What do you want to do? What do you want to be? What do you want to have before you die?

In Personal Development by EudaimoniaLeave a Comment

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!