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Reading: the Big Five for Life of John Strelecky

This year, I’m experiencing some professional changes, leading me to the recommendation of this book in german “The Big Five for Life - Was wirklich zählt im Leben”. A translation could be “What really matters in life”.

So I read it, and there’s a lot to say about it. Initially, it seemed like a typical personal development book, like the other personal development. But it took a different turn.

What is the book about? It explores a friendship between two individuals. The protagonist is inspired by another’s journey, which ultimately leads to death. However it is a contented end, and that’s also what the book is about. Death is OK if… we see it afterwards.

The story offers practical advice through narratives. This book can therefore be seen as a practical guide.

Thinking about it

Dieu est mort and since birth people are looking for a meaning to their lives. It’s possible, and I’m lucky enough, to be able to choose what I want to do. Similarly, I can almost ‘choose’ my problems. I have to define what I want to do in my life, so that I can live it.

Some refer to the search for life’s meaning as the Big Q’s (Big Questions). Others name it the Big Five for Life (BFFL). The book is peppered with recommendations.


Here are a few recommendations or key takeaways I’ve noted from the book. I can have missed a few, but if you’re interested, you might as well read it yourself 😄

Solange der Output großer ist, lohnt es sich. | As long as the output is higher, it’s worth it.

Often (in company) people think about costs and efforts. If the output is greater than the cost and efforts, then it is worth it. So it should go: it’s valuable when the output surpasses the costs and effets. When Cost + Effort < Output OR Output >then it is worth it.

Kleine Haftnotizen für Lob, Dank und Kommentar. | Small notes for praises, thanks and comments.

We often overlook the importance of acknowledging others’actions or sharing our feelings (especially in France). Small notes can help. Today, we also have digital messages. Small notes have their charm though.

Mit guten Menschen kann man dort wieder ankäufen, wo man aufgeört hat, selbst wenn man sich Monate oder Jahre nicht gesehen hat. | With good people you can pick up where you left off, even if you haven’t seen each other for months or years.

This is true in my experience. We can start a conversation like that even if we didn’t have an interaction for 6 months.

Umgebung schaffen, in der die Leute sich entwickeln können. | Create an environment in which people can blossom

We need to better watch the conditions of grow people are in, and lift them up. It’s crucial to foster conditions that enable growth, especially when it matches my BFFL. Read a previous blog post about arguments in favor of a better world for more.

Wir denken wir könnten Dingen verschieben, weil wir immer noch Zeit und Gelegenheit dazu haben werden. Aber das ist eine der großen Illusion des Lebens. | We think we can delay things, beccause we will have always time and opportunity. But this is a big illusion of life.

We always think life is enough, up to the point it is not. At this point, life becomes too short. So let’s agree life will be to short at the end. Or if we accomplish our big five for life, then the life is enough.

28 200 Tage sind zu kurz um Smalltalks zu halten. | 28 200 days are too few to have smalltalks.

We don’t have time for uninteresting discussion. I am mitigated on this, because sometime it is comfortable, convenient and it does me good.

Lebe jeden Tag so, als würde er ein Teil deines Lebensmuseum werden! | Live each day as if it were part of your museum of life.

Every day is important. If you live every day as part of the most memorable day of your life. Well, you will end up with a memorable life.

Eine Klettwand für ZDE und BFFL erstellen und neue Dinge testen, ob sie haften bleiben. | Create a note about ZDE and BFFL and test new things. Let’s see whether they stick.

As your BFFL guide your life, test things ASAP and see how it goes. If it does, great! If it doesn’t, then you can change it.

Man muss tun, was man möchte, solang es noch kann. | People must do what they want as long as they still can.

Obvious to fulfill your life.

Es gibt keine Angestellte, sondern Mitreisende. | There are no employee, only fellow travelers.

People works to earn money. Give them their salary and see if they still shows up to work. In other words, people work for a salary, but meaningful work is what truly motivates. Those you meet along the way share similar goals, making them companions rather than mere coworkers.

Bei uns geht es nicht um Menschenleben. | It’s not about human lives for us.

Taking a step back from the situation is important. After all, there are no human lives at risk in my (our) case(s).

So the Big Five for Life

The book has one guideline: get the big five for life and pursue them. These are the five things we want to do, see or experience before we die. Achieving these means living a meaningful and fulfilled life. On the internet, you can RIP in peace. It also means we define ourselves our life, and what we want to do with it.

After all, the BFFL can change through our experiences. For instance in college, I aspired to become an expert in digital security for example, but now I’m building (sustainable) interfaces. That’s more fun and enjoyable for me.

So let’s just do it. We can think a lot about these Big 5, but what’s the 5 first things that comes to my mind? Thinking about my immediate priorities I get:

  1. Developing various IT projects that empower people, aligned with the others BFFL.

  2. Inspiration for others - with my projects, writing and attitude. I am unsure about it, if I want personally to be a inspiration myself, or better through what I do or create.

  3. Facilitating other’s lives - What I do helps others achieve their goals as long as it respects my other BFFLs.

  4. Development - training my body and mind once a day so that I am constantly developing. The mind is developed through foreign languages, IT skills and other subjects. Reading online and offline. Stay open and keep calm.

  5. Consider animals and the environment - living with animals and offering them a pleasant life. Life should be positive for yourself and everyone.

So ist der Ist-Zustand. This is the current state of my thinking. It’s imperfect for my taste (french, food, ok), but it’s better to write and publish than wait months (hum as the 10 posts in draft). After all, my Big Five for Live can and will evolve.