Note: Ben, Jonnie, Duncan and Dave started "The Buried Life" in their parents' garage in 2006. They made a list of "100 things to do before you die" and for every list item they accomplished, they helped a stranger do something on their list. Since then, they've crossed off "Make a TV Show (MTV)," "Write a No.1 NYT Bestselling Book," "Play Ball with Obama and have encouraged millions to believe that anyone can do anything.
After nine years my friends and I have made a habit of accomplishing our dreams. I wish I could say that there's something special about the four of us, but the truth is, there's not. Along the way people started asking us for advice on how to cross things off their list and we chuckled at the thought of ever dolling out advice. Years later, when we took a closer look at our failures and successes, we noticed some patterns. There seemed to be a method to our madness, we were tackling each and every list item the same way. For us, crossing off any bucket list item comes down to these six steps:
1. Stop and Think About It
Think about what you really want. Forget what you think you should do or what others say you should do. What excites you? What feels impossible? Be honest with yourself. Your answers don't need to make an impression on anyone but you. If people think you're crazy, that's a good thing. If you're scared, even better.
2. Write It Down
Simply put, it's not real until you write it down. By that I mean, take your dream and turn it into a project. Dreams have a funny way of staying dreams. But a project is something that needs to be done. Approach it as you would any other item on your daily or weekly to-do list. When you have a deadline, you find a way to get it done. Treat your dreams the same way. Add it to your list. You need to buy toilet paper. You need to spend the weekend in Paris with someone you love. When you write it down, you've taken the first step.
3. Talk About It
If you don't talk about your list, no one can help you. Tell everyone you know. Tell your parents' friends. Tell new people you meet. Talk to your cab driver. Talk to your boss. You never know who's friend of a friend might be able to help you. And don't just talk about it, talk about it passionately. Enthusiasm is infectious and people want to help when given the chance. Help will show up in the most unexpected places.
4. Be Persistent
Most people give up just before they reach their goal. You're going to hear "no" much more than "yes," but we've come to realize that "no" sometimes means "not now." Be creative in your persistence. Don't piss people off by nagging them -- think of innovative and clever ways to grab their attention. Be different, and never say die. The simple truth is people fail because they stop trying.
5. Be Audacious
The majority of people don't go after their wildest dreams because they think they're unrealistic. Tim Ferriss says it well, "Ninety-nine percent of people believe they can't do great things so they aim for mediocrity." This means the level of competition is highest for realistic goals, therefore you have a better chance of achieving unrealistic goals because there is less competition ;)
In addition, big goals motivate you and draw other likeminded individuals to you. Once you feel the first high of accomplishing something major and seemingly unattainable, you want to go bigger because you begin to realize that you can.
6. Help Others
Not just because it fills you in a way that doing things for yourself does not but because it comes back to you. When people see you making a difference in the world they are more inclined to help you.
We've crossed off many list items over the years but the moments that stand out the most are the ones when we've been able to step into someone's life and share something with them. Be nice to the people around you because you never know when you might need their help. If you're feeling lost or depressed, you might find what you're looking for in someone else. The film Into the Wild says it best, "Happiness is only real when it's shared."
Your dreams are closer than they appear. There's nothing that makes us more able than anyone else to accomplish our goals, we just decided to go after them. George Elliot said, "It's never too late to be what you might have been."
Here's a recent TEDx talk where I give real world examples to reinforce each of these lessons. I hope it helps.
I'll leave you with the question that's changed the path of my life: What do you want to do before you die? Don't wait. Why not start now? Post your answers in the comments below.
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