Written by : Transcript – Making the Most of the Rest of Your Days With Jodi Wellman 

Transcript – Making the Most of the Rest of Your Days With Jodi Wellman

Follow along with the transcript below for episode: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Days With Jodi Wellman

 

[INTRODUCTION]

[0:00:02] PF: Thank you for joining us for Episode 463 of Live Happy Now. What if thinking about death could give more meaning to your life? Well, today’s guest says, it can, and she has the research to back it up. I’m your host, Paula Felps. Today, I’m talking with Jodi Wellman, founder of Four Thousand Mondays, a company designed to help people make the most of their time on this planet. Her TED Talk, How Death Can Bring You Back to Life has more than 1.3 million views. And her new book, You Only Die Once: How to Make It to The End with No Regrets is being released in just a few weeks. I sat down with Jodi to find out what started this mission and more importantly, how we all can live better by counting the Mondays that we have left. Let’s have a listen.

[EPISODE]

[0:00:49] PF: Jodi, thank you so much for coming on Live Happy Now.

[0:00:53] JW: Oh, I’m just downright giddy to be here with you, Paula.

[0:00:55] PF: As I told you, I have been so looking forward to this conversation. We’ve been emailing for a while. I kind of had to wait until we are closer to your book coming out, and it’s going to be coming out soon. But even without your book being on the shelves, yet, you’ve been creating some incredible content that reminds us to live our life and be alive. I wanted to find out your backstory. How did that become your mission?

[0:01:19] JW: Well, thank you for the compliment, and thank you for asking. I have been – I would say, appropriately interested in our mortality for a very long time, so since I was probably my early twenties. Just to cut to the chase, I really do believe that the way that we can wake up to living is through the – sometimes stark, and sometimes, a bit of a splash cold water in your face reminder that, “Right, right, right. We’re totally going to die.” How do we use that not to feel morbid?

I found in my twenties; I was always just fascinated by it. Then, my mom died. She went and had the nerve to die, that lovely lady in her late fifties. It wasn’t so much for me that she died, which was obviously a crappy thing. But it was my perception at the time that she died with a bunch of regrets. It broke my heart to see as I cleaned up her place, like the vestiges of all these dreams that were just sort of like – well, I don’t know. I think I call it somewhere in the book, like the land of dormant intentions. Like all these ideas that she was talented, and creative, and fabulous and just didn’t execute. It really woke me up to this idea that we have an end date, we don’t know when it is. Here we are taking our time for granted.

I guess that was a huge wake up for me, which was not just so much that, “Oh, you could die unexpectedly early.” But it’s like, oh, you could die in a way where maybe we didn’t do this life justice, because we all have hopes, and plans, and dreams, and goals, and things. What a shame if we don’t get to do them?

[0:02:54] PF: That’s so insightful that that occurred at such a young age, that you’re interested in this, and your fascination, because we are immortal into our thirties. It doesn’t cross our mind that anything, even when we lose friends unexpectedly, it’s like well, that’s tragic, and it’s not supposed to happen, but it’s not going to happen to me.

[0:03:14] JW: Right. Thanks for touching on that, because we do a really good job of sort of just denying the inevitable. If it happens to other people, or they’re older, or it is just a very rare tragedy and occurrence that will not be my fate. Then, you’re right, as we age, we start to see that, “Wait a minute, maybe this ruse I’ve been telling myself is, maybe it’s actually closer than I think.” So let’s use that instead of triggering an existential crisis. Let’s make it like existential catharsis. Oh, we just coined something new here today. Let’s use this, right?

[0:03:46] PF: Yes, because you could almost call this the joy of death, the way that you approach it. I mean, you give us so much inspiration to like, “Okay, I have an end date, and here’s what I’ve got to do before.” It’s not like a bucket list, it’s different than a bucket list. Can you explain that?

[0:04:01] JW: Oh, sure. I think many of us, I have strong feelings about the bucket list. It can be lovely just as an aside to touch on that for a sec. If we do identify things that we yearn in long to do that might light us up, but I do think that there’s danger because it creates this sort of false sense of satisfaction. There’s research around this, right? The idea that sometimes we identify a goal, we put it on a piece of paper, or a spreadsheet, and we put it away, and then we go and live our whole ho-hum Monday to Friday lives. Because it’s this notion that we’ll do it later. And danger signs, like let’s have flashing lights happen, because this deferral of life. I’m not even just worried that we won’t get there, because odds are maybe slim, but many of us were waiting to live when we retire. Well, being exactly in our prime at that stage of life, to be traipsing around the world.

