Playing B-Ball with Obama: 6 Steps to Crossing Anything Off Your Bucket List

Let us start with a quote, often misattributed to Goethe:

“Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

– William Hutchinson Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951)

If you want a lesson in boldness, and to cross things off of your bucket list, there is no better teacher than Ben Nemtin.

His story, and that of the entire Buried Life team, is amazing.

It started with a list of 100 things and a planned two-week roadtrip. Along the way, Ben has somehow managed to play basketball with Obama, throw the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game, delivery a baby (not his), make the biggest roulette spin in Vegas’ history, and much more.

Most recently, they crossed off #19: Write a bestselling book. Their debut, What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?, just hit #1 on The New York Times, which will be announced officially April 15th. To celebrate? They’re sending a copy of the book into space.

It all seems unbelievable, which is exactly why I love this guest post from Ben.

This original content covers his 6 steps for crossing anything off of your personal bucket list. There is a method. Everyone needs a kick in the ass sometimes, and this did it for me.

Enter Ben

If there’s one thing I’m proud of, it’s being able to tell good stories.

Not because I’m a particularly good storyteller, but because I’ve been able to accumulate some amazing experiences in the last 5 and a half years.

It was 2006 when I first hit the road with my next-door neighbor, his younger brother, and a kid I knew from high school to accomplish a list we had created of 100 things to do before we died. We made a promise that for every item we crossed off, we’d help a total stranger do something they wanted to do before they died. To date, we’ve accomplished 81 items on our list and helped over 81 people.

In addition to those Tim mentioned in the intro, and among others, I’ve made a TV show, crashed the Playboy Mansion, streaked a stadium, been on Oprah, reunited a father and son after 17 years, made a $300,000 donation to charity, helped a girl find her mother’s grave for the first time, and am trying to help a college freshman find a new kidney (Need your help on this one: info here)…

Remember: 5 and a half years ago, I couldn’t tell any of these stories.

Our mission was supposed to be a two-week road trip. The four of us never expected it to be much more, and we certainly didn’t expect to be living it five years later. In the beginning, we didn’t tell our friends what we were doing because we didn’t know how to explain it. What we shared was really just a feeling: we were fed up and wanted something different. We decided to move forward without a real plan. A mechanic told us that the RV we’d borrowed wasn’t going to make it home; I had fabricated a wedding to get time off of work; and we pretended we owned a production company to raise money for a camera and gas for the RV. The only thing we knew for sure was that we would be taking two weeks off before going back to college. The plan: to try and accomplish as many items on our list as possible and help some people. We didn’t have a name for the project until Jonnie was assigned a poem in English 102 called “The Buried Life.” It was written 150 years ago but spoke to the same feeling we were having at the time: the desire to unbury our lives and do the things that were important to us, not what was expected of us. There were four lines that stood out from the rest:

But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,

But often, in the din of strife,

There rises an unspeakable desire

After the knowledge of our buried life;

When I think back to this time now, I remember sitting on the curb beside our RV the night before we were supposed to leave. We were arguing about whether or not to cancel the trip, because if the camper broke down, we didn’t have enough money to tow it home. Five years later, I guess it’s safe to say we’ve gotten pretty good at accomplishing our dreams. I’d like to say that there’s something unique about us that makes us able to do these things, but the truth is the opposite. There is a formula and it’s simple.

The more items we cross off our list, the more we become convinced that anyone can do anything. The formula comes down to these six steps:

#1. Stop and think about it. Really think about it.

What is it that you really want to do with your life? Start a business? Reconnect with an old friend? Dive to the bottom of the ocean? Smoke a cigar with Castro? Forget what you think 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.

For many people, the four members of The Buried Life included, the impetus to make a life change only comes with crisis. The summer before we started The Buried Life, I was struggling with depression; Dave was struggling with his weight; Duncan had recently lost a close friend; and Jonnie was just plain angry and disillusioned with our generation (“No one protests anymore,” he used to say). The four of us were so beaten down that we had no choice but to reevaluate what was important to us. Our project grew out of that frustration. Sometimes it takes a debilitating low or a crushing loss to snap you back to reality, but don’t wait for it. Ferris Bueller put it well: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

#2. Write it down.

Simply put, it’s not real until you write it down. And 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— a presentation, a grocery list, a birthday gift you need to buy for someone–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.

When we first started the project, we put things on the list almost as a joke. We didn’t think about whether they could actually happen; we just pretended that anything was possible. “#53: Make a TV Show” was a dream we’d shared since we were young. We had no filmmaking background and no connections in the business. And we lived on an island in Canada. We decided MTV in the States would be the place to have a show because it was the biggest and best platform we knew of for reaching people like us. So we wrote it down. And then we started filming it, because that was just the next logical step. Every step led to the next. Four years later, we were executive producers and creators of our own show on MTV.

#3. Talk about it.

Everyone knows someone who knows someone who knows someone.

After you’ve come up with your list and written it down, start talking. Tell everyone you know. Tell your parents’ friends. Tell new people you meet. Talk to your cabdriver. Talk to your boss. You never know whose uncle’s wife may be able to help you. And don’t just talk about it, but talk about it passionately. Enthusiasm is infectious, and people want to help when given the chance. Help can show up in the most unusual places, oftentimes the least expected ones.

