When John Goddard was a boy, he liked to read. He read books and learned about other people's lives, places in the world to visit, things to do and learn. When he was 15 years old, he had so many things in his head that he wanted to do and learn in the years of his life ahead of him, he decided to make a list so he could keep track of each of his goals and when he achieved them.
One rainy afternoon, he sat down at his kitchen table in Los Angeles and wrote three words at the top of a yellow pad, "My Life List." Under that heading he wrote down 127 goals.
These weren't simple or easy goals. They included climbing the world's major mountains, exploring from source to mouth the longest rivers of the world, piloting the world's fastest aircraft, running a mile in five minutes, and reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.
John Goddard is now in his 80s and has achieved over 100 of the goals on his list.
He doesn't believe in pursuing adventure for the sake of frivolous thrills, but used all of his experiences to grow as a person and contribute knowledge to the world. "Digging out the facts is the real challenge," Goddard says in summing up his lifetime of experiences. "The adventure is exciting and enjoyable – but secondary."
Here are some of the things on John Goddard's Life List that he has achieved:
Visit every country in the world. He still has 30 or so to go.
Circumnavigate the globe. He's done it four times!
Travel and study primitive cultures in The Congo, New Guinea, Brazil, Borneo, The Sudan, Australia, Kenya, The Philippines, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Alaska.
Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya, The Matterhorn, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Vesuvius, and the Grand Tetons. He hasn't made it yet to climb Mt. Everest.
Explore the Nile River, Amazon River, Congo River, and Colorado River.
Photograph Victoria Falls in Rhodesia (chased by a warthog in the process), Sutherland Falls in New Zealand, Yosemite Falls, and Niagara Falls.
Explore the coral reefs of Florida, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia (photographed a 300-pound clam), the Red Sea, and the Everglades.
Visit the Great Wall of China, Panama and Suez Canals, Galapagos Islands, Vatican City, Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, Tower of London, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. He hasn't made it to the North and South Poles yet.
Travel through the Grand Canyon on foot and by boat.
Retrace travels of Marco Polo and Alexander the Great.
Visit the birthplace of his grandfather Sorenson in Denmark and his grandfather Goddard in England.
Fly in a blimp, balloon, and glider.
Make a parachute jump.
Dive in a submarine.
Learn to use a plane, motorcycle, tractor, surfboard, canoe, microscope, football, basketball, bow and arrow, lariat and boomerang.
Ride a horse in Rose Parade.
Ride an elephant, camel, ostrich, and bronco.
Become an Eagle Scout.
Skin dive to 40 feet and hold his breath two-and-a-half minutes underwater.
High jump five feet.
Broad jump 15 feet.
Run a mile in five minutes.
Catch a ten-pound lobster and a ten-inch abalone.
Learn water and snow skiing.
Own a horse, chimpanzee, cheetah, ocelot, and coyote. He has yet to own a chimp or cheetah.
Build his own telescope.
Type 50 words a minute.
Write a book (he wrote one about his Nile trip).
Publish an article in National Geographic magazine.
Learn French, Spanish, and Arabic.
Read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. He has read extensive parts in each volume.
Read the works of Shakespeare, Plato, Aristotle, Dickens, Thoreau, Rousseau, Conrad, Hemingway, Twain, Burroughs, Tolstoy, Longfellow, Keats, Poe, Bacon, Whittier, and Emerson. He has read at least one work of each.
Become familiar with the compositions of Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Rimski-Korsakov, Respighi, Rachmaninoff, Paganini, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and Verdi.
Play flute and violin.
Play Clair de Lune on the piano.
Visit a movie studio.
Marry and have children. He has five children.
Visit the moon. "Someday, if God wills," he says.
Does anything on John Goddard's list interest you?
Use the Life List sheet to start your own Life List. Mark an "X" on the spot along the life line that shows your age. How many years are behind you? If you live to be at least 80 years old, how many years are ahead of you?
If a class of students is doing this activity together, discuss all the things students have learned and done so far in their life. Everyone has learned how to crawl, and walk, and talk, and read, and write. What are some of the special or interesting things students have achieved so far or done? Some students may have had a chance to visit other countries; other students may have excelled in sports or have interesting hobbies. Do the achievements of others give you any ideas?
Write down some of the things you might like to do, learn, explore, see, and achieve in your lifetime. You can add to your Life List when you get new ideas from people you meet, books you read, things you see on the Internet, and subjects you study in school.
If you're looking for inspiration to set new dreams for your lifetime, Dream is an award-winning bestseller with a multilayered story for all ages and remarkable illustrations by top illustrators from around the world.