449: How to Achieve Everything On Your Bucket List with Ben Nemtin

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Ben Nemtin

If there were no limits to what you could accomplish or experience in your life, what would you do? My guest today (one of the most fascinating individuals I have ever interviewed) has achieved goals beyond what most of us would even consider attempting (!) and is living proof that no dream is too big, and nothing is impossible. 

In the last 10 years Ben Nemtin has achieved 91 extraordinary goals—from being a guest on Oprah Winfrey show to becoming a #1 New York Times bestselling author to having his own show on MTV to playing basketball at the Whitehouse with the President of the United States (plus 87 more) and has inspired millions of people to create their bucket lists and make their dreams come true. 

Ben is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of What Do You Want To Do Before You Die and his brand new book/journal, the Bucket List Journal. In today’s conversation, we discuss the power of having a bucket list and actionable strategies for accomplishing things you thought were impossible.



  • How a 150-year-old poem and a trip around the country inspired Ben’s MTV show and his NYT #1 bestselling book.
  • How Ben overcame crippling depression to pursue the life of his dreams.
  • The top three (3) reasons why most people fail to pursue their dreams and live life on their terms.
  • The importance of surrounding yourself with inspirational people that fuel your energy (and avoiding people that drain it).
  • Ben’s formula for building an unstoppable mindset that will help you accomplish the unthinkable.



You don't even need to know what the path to completion is or how to achieve the goal. You just need to know the first step. You figure out the second step after the first.

"You’re the architect of your own inspiration through action.”



Organifi makes the highest quality nutritional products, which are made from whole food ingredients (not synthetic vitamins) that I enjoy nearly every day, and have for many years. Visit Organifi.com/Hal, and use the code HAL at checkout to get 20% off of your entire order. I hope you find something there that you love! :^)


Rise by CURED Nutrition is a natural supplement made from CBD, Lions Mane and Ginseng (among others) that helps boost energy, performance and cognitive function. There’s no caffeine, no jitters and most importantly, no crash. Visit CuredNutrition.com/Hal and receive 20% off of your entire order. They have tons of other products as well, hopefully you’ll find something that works for you. :^)





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Copyright © 2022 Miracle Morning, LP and International Literary Properties LLC

Hal Elrod: Hello, my friends. Welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and today you’re about to hear a conversation that I just had with my new friend, Ben Nemtin. I’m telling you, it’s such an enjoyable conversation but going into it I was, honestly, so excited. I had not heard of Ben, although I had heard of the show he has on MTV called The Buried Life. I had heard of his book. He has a number one New York Times best-selling book called What Do You Want to Do Before You Die? Again, number one on New York Times list, not just on the list. And that is just one of 98 bucket list items that Ben has checked off in the last ten years. So, his new book, it’s actually a journal. I’m holding it in my hands right now. It’s The Bucket List Journal. I’ve been using my Miracle Morning scribing time every morning to fill this thing out. It’s really cool. And let me give you a few examples of why Ben is the perfect guest for the Achieve Your Goals podcast. So, I mentioned in the last ten years he’s achieved 91, and I’m sure it’s more than that now, but that was what was written in the book, 91 of the goals on his bucket list.


And everything from I’m talking like extraordinary goals, everything from walking the red carpet to playing basketball with President Barack Obama to having his book hit number one, as I mentioned on the New York Times bestseller list to singing the national anthem at an NBA game to being a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, to having his own show on MTV and really to helping countless other people make their dreams come true. And you’re going to get that today. That’s what I love about Ben is we’re so in alignment that really the key to a fulfilling life is to fulfill your potential in service of others, meaning you dedicate your life to really focusing on how you can become the best version of yourself and live everything you dream of living, and then go out and help other people do the same. And we talk about that today, how you live your life gives other people permission to do the same. And so, settling for less than we want not only hurts us but it hurts the people we love and the people that we lead because they see that, and then it gives them permission to settle for less than they want.


So, I really believe that the greatest gift you can give to the people that you love is to fulfill your potential so that you can help them to fulfill theirs. And Ben’s goal is to instill the belief in you that you can achieve goals beyond what you have ever considered possible and then prove that you are capable of the impossible, and he is living proof of that himself. So, I think you’re going to love this conversation. I think you’re going to walk away with action. I mean, he’s going to share with you some very specific tactics and strategies to really get out of your comfort zone, create your bucket list, and start pursuing your biggest goals and your biggest dreams. And I’ll tell you, this bucket list journal, I’m using it. It really made me realize and I say this from the episode that I had forgotten to dream meaning like I’m always pursuing a dream but I had forgotten to step back and get that 30,000-foot view and really look at my life as a whole, really create that list of like, okay, let’s pause and reset and go, “Between now and the rest of my life, what’s everything that I want to accomplish, experience, share, contribute?” And I hadn’t done that in, I don’t even know, years so really, really, really great experience and you’re going to get to have that same experience during this episode and what you do directly following.