We didn’t come from money. We had an idea, we talked about it, and people showed up in incredible ways help us. Our first lawyer was our parent’s friend who had heard about what we were doing and offered to lend a hand; our first manager was my godmother; I met my first Hollywood contact while traveling in Mexico; we cold-called local companies in our hometown to raise money for our first tour. Help often came in strange places. In 2007 we were able to finagle a five-minute meeting with Jann Wenner, legendary founder of Rolling Stone magazine, in order to discuss what it would take to cross #15 off our list, “Get on the Cover of Rolling Stone.” The five-minute meeting turned into a 45-minute meeting (after Jann threatened to kick us out and asked his assistant for a knife), during which time we talked about everything from protests to Bob Dylan to the difference between our two generations. We told him about some of our most ambitious dreams, including “#19: Write a Bestselling Book.” Jann was later instrumental in helping us get our book published—introducing us to a company where we met the smartest, most talented, best-looking book editor alive (hi Lia), who eventually offered us a deal.

#4. Be persistent.

Most people give up just before they reach their goal. We all hear “No,” a lot, but we’ve come to realize that “No” usually just 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.

Last year, we broke into the Playboy Mansion. We rented a giant stripper cake and decorated it like it was for the Willy Wonka–themed party. Two of us dressed up like Oompa-Loompas and hid in the bottom of the cake, which was then delivered to the back door of the Playboy Mansion in a rented delivery truck. Security saw our homemade Playboy logo on the cake and allowed it to pass through the gates. After waiting inside the cake for six long hours (peeing in bottles and filming in night-vision), we hatched out unnoticed and partied at the Mansion all night with free rein. Security assumed we were just very rowdy employees.

Playboy had no idea we had been in and out, or that we had filmed our first episode. But when we went back a month later to ask for permission to air, they said, “If you air the episode, we’ll sue you and have you charged with breaking and entering.” We got ahold of the company’s vice president, and he echoed that sentiment. MTV told us to move on and film another episode. Our production company said there was nothing we could do. In a last ditch effort we decided to send Hugh Hefner a handwritten letter along with the rough cut of the episode. A week later, we received this response from Mr. Hefner himself: “You can air the episode. Just know I’m not very pleased with you boys.” I always thought that crashing the Playboy Mansion was my dream, but getting scolded by Hugh Hefner was way better.

#5. Be ballsy.

The majority of people don’t go after their wildest dreams because they think they’re unrealistic. Tim says it well: “Ninety-nine percent of people believe they can’t do great things, so they aim for mediocrity.” The level of competition is highest for realistic goals because most people don’t set high enough goals for themselves. But not only do you statistically have a better chance of achieving what may seem like an unrealistic goal, doing so fuels you. Once you feel the first high of accomplishing something major and seemingly unattainable, you want to go bigger and badder, and you force yourself to fulfill the need all the more. Even better, the technically smaller goals suddenly seem less daunting.

We put “#95: Play Ball with the President” on the list because it was literally the most unattainable goal we could think of. I remember Jonnie called me from his dorm room in Montreal in 2008 right after Barack Obama had been elected and Jonnie said, “We should add ‘Play Ball with Obama’ to the list.” I chuckled because it was so absurd and agreed. I found it humorous not only because the idea was so outrageous but also because I knew Jonnie was calling me from his “room,” a tiny space he was renting for $200 a month, which he shared with a washer and dryer. Of all people, we weren’t the best candidates for a pick up game with the leader of the Free World. Nonetheless, two years later we found ourselves shooting hoops with the President in the backyard of the White House. It’s a long, complicated story, and I don’t want to bore you with the details, but this is the kind of thing that the four of us chuckle about sometimes. It’s as if we have horseshoes up our butts, but it’s also happened too many times to be luck. When you dream big, you surprise yourself.

[TIM: I prodded Ben for the details about Obama, and it’s anything but boring. Here’s how it happened. First off, Obama only plays when Reggie Love is on the court. Reggie Love is the President’s “body man” or, more formally, “special assistant and personal aide,” and this b-ball detail made Reggie the man to look for. The gents called everyone they could think of (senators, legislators, etc.) who could e-mail or otherwise contact Reggie. He ultimately liked the idea, but, when passed up the flagpole, it was vetoed by the White House press team. The Buried Life had to end the “Obama” episode on a disappointing “To Be Continued…” Then, the crazy part: The President is up late one night, flips on the TV and randomly sees the end of the episode. Soon thereafter, someone approached Reggie at the White House: “POTUS is pissed.” When Reggie asks POTUS what’s wrong, he replies: “Why haven’t I played basketball with The Buried Life guys?” Reggie explains that he ran it through the press team and they refused, to which Obama replies, “Let’s make it happen.” The next time the boys are in DC, Reggie invites them to check out the White House courts. While casually shooting around, the President strolls up and surprises all of them. After 20 minutes of hoops together, they ask the President, “What do you want to do before you die?” The answer? “Be an anchor on SportsCenter for a day.”]

#6. Help others.

We’ve crossed off more than 80 list items over the last six 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 real with them. I’ve been surprised by how little it takes to impact someone’s life. Something as simple as asking the question, “What do you want to do before you die?” and taking the time to listen is often all it takes. If you’re feeling lost or depressed, you might find what you’re looking for in someone else. Into the Wild said it best: “Happiness is only real when it’s shared.”

The first person we ever helped was a guy named Brent. He wrote to us in broken English saying his biggest dream was to bring pizzas down to the nearby homeless shelter. Brent had himself spent three years living in that shelter and remembered fondly the days people brought in food because those were the times it felt like someone gave a damn. When we talked with Brent in person, we learned that what he really needed was a truck. He had pulled himself out of the shelter by starting a business that relied on his truck, but it had just broken down. We knew we needed to help him find a new vehicle, but we didn’t have the money ourselves. This is the very first video we ever made, trying to track down a truck for Brent.

