“What’s the one thing you dream of achieving? You know, what’s on your list?”
This question is posed by 33-year-old professional list-ticker, Sebastian Terry. And it’s one that he says most people cannot answer.
“You don’t typically get in a car without knowing where you want to go, and I don’t think it makes sense to do that in life either,” says the man who became an international inspiration six years ago when he compiled a list of 100 things to do before he dies, after the sudden passing of a mate, and shared it with the world.
“I gave myself permission to take a step back from my reality and consider what those things were that I’d always wanted to do,” says Seb, who is chronicling his adventures on 100things.com.au. He has since lived short-term with a Maasai tribe in Kenya, delivered a baby, hitchhiked across the US, met an inmate on death row, posed nude and been shot at – all of which has snowballed into an international movement that’s no longer just about him.
Fast-forward six years – not to mention the international media coverage, a book, documentary, TV show proposal, keynote that takes him all over the world and most recently, talk of an app – and he has just 30 things left on his list, items like ‘muster cattle’ and ‘invent something’. That means he has achieved one life-altering experience every 31 days. In the process, he has changed – and that has spilled over into what Seb now wants to achieve from life.
From the emotional to the spiritual, the physical to the philosophical, when Seb first wrote everything down on that list, his focus was on the abstract and adventurous.
“I really wanted to explore… I wanted to feel liberated, so there are things like skydiving naked, marrying a stranger in Las Vegas or walking across France,” he says. “Now, I feel I’ve explored that avenue and I feel that my place is to help people and help others – as cheesy as that may sound, that’s the truth of it.”
100 Things always had a philanthropic core (he is an ambassador for Camp Quality, Alzheimer’s Australia and Make-A-Wish and has already helped to raise more than AU$200,000 for them), but his personal game-changing moment kicked in at the finish line of a half marathon, where Seb had pushed Mark, a quadriplegic, in his wheelchair the entire way to help Mark achieve his own dream.
“If I now had the choice of ticking off my final 30 things or, in fact, helping 30 people achieve important goals for them, I would absolutely choose to help 30 other people,” says Seb. These are words from someone who has taken the time to work out what it is that makes him happy, what he wants to achieve, and ’has given himself permission to unashamedly pursue those things.
Still, Seb believes it’s important to look after yourself first, only then are you able to turn around and help others. He uses the analogy of an airplane oxygen mask: in case of an emergency, put yours on first, so you won’t pass out while putting on someone else’s! “You have to have your own foundation looked after, pursue those goals that are important to you and, I think, once you reach a certain state of fulfilment, you become naturally more able to help others and pass on the ‘oxygen mask’.”
Though it was never intentional, this man on a quest is encouraging others to consider what their values are too, and to identify their own meaningful goals in life. “My website used to be all about me and my journey and what I was doing… and then, quite accidentally, people started emailing me from all around the world.” Suddenly he was engaging translators to decipher bucket lists from readers living in places like Mongolia, Russia and Brazil; his website becoming a catalyst for others to consider their own goals. “People go [to the website] to share their goals, they communicate with each other, do things together and I now organise trips,” he says, adventures from The Kokoda Track to the Inca Trail. There’s volunteering in Cambodia, a trip to Antarctica and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on the horizon, too.
“The site is very optimistic. It’s very engaged; a functional and uplifting space. I couldn’t be prouder,” he smiles, “And it hasn’t happened from my design or desire from day one, it’s just grown naturally. I have a belief that everyone has an innate ability to help others, and once you activate that, I don’t think there are many better feelings in the world.”
He stops mid-sentence to insist he’s the most average bloke going around. By following his own values, he says, he’s giving people the confidence to realise they can do the same. “I understand that my values are very important, and what could be more important than following the goals that are important to you? And if I can do it, then yes, anyone can.”
He says he doesn’t monitor web traffic (“It would be in the tens of thousands… I don’t really pay attention”) and up until recently, when he employed a staff member to organise group trips and another for admin, he has been the only staffer on the job (“When I tell people how busy I am, they usually laugh, but it’s true”).
It all started with AU$9000 of personal savings, which funded Seb’s adventure for about five months, then used his credit card to keep going, sleeping on people’s couches along the way if need be. It was a surprise book deal from Random House that allowed 100 Things to keep going (“I didn’t want to tell them, but I would’ve done it for free!”) which became the book 100 Things: What’s On Your List? and spearheaded a swag of motivational speaking opportunities which have become his main source of income ever since.
But what happens once he’s ticked off everything? First of all, he insists it’s important to check in with yourself along the way and to “enjoy the cake – the process of getting there!” Then, acknowledge what you’ve achieved and reconsider what’s next, although Seb can’t say exactly what he will do when all 100 things have been ticked off.
But for today, he’s about to fly to New York ’’to discuss on an app idea, Beyond 100, to link people who need help with those who can. “I get emails every single day – I’ve become a middle person in introducing people who need help and those who can help,” says Seb, who believes the app is the next logical step for the 100 Things community.
“I don’t know what’s after the list, but I think it’s just the beginning of a much bigger journey that’s going to do a lot of good things for a lot of people.”
What’s on yours?
According to a UK poll, 53 per cent of us want to travel the world (with one in four people keen for a Safari trip and one in five busting to trek Peru’s Inca Trail), 31 per cent want to learn a new skill, 30 per cent dream of road tripping and 24 per cent want to take up a new hobby.
Never too late
At 92 years old and recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Kevin Burns skydived over Baldwin, Wisconsin, while Anne Lorimore, an 85-year-old great-grandmother from Arizona, has made history as the oldest person to scale Mt Kilimanjaro, and in Maine, 91-year-old Joyce Pompeo debuted her flying skills and piloted a plane.
What bucket list?
Goals fallen to the wayside? You’re not alone. Research from the University of Scranton found that of the 40 per cent of Americans who write a bucket list on New Year’s Eve, only 8 per cent actually tick anything off. #lame #notus #time4change
How to write one…
Dr Alice Boyes, author of The Anxiety Toolkit says it goes like this:
1.Surround yourself with people who are actively pursuing their bucket list.
2.Make a list of goals you want to do this year.
3.Mix big and small goals, and include harder/easier variations.
4.Put some time aside each week to work on your bucket list e.g., two hours each Sunday afternoon.
5.Let your bucket list reflect your own personality, quirks, and interests.