All right. Before we dive in, I want to take a couple of minutes, no, minute-and-a-half probably to thank our sponsors, first and foremost, our long-time sponsor, Organifi. Last week I mentioned one of their products, Move, and it’s something that I’ve never shared with you. And I just recently ordered it and it helps with your overall joint health as well as increasing mobility and flexibility in the body. I just want to mention that again in case you didn’t hear last week’s episode or in case you, whatever, forgot. But it’s the only organic joint support product on the market formulated with three clinically proven ingredients: turmeric, pine bark, and this last one is tough to pronounce, astaxanthin. But here’s the thing. I don’t know if it’s from my car accident or from chemotherapy or both. I was told after my car accident that I would eventually have arthritis, and that’s also a side effect of chemotherapy but I’m starting to get pain in my joints, particularly in my hands. And so, I’m excited to try this product. I can’t even tell you how well it works yet because I haven’t started taking it but I just ordered it and I’m excited to take it. So, if you are interested in that or any of Organifi’s other products for sleep, cognitive enhancement, their protein powder, all organic, all plant-based, all whole foods, head over to Organifi.com/Hal and then use the code “HAL” at checkout for 20% off your entire order.


And then last but not least, our newest sponsor, CURED Nutrition. I’ve told you this and I’m just going to keep saying it because I love the products. I take Rise in the morning, which is the nootropic formulated by CURED’s very own in-house clinical herbalist. It contains a blend of lion’s mane and cordyceps mushrooms, rhodiola, ginseng, and broad-spectrum CBD to help you really focus. In fact, on the bottle it says for clarity and focus and it helps me do that without caffeine. And then last but not least is their Nightcaps. I take those every night, 30 minutes before bed, CBD oil and CBN oil, and I’ve been sleeping better than I have in a long time, waking up feeling refreshed. So, head over to CUREDNutrition.com/Hal and then use that same code “HAL” at check out and you’ll get 20% off your order as a listener of the Achieve Your Goals podcast.


Without further ado, I’m telling you, this conversation was so much fun with the one and only creator of the Bucket List Journal, Ben Nemtin.




Hal Elrod: All right, Ben. We’re 15 minutes into this conversation and I realize we should hit the record button. I think we’re missing some good stuff here.


Ben Nemtin: I know. It’s always the way.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. Well, honestly, I’m excited about this conversation in a way that I haven’t been excited about a conversation in a while. And I think it’s because of two things, who you are in terms of your values, something that I read that your goal is to instill this belief in other people and prove that they’re capable of the impossible, and that resonated with me. But the fact the way that you really walk your talk like you’re living an extraordinary life, where you are achieving everything that you set out to do, like at a level like less than 1/1,000th of a percent of people ever do. But you’re not doing it selfishly. You’re doing it in service of others. And so, I’m excited, man. I’m excited to dig into this conversation and it’s a pleasure to meet you today.


Ben Nemtin: Thank you. Thank you, man. It’s super exciting to be here. I love your podcast and, yeah, I’m excited to chat.


Hal Elrod: Awesome, brother. All right. Here’s where I want to start. I’m going to read a quote from you for everybody to listen to, and I want you to elaborate on it. Okay. So, as I was prepping for today. I watched a video that you’re, I’m sure, very familiar with. It’s called Watch This Before You Die on YouTube. And I encourage everybody to watch that video. It really kind of brings to life what we’re talking about today. But at the end of the video, you said something that really resonated. It was this, “When you put yourself first, you put yourself in a position to serve others. And that’s not selfish, that’s service. So, you need to do those things you truly love because not only is it the best thing for you, but it’s the best thing for other people.” Talk about that. What does that mean to you?


Ben Nemtin: Well, I think the default is sometimes you think that it’s selfish to do the things that you love because of all your responsibilities, all the things that you have on your plate, whether you are running a business or running the family there’s this tendency to think or at least I used to think that it’s selfish to do the things that are important to you. And as I started this process, like basically when I was in high school, I started to get depressed because I was living a life for other people. I didn’t know it then but in reflection now I realized that that was a large part of why I was not feeling energized and like myself. And when I wrote my list, it was the first time in my life that I’d ever written down what I actually wanted to do. And it was liberating. It felt good. Like, I actually got to think about, “Well, what do I want?” I didn’t even know that I wasn’t living the life that I wanted because I was so conditioned. So, I was living the “dream” but it wasn’t my dream. You know, I was on the National Rugby team, which was a big sport in Canada. I had an academic scholarship. All of these things on paper were really, really good but I realized that I wasn’t being true to myself.


So, when I finally wrote down the things that I wanted, it felt it was exciting. And then I started to go after it with my friends and these things started to happen. We didn’t even know how they were going to happen but just by taking small steps of action over time, they started to come to fruition. But what was interesting is that I still thought it was selfish to do these things and we didn’t really even tell anybody what we were doing because we thought, well, like, who cares about us going after our lists? Like, it’s self-serving. And in fact, we wanted to go to the other end of the scale. We wanted to help other people achieve their bucket list items. And that was always part of the project that we started was one thing on our list helps someone else achieve something on their bucket list. But what was unexpected is that as we started this road trip to tackle our bucket list back in 2006, people start to hear about it. And then I start to notice people around the world start to go after their bucket list just because we were going after ours. And they were also excited for us to achieve our dreams like they wanted to help. And I was like, “Oh, that’s crazy. Like these people, they want us to achieve their list, and now they’re going after their list just because we were going after ours.”


And I started to understand that there is this ripple effect that happens when you do what you love that you actually inspire other people to do what they love. And I’m sure you’ve experienced this through your podcast or your books through speaking as like just by you doing what is authentically in line with what you want and following your passions, you’re inspiring other people to do the same. You’re almost giving them permission to do the same. So, at this great win-win where you get to do what you love, you inspire other people to do what they love. And so, not only are you inspiring them but you’re also allowing yourself to be the best version of yourself, therefore, you can make your biggest impact. You can be as happy as you can because you’re following your gut. And so, I think this tendency that we have is that, you know what, like I’m going to put off these goals, these passions because I have so many other things to do. When I think it, it’s really about serving yourself so that you can make the biggest impact and that you can be and feel the most fulfilled.


