Bucket List: Self Discovery & Adventure

Summary: In this blog Alain writes about turning 30 in 6 months and the goals he sets for himself. He talks about his life expectancy and how it influences his decision making.

30 Before 30 – A Bucket List of Self Discovery and Adventure

Author: Alain Buffing
Reading time: 15 minutes

The 2nd of December 2017, will be a very special day for me. Now every year the 2nd of December is super important to me as it is my birthday, but this year it is even slightly more special. This year on the 2nd of December, I turn 30. For some people turning 30 is not a big thing. Life goes on and the thirties are the new twenties they say. I disagree with that and for a special reason.

In the Netherlands, the average age of death is 76.4. This means that I by turning 30, I have lived already 39% of my live. This concept was brought to my attention by Nas Daily, if you haven’t seen him, I highly encourage you to check him out and become his friend! That means I only have 61% left in order to achieve all my goals, however I am wrong.

It turns out the life expectancy of Dutch people abroad is much lower. For Dutch nationals outside the country the age is 20 years younger (56.1 years old), seriously? Yes, men in particular have a higher chance of dying early abroad.  More than 70 percent of the Dutch fatalities outside the country are men.

Dutch travellers and expats have a greater chance of dying younger than people who stay in the Netherlands. And since I left the Netherlands when I was 19 to live abroad I fall directly in that category. To be quite honest I don’t think I will ever settle in Amsterdam, although I do like spending at least 2 to 3 months a year in my home town.

My idea for the coming years is to live in places like Buenos Aires, Cape Town, St. Petersburg, Seoul, Melbourne, Tokyo, Santiago, Medellin, Kingston, Paris, Copenhagen and many other cities. Besides that I would like to travel the Silk Road and go from Amsterdam to Cape Town on motorbike (more on that later). Lucky for me, Middle Eastern and African countries in particular are high-risk regions, Jackpot Baby, let’s say goodbye to my life expectancy. What does this mean to my 61%? The moment I turn 30 on December 2nd it shrinks to 47%. Yes I know, this means I already lived more than 50% of my sweet ass life…

How to set goals?

Having goals for things we want to do and working towards them is an important part of being human. The path towards our goals may not always run smoothly or be easy, but having goals, whether big or small, is part of what makes life good. It gives us a sense of meaning and purpose, points us in the direction we want to go and gets us interested and engaged, all of which are good for our overall happiness.

The process of setting short and long term goals helps you choose where you want to go in life. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. Nine years ago, when I was 20 years old, I made a list of 10 goals in various area’s of which I thought would be accomplished in the ten years that followed, here are some:

  • Own a Kick Ass Car
  • Travel to all the countries in the World
  • Earn a Million
  • Get Married
  • Run a Marathon

As you can see these are some of the goals I gave myself when I was twenty and which came from a less developed person, as I am now. Back then, I was convinced I would have crossed off these goals by the age of 30. The reality however is that I didn’t even come near to any of them. To begin with, I don’t own a car, in fact I don’t even have my license yet. I haven’t traveled to all the countries in the world, I only been to 91 out of 197.

When it comes to finance, I didn’t earn a million, I do have some successful stocks in Technology Companies, but I also have a massive student loan that needs to be payed off. I didn’t run a marathon, the closes I came, was finishing a half marathon’s with lot’s of sweat, pain and effort. Then lost but not least, I didn’t get married, in fact I don’t even have a girlfriend right now (sorry granny).


When it comes to making these kind of goals, I think you first have to  consider what you want to achieve, and then commit to it. A good way to do so is setting SMART goals that motivate you, Nanning wrote a great article about this some days ago,  and write them down to make them feel tangible, in a way this is why I am publishing this post. Then plan the steps you must take to realize your goal, and cross off each one as you work through them.

Winter is Coming

How to divide the goals into smaller levels

What I hear a lot of times from people around me is that they feel as if they’re just drifting in the world without a clear set of goals or vision. They work hard, but they don’t seem to get anywhere that makes them truly happy. A reason why they feel this way is that they haven’t spent enough time thinking about what they want from life, and haven’t set themselves goals in order to get there. In my perspective goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn your dreams into reality.

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible – Tony Robbins

The first step in setting personal goals is to think deeply what you want to achieve in your life. Setting life goals gives you the overall overview that shapes all other aspects of your decisions. To give a broad, balanced overview of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some of the following categories:

Career – What level do you want to reach in your career, or what do you want to achieve?
Finance – How much do you want to earn, and how is this related to your career goals?
Education – Is there any knowledge you want to acquire in particular?
Body – Are there any athletic goals that you want to achieve, what steps are you going to take to achieve this?
Family – Do you want to have a family? If so, what is your role and how want to be seen by family members?
Creative – Do you want to achieve any artistic goals?
Mind – Is any part of your mindset holding you back, how can you work on this?
Fun – How do you want to enjoy yourself?
Volunteering – Do you want to make the world a better place? If so, how?

