Bubble Language School

The Life List of John Goddard, One of the World’s Greatest Achievers

The story of John Goddard as one of humanity’s greatest goal-achievers is unique.

On a rainy afternoon in San Diego, California, a 15-year-old Caucasian boy, a quintessential American, sat down with a yellow legal pad and wrote 127 goals.

From early childhood I had always dreamed of becoming an explorer. Somehow I had acquired the impression that an explorer was someone who lived in the jungle with natives and lots of wild animals, and I couldn’t imagine anything better than that! Unlike other little boys, most of whom changed their minds about what they want to be several times as they grew older, I never wavered from this ambition.

John Goddard

The author of that statement is most known for his amazing “life list” of accomplishments.

He wanted to climb the world’s most perilous peaks, navigate its major rivers and explore its most remote regions, among many other ambitions. Goddard, an adventurer, explorer and lecturer died Friday at a Glendale hospital of complications from cancer, said his son Jeffery. He was 88.

Here’s his list of 127 goals as a young man, later updated with over 600 goals.


  1. Nile River
  2. Amazon River
  3. Congo River
  4. Colorado
  5. Yangtze River, China
  6. Niger River
  7. Orinoco River, Venezuela
  8. Rio Coco, Nicaragua
  9. The Congo
  10. New Guinea
  11. Brazil
  12. Borneo
  13. The Sudan (Nearly buried alive in a sandstorm)

Study Tribal Cultures in:

  1. Australia
  2. Kenya
  3. The Philippines
  4. Tanganyika (Now Tanzania)
  5. Ethiopia
  6. Nigeria
  7. Alaska


  1. Mount Everest
  2. Mount Aroncagua, Argentina
  3. Mount McKinley
  4. Mount Huascaran, Peru
  5. Mount Kilimanjaro
  6. Mount Aratat, Turkey
  7. Mount Kenya
  1. Mount Cook, New Zealand
  2. Mount Popocatepetl, Mexico
  3. The Matterhorn
  4. Mount Rainier
  5. Mount Fuji
  6. Mount Vesuvius
  7. Mount Bromo, Java
  8. Grand Tetons
  9. Mount Baldy, California
  10. Carry out careers in medicine and exploration
  11. Visited every country in the world (visited 122 already).
  12. Study Navaho and Hopi cultures
  13. Learn to fly a plane
  14. Ride horse in Rose Parade


  1. Iguacu Falls, Brazil-Argentine border
  2. Victoria Falls
  3. Sutherland Falls, New Zealand
  4. Yosemite Falls
  5. Niagara Falls
  6. Retrace the travels of Marco Polo and Alexander the Great

Explore underwater:

  1. Coral reefs of Florida
  2. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  3. Red Sea
  4. Figi Islands
  5. The Bahamas
  6. Explore Okefenokee Swamp and The Everglades


  1. North and South Poles
  2. Great Wall of China
  3. Panama and Suez Canals
  4. Easter Island
  5. The Galapagos Islands
  6. V atican City (saw the Pope)
  7. The Taj Mahal
  8. The Eiffel Tower
  9. The Blue Grotto
  10. The Tower of London
  11. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
  12. The Sacred Well of Chichen-Itza, Mexico
  13. Climb Ayers Rock in Australia
  14. Follow River Jordan from Sea of Galilee to Dead Sea

Swim in:

  1. Lake Victoria
  2. Lake Superior
  3. Lake Tanganyika
  4. Lake Titicaca
  5. Lake Nicaragua


  1. Become an Eagle Scout
  2. Dive in a submarine
  3. Land and take off from an aircraft carrier
  4. Fly in a blimp, hot air balloon and glider
  5. Ride an elephant, camel, ostrich and bronco
  6. Skin dive to 40 feet and hold breath two and a half minutes underwater
  7. Catch a ten pound lobster and a ten inch abalone
  8. Play flute and violin
  9. Type 50 words a minute
  10. Make a parachute jump
  11. Learn water and snow skiing
  12. Go on a church mission
  13. Follow the John Muir Trail
  14. Study native medicines and bring back useful ones
  15. Bag camera trophies of elephant, lion, rhino, cheetah, cape buffalo and whale
  16. Learn to fence
  17. Learn jujitsu
  18. Teach a college course
  19. Watch a cremation ceremony in Bali
  20. Explore depths of the sea
  21. Appear in a Tarzan movie
  22. Own a horse, chimpanzee, cheetah, ocelot and coyote
  23. Become a ham radio operator
  24. Build own telescope
  25. Write a book on the Nile expedition
  26. Publish and article in National Geographic magazine
  27. High jump five feet
  28. Broad jump fifteen feet
  29. Run a mile in five minutes
  30. Weigh 175 pounds stripped (still does)
  31. Perform 200 sit-ups and 20 pull-ups
  32. Learn French, Spanish and Arabic
  33. Study dragon lizards on Komodo Island
  34. Visit birthplace of Grandfather Sorenson in Denmark
  35. Visit birthplace of Grandfather Goddard in England
  36. Ship aboard a freighter as a seaman
  37. Read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica (Has read extensive parts in each of the 24 volumes)
  38. Read the Bible from cover to cover
  39. Read the works of Shakespeare, Plato, Aristotle, Dickens, Thoreau, Poe, Rousseau, Bacon, Hemmingway, Twain, Burroughs, Conrad, Talmage, Tolstoy, Longfellow, Keats, Whittier and Emerson (not every work of each)
  1. Become familiar with the compositions of Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, Ibert, Mendelssohn, Lalo, Rimsky-Korsakov, Respighi, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Toch, Tchaikovsky, Verdi
  2. Become proficient in the use of a plane, motorcycle, tractor, surfboard, rifle, pistol, canoe, microscope, football, basketball, bow and arrow, lariat and boomerang
  3. Compose music
  4. Play Clair de Lune on the piano
  5. Watch fire-walking ceremony (in Bali and Surinam)
  6. Milk a poisonous snake
  7. Light a match with a .22 rifle
  8. Visit a movie studio
  9. Climb Great Pyramid of Cheops (Egypt)
  10. Become a member of the Explorers’ Club and the Adventures’ Club
  11. Learn to play polo
  12. Travel through the Grand Canyon on foot and by boat
  13. Circumnavigate the globe (four times)
  14. Visit the moon
  15. Marry and have children (2 sons, 4 daughters)*
  16. Live to see the 21st century

“I think the problem is that most people don’t set their goals high enough.”

John Goddard

“It’s ridiculous to tippy-toe through life.”

John Melvin Goddard


John Melvin Goddard was born July 29, 1924, in Salt Lake City and moved to Los Angeles with his family as a child. Goddard studied anthropology and psychology at USC before embarking on his adventures.

A popular speaker for many years at schools, colleges and motivational events throughout Southern California, Goddard supported himself and his travels through his lectures. He was a member of the Adventurers’ Club of Los Angeles and several similar organizations.

His survivors include his wife of 33 years, Carol; six children; and 12 grandchildren.

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