Hal Elrod: There’s so much there. You know, you used the word permission. And I once heard it said, I don’t know who said this but the way you live your life gives other people permission to do the same. And so, if we settle in our lives, if we settle for less than we’re capable of, less than we want, then we’re giving other people permission to settle. And that’s one thing that as a parent, you know, I have kids. I have a 13-year-old and a 10-year-old and I feel like it’s my responsibility to live to my full potential to live the life of my dreams so that I can give them permission to do the same. If they look back and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, my dad hated his job and he just did it to pay the bills,” then how are they going to be inspired to do anything more than that?


Ben Nemtin: A hundred percent. And I think that’s why it’s so important and this is the one decision that I think, if I look back, was the biggest game changer for me was, I told you, I went through this depression when I was in first-year university, dropped out of school, got dropped from the national rugby team. I had so much anxiety about I played fly-half so I was kicking the field goals, calling the players. I didn’t want to miss a kick at the World Cup because I’d missed a big kick in a championship game in high school. And I was so worried about what other people thought and literally, my friends pulled me out of the house to go work in a new town for the summer. And that started basically this process of me coming out of these dark feelings because I started to, like, do things on my own. I got a job. I started feeling some confidence. I started talking about what I was going through for the first time. But the real thing that changed things for me was I started to meet new types of kids, kids that were inspiring. And I realized that they gave me energy. And so, after that summer away, I was starting to feel back to myself. And I was like, “You know what? I’m going to try and only surround myself with people that inspire me just because I need to get energy from people because I feel so down.”


That one decision of just being like conscious and aware about the people I surround myself with, I actively reached out. There’s one kid that I knew that inspired me. He was a filmmaker from my neighborhood, and deep down, I always had this dream of like making a movie or making a TV show with my friends. So, I called up this kid. His name’s Johnny. I was like, “You make movies. I want to make a movie. Let’s make a movie.” And we got two other buddies and that started The Buried Life all out of this one. And I still subscribe to that because, like you said, when you – and my parents are the same. My parents are self-employed and they were always around, and my dad’s a clown. You know, he’s like a theatrical clown. He plays music.


Hal Elrod: Oh, a literal clown. Okay.


Ben Nemtin: Yeah. Like he is a clown and he’s a literal clown. And my mom, I mean, I don’t even know my mom. She’s just like a business coach and she did all these different things. But when you surround yourself or you’re around people that are inspiring or doing great things, it’s sort of like the high tide lifts the boat. By osmosis, you start to believe that you can do great things because all of a sudden, my friends were doing these incredible things and I thought, “Wow. Like, that’s just my buddy.” He’s not that much smarter than me. He’s not that much greater than me. I guess if he did that, what do I want to do? And so, instead of thinking, which I think is the default, when you see somebody you don’t know achieve something, you’re like, “Oh, they’re smarter than me.” You start to believe that you can do great things too. And you also get inspired by their energy and this idea of being aware and actively leaning into relationships that are giving you energy versus drawing energy from you is something that can constantly just level up your thinking and also your energy.


Hal Elrod: So, let me ask you this. There’s a lot I want to get into but something that you just said there, I want to highlight and I want to ask if you have thoughts on this. You know, what you’re saying about who you spend your time with, it’s arguably the single most determining factor I believe in your quality of life and in what your life looks like in terms of your success and so on and so forth. You know, Jim Rohn is famous for saying you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So, I think that it’s arguably one of the most underrated or like underpromoted keys to happiness and success is to surround yourself with people that are the type of people you aspire to become. That’s easier said than done, right? Like, I was fortunate when I was 19, I started a career in sales and like positive thinking was just part of the culture, right? And I was surrounded with this mentor that believed in me, and he breathed life into me. And I believed what he believed more than my own beliefs and so I was able to rise up.


So, my point is how do we find those people? If somebody is listening right now and they’re like, “Dude, my spouse is negative or my parents are negative, or my friends are like all we’re like they’re working jobs they hate.” And like the person listening right now is like, “Deep down I want more. I know that I’m capable of more but I look around and I don’t see anybody that’s doing more. I just feel stuck.” So, how do you find those people that are going to inspire you to be better?


Ben Nemtin: So, one is being aware of the people that are making you feel not like yourself. So, as you said, maybe it’s your spouse or your family. And sometimes these are people you can’t just cut off in your life, right? You know, you can’t. But I think the awareness is key so that you can sort of protect yourself or your energy a little bit and know that there’s a drain there. You kind of understand that, “Okay. I need to make sure that I’m also doing things that charge me up if this is draining me.” So, that’s one piece of it is, is understanding and being aware of the people in your life. And if there are friends that are draining you, then you can spend less time with them. Like, there’s no rules with who you… Just because you have a history with them doesn’t mean that you have to be friends with them. And you don’t have to like send them a letter and be like, “Hey, listen, we’re not friends anymore.” You just slowly stop hanging out with them as much. And that’s fine. People change like that happens all the time organically. So, you can just be the author of that a little bit.


