Getting Motivated by “The Big Finish”

I know it’s the start of the year, so we’re all gagging on the “fresh start effect”—research shows how powerful it is to use new beginnings to wipe the slate clean and become the person we want to be with the benefit of a fresh start. But I’m kind of into endings, so … let’s have a little chit chat about how they can help us get our act together, too.

Skully HourglassHave you heard the story of Florence Chadwick, the first woman to swim 23 miles across the English Channel in both directions in 1950?

In 1952 she was 15 hours into a swim between Catalina Island and the California coastline when a dense fog rolled in. She swam for another hour, lost sight of the coastline, and reluctantly asked to be pulled out of the water.

Little did she know she was a mere mile from her finish line. She told a reporter, “Look, I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land I know I could have made it.” Had she known she was close to the finish, she’d have drawn on the reserves we all know bubble in that cauldron deep within us—the remarkable will to persevere and nail a goal when the end is in sight.

(Happy ending alert: two months later Florence successfully made the crossing in under 14 hours. Go Flo!)

Here is where I am going to make a clunky (yet no less profound) segue to the end of your life. Yes, Your Biggest Finish Line of All.

Florence Chadwick swore she’d have performed better if she knew the end was near. Dan Pink refers to this as the fast finish effect; he notes that “when we near the end, we kick a little harder.” So what if we got a little more viscerally in touch with “the end,” so we could maybe kick a little harder … in the lives we’re currently living?

Reaching the end of things activates a greater sense of urgency and intensity in the time we have left. And isn’t that a recipe for a life well-lived: a dialed-up determination to Get on with the Business of Living Before We Do in Fact Croak?

Practicing memento mori (“remembering we must die”) is what most humans need to stop taking our time for granted.

Count your Mondays, friend.

Look into the distance, through the fog. Can you see it out there? Your finish line? It’s there, waiting for you to swim across it like you were giving it your all, like you gave two shits.

Now let’s get out there—let’s get into the water, and then let’s kick like we mean it. Let’s not get pulled out of the water because we didn’t know the end was in sight. Let’s make a fucking splash out there.

Jodi Wellman

P.S.: Speaking of splashes, I illustrated the cover of my upcoming book with the Grim Reaper making a wee splash while waterskiing (he’s so splashy). Why not preorder You Only Die Once: How to Make It to the End with No Regrets?!

P.P.S.: Let’s do Instagram together.

P.P.P.S.: Oh and just in case you missed it… I’d love you forever if you took 16 minutes out of your life to watch my TEDx talk!


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