Aussie adventurer Sebastian Terry knows the importance of living life to the fullest. Now he’s helping others do the same.
After the loss of a dear friend, Sebastian Terry asked himself one question. “If I died today, could I look back and say I lived a life that reflected my values?” The answer was no, so Terry decided to create a list of 100 things he’d always wanted to accomplish.
That was the beginning of an epic journey which sees him delivering a baby, marrying a stranger in Vegas, crashing the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, getting shot in Columbia, chasing a tornado, skydiving naked, and cycling through Cuba – all in a quest to live without regrets.
“It’s about living in a way that excites you,” Terry says. “The secret to true fulfillment is working out who you are, and then just learning how to be that.”
In this episode of Project Luminary with Kristen Aldridge, learn how to set huge goals, overcome your biggest fears, and achieve what’s on your list – no matter how unrealistic.
Your story has inspired a successful book, a Discovery Channel documentary, a hit reality series, and now this amazing global movement. Take us back to your early 20’s. What was life like before 100 Things?
Sebastian Terry: I grew up in a really sheltered way. I think I kissed a girl for the first time when I was 17, I was scared to get a bus as an 18 year old, and I did a lot of moving with my family, so I was always the new kid on the block. But, you know, I just went to school, I went to university – because my career advisor said I should – and I got this degree, and I just felt really underwhelmed. I was lost, I didn’t have any purpose or passion. So I ended up just backpacking around the world, and I was just going through all these different countries, various continents.
Then I was 24 in Canada and that’s when I learned the news of my friend passing, Chris. I began asking all the questions that we all do, “Why am I here? What am I doing?” And I realized that he’d lived a life, that although very short, was one well lived. It really reflected him, and his qualities, and his values. And so I thought, “Well, how special to be able to say that. If I died today, could I look back and say I lived a life that reflected me and my values?” and I was like, “Oh, I can’t. I don’t even know who I am actually.” And so that’s what made me realize that I needed to change, and that was the conception and creation of my list.
When you first put together this list, what were the values that seemed to be important during this time in your life?
Sebastian Terry: I just wanted to put together a list of things that would make me smile. I wanted to become happier – as I saw it at that moment, I wasn’t. But the list was just an eclectic assortment of things that I’d always thought were interesting but never done. There was delivering a baby, and marrying a stranger in Las Vegas, and chasing a tornado, and living on a deserted island, and all these things. But I think that the list itself has generally just been a vehicle for me to uncover who I am. Generally, what happens in society, is we’re conditioned to think and act in a certain way. It’s about accumulating money through jobs and a career, and then you can enjoy a house, and a family, and car, and a dog – maybe two dogs. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all, but we’re just told, “That’s what you do.” But the advice I wish I was given is, “Don’t make one decision that counters who you are as a person on a fundamental level.” I dare say, if I can be so profound, that the secret to living a life of true fulfillment, if that’s the word, is working out who you are and then just learning to be that, and that’s it.
What was the defining moment in your journey when you realized this was much bigger than yourself?
Sebastian Terry: Number 26 on my list is to help a stranger. This guy Mark got in touch, he saw me on TV in Australia, and he said, “You know, I’ve always wanted to run a half marathon.” But Mark is quadriplegic. He wasn’t always that way. He got bitten by a tick as an able-bodied person, lost use of muscle in his body, can’t speak, needs a ventilator to sleep at night. I just signed us both up for Melbourne half marathon and pushed him, and it was the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It still is to this day. It was the first time I truly helped somebody, and I haven’t stopped since.
So that’s where the trajectory of this took off in a different direction, to just a man and his list to something far bigger. And now I travel the world helping strangers, but the most recent kind of development is that I now engage complete strangers to help complete strangers in need. That’s it. That’s my life’s purpose. I’m here to build platform, which is a meeting place for people who need help. I’ve become this conduit for those who need help and those who can help on a peer-to-peer level. So my list is still incomplete, and it probably will always be that way, because I don’t care so much about that, it’s more this selfless journey.
If there is one thing in the world that you hope to change with all this incredible work that you’re doing, what would it be and why?
Sebastian Terry: I think if there’s one thing I want to change, it’s just the culture of helping one another. I think we all have that ability. We all have the desire, but it culturally seems weak or vulnerable or odd to put your hand up and say, “I need help,” and I want to change that. We all innately have that ability and desire to help, but often we don’t know how. I don’t think it’s hard, it’s not tricky, it’s just about first finding yourself, knowing who you are – at least being in pursuit of that – and then I think you find yourself more able to help others. I think that’s what we’re here to do. You think about the last time you helped someone in any way, you feel good, and that’s what we should all be feeling every single day.