And so, how do you then find people that inspire you? And it is a very good question and I’m happy that you actually feel this way because, as I said, this is the one thing that changed my… If I boil it down to one thing, this absolutely without exaggeration, is the biggest agent of change for me so I also believe in it wholeheartedly. And so, there’s a couple of things that I’ve experienced, and there’s no silver bullet for this. But one is, okay, first of all, your friends or the people you’re hanging out with. Is there someone that does give you energy that you just like being around that makes you feel more like yourself or inspires you or any of those things, any of those positive feelings? So, hey, obviously trying to hang out with that person more but also see if you can hang out with their friends because usually like-minded people tend to hang out. So, you want to lean into relationships that give you that energy and then see what their extended friend group is and see if you can hang out with their friends so dinners or whatever it might be. So, lean into those relationships and try and get into their network of friends. If you don’t have anyone that inspires you, then I would suggest like, are there things like so you sort of follow feelings, right?


That’s my whole thing is like you’re doing things that energize you. That’s the whole goal and that’s what a list is. It’s just a list of all the things that make you feel more alive. So, what are the things that excite you that actually give you that feeling? Maybe it’s an activity. Maybe you love soccer or tennis or chess or writing. Like, what are the creative things or activities that you love? And usually, anywhere there’s groups of people that are doing those things. So, find out how you can get involved in a coed sports team or some sort of hiking group that you love. And then you might find some people that also are like-minded to you and kind of lean into those friendships. I mean, at the end of day, it’s work, right? In any relationship, it’s like you invest the time. So, you just have to really keep going and especially like if you’re listening to this and you’re in high school or you’re in college like that’s a petri dish of people and there’s this huge world out there. And I always tell younger people that are struggling, “Just get through high school. Just get through college. You’ll find your people. You’re just looking for your tribe. Once you find your tribe, then everything changes.”


Hal Elrod: That’s great. And I like what you’re saying. You put yourself out there. It’s work. The people aren’t going to fall into your lap, right? So, if you’re going, “Well, I don’t have anybody in my life.” Okay, go find them. I’ll add a couple of thoughts to that, a couple of ideas. Number one is be that person and bring others up with you. So, if you don’t have anybody around you that’s living an inspired life, go, “You know what, I’m going to live an inspired life. I’m going to reach out to my friends that are settling for mediocrity. And I’m going to challenge them and say, ‘Hey, why don’t we sit down?’” In fact, I’m holding your bucket list journal in my hands right now. “Why don’t we make our bucket list? And why don’t…?” Just like you did with your friends. I mean, you were 22 years old when you did that, right? You don’t have a whole host of life experiences. You be the one that reach out and say, “Let’s make a list of the things we want to do with our life and let’s do it.” And when your friends are like, “What are you talking about, man? I’m just trying to get by and pay the bills.” You’re never too young. You’re never too old. There really is no excuse.


So, that’s the first thing is be the person in that group that leads others to their best selves. And then the other thing that I always think about is every book that you read, you are now friends with that author. They may not know you, right? But you’re now being influenced by them. They’re pouring into you without ever speaking face-to-face with them. You go to YouTube. You watch that video that I mentioned earlier. What was it called?


Ben Nemtin: Watch This Video Before You Die.


Hal Elrod: Watch This Before You Die. Go watch that. You can go watch speakers, listen to podcasts. To me, it was Napoleon Hill that had his board of advisors. I don’t know if that’s what he called it, but basically, he put pictures up in his office of the people in his life. Not in his life. Sorry. The people that he admired from afar, like world-famous achievers and contributors and philanthropists and CEOs. And he would literally talk to their picture and he imagined, “What would they say to me? I’ve read their books, their articles. I’ve watched their videos. What would they say to me? What would they tell me to do in this situation?” So, you can use your imagination and you can use resources like the books that you read, the videos you watch, the podcasts you listen to. That can become your circle of influence, right? You can literally choose. You can hand-pick anybody in the world that has put content out there to now be in your circle. And all of a sudden, if you’re reading books from the five people that you want to be influenced by, now that is your circle of influence. They’re influencing your thinking, they’re influencing what’s possible for you, right? And then you can emerge. So, those are kind of two different sides of the coin of how to create your own circle of influence.


So, I want to dive into goals. This is the Achieve Your Goals podcast. And so, in the past ten years, you’ve achieved and it’s probably more than this but I know at least 98 out of the 100 goals that you set out to achieve, which is that’s why I said earlier, you’re in like the top 1/1,000th  of 1%. You made a bucket list of 100 items in The Bucket List Journal. I love that you listed it. You literally have the entire list in here and 98 of the items are crossed. Oh, no, it gets like 94, whatever. Almost all of them, right? And everything from walking the red carpet to playing basketball with President Obama to having your book hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list to singing the national anthem at the NBA game, being a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, having your own TV show on MTV, it’s insane. Not to mention helping countless other people achieve their goals and realize their dreams like it’s remarkable. And so, I want to get tactical. Like, first and foremost, why do people perpetually put off their goals and dreams? Why are people not doing even a fraction of what you’re doing?


Ben Nemtin: So, there’s three reasons. If you look at the research and there’s this guy, a psychologist and professor at Cornell named Tom Gilovich, who wrote a paper in the psychology journal, Emotion, called The Ideal Road Not Taken. And he effectively found when he asked people on their deathbed, “What’s your number one regret?” The biggest regret people have is not living for me, living the life I thought other people wanted for me or what was expected of me. So, that’s messed up. 76% of the population is going to live their whole life, reach their deathbed, lay on their deathbed, reflect on their entire life and be like, “Sh*t. I blew it. I mean, I lived for other people. I didn’t even do the things that I wanted.” So, that’s a big problem. Why does that happen? So, you looked at the three reasons. And so, the first is that with these personal passions and goals, there’s no deadlines. But we got deadlines for everything else in our life. We got work deadlines, life deadlines. With these personal passions and goals and bucket lists and dreams, whatever you call them, there’s no deadlines so something always gets in the way. We push them. Fire we got to put out, something at work, some with the kids. So, we say, “Let’s do it next week. Let’s do it next year.”


