Life Goals anyone? Learn from John Goddard

Life Goals anyone? Learn from John Goddard

In 1972, Life magazine published a story depicting the adventures of John Goddard. His story was one of undying determination filled with personal purpose. When he was fifteen, he heard his grandmother say, ‘If I had only done this when I was young.’ Determined not to spend his life playing the ‘if only’ game, John Goddard sat down and decided what he wanted to do with his life. When he finished writing, 127 goals came to being; he called it his Life List.

“to dare is to do… to fear is to fail” – John Goddard

John Goddard decided there were ten rivers he wanted to explore, along with seventeen mountains he wanted to climb. He decided to become an Eagle Scout; Visit every country in the world; Learn to fly an airplane; and dive in a submarine. He wanted to retrace the travels of Marco Polo and ride a horse in the Rose Parade. And this was just the beginning.

John Goddard committed himself to reading the Bible from cover to cover, reading the entire works of Shakespeare, Plato, Dickens, Aristotle, Socrates and several other classic authors. He planned to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica and yet have time to learn to play the flute and violin.

Marriage? Yes! Children? he has six, and his plans also included a stint with church missions, along with a career in medicine.

At forty-seven, 1972, John Goddard, had accomplished 103 of his 127 goals and according to the speakers source book by Glenn Van Ekeren,

“Goddard exemplifies the excitement of determining a purpose in life, setting goals, and pursuing them with determination”

At 84, John Goddard still hopes to achieve his remaining goals. He has just 18 more to go.

You may not have much interest in exploring rivers and climbing mountains, but how would you answer the question:

“What are your life goals?”



I first published this article on my other blog in 2009, you can read it here

John Goddard passed away in 2013 at a ripe age of 88. At the time of his passing, the LA Times recorded that his son, Jeffery Goddard said his father had reached all but a few of his goals, but could not be exact. You can see the actual list of goals and the ones he achieved here. From the list of 125 goals, he had 15 more to go. 

The LA Times called him – “The real life Indiana Jones” and one of his expeditions, “the most amazing adventure of this generation.”


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