#7. Your Turn.

Your dreams are closer than they appear. There’s nothing about us four guys that makes us more able than anyone else to accomplish our goals, other than the simple fact that we’ve decided to go after them. George Elliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” Don’t wait. Why not start now? Post one thing you want to do before you die in the comments below.

The Buried Life is a community of 1,286,399 people answering the question: “What do you want to do before you die?”

How will you answer it?


Odds and Ends:

Tim Ferris TED profile – “Smash Fear, Learn Anything” If you have fears holding you back, as I did with swimming and language learning, this might be just what the doctor ordered.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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492 Replies to “Playing B-Ball with Obama: 6 Steps to Crossing Anything Off Your Bucket List”

  1. Hey guys and Tim.

    Congrats. Been following your story since I heard about it a few years back, and it inspired me to create my own epic quest of things to accomplish.

    Congrats on the book launch, looking forward to reading it when I come back into the states.

    Keep kickin ass,


    1. Not at all a surprise to me that I see the founder of Nerd Fitness on here. Steve, you do great work as well and like Ben and his crew, you’re a daily inspiration to a lot of us. Keep doing what you do as well – traveling, writing, encouraging a life of fitness, fun, and adventure.

      1. TBL inspired me back in 2010 during my Freshman year of college and a decade later I’m now finally putting the lesson into action!

        Right as the pandemic hit earlier this year, I found myself in the darkest depths I had ever been – my mother suffered a cardiac arrest during back surgery and was not expected to ever fully recover, a month later my girlfriend and I broke up, two weeks later I was laid off from my job and I had just purchased my first property… learning what it really means to have a mortgage the hard way. With my mind wandering to unchartered lows and gloom, I recognized that I needed to find hope/inspiration to get myself out, quickly. So, I jotted down a list of everything I want to do before I die, and then I narrowed it down to the 52 items (decided on that number because there are 52 weeks in a year) that excited me the most. #28 is “Grab a beer with the guys from The Buried Life” 🙂

        As of Sept 2020 I’ve officially embarked on my year-long journey to try and finish that list! I’m nervous, anxious, excited, and optimistic. I came across this post because I was searching for inspiration – Thank you to Tim Ferris, TBL guys, and everyone in the comments for fueling my fire!

        If anyone reading this is at all interested in seeing the rest of my list, I would be happy to share it with you! (per Step #3 above) And if you think you might be able to help me cross of #28 on my list, please reach out!

  2. Step 1 is the hardest part. I don’t think I’m a one ‘thing’ type of guy, I have a lot of interests and the idea of focusing on one thing for an extended period, making a life/career/speciality out of only one, I dunno, not too keen. I prefer being a ‘generalist’. 🙂

    1. I used to feel like that too. There’s a book I read once called Refuse to choose (I found this by searching what to do when you want to do everything on google). Its all about how to organize your desire to do everything into actually DOING something. It was great for me.

      1. Thanks for the tip Angela, I looked into the book and am going to order it!



      2. I second the book Refuse to Choose. In fact, it’s been a while since I read it and I’m inspired to retread it after seeing your post.

      3. Great book, I have always felt that a lifetime isn’t nearly long enough to pursue all my interests and make use of all my talents.

    2. I can see where you’re coming from because I was like that as well. I think it’s important to focus on one thing so that you can actually ‘focus’. Spreading yourself too thin will most likely turn the numerous ideas into dreams while focusing on one at a time will allow you to keep checking off feats on your list.

  3. Amazing guest post, The Buried Life guys are truly inspiring.

    Before I die? Stop being an App Developer on salary and start designing my own games and applications. “Not having the time” is can’t always be the excuse.

  4. Great post, great story.

    Always inspiring. To echo #6, I wish that one day I could help TBL crew cross something off of someone else’s list.

    Until then, I’m working towards my dreams. And content like this certainly helps.

    Appreciate it TBL and Tim.


  5. Super inspirational guys! So Ive gotten a back seat ride in an F-16 (8.6 Gs) and didmt puke but I’ve never actually jumped out of an airplane before. And Ive only been indoor skydiving once, BUT squirrel suit/wingsuit skydiving in Peru is numero uno on my bucket list, how can we make that happen???! Anyone else with me here? 🙂

    Keep doing what you’re doing guys and make your dreams come true!

    1. I recently jumped out of a plane with the Vegas Extreme Skydiving guys. It was incredible. One of the instructors there is a world expert in exactly what you want to do. He was a really friendly guy. I think you have to make quite a commitment in time before you can do wing suit jumps but why not contact him to talk about it as he was really friendly. I have forgotten his name but I’m sure if you call them they will be able to put you in contact with him.

      Good luck!

  6. I want to start my own business in Chicago – it’s an app for runners & I want to be a woman in the tech buz! (Such a male-dominant field.)

    It’s gonna happen before I die – hopefully within the next year!

    1. Hi Jenna, a web designer/developer contact of mine from Norwich, UK, called Keri Lambden has set up a project called Web Heroines which is ‘on a mission to inspire and engage more women with design and technology and increase the number of women working in the field’.

      Tim – great post and to answer the question by The Buried Life guys, top on my list is to head into space on a Virgin Galactic!

  7. Great article guys! Very inspiring. I’ve crossed a few things off my own list, but this just gave me a much needed kick to think bigger and keep going. Thank you so much for the continued motivation Tim and Ben!

