August 13, 2012 By Andy Blumenthal
What do you want to accomplish before you die?
Four university students in Canada developed a list of 100 things a few years ago that they’d like to do before they died. The list was translated into a book called The Buried Life, in which they set out on a mission to accomplish these goals. As of the book’s publication, the students have accomplished 53 of their goals — including playing basketball with President Obama at the White House!
Also on their list was to "get in a fight"— and so a couple of them beat the heck out of each other. (Uh, now you can cross that one off your list.)
No. 100 on their list is go to space. Now are they really going to make it there? Maybe one call to CEO Elon Musk and they'll get on the next flight of the new SpaceX Dragon capsule.
MTV made this into a reality TV show in 2010 and aired it for two seasons, and it was nominated for a number of awards.
The book came out in March 2012, and it hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list the very first week!
The premise of the book is pretty cool — they collected tens of thousands of entries on what people wanted to do before they died, chose the ones they thought were best, and had an artist creatively portray these.
Some of the items in the book are things you'd expect from people in terms of becoming rich, powerful, famous, and so on. Others are more intimate and from the heart like reconciling with estranged family members, forgiving those that have hurt them, understanding why bad things happened to them, and even finding true love.
What I find interesting is not so much even what people want to do with their lives, but how everyone is in a way (or actually many ways) imperfect and they seek to fill the voids in their hearts, souls, and lives.
Does creating a list of 100 things and checking off the list really mean anything or is it just a gimmick to get on TV, write a book, and earn some cash?
To me it's not how many things we accomplish, but what we are really trying to achieve — is it bragging rights and fulfillment of our mortal desires, or is it to get a deeper understanding of ourselves, improve who we are, and give back to others?
I don't have a list of a 100 things or even 10 things...I just want to live my life where I can look myself in the mirror in the morning for who I am as a husband, father, son, as a professional, and as a Jew.
I am not sure it is the big splashy things like the authors put down, including getting into the Guinness World Records that is all it's cracked up to be — but all the power to them.
My parents used to have a little sign hanging over the kitchen that said: "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." Yes, a little corny and cliché, but the point is well taken about setting priorities for ourselves that we can truly be proud of — and those things don't necessarily make a list, a record, or get you an ovation.
Today, I read in the news about how Lance Armstrong, champion cyclist, may end up losing all seven of his Tour de France titles for doping — just another example of what people are willing to do or give up of themselves to get what they want in life.
I say dream big, try your hardest, but don't get lost in lists of accomplishments and stardom — stay true to who you really are and want to be.
And like the picture shows, it's good not to take yourself too seriously.
(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
Editor’s note: This originally appeared on Andy Blumenthal’s blog, The Total CIO.