Before I Die…

Before I Die…

Chalkboard check box background

As always, this year’s Annual Retreat hosted by the Financial Planning Association was impactful, insightful, and full of learnings; the speakers delivered exceptional, leading-edge presentations. But out of the dozens of spectacular presentations, there was one session that was so powerful, Elissa Buie said that “it changed her life”. The session was titled “Before I Die” and was lead by world-renowned artist and urban designer, Candy Chang.


In 2009, Candy Chang found herself in a long period of grief and depression after the unexpected loss of a loved on who still had so much she wanted to do with her life. While struggling with her feelings, Candy decided to channel her emotional questions about death and meaning into her work as an artist. She made a stencil that said ,”Before I die I want to ______,” and with the help of friends old and new, she painted these words onto the side of an abandoned house in her neighborhood with chalkboard paint. Her hope for the experiment was to encourage people to reflect on death and life, and share their personal aspirations in public.

By the next day, the wall was filled with responses that spanned the entire gamut of humanity. Responses that made you laugh. Responses that made you cry. Responses that expressed pain, and joy, and insecurity, and gratitude, and fear, and all that makes us human. See some examples below from the Before I Die Project’s website.


To date, there have been over 5,000 Before I Die walls in over 75 countries and 36 languages – 5,001 if you include the wall that was started at FPA’s Annual Retreat, and 5,003 if you include the walls that were started in our Yeske Buie offices. Take a moment to soak in some of the beautiful, personal contributions we’ve collected thus far.

Before I die, I want to…


We hope you find this experiment as inspiring and as meaningful as we do. If you feel compelled to share, we would love to hear what makes your list – what do you hope to do before you die? Use the form below to submit your answers anonymously and we’ll include them in our rotating collection above.

Before I die, I want to…