  8. i have quite a few things i want to accomplish before i die but one that comes to mind right now :

    Have Tea on a mist covered mountain with a monk and sit in complete silence…

  9. Oh man, awesome. I’m constantly looking for inspiring tv shows and movies. What’s funny is that MTV would be the last place I’d look for some reason. I’m glad I’ve been shown I made a bad a bad assumption. I can’t wait to watch the entire series. Streaming from Netflix. Yes!

  10. I do have quite a list, to which I need to add far out and “silly” things, but the goal nearer in time and dear to my heart is to build out my network of sites and replace my husband’s income.

    Good article, guys. Thanks!

    1. Good luck Sarah. I am in the process of building a replacement income to. Lots of technical challenges, I know, so I just wanted to offer you some encouragement 🙂

  11. Wow, that’s probably a top three post for me. We get loost in our lives and limitations. It’s why I love your blog. You remind us how much further we can go.

    1. Hi Rachel!

      This past June I spent a month with sick and injured elephants in Thailand (got to bathe them too!). Riding elephants is actually part of a nasty tourism battle in Thailand where elephants are being beat in order for them to succumb to letting tourists ride their backs all day.

      Check out the Elephant Nature Park at

      I got to prepare food, feed them, and just enjoy watching uncaged elephants acting like natural elephants do. Plus the staff and food is incredible!!

  12. GREAT read!

    Have always been a big pro wrestling fan( Yes I know it’s “scripted”!) & have always wanted to do 2 related things:

    1. Have lunch with Vince McMahon

    2. Get to walk down the ramp and have my own entrance complete with pyro and music.

    1. @Kevin Mendel

      I am training at The Second City in Chicago, and David Otunga was in my class last term. He didn’t give out his personal contact info (can’t blame him), but if it’d help you at all, I’d be happy to try to get in contact with him. Just let me know 🙂 For what it’s worth, he’s a really nice guy!

      My number one priority (which I’m taking a short break from right now) is to write and sell a TV script, and see it produced.

    1. Hey Marc, check out rawfor30days (dot) com, I am a believer that it’s possible! I’ve personally had incredible success stabilizing my blood sugars (I’m prediabetic) with Green Smmothies & a good diet. Also you may enjoy rawfamily (dot) com. Hope this helps!

      **raises a glass of green Smoothie** Cheers!!! ~ K

    2. Hey Marc, There is clinical evidence that a direct correlation exists between sleep disorders and type 2 diabetes. While we cannot say for sure the sleep disorder caused the diabetes it is a distinct possibility. Sleep disorders go undiagnosed more then 60% of the time. They are normally treatable. Everyone with type 2 diabetes should have a sleep test.

      Curing type 1 will be a bit more challenging but I wish you luck.

      I enjoy statistics and reading clinical studies I hope to someday help to find a cure and solve the mystery behind a disease.

    3. Diabetis thing- did you hear about Gerson diet? or raw fat vegan diet? i also heard about one German lady that was successfully curing diabetes, she used protein (cottage or white cheese with omega-3 fats + eating raw food)

    4. Marc,

      If this is type 2 diabetes, it is now one of the most reversible conditions we know of thanks to all of the latest research in nutrition. The following are all resources that you should find very valuable (I have no affiliation with any of this links but this information is not something you should be without):

      1) Robb Wolf: Author of “The Paleo Solution” who has helped many people reverse their diabetes through diet alone.

      2) Mark Sisson. A former ultra-marathor and author of “The Primal Blueprint” who also runs a website dedicated to helping people reverse things like diabetes through nutrition.

      3) Dave Asprey: A Silicon-Valley entrepreneur who was diagnosed as pre-diabetic and was also very obese before using nutrition to reverse all of his symptoms:

      Best of luck,


  13. 1) Become a citizen of multiple countries (without changing my religion)including the Eastern Band of the Cerokees. 2) Set up tiny houses on properties in the several countries (a global system of private bases for my family to operate from). 3) Be financially independent and travel the world with my family for years to come.

    1. A variation of your second goal is on my list too. Currently I’ve been only thinking about this in the states, but you’ve nspired me to think globally. My thought has been to eventually buy a set of properties with garage apartments, live in the garage apartments, and rent out the main place to pay for the mortgage.

  14. Cool stuff! Very inspiring.

    My #1 is to start my blog and set up a business. Will be up and running in May 🙂

  15. Really enjoyed this post!! One thing I want to do is become a diabetes educator and teach my own classes independent of any organization. A lot of people just have no clue about the actual disease process and most current research is totally inaccurate. Got my BSN so just need certification and people willing to learn. Wish me luck!

  16. What an inspiring and remarkable post. I’m currently a freshman in college and needless to say, nothing can put a damper on chasing your dreams better than college classes. Fortunately, I’m lucky enough to have read Tim’s book “4 Hour Work Week,” and I have a couple of muses currently in progress. I want to thank you Tim for telling me I can, when so many have said I can’t. Since your book I’ve sat in on a meeting with the CEO of a multimillion consulting company, played golf with a movie star, and have turned myself into a scratch golfer. I’m sure you get this all the time, but thank you so much. In the future my plans are so much wider and scope in terms of generosity and change. My biggest inspiration is “Abundance” by Peter Diamandis. Thanks to the base you helped build, I’m on my way.

    There are many many things I’m going to cross of my bucket list. I know it will happen with time. What I need now is something to inspire me. As I’ve done many of the things I mentioned above, I was never quite happy. Until recently, I had no idea what it was.

    Then, it hit me. I loved. I lost her.