Hal Elrod: And then it never comes, right? No deadlines so it’s never.


Ben Nemtin: Yeah, exactly. So, I’ll keep going through the problems that we can talk about the solutions. The second problem is that with these personal goals, we’re waiting to feel inspired to go after them. But the inspiration really hits. The biggest issue and this is why and I’m glad you touched on it before about putting yourself out there to meet new people. Most people don’t do that because you have to be vulnerable because of fear. So, fear of what other people think or fear of failure is the biggest thing that stops us from going after these goals. So, now let’s talk about the solutions. And these are all things that there was no grand design when we started this road trip to… But in reflection, I realized that we stumbled into this thing that ultimately it felt just like a bucket list but it really was a way to live your life. The first piece is like, okay, let’s look at the first problem. No deadlines. So, how do you overcome that? You need to create accountability around these goals. How do you do that? Well, one, you write your bucket list because by writing your list, you take ideas and things that aren’t real. You make them tangible.


It seems very small and it’s very easy to do but it actually builds accountability. Now, you have a reminder that those goals and dreams exist. You get buried by the day-to-day and you come back to your list. It points you in the direction that you want to go. It also forces you to slow down and think about what’s important to you, which in a world where three-quarters of the population are living for other people, it’s important that we reflect and make sure we’re on our true course. This whole project is actually inspired by a poem written over 150 years ago called The Buried Life, which is written by an English poet named Matthew Arnold. My friend Johnny, when we started this, he was assigned it in his first-year English class, and he was talking about this same feeling of getting buried by the day-to-day and not doing the things you want. So, this is the human condition, right? It’s been happening for hundreds of years. We perpetually push these things because we get buried by the day-to-day.


So, there’s this great line in The Buried Life poem about tracking your true original course. And that’s all this is about. This is about you tracking your course, you being true to you so you can, as I said, make your biggest impact and be fulfilled. And so, you need to stop and think about what your true course is before you get swept up by what other people want because sometimes we’re unconsciously living the life other people want for us without even realizing it, which is with my experience. So, there’s great power in writing your list and you want to write your list in a place that you cherish, that you keep, you come back to, that you love so you can update it over time. So, that’s one great way to build accountability. The second is by talking about your dreams, because when I share my goals, I feel accountable to the people I share them with, right? If I’m on this podcast and you’re like, “Ben, what’s your big goal this year?” I’m like, “I’m going to write my next book. I’m super excited that I’m going to write my next book this year.” And then I see you six months later and you’re like, “Hey, Benny, how’s the book coming?” And I think, “Well, I better start writing that book.”


By talking about your goals, you build accountability but also, if you don’t talk about your dreams, no one can help you. You’re on your own. And the only way that we cross things off our list is through the help of other people. So, you have to move through that fear of what other people think and share your goals and ask for help. So, you’re 77% more likely to achieve your goal if you also have someone checking in with you down the line. So, if I share my goal, I say, “Hal, my goal is to write a book. I’m going to send you an update every month. I’m going to send you a chapter. I want you to read it. You don’t have to give me notes. I just want you to read it. I’m going to send it to you or you check in with me. So, accountability buddies.” That increases your chances by 77%. So, that’s sort of how you get over the no deadlines and building accountability.


Hal Elrod: Beautiful. Okay.


Ben Nemtin: The second problem, building, waiting for inspiration. So, you create your own inspiration through action. So, by taking small steps towards your goal, you don’t even need to know what the path to completion is or how to achieve the goal. You just need to know the first step. You figure out the second after the first. So, you’re the architect of your own inspiration through action. And I think sometimes we over plan and we forget that action is a plan. And then the third biggest barrier is fear. And if you look at like the fear of what other people think or the fear of failure, I think that what I’ve started to understand is these fears don’t go away. You don’t conquer these fears. You just know that those are taxes you have to pay to achieve your goals.


Hal Elrod: I like that, taxes.


Ben Nemtin: So, you identify the risks. You look at what is really at risk here versus what am I afraid of? Because a lot of times the fear has to do with ego. What’s this person going to think? What are they going to think if I fail? And sometimes that’s a real risk, right? That’s someone you really love, an employer, what have you. What they think about you is important. But a lot of times you just don’t want to look bad as the “failure.” And so, what I like to think about is like if I’m afraid to go after my goal or I’m waiting for the right time, well, I failed. I didn’t achieve my goal. So, at least when I try and I fail what I learn from that really outweighs any potential hit to my reputation. And I know you feel the same way. Like, I don’t really believe in failure. Like, I think it’s just a stepping stone to success. It’s a pivot. You know, at least you learn something about yourself. And the truth is people just aren’t thinking about me as much as I think they are.


Hal Elrod: That’s right.


Ben Nemtin: They’re just living their life worried about what other people are thinking about them all the time.


Hal Elrod: Yeah, exactly.


Ben Nemtin: So, it’s really starting to peeling back the onion to be like, okay, what are the real risk? Is my financial security at risk? Is my health at risk? Will I be living on the street? It’s like, no, probably not. You know, like I may have to go back to the job I had before. Then I go, “I know I’m going to be okay but it’s going to be tough,” but it’s like moving through that vulnerability. Again, that’s like the tollbooth. You just got to pay that. And you get more comfortable with being uncomfortable because you know that that means that you’re growing. That’s net positive. Like you’re actually evolving. That’s a sign that you’re pushing yourself to grow.


