One evening many years ago, 15 year-old John Goddard was sitting at the kitchen table doing his homework while his parents and a family friend stood around the kitchen sink talking and washing dishes. The friend was telling John’s parents of all the things he had never gotten around to doing, all of the regrets he had, and how he wished he could be John’s age again and have a second chance at life. This conversation had a strong impact on John, and he resolved right there and then that he would never be in the same situation this man was in. He would live a life without regrets.
A few days later, on a rainy afternoon, John sat down once again at that same kitchen table. This time, he had a yellow pad with him, and a pen. At the very top of the pad he wrote: “My Life List”. John proceeded to fill the pages of the pad with all of the adventures he wanted to go. It included things such as climbing the world’s highest mountains, exploring the world’s greatest rivers, flying a plane, visiting every country in the world, reading the complete works of Shakespeare, having children, and even going to the moon. When he was done, John’s list contained 127 items.
However, John didn’t stop at simply creating a life list. He went on to cross off nearly every item on the list. Today, John is widely recognized as one of the world’s most famous anthropologists, explorers, and adventurers. Some people have even referred to him as the real life Indiana Jones. His greatest feat, traversing the entire length of the Nile River-the world’s longest river-was referred to by the LA Times as “the most amazing adventure of this generation”. This 1950 expedition has never been duplicated, even with today’s modern equipment.
John advises that you get started on living a life of no regrets by putting your dreams down on paper. He also recommends that you keep your life list in a place where you can see it often, and that you set firm deadlines. In addition, he cautions others that there will be obstacles that they will have to overcome as they try to achieve their life list. While traversing the Nile on a kayak, along with two other men, John nearly drowned, he was attacked by wild hippos, he was almost buried alive in a sandstorm, and he was even shot at by river pirates.
You may not be interested in climbing Mount Fuji or Mount Everest, running a mile in five minutes, or following Marco Polo’s route through all of the Middle East, India, and China. However, if there’s anything you’ve always told yourself that you wanted to do-such as go skydiving, visit Paris, or learn to play the piano-write it down. Then, follow John Goddard’s lead and get started crossing items off your life list. Do this and at the end of your life, you, too, will be able to say, “I have no regrets”.