    A lot of things have happened between us, good and bad. We’ve lost touch but I know there’s a chance for us. If I lose her, I’ll never feel like I’m able to fully be the man I want to be. To get her back I want to do something for her that inspires her the way you all have inspired me. Maybe a personal video from you, telling her how I feel and to go out and shoot for the moon and aim for the stars. I don’t know. I want your guys advice.

    Your creativity, ballsyness (if that’s a word) and generosity are truly remarkable. How can I get this girl back and reach the potential I see for myself? Anything you can do would be sick. Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s people like you, who will solve our world’s most pressing problems, I’m sure of it. Of which Love, i believe, is something losing its appeal to people. It shouldn’t because for most people, and to quote Lil Wayne on this one, they need that motivation.

  17. This is an awesome post! Two things that I have a burning desire to do before I die is Run a successful Freedom business AND be a club DJ in Chicago. I currently don’t know how to dj 🙂

    1. If u were in the Bay Area…I’d show u how to DJ!!! Find a DJ in your area and ask him/her to show you…we all love to teach LOL

  18. Fellas…this is simply mindblowing! We love how you just go all jedi and it just happens for you!

    Congrats on the book and the success of your TV show! Thanks Tim for bringing this story to light, truly inspiring.

  19. What an amazing inspiring story. Reminds me of that Thoreau line that ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.’ Bravo Ben, Dave, Duncan and Jonnie.

  20. Thanks for the story Tim. Very inspiring. Any places you would recommend visiting in Cartegena or Medellin Colombia? Heading down there at the end of the month.

  21. Awesome read! This will blog post will inspire thousands more to dream and achieve their dreams.

    My top bucket list item at the moment:

    Interview Tim Ferriss – I will keep e-mailing Amy for now 🙂

    Tim if you read this, ask Amy to forward my e-mail to you. You will find it interesting 🙂

  22. I am extremely gifted intellectually, and lately I’ve been gaining a fuller understanding of the detrimental impact this has had on my happiness. I think I’ve been trying to fit in and dumbing myself down for so long that I have no idea what I’d really want to do. I had a very strong need for sex that took priority over mental pursuits, and I devoted much attention to keeping myself model-gorgeous so I could have my pick of partners, but inevitably I found myself involved with men who weren’t anywhere near as smart as me, and I am just now realizing how unfulfilling and frustrating these have been. The mental mismatch was just part of it – emotionally and spiritually I have just been a lot deeper too. Now I’m on a medication that has taken away my desire for sex, and I’m just beginning to consider what I could do with my life now that I don’t have to feed that beast. Maybe an advanced degree in math. I’ve held jobs that others would consider very challenging mentally, but they just haven’t been that interesting to me after the initial learning period. People stop being interesting too. It’s a problem.

    1. Does this remind anyone else of the Seinfeld episode where George stops obsessing about sex and becomes super-intelligent?

  23. Phenomenal and very inspirational post. Thanks Ben (and thank you Tim for sharing). Definitely buying the book.

    #3 (Talk about it) is an eye-opener. #5 (Be ballsy) is so true.

    I don’t think I’ve really thought about what’s the one thing I’d like to do before I die, but here’s one off the top of my head:

    Become the kind of person who at least one other person would add “Play ball with him” on their own bucket list 🙂

  24. Start a hedge fund. I’d like to sit on an exotic island all day managing money and live the good life playing the markets.

    Tim’s book 4HWW was the start to a radical change in my life that I am forever grateful for. I’ve accomplished many of my goals, which keep getting bigger and make for an excellent and exciting life.

    Thanks Tim, you’re the man.

    1. I have a copy that I share with all the Couch Surfers who stay with me. It’s dog eared and highlighted every where!

  25. Heal someone.

    Give someone the shirt off my back – literally.

    Run onto the field with a professional rugby team – preferably Ulster (N. Ireland)

    1. I’ve given my shirt to someone in need before, funny how something so simple can be so rewarding.

      – I’d suggest a massive rave for an eye opening experience 😉

  26. Awesome.

    There is a bizarre power of writing down goals that seem absurd. When I was broke, unemployed and 24, I wrote down five things to accomplish before I was 30. At the time they seemed absurd (be fluent in five languages, visit over 40 countries, etc.) I’m 28 now and I’ve crossed three of the five off the list and am on pace to nail the other two. I had never heard of the Buried Life guys, but they’re speaking to my heart big-time here.


    1. Mark,

      Avid reader of your site. Nice to see you on here too. You help just as many people as these guys, I for one sincerely appreciate it.


  27. Hey Buried Life Crew,

    Congrats on the book launch. My roomate and I went to see you at CMU and he is currently in possession of a onesie. Looking forward to seeing you all continue to grow and cheers to getting the most out of life!


    I’m on a mini retirement in Europe post-graduation and your stuff has been a huge inspiration.

    As for the question: I would like to build a community of people focused on living the life they want and help others facilitate those dreams.

    To all, keep on being who you are and encouraging others to do the same!

  28. 1. Fly into space with Richard Branson

    2. Speak in front of 100,000 people

    3. Build a multi-million dollar business from scratch

    4. Start a national scholarship fund for high school wrestlers

    5. Create a work of art and display in at Musée du Louvre

    “Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity.” -Robert Greene

    Incredible article.

  29. “What do you want to do before you die?”

    Oh so many things, but top of the list is:

    Star in many major motion picture films!

    (Especially ones where I get to kick ass!)