Hal Elrod: Beautiful. Yeah, I guess it’s like a muscle, right? Meaning that the more you do something you’re afraid of, at first you might feel weak, but the more you do it, the more you have reference points where you go, “Oh yeah, I’ve done things I was afraid of before and then it turned out okay. Sometimes it didn’t go the way I wanted it to. Sometimes I hit a brick wall but then I actually sometimes got better results than I expected.” And now all of a sudden, you’ve got this muscle where you’re like, “I can do things I’m afraid of. I can do hard things.” I love what you said. I’ve never heard it put that way. You just realize that fear is a tax you have to pay to achieve your goals. Like, I want to say that ten times. I won’t say it ten times right now but like if you’re listening, write that down. I’m taking notes right now. Literally, I wrote that down. You realize that fear is a tax you have to pay to achieve your goals. Think about it. You don’t earn income because you have to pay taxes. You may not like paying taxes just like you don’t like facing your fears but just like you still go to work and then pay taxes because it’s part of the deal, right? Same thing with achieving your goals. You feel the fear and you do it anyway. I love what you said there, man.


Ben Nemtin: Yeah. And I think that that hit home when I like, you know, I’ve been a big fan of Tim Ferriss for a while. And you hear him talk about, you see his TEDx talk, you’re like, “F*ck, that’s amazing. This guy’s unbelievable.” And then you hear him talk about how freaked out he was before it and goes into detail about his anxiety. And you start to realize, “Wow. This person who I thought had it all together, they’re just like me. They’re just pushing through that thing that most people don’t push through.” And it really is a muscle. And the beauty of it is that the more you push through that fear, the more you surprise yourself of what’s possible because I don’t really think you know what’s possible until you’re actually doing it. So, once you’re doing it and you achieve a couple of these things that you didn’t think were possible, your whole belief system changes and you start to think when you face different challenges, you don’t think, “Can I do this?” You think, “Do I want to do this? Does this align with who I truly am? And am I willing to put in the work that it will take to get this done? Because I know it’s not going to be easy. I know I can do it if I want but am I willing to put in the work and does this align with who I am or what I really want?”


And I think that everyone has the ability to prove to themselves that they are possible of doing anything they put their mind to. Because that’s just been my experience. I never believed not for a second that we were ever going to play basketball with President Obama.


Hal Elrod: Yeah.


Ben Nemtin: I’m not even from this country. I lived on a small island in Canada. Right? Vancouver Island, off of Vancouver. When Johnny called me up and Obama got elected, he said, “Benny, let’s play basketball with the president on the list.” And I laughed. I said, “Johnny, that is the most impossible thing we could ever think could do.” This is way pre the MTV show, way pre the book. We’re living. We’re going to school. We’re doing this in the summers, right? And his answer was, “True, true, true but how amazing would it be?” And I couldn’t argue. So, he wrote down like some of these list items we were laughing because we thought this is the most ridiculous thing we could ever think of doing. And then they all happened. And it’s not like they were easy. Some took half a decade, a decade, but along the way, we started to realize like, “Oh, my God. Like, anything is possible.” I also want to mention like I feel privileged to be able to have done the things I’ve done in my life. And I understand that everyone’s path is different.


And a bucket list is not about the accomplishments, right? It’s not about we did these big things because we wanted to. And I think if you have a big dream, it’s important to unearth that. But no big dream is any greater than any “small dream.” What I realize is a bucket list is just a list of the things that are important to you, the things you will regret not doing on your deathbed. So, that could be more time with your family. That could be giving back to your local church. That could be climbing Everest. Like, the only thing that’s important is that it’s for you and it gives you energy and it fills you up. It gives you joy. So, that’s why when I think about a bucket list, I like to help people reframe what it is. It’s not just adventure and travel. There are ten categories of your life that you want to think about when you’re writing your bucket list. And adventure and travel are one of them. But there’s also mental health. What are your goals to reduce your stress, to increase your well-being? There’s physical goals, relationship goals, right? As you said, it’s important to make sure that you invest in those relationships that are important to you. There are intellectual goals. What do you want to learn? Creative goals.


I think an often overlooked pillar of wellness is creativity because that’s your true expression. That’s when you get into flow state. You’re doing something that just brings out your true essence. So, those are important goals to think about. Material goals. It’s okay to have material bucket list items. You want a new car, dream watch, new pair of skis, like all those things. If it’s going to bring you happiness, go for it. Like, how do you want to give back? That’s another category of life. At what impact? So, you can check out the ten categories of life on WriteYourList.com if you want to use them as a guide but I encourage you to think about all categories of life when you’re writing your list.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. And, you guys, get started. So, give that website again. Where can they go get the ten categories and get their list started?


Ben Nemtin: So, it’s WriteYourList.com.


Hal Elrod: W-R-I-T-E, WriteYourList.com. So, here’s the thing. Actually, I’m flipping. In case you wonder why I’m not looking at you right now, I’m looking down. You’re like, “Did Hal check out?” No, I’m looking at The Bucket List Journal. I’m looking at this. And you did such a good job with this. So, I’m looking, you’ve got the ten categories in here. You’ve got thought joggers. But what I love about the list itself is for each list, you’ve got the list item, then you’ve got Before, which is, “This is important to me because,” right? And that why like Simon Sinek says, that’s what drives us. That’s what gives us the fuel to do whatever it takes to figure it out. “My reward for completing this goal will be…” “I will complete this by…” You put your hopeful date. Of course, it might take longer. It might happen faster.