But, I just think, what about our lives now, don’t they deserve something? It is more than just ticking things off a list. I think I have this framework about living wider with vitality and deeper with meaning. I love just using that as a way to stop and assess how wide and deep is my life while I’m here.

[0:05:11] PF: Can you talk about Four Thousand Mondays? First of all, when it started, and then explain to us what it is because I really, really love this. And your TED Talk, we’re going to give listeners a link to your TED Talk, because that is a such an excellent 15-minute explanation of it.

[0:05:26] JW: Thank you so much for that. Well, Four Thousand Mondays, I named my company that because that is approximately the math of what we get if we’re lucky to get that many weeks. I’ve chose Mondays on purpose, because they’re just the most annoying and I don’t want to annoy people, but I want to – if it was like 4,000 Saturdays, we’d be like, “Woohoo. Life’s great, don’t need to think about it.” But Monday’s do rankle, and I want to rankle in the right way to say, “Are you enjoying getting up on a Monday morning, or are you dreading it, or maybe somewhere in between, depending on the day and week?” So, roughly with that timeline, that’s what we have.

Started Four Thousand Mondays after I studied positive psychology of all things at the University of Pennsylvania. That was in 2020. A very interesting year in our globe.

[0:06:13] PF: That’s a great year to be doing positive psychology.

[0:06:17] JW: Yes, it was roll time, didn’t know it when I started. I’ll just share, having been interested in this mortality topic for years, but skirting the edges of it, because I just told myself a story, that while I worked with corporations, either as an executive coach or leadership consultant. Prior to that, working corporately for 17 years. I was like, “I can’t talk about the Grim Reaper and have anybody take me seriously.” Then, I think I found a way; studying it. Anything that you can say that there’s empirical evidence behind, all of a sudden, you can stand on a stage. At least, I could with more confidence.

That for me was this, and in addition to the plague happening to our university. It was like, I think I have a chance to restart. I cannot not do this, like I was grabbed. And I don’t know, I’m very visual, but I’m imagining myself literally being gripped on the arm by the Grim Reaper. I couldn’t let it go. It was, I have to do this, I have to scream from the mountaintops. It’s like, “Live, guys, because time is ticking.”

[0:07:13] PF: I love that. I mean, that’s so much purpose, so much clarity of, “This is my mission, and I have to spread this message.” I mean, I very rarely seeing people who are that clear, and that determined, like, this is it, and I’ve got to get it out, and I will find a way to do that.

[0:07:30] JW: Maybe it will be a show that for some people that I work with a lot of people who are trying to find the thing that they are super passionate about. It’s an important part of living a life well lived, is feeling like you did the thing that sparked you. I feel fortunate that – I think what I did was I listened finally, and lit the spark. Like I could tell that it was sizzling in the background. I feel fortunate that in my mid-40s back then, I came to this like, “Oh, no, I’m doing the thing. I’m no longer putting that thing aside. I will find a way to talk to corporations about legacy and mortality.”

On one hand, if you’re waiting for that thing to bite you, it could still come. Also, just a little shout out to go and sus around, and find that little ember of a flame of passion, and see what’s there, give it a go.

[0:08:16] PF: One thing you advise us to do is to count our remaining Mondays. I did that, and then I decided like, I needed more Monday, so I decided to live longer. I expanded it. Why is it a good idea to count our Mondays? They might do like I do, where it’s like, “You’ve got to be kidding me?”

[0:08:38] JW: Right. Right. Yes. It is definitely potentially morbid, and eye-opening, and good, I say. This granularity that I am hoping we all get like I just like breaking things down to the ridiculous for the purpose of the wakeup call, right? The idea – and I have a calculator on my website if math is not a good way to spend your remaining Mondays. It’s on the resources page. It’s a way to say, like I know I have 1,841 Monday’s left. When you do the countdown, it usually does create that little reaction, and then the science behind it is what’s called temporal scarcity.

That’s that phenomenon that happens when we tune into something that is limited time only. Our perception about it all of a sudden is very different than when we just thought we could live forever, now that we consciously think that. But when we know something is like a pumpkin spice latte, only going to be around for a certain amount of time, or a rare gem. It’s so much more valuable. That is exactly the deal with counting our Mondays.