  30. Tim, Buried Life guys,

    You guys are such a huge source of motivation and inspiration to me. I have a bucket list I started a couple months ago, but there is one item still in my mind that I haven’t been able to write down. Growing up I lived with my mother. We lived off her very low income and credit cards. There might not have been lots of stuff or fancy food in the house, but there was plenty of laughter. My dream when I was very little was to have a brother or sister. When I was around 6 or 7 years old my mother got pregnant. She didn’t tell me but I was smart and somehow I found out. I also found out a little later that she chose to abort the pregnancy because she did not feel she could support the two of us. Ever since then my heart has been broken. I feel like it’s my duty to live twice the life I normally would have; to honor my sibling. That’s why # 17 for me is to help an expectant mother choose life. I am not spending time protesting outside of clinics or anything…I don’t like that, but I feel that if I hold this in my heart then God will find a way to put an opportunity in front of me.

    Thanks for the inspiration guys, good luck to us all…


  31. Working on a couple of trips. One is to travel to Lhasa, Tibet and trek up to the first level Mt. Everest base camp. The other is to ride the trans siberian railway as part of an around the world compact tour. Both i know can be done pretty easily, but its amazing how life gets in the way. And its not the money, its the breakaway in time.

    1. Allen – Here’s my learn to surf story. I hope it helps to inspire:

      I moved to California and “dreamed” about learning to surf but never took action. I kicked the can down the road for four years with maybe 6 feeble attempts to learn. Enter the catalyst: My wife became pregnant with my first son. I deeply internalized the commitment that was ahead and realized that It was now or never.

      Soon after I grabbed my 9′ 1″ long board that had become an ornament in my living room, waxed it up and drove down to the beach at day break. My plan was simple. I committed to put my board in the water every morning until I was riding waves. It took exactly two weeks. After this, popping up and steering the board came as natural as riding a bicycle. It’s 10 years later and it has become a father-son activity and is still my absolute favorite way to spend my free time.

      Give your self a deadline and commit. It will change your life.


  32. “We didn’t come from money.”

    Really? Really. I guess they “crashed” private school? Those boys come from money; I know their parents. Nothing to be ashamed of, but that statement is simply NOT TRUE.

  33. I want to start a business, but more importantly, write and release newsletters via email every week about music. From Wagnerian Opera to discussing Debussy’s use of motif and lack of melody. I’m only 17, but this would make me very excited.

  34. Before I die, I want to meet Tim Ferris and Joe Rogan in person. Preferably at the same time. Both have impacted my life in so many ways with their advice on how to unbury life and live it to its fullest.

  35. Hey guys first of all what an enormously inspiring post to read through. Im at a stage in my life where i’ve been running my own relatively successful business online. Things have been good but a couple of months back I was kinda depressed, simply because I really didnt feel content with the work I was doing and the routine I had

    I decided there and then to completely turn things round and day to day, more and more, im doing the stuff I enjoy e.g. Capoeira, Playing guitar, Learning about film making, etc

    And you know the crazy thing making more money in my business by spending less time on it, go figure!

    Oh and one thing I wanna do before I die ….settle down with an awesome woman and raise some kids 🙂

    Much love



  36. I am looking for 3 or 4 like minded individuals to complete our list together., contact me on my website. Dr Hankel you sound like the man to team up with. Contact me!

  37. I want to meet Tim Ferriss, shake his hand, and thank him for changing the way I look at the world and my potential to impact it.

  38. Agreed, one of the best posts Tim. Thank you so much guys…

    My list:

    Create, run, and sell a business.

    Free my family and 10 strangers from financial burdens – for life.

    Travel the world with my soon to be wife.

    Teach my kids through example how to live a free, creative, loving, and impactful life.

    I’m enjoying reading all of your lists!

    Thanks again,


  39. Amazing article, shared the word and inspiration with people closest to me.

    This is probably the single most important realization people need to come up to:

    “Simply put, it’s not real until you write it down. And 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.”

    Treat dreams and “ideas” as projects or proposals instead and its almost like a switch flips in your head that prompts you to take action!

    Again awesome article, will look into The Buried Life.



  40. Spend a week with my love in the most romantic beach resort in the world. Whatever it is, wherever it is.

  41. Tim, Pay attention to number 10

    1. Be debt free

    2. Get in “Cover Model” shape

    3. Spend 30 days traveling Europe

    4. Visit the ice hotel

    5. Visit Easter Island

    6. Raise 2 kids (at least)

    7. Run 3 self sustaining businesses Netting me at least $10k a month each in income with only 4 hours a week invested (total)

    8. Own a Condo in Portland’s Pearl District

    9. Own a beach front property in Pacific beach San Diego

    10. Have Lunch/Dinner with Tim Ferriss

    11. Own an Astin Martin DB9

    12. Get certified in a defensive driving/stunt driving course

    13. Get certified in Kettlebell training

    14. Get certified in Bikram Yoga

    15. Expertly drive a stick shift

    16. Learn CPR

    17. Visit Portugal

    18. Learn to drive a motorcycle

    19. Raise $100k for a charity (not sure which one yet)

    20. Run a marathon

    21. Visit the 6 good continents (Not a fan of Antartica)

    1. Ben, I’d personally settle for a snack, breakfast, brunch or really anything that’s been eaten on Fear Factor if it gave me some time with Tim. Lunch or dinner would be best though. 🙂

    2. I have done 10 .. sort of

      I met Tim at the RKC 2 Kettlebell instructor course. I climbed onto the bus in St Paul to take us to the course and no knowing anyone (I was over from New Zealand) sat next to this guy who then introduced himself as Tim …. I looked at him and then said the obvious … ” I’ve got your book” (4 Hour Work Week as before 4 Hour Body).