Ben Nemtin: Yeah. And these are all to build accountability, right?


Hal Elrod: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. You got at least a deadline.


Ben Nemtin: Deadline, reward, accountability. Yeah.


Hal Elrod: It’s better to have a deadline that you have to move back than no deadline at all, right? And that’s crucial. You have three things and I love this. This is where the rubber meets the road, “Three things I can do in the next 48 hours.” And then, “What’s stopping me?” where you get honest. “What are the fears or what are the excuses or what are the self-imposed limitations that I am buying into?” “Additional small steps I can take to move forward?” And then you’ve got the After section, and I love this because having the After section in and of itself creates a little bit of like, “Wait. Am I actually going to do that?” I’m like, “Wait, I’m supposed to fill this? Like, I’m really going to do this, right?” You got, “After its date completed, how did it feel? What did I learn?” And then I love the last question on every page, every item. It’s, “Can I help someone else do this?” Can I help someone else do this? I love this. I love this journal. And I’m filling it out like I’m going through this. And it excites me because I realize that, honestly, I’ve kind of stopped dreaming in some ways. Like, I’ve achieved a lot of my dreams and I’m pursuing a lot of them but I rarely step back for that 30,000-foot view.


And that’s what this journal, when you sent me this, I started filling out, and I realized that I don’t step back. I’m always pursuing a dream, for sure, but I’m not stepping back to that 30,000-foot view to go, okay, what’s the big picture? What’s my bucket list? And so, this has really been a game changer for me, man. So, thank you for making The Bucket List Journal. I’m excited personally.


Ben Nemtin: Thank you. I mean, that means so much considering the exposure that you have to different tools and people and all of the work that you’ve been doing for your career. So, I’m very honored that you think that and you feel that way so thank you. And I think that another cool thing about this journal is that like you can also do it with your partner. You know, you can do it with your kids. A lot of people are making a bucket list with their families, with their spouse because, as you said, we don’t stop and step back and look at the 30,000-foot view very often. So, what this does is it opens up a very meaningful conversation. And you talk about what is really important, right? Like what is important to us? What are our goals as a couple? What are our goals as a family? People do summer bucket lists. So, they think, “Okay. What do we want to do this summer with their kids?” And I think that this is interesting when you think about how it impacts organizations and teams and this is why I’ve been speaking so much is because in a world where it’s harder to keep talent and attract the best talent, we just have to do more to invest in our teams.


I think that it’s vital that you figure out who that person is, what their passions are, and invest in their dreams like you have to help them achieve their purpose in work and achieve their purpose outside of work. I just think that’s essential as leaders. So, figure out what’s on their bucket list and just by asking shows that you care, and then it’s not as hard as you think to actually help make that happen. And so, the misconception is if I ask my team, “What’s on the list?” they’re going to leave. “What’s your dream?” They’re going to leave. The truth is you create an environment where people want to stay.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. Literally, you inspired me again. I just pulled out a Post-it note, wrote down, “Do this with Ursula and the kids as a family.” So, I put that on the list because I honestly hadn’t even thought that I’m like, “All right. This is great for me. For me, I’m doing my bucket list.” But no, this is so great like to do with the kids. I’m inspired, honestly. So, as a speaker, I am actually curious. You’re doing you told me 140 gigs this year. You’re speaking for companies all over the place. You were just in Hawaii. When you speak on this topic for a company, for an organization, is that the focus? Like, this is how you integrate this into your culture at the company? Is that the focus or the message?


Ben Nemtin: Yeah, one of them. You know, the other thing is just people are burnt out. You know, it’s like people are exhausted after the pandemic and so they really need to invest in themselves just to do their job. And so, giving, as you said, permission for them to dream again, to do these things and connecting that to their performance. So, when you’re out there and it’s a work-life harmony like I think I saw Jeff Bezos speak and that was the thing that stuck with me was everyone’s like, “How the hell do all this sh*t you do? You know, like, how do you have a work-life balance?” He’s like, “Well, I don’t look at it like work-life balance. I look at it like work-life harmony, which is about energy. It’s an energy exchange. I get energy from the work I do. I get energy from life. So, yeah, sometimes I work 20 hours a day but I love it and sometimes I don’t. But the point is when you got to get energy from your work and your life. And one way you get energy from your life is by doing the things that you love because that fuels you.


So, I’m a big proponent of following the energy, hanging out with people that give you energy, doing things in your life that give you energy, trying to find work that fills you up because then you’re going to feel more alive. You’re going to be able to be the best version of yourself. So, you start to connect these dots with people and be like, okay, it’s not selfish to have these personal goals because, one, you’re going to be happier. So, it impacts you. I think we can all agree on that. It’s going to impact your team, your family, your friends, because you can’t take care of other people if you don’t take care of yourself. It’s going to impact your career because you’re going to create a work-life harmony. It’s going to impact the whole business because the business can’t drive if you don’t drive. You’ve got to thrive as a person, not just as a professional. And this can impact your legacy because then you’re not going to die with the regret that most people have.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. Amen, man. What’s next on your list? Let’s close it out with that. What’s next on your bucket list?