Spend some time brainstorming and then select one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do. Then consider trimming again so that you have a small number of really significant goals that you can focus on. Looking at the list above I settled on the following area’s I want to focus on:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Travel
  3. Body
  4. Entrepreneurship
  5. Adrenaline
  6. Mind

Later in the article, I will go deeper into area’s and why I choose these. Some of the other area’s I already covered a lot over the past few years. For example, I’ve had a very successful career in Technology Consultancy for the last five year. When it comes to volunteering, I started my own charity and did many cool projects. When you make your own list, make sure that the area’s that you have set are ones that you genuinely want to achieve. Not ones that your parents, family, or friends might want you to achieve.


Where do you start with achieving these goals?

The path towards achieving our goals may not always run as smooth as expected. However having goals, whether big or small, is part of what makes life good and will keep you in the right direction. Now that you have your area’s carved out, it is time to start looking at the execution.

Well begun is half done – Aristotle

It gives us a sense of meaning and purpose, points us in the direction we want to go and gets us interested and engaged, all of which are good for our overall happiness. Over 2000 years ago,  And with regards to goals, he’s right (as he seems to have been on a lot of things). Paying attention to how we set our goals makes us more like to achieve them and achieving them makes us feel good about ourselves and our lives.

  1. Decide
  2. Write it down
  3. Tell a stranger
  4. Break it down
  5. The first step
  6. Keep it going
  7. Celebrate

Tell a stranger
So you made your mind up and you wrote your goals down. Now it is time to start telling the world (or your friends). Telling someone we know about our goals, is a whole different ballgame than deciding what to do and just writing it down. It will make you vulnerable, however it also increases the likelihood that we will stick at them. Maybe people think that going volunteering for 6 months in a monastery in Nepal is a stupid thing to do, so be prepared for critique, this is your moment to proof them wrong. It is vital however that you don’t skip this step. This blog-post is my way of doing so.

Break it down 
It is especially important for big goals to break them down into smaller parts. The smaller goals that are steps on the way to achieving your bigger aim. Sometimes a big goal can be a bit vague, like ‘I want to be healthier’. Breaking these down helps you to be more specific. So a smaller goal might be like ‘I will skip fried food for a month’ or ‘I will go running 3 times a week’. Write down your smaller goals and try to set some dates to do these by too, making them SMART. Having several smaller goals makes each of them a bit easier and gives us a feeling of success along the way.

The first step
Thinking about the first step on the way towards your goals will really help to get you started. Even if you don’t know where to start there’s shouldn’t be an excuse. We all know that the first step is hard, however it is proven that we all spend 80% getting to the first 20% of the goal and 20 on the last 80%, so the quicker you start, the earlier you will succeed. Your first step could be to research ‘how to eat more healthy’ on the internet or think of people you could ask for advice. Then think of your next step and than it is just like Jay-Z say’s, ‘on to the next one, on to the next one

Keep it going
Working towards our goals can be difficult and frustrating – so you need to keep going. If you have the feeling you are busy with a step but it is’t working, think of something else you could try that still moves you forward.  Ask people you know for their ideas on what you could do, as they may help you see a different way. Thinking about different ways of reaching our goals makes it more likely we’ll be successful.

Last but not least, the most important thing. When you reach your goal after all this planning and hard work, take the time to enjoy it and involve those that helped you. Think about what you enjoyed and learned along the way. Give a speech about it when you express your gratitude. For me, this will come during my 30th birthday, in which I invited all my friends to come to Tokyo where I will be hosting a the most crazy weekend known to man. Now, what is your next goal or project going to be?


My Personal Six Area’s

This is a very important topic in my life. What are you going to do to feed yourself correctly? There are a couple of long time goals that I already implemented in my life like a Paleo Asian Diet and, skipping binge drinking during the week. I also drink lots of water and always go to the organic version when it comes to food. Since I am drinking less alcohol than before, the alcohol that I do drink needs to be of high quality.  Why? Because I really want to enjoy my drink. That’s why I’ve put the WSET Wine course in there and the whiskey course. I’ve never eaten in a 1 start Michelin Restaurant. After watching three seasons of Chef’s Table, this has to be the time.