      All of our lunches were in a group setting in a room so I was technically having lunch with him, but sitting next to him on the bus must still be up there

      If I had known his next book was going to be so awesome I would have followed him around like a puppy

    3. Great post,Tim.I already am Iiving the life,but there is always room for improvement.These young guys are inspiring for a lot of people.Good job!

    4. Before I die I will

      1. See the northern lights.

      2. Live in Cape Town for a year

      3. Edit a hilarious movie

      4. Party in Vegas with a great friend

  42. Awesome post! Makes me want to write down that list!

    One thing… let’s see. I want to draw a comic that rocks the world!

  43. My goal: to look behind the surface of “green,” at the ways in which a human life actually gets richer and happier when it is lived as the part of this world it really is, in order to bring the entrepreneurial, experimental, can-do attitude of those who want to “lifestyle design” into the world of sustainability, and open up the world of opportunity that lies beyond “eco.”

    So, just to change the world for better, because we might all be scrambling for enough to eat and survive extreme weather if things go on as they have been – but there’s no end to the adventure if we finally take on the challenges of really better living.

    Loved the article/audacity, especially in its combination of personal goals and altruism!

  44. Incredible post Tim.

    Dreams do come true, and after reading “The 4-Hour Workweek” for the first time, it felt like I could do anything. I wanted to create a viral commercial at some point, and right after graduating college an opportunity came up that allowed me to do that. Using your principles on productivity, a a best in self esteem from reading your book, a small team and myself created a spec commercial for duck tape that accomplished what I set out to do!

    “Happiness is only real when it’s shared,” and I’m happiest when I’m telling stories to people — my stories. Before I die I’m going to write (check), and direct a sci-fi stop-motion feature film. Woo!

  45. I am not a dreamer. I have had to equate dreaming with irresponsibility. #1… undo the damage that has caused that lie to take root. #2… Wake up! #3…Start living. #4… Laugh more. Thanks for the inspiring article:-)

  46. Now that my time in the army is over, I want to be a best selling writer. I’ve started my little blog thingy and I have a kickstarter project going that I’m pretty sure is going to miss the mark and not get funded. But whatever, I’ll just try again or do the project differently. I’m going to make it happen, by hook or by crook. It just takes time and persistence. Ben, you guys keep rocking it. Tim, you too. Thanks for what you guys do. It shows people like me that it really is possible.

  47. The “7 steps” look like the modern edition of Napoleon Hill’s philosophy and yes, they work!

    About “be ballsy”, I like the quotation “people always overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in five.”

    This means that most of people will give up too soon because “It didnt work out.”

    However, if you are persistent enough everything becomes possible! Thank you for remember it to me again ; – )

  48. Very inspiring post Tim, thanks for sharing. First I’ve heard of the buried life and can’t wait to read more.

    After having moved to Chicago from Maine last summer, it’s been a rough go. But through the community I’ve found here, I’m well on my way. I have a poster of 25 things I want to do this year, and making good traction on all of them already. It keeps me going and helps me see everyday the things I want to do; they’re all there for a reason.

    One thing that isn’t on my list for this year, that’s more of an overall life goal, is to never stop learning and then giving back that knowledge. Sharing your more precious idea or skill with another person will always have greater returns than are immediately evident.

    Thanks for the inspiration, maybe we’ll cross paths soon!

  49. One thing: Kite surf all the surfable beaches in the world.

    (I’m slightly terrified of open water that doesn’t have a barrier reef, moving on water and running the risk of wiping out and slamming my face into theater, and never kite surfed ever. So just thinking about doing it gets me really excited)

    One thing that WILL happen Jan 2013: 10k run from the gates of Mt. Longonot reserve, up the (extinct) volcano, around the crater and back to the gate.

    I’ve already got the wheels in motion, I’ve quit my job (my mum is pissed off at me). If i stayed there any longer, I’d be on anti-depressants *again*. I know when my mind and body aren’t happy. Starting other things to make the beginning of a long evolving list going from today till I’m done! 🙂

  50. Lose weight for good, (aiming for 100lbs). I’ve finished with my fluctuating weight and unleash my healthy, vibrant self and help others be their healthiest. I believe healthy people create kinder, more productive nations and we can see more people like you guys making their dreams real and helping others. I love your message and your commitment and focus!!

  51. God, I love this! I believe in the power of intention – that when you believe in a goal and can already feel what achieving will feel like {joy! amazement! pride!}, the universe conspires in your favor to help push your dreams forward. Incredible “coincidences” happen, like Obama seeing your show. Clearly, you’re working from a place of joy – thanks for inspiring all of us to do the same.

  52. Really inspiring story right when I needed it!

    Travel for a while and get out of my comfort zone. Meet and help wonderful people on the journey.

    Def a new book to read on my list 🙂

  53. Awesome post! I’ve seen this happen in my own life a couple of times and this post hits the nail on the head. Here’s my current big dreams list:

    1) Build an iPhone game that hits number 1 in the app store

    2) Get launched into space on the new sub-orbital tourist flights about to be offered from Virgin Galactic

    3) Spend an entire year showing my kids the world.

  54. Beautiful guest post and so true!

    I’m been soon 6 months that my girlfriend and me, create a blog about crossing things off your bucket list and encouraging people to do so. But no way we can come to such a precise, inspiring and effective manual of how to do it.

    So to answer the question; “What do you want to do before you die?”

    Just complete and add more things to my bucket list. It’s just so much fun to do it.

