learn to play the guitar properly
- Start a business
- Start a Non-profit helping the needy
- Write a Novel
- Work as a barista
- Open a coffee shop
- Work in a winery or brewery
- Learn how to fly a plane.
- Volunteer more
- Hike the Appalachian Trail (Northbound)
- Live on a tropical island
- Learn how to sail – sail around the Americas
- Learn Carpentry
- Be a life-coach/counselor/trainer
- Take more trips/spend more time with family
- Marry a kind, gentle, smart, and beautiful woman
- Stay married to that woman
- Visit Egypt and the pyramids
- Take some cooking classes and learn how to really cook
- Find myself, find peace, find passion
- Love myself for all that I am
- Inspire people to live their best
- Have deeper, more fulfilling relationships with friends and family
- Finish the list and start another
On to a question that proved to be progressively harder than the last…
What do I want to be before I die?
- Be loving towards everyone I meet without pretense
- Be loved by most
- Be fearless and courageous – A risk taker, Hemingway said, “The only people who truly live are gamblers and bullfighters”
- Be proud of what I’ve accomplished – no regrets
- Be comfortable being alone – at peace with myself
- Be healthy and fit – able to run a marathon
- Be fluent in multiple languages
- Be able to play the piano
- Be a novelist
- Be fulfilled with my life
- Be a good listener
- Be more compassionate and caring
- Be financially secure
- Be able to do…as I damn well please
- Be an entrepreneur
- Be a philanthropist
- Be an inspirational leader
- Be more trusting in myself
- Be less concerned with the superficial nature of the world
- Be a teacher or mentor to many
- Be self-employed
- Be more understanding and patient
- Be a wonderful life-partner to the woman of my dreams
- Be more present and mindful
- Be more proactive and less procrastination prone
- Be surrounded by a wonderful group of friends
- Be a better brother, a better son, a better friend, and a better partner
- Be influential in the world
- Be absolutely certain I’ve got the most out of life
- Be the best version of me I can be
What do I want to have before I die.
At first I dreaded this question, as the first thing that came to mind were material possessions…and I abhor consumerism. I quickly realized that this question could be easily framed to exclude banal possessions – spoiler alert – no I don’t want to have a private island or a yacht.
This list actually turned out to be my favorite.
- Have friends and family that love me
- Have a partner who loves and respects me
- Have a life filled with exceptional health
- Have financial security and abundance
- Have a place to call home in the mountains or on the coast
- Have a better relationship with my dad and brother
- Have the capacity to know when I’m being aloof
- Have a better understanding of people
- Have better communication skills
- Have a screened in porch, a workshop, and a patio
- Have inner peace and contentment
- Have unrelenting joy from an internal source
- Have children?
- Have a legacy worth living for
- Have the respect of most, including myself
- Have a sense of accomplishment and purpose
- Have the courage to do only as I wish and the courage to do what serves me
- Have a close knit group of friends who travel and play together
- Have time to wander, and money to create
- Have a creative and fulfilling profession that provides well
- Have a higher sense of self-esteem
- Have a greater love for myself
- Have a greater capacity to know when to quit something
- Have a life filled with adventure
- Have happiness from big or small things in life
- Have better organizational skills
- Have an uninterruptible passion for life
- Have a wealth of useful wisdom I can impart on others
- Have more beautiful memories with my family and friends
- Have more time to play and more hobbies to fill that time
After reviewing my list, I found (unsurprisingly) that most of my desires have to do with personal development and creating relationships that are deep and unshakeable. Now if I could only make those relationships, and move those people and myself to Brazil – we’d be all the better.
Recently, I’ve made some life changes to accommodate more of the things that appear on these lists so that I can live a life that I want. If you’re not living the life you want, why live it at all? Wishing you all the best that life can offer, much love to you all!
Next up: Craziness ensues and uncertainty rules the day (which is most certainly a good thing). I’ll write a bit about a major project in the making and the thrill of entrepreneurship!