Ben Nemtin: Next on the list is number 100 is go to space. So, that’s always been the big moonshot. You know, it’s literally moonshot. So, I think that it would be very fitting to sort of finish the list with that. Again, I guess I should also mention that I’ve added hundreds more list items. You know, this is the original 100. But it’s important to understand that as you grow, your list grows, it evolves with you. It’s a living organism that reflects who you are. So, you’re changing. Your list is changing. So, that’s why you want to go revisit your list and keep it in a safe place so that you take things off you don’t want to do, you add new things, you evolve it. But it’s kind of ceremonial for us at this point, is this original 100. And so, yeah, go to space is really, really exciting because it’s very close to happening. You got all of these commercial space outfits starting to get close to going up. I actually just moderated a panel at South by Southwest this year about the democratization of commercial space travel. So, I’m working with a company called World View that is taking capsules of eight people up to the edge of space with a big helium balloon that’s like three football fields in length.


Hal Elrod: Oh, wow.


Ben Nemtin: And you go up there and you’re up there for an hour and you come back down. And so, that will happen sort of end to 2024 and I talk with them about going on a test flight up to the edge of space. So, I think that would be very cool because you can actually also have Wi-Fi up there so you could do some really cool stuff up in space and broadcast live. And so, that is actually becoming a reality. And we’ve been working on that for a decade. And I remember meeting with Virgin Galactic seven or eight years ago and looking at World View, when they started their things seven years ago, sending them an email through their landing page, which is just a comment box. So, that’s great. And then one of the things on the list is to make a film. We started The Buried Life in 2006 to make a documentary. We thought it would just be a two-week road trip and we’d make a little film, show our friends. And 15-plus years later, we’re still making it. So, I’d love to finish that film because that will be really like our version of the endless summer that piece. At least the show that we did on MTV I think is on Paramount+ for free or you can get it on Amazon but that’s something to check out as well.


Hal Elrod: That was called The Buried Life, right?


Ben Nemtin: That was called The Buried Life named after the poem as well.


Hal Elrod: Got it. Yeah. Live streaming from outer space. That’s next level, man. And we’re right there. Now, real quick, I’m looking at your list and host Saturday Night Live is on there. Any progress report on that?


Ben Nemtin: That’s probably going to be the most difficult.


Hal Elrod: That’s the hardest one. Yeah.


Ben Nemtin: Yeah. So, another one is make the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, which is also difficult. But I feel like maybe if they do one of those covers, it’s a pixelated image. It’s like a thousand tiny photos making up one face or something like that. You could get one of those little photos and sort of cross that off like that. But the host Saturday Night Live is I think that’s actually harder than going to space. That’s going to be the most difficult. So, that’s a juggernaut. But we’ve got to figure out some way to make it happen or be on stage or something or maybe be in a sketch in the background. So, you can cross these off in different ways. Like, one of the things…


Hal Elrod: You can get creative.


Ben Nemtin: Yeah, was to do a sketch with Will Ferrell and we found ourselves at a Seahawks game in a box with Will Ferrell. And Johnny and I were like, “Oh my God, it’s Will Ferrell.” You sort of like you don’t really want to like go up and ask people in these intimate settings when there’s like larger celebrities there. We’re like, “Oh, we got to do it. We got to do it.” But we thought, “Okay. We got to do this in a way that’s going to…” because I’m always a big fan of like when you’re approaching a challenge, the more creative you are, the more receptive people on the other end are. So, for this, we’re like people ask him this all the time like how can we make this fun? And so, we went out and said, “Hey, listen, Will, we’re huge fans. We’re doing this list of 100 things to do before you die. One of the things in our list is to do a sketch with you, a comedy sketch. But we think it’d be funny if we actually crossed it off by doing an actual literal sketch with you.” So, we had a notepad and then we drew a sketch with him and we have the sketch and a photo. So, that’s how we crossed it off doing a sketch with Will Ferrell.


Hal Elrod: That’s funny. That’s really funny. That’s great. Yeah, totally creative. And here’s a thing. Just for everybody listening and we’re going to wrap up right now, but I want you to think about the crazy items that Ben has written on his list, play basketball with a president, host Saturday Night Live, and think about how far is that from what you would ever write down? And I don’t mean the things specifically on Ben’s list. I mean the caliber of these things, like things that are so far out of your comfort zone that you don’t have any idea how to do. You know, like that story that’s been told playing when his friend called him was like, “Hey, we should add playing basketball with Barack Obama to our list.” And then I was like, “That’s like impossible.” But if you write it down now, the seed of possibility is planted. And if you never write it down, whatever it is for you, that seed is never planted and it cannot grow. There’s no harm in writing it down. But there is a huge potential benefit and payoff. So, I encourage everybody to get a copy of The Bucket List Journal. You can grab it on Amazon. If you’re not ready to buy the book for any reason, and it’s not a book, it’s really a journal.


So, if you’re a Miracle Morning practitioner and scribing is part of you, that’s what I’ve been doing during my Miracle Morning. My scribing time for the last couple of weeks has been working on The Bucket List Journal. So, you can fit it in and you’ve already got the time in your schedule. And if you’re not ready to get the book, then go to WriteYourList.com, and at least get the free materials to get your list started, organize the ten categories of your life that’s been talked about. Ben, it is a pleasure, man. I geeked out on this conversation. I had a blast. You’re fun to talk to.


Ben Nemtin: Yeah. Thanks, man. You’re a legend. It’s been great. And, yeah, I’m excited to see you in Austin and thanks for having me on the show.


Hal Elrod: You got it, brother. All right. Goal achievers, members of the Miracle Morning community, I love you. Start your bucket list and start making these dreams happen. And I will talk to you all next week.

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