  55. Motorcycle ride across China

    Tour through North Africa

    Sail solo across the atlantic

    Make a billion dollars

    Have a cocktail party in Antarctica with everyone I admire

  56. Looks like a neat book – just ordered a copy. I have to say, though, that 4HWW is what originally grabbed my by the shoulders, shook me, and reminded me that time is not unlimited.

    Since then I managed to quit my job, build a successful business, move from Southern Illinois to Northern California, play with otters, hang glide, get in the water and play with a beluga whale, take a contortion class, charter a yacht, learn flying trapeze, play the accordion, attend clown camp, and a bunch of other cool stuff that’s too long to mention – and there’s always more on the horizon. Life and work take on a totally different meaning when you routinely make progress towards things that are important to you. Hopefully, this book will help even more people take the first step in that direction.

  57. Bobby, I’m adding ‘travel the world with my future child’ to my list!

    At the moment my dreams (soon to be realities) are:

    Start my own business (almost there).

    Become a filmmaker with my own production company.

    Be happy (already achieved that!)

    Rebecca 🙂

  58. The biggest item on my list right now is go to Africa and work in an orphanage. I have a plane ticket dated May 24, 2012, now I just need $500 more dollars to have a place to stay and food to eat! It is going to happen somehow. The universe conspires to help us when we’re brave and doing what we love!

  59. Very inspiring. Reminds me that one of the biggest things limiting our accomplishments are often our own thoughts. Define it. Shake it around. Go for it. Don’t stop.

    Looking back at the steps I’ve taken leading up to my latest project really makes me feel grateful. Once you realize your thoughts are the largest roadblock to success, happiness, etc. you switch tracks and things just fall into place.

  60. Great stuff, Tim….thanks for passing along both a great story and a practical guide to making stuff happen….completely consistent w/ your books, the life experiences you share, and exactly what I need today!

  61. 1. Meet the Dalai Lama

    2. Visit the Ganges

    3. Write a best-selling book

    4. Change someone’s life for the better, whether it be financially, spiritually, physically

    5. Own my farm and live completely off the land

    6. Make it to the Ellen Degeneres show

    7. Become a college professor

    8. Join the Peace Corps

    9. Work at the 2012 Summer Olympics

    “Like attracts like. Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright. Automatically, as we shine who we are, asking ourselves every minute is this what I really want to do, doing it only when we answer yes, automatically that turns away those who have nothing to learn from who we are and attracts those who do, and from whom we have to learn, as well.”–Richard Bach

  62. Wow, what an awesome group of guys and story! Do you think they added or crossed one off, saying guest post on the blog of Tim Ferriss? That’s definitely on my bucket list now!

    I think my bucket list will be 40 things I can do for 4 hours in 4 years!

  63. Thanks for posting this! It was exactly what I needed to read right now. Before I die, I would like to visit every country and experience one culturally unique thing for each.

    Also, I have a question about persistence. I liked how you mentioned not to nag, but to be creative in your approach. How do you decide the difference between going too far and chasing your dreams? I want to appear professional in my approach, especially when its related to business, but sometimes you need that extra oomph. How do you decide when to keep pushing or when to pull back?

  64. Awesome post, this is my list:

    Be a main actor in a big theatrical production.

    Be a main actor in a big film production.

  65. before I die I want to spend a day at Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory! I’m struggling but i’m going to stay optimistic!


    kate dauksas

  66. Big dreams:

    — publish my book (and a whole string of awesome books after that)

    — live in a beach house

    — give a fantastic talk at TED

    — move beyond unnecessary fear

    — make out with Tim Ferriss

    — returning the favor to people in the world who’ve enriched my life (like making Patrick Rothfuss laugh, writing a song to make Eddie Vedder smile, giving comfort to the Dalai Lama, those sorts of things)

    Great post.

  67. I’m so excited for the ways these guys consistently defy the odds, transcending every perception of limitation, but what most touches me is that for each item they accomplish, they help someone else accomplish one of theirs. That’s extraordinary. Outstanding Karma. Thank you for showing us how to do it. Wishing you the best in all of your future endeavors. I know you’ll have continued success by virtue of the way you approach life.

    Live Your Dreams,

    Jill Koenig

  68. Not many trailers, certainly not home-made jobs, create visceral responses, but when I saw yours, it was heart-shaking. It’s inspiring. It’s moving. It tells me that it’s okay not to listen to those who keep telling me to be realistic. That it’s okay to have big dreams, because it is entirely possible to make them happen. I haven’t heard about you guys before, but I’m looking forward to getting to know you and your journey.

    Thank you for bringing some “unrealistic” dreams to this world, and for showing the realists that reality is what we make it.

  69. I want to row with some female Olympic level rowers. It’s always been my dream to row at a higher level but my current location doesn’t have the best options.

  70. 1.) Shave my face with a whaling harpoon.

    This has been the number one item on my bucket list since I read Moby Dick back in high school. Queequeg is pretty much the most baller fictional character of all time.

    Right now I’m working on 21.) Climb Mt. Rainier.

    Bucket lists are awesome, and I started a group of friends that would meet every month as an accountability group for their life goals. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done, and you can read about it here:

    Has it made a difference? Since joining, another member and I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro, another friend has finished his novel, and two members who had on their list “Fall in love and get married” are now engaged to be married this summer.

    Hot dang, life is good.

  71. Surfing off Mexico! I know I could do this for maybe a couple grand, but the problems are time off and child care. Surfed only once (at Waikiki), nearly barfed on the gentle waves, had a fantastic time…

    Another from my list: Be the guy that they ask for lectures about several subjects at sci-fi conventions. Have to build credibility for that – and cash flow for the hotels and airline tickets.