About two months ago, on a rainy Saturday, my seven year-old son (who is enjoying his budding ability to write) came to me with a small, yellow pad of paper and said, “Daddy, I want to write a list. What should I make a list of?” Suddenly, I recalled reading about John Goddard and the life list he wrote at age 15. His list consisted of 127 things he would like to do or see during his lifetime (for example: Climb Mt. Everest, run a mile in under five minutes, land on and take off from an aircraft carrier, and circumnavigate the globe). Goddard is now 75 years old and, at last count, has accomplished 109 of the goals he wrote as a teenager.
“Why don’t you write a life list?” I suggested to my son. “OK,” he said. “What’s a life list, Daddy?”
A week ago, while I was tidying up my son’s room, I came across that yellow pad of paper. Since showing him John Goddard’s life list two months earlier, I hadn’t seen or thought about the pad. On the cardboard cover he had scrawled, “Do not tuoch.” Behind the cover were nine pages of goals (55 total) he had written over the course of the last sixty days. Some were written in pencil, some in black ink, some in green ink – and all in the painstakingly careful handwriting of a second grader. As I read his life list, I could see his life unfolding before my eyes (not a life of achieving all of the goals on his life list, but certainly a life of adventurous striving).
Before I share highlights of my son’s life list with you, consider:
1. To what degree do you think a young person increases his chances of a fulfilling life by seizing the freedom to dream big, imagining what he wants to achieve, and writing it down?
2. Which habit would you wish for your child more than that of creating exciting mental pictures of the future with a spirit of expectancy?
Check out some of the excerpts of his list (I have corrected his spelling):
#2: Run a marathon. #3 Visit the castles in Scotland. #7: Climb Mt. Washington (in New Hampshire). #9: Read a 200+ page book. #10: Live to be 105+ years old. #14: Set a record. #15: Be a dad. #17: Go water skiing. #19: Make something that goes in public. #21: Be able to speak more than two different languages. #23: Invent something. #24: Never get an ear infection until I’m ten. #27: Visit the pyramids in Egypt. #30: Go to another continent. #35: Be in 125-degree weather. #36: Play 18 holes of golf in par or under par. #39: Be in the newspaper twice. #40: Never wear long sleeves to school on the first day. #43: Eat a wild food. #47: Visit a place on the equator. #48: Be in the hall of fame for any sport. #50: Rescue somebody on a real mission. #51: Win a championship game. #55: Visit any hall of fame for any sport.
Someday, my son will look back on this first life list he ever composed and laugh at some of the things he wrote – just as you laugh at some of them now. But he’ll also laugh at the many things he achieved, and realize that it was that rainy day back in late 2006 when these accomplishments and experiences started hurtling towards him – and when his habit of shooting for the moon was born.
Have you written your life list yet?
Rob Crawford, a school administrator who loves baseball and acoustic guitars, writes on self-management, productivity, and impact at Crawdaddy Cove.