  1. Travel:
    Ibn Battuta once said; “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” Our life is short. However our travel bucket list, most of the time isn’t. All, the places we’ll go! There are plenty of destinations on our agenda. In addition to the “wheres,” there are many activities we hope to take part in when we travel. Ten years ago I had this lofty travel goal “to see all countries in the world before my 30th”. Nine years later, I visited 95 countries so far, and I’ve seen some cool things while doing so. However there are still a couple on my list I want to cross off before my birthday like, ‘Traveling on the Trans Siberia Express’ and ‘Visiting Everest Base Camp’.
  2. Body:
    What are you going to do to take care of your body, this tool that you have in order to perform better? Are you planning to get the right rest? You know so you have more energy, and you can actually accomplish all those things that you’re setting out to accomplish. I think this area for me is pretty straight forward. My body always have been a big area in my life. That’s why I want to focus on this area for the coming six months with some killer goals. One of my goal is to hit the 10% body fat border and I’ve already joined CrossFit in order to get there. I also want to finish a marathon and climb a mountain peak. When it comes to our body,  we know what we need to do. We just don’t it often do it, right? For me these goals are all about feeling healthy and good. The road to these goals will enable me to feel that way.
  3.  Entrepreneurship:
    What are you going to do in your business or career that’s going to move it forward? This is my only category that deals with my professional life. All the other ones tend to deal more with my personal life, although they sometimes have some overlap. Since I lived the corporate life over the last five years and I worked for many start up’s before, the time for me has finally come to start for myself, and with that come entrepreneurship goals. I’ve always wanted to start my own company and besides some failed student projects, it never really happened. That’s why I am so proud of the blog you are reading right now and the company Nanning and I started. However it doesn’t end there as I want to do more.  I want to have my own blog where I document my travels’ and ‘I want to record podcasts’ so there you go. Now think about what you want to achieve, what are your entrepreneurial goals?
  4. Adrenaline:                                                                                                                                    What are you going to do for fun? Are you going to take vacations? For me fun is all about adrenaline. Whether it is bungee jumping, driving on a 1200 cc Motorbike, cliff-jumping, or asking a girl I fancy for her number. These are the moment I most feel alive. That’s why I included my adrenaline section. It has goals like ‘Running with the Bulls in Pamplona’ or ‘Sneaking into a Music Festival without a ticket’. Whatever it is for you, this is the area where you want to put it.
  5. Mindfulness:How do you balance living in the moment and planning what you want? It is a difficult one as I think Mindfulness and Goal Setting are a bit opposite to each-other, and I would love to have Eveline’s take on this. Personally, I love living in the present. I enjoy every moment, taking in all the details, not worrying to much about my to-do list. However, I also know that in reality I am always busy planning and setting goals. In my opinion having clear goals and being clear about what we want is the best way of improving life out there. So how can we combine these two? This final category is my take on finding the right balance between mindfulness and goals, between ‘the now’ and ‘then’. That’s why I am taking on skills like yoga, meditation, journalling, and sending daily thank you notes. In fact, I would even love to do a these skills in the countries where they originated, India and Nepal.


#30before30The #30before30 list (and A Bucket List of Self Discovery and Adventure)

Drum sound.. Here it is:

  1. Become a Japanese Tea Ceremony Master
  2. Earn Wine Level 2 WSET Certificate 
  3. Do a Whiskey Course
  4. Eat in 1* Michelin Restaurant
  5. Get a Diploma in Nutrition
  6. Travel the Trans Siberia Express 
  7. Go to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
  8. Trek to Everest Base Camp
  9. Host a birthday party in Tokyo
  10. Visit 100+ Countries
  11. Complete one month of cold showers
  12. Reach less than 10% Body Fat
  13. Finish a Marathon
  14. Join CrossFit
  15. Climb a Mountain Peak
  16. Start a Company 
  17. Record a Podcasts Show
  18. Sell 80% of belongings 
  19. Speak at a TED event
  20. Start a Digital Nomad Group
  21. Run with the Bulls in Pamplona 
  22. Perform a “dare” every day for a month
  23. Sneak into a music festival without a ticket 
  24. Deliver a Best Man’s Speech
  25. Spray paint a wall in my hometown 
  26. Complete a month of Yoga every day 
  27. Start a daily journal 
  28. Participate in a Meditation Course
  29. Visit the Taktsang Palphug Monastery in Bhutan
  30. Send a daily thank you note


What are your goals?

So there is it, this is my #30before30 list. What I would love to ask from you, is to think about your area’s you want to improve in. Write them down! Then think of the 30 things you want to accomplish before your 30th. That will give you a feeling of accomplishment and will make you mor wholesome. It is all about being accountable for your plans and actions. What better way then to share your list undnereath this post in the comment section. If you are 33 and already older than 30, make a #35before35 list of course!