I think we get halfway there when we just talk about the idea that we are finite, “Ugh, sucks to be us. What do you want to do?” Then, go answer your next email. But when you do the math, I don’t call it morbid math. I guess, I call it motivating math. That is the thing that makes you say – maybe it takes a bit your breath away. I’d like I did it recently about my working Monday’s left. I don’t really know if I’ll ever really retire. But whatever, like at the age that I feel like I’m allowed to say no to stuff, and it took my breath away. It caused me to cease, and say, “Oh, wait a minute, that’s not enough time to do the things I want to do.”

All right, let’s just all take a moment of silence to acknowledge that, “Crap, there will never be enough time to live the lives we are to live.” Okay. So now, it’s just like a recalibration exercise of like, what matters, what do you want to stuff in there? My exercise was like a career exercise of, “Oh, I do not want to be doing these things anymore.” So, I redesigned my business. For example, doing weight less one-on-one coaching. It’s like, I want to be doing all my things over here for now. We reserve the right to change. This is that editing that we get to do. It’s the reprioritizing that we get to do of, how do I fit in what matters? Presuming you’ve done a little bit of internal work to figure out what really does matter, now, we can do that in an afternoon at Starbucks.

[0:10:59] PF: Yes. Yes. What your message does is give us hope that it doesn’t matter how many Mondays we have left. I do have friends. They’re either thinking about retiring, or they have retired recently. They’re kind of throwing up their hands like, “Well, I didn’t do that. I wish I had. Da da da.” I’m like, “You still have time, especially if you’re not working. You can go do it.” That is what your message delivers so clearly, just because you didn’t do it. Okay. So you didn’t join that rock band in high school, and now you’re 70. Pick up a guitar, figure it out, do it now. That is the kind of hope that you give us.

[0:11:36] JW: Okay. We’re right on the same wavelength, and you’re just making the burst here at the seams. Because I have this notion, and it might be my next book that I would call, Not Dead Yet. It is this idea that, wow, while we still have – depending how spiritual you are, but the gift of being alive is preciousness. We’re only limited by our imagination and our confidence to be super honest. I think it’s fear. We all know, the dreaded F word that just holds us back. You’re right, it is not too late, and this is what I call pregrets. I know it’s a silly phrase, but it’s this idea about –

 

[0:12:07] PF: I love that.

 

[0:12:08] JW: Okay. When you do that age-old deathbed regrets exercise, like, “Tonight was my night, what would I be thinking? I wished I did that? I didn’t do that. Darn it.” Make that list. The good news is that, “Well, hallelujah, you’re not dying tonight.” Knock on [inaudible 0:12:24], here. Yes, it’s your chance. This is why it’s a pregret. It is a regret in the making that if you continue down your life course, yes, you will regret not learning Italian and not getting into that band. And not maybe starting that side hustle or whatever. But good news, you’re not dead yet, so you could do it. Technically now, even a small version of it.

[0:12:48] PF: You know what? Last year, I covered the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in Nashville. That’s where people who have always wanted to be musicians get to come, and they jam with big name musicians. It was the women’s version of the camp. I met a woman named Carolyn Price who was 65 years old. When she retired two years ago, she was like, “Well, I’ve always wanted to play the drums.” She went to the School of Rock. Now, if you know School of Rock, these are kids. They’re like eight, 12-year-olds. Here she is in her sixties getting out there and learning how to play the drums. I saw this woman get up on stage, and jam with people 20, 30 years younger than her having the ab– she was living her dream. She told me, if that is the only time I ever got on stage like that, worth it.

[0:13:37] JW: Oh my goodness, this is fabulous. You reminded me, my sister in Toronto has a friend nearby who was in her early eighties. She said, “I don’t know how much time I have left. I got the convertible, and we’re driving to Niagara on the Lake, and we’ve got scarves in our hair like they did in the old movies. And we’re driving, and our scars will be blowing in the wind, and we’re in a convertible that I just bought, and I just did this.” We all know examples. I’m thinking of a fabulous friend who went and got her master’s in her sixties, and her early seventies got her PhD. We are not limited. I mean, clearly, sometimes we’re resource limited. But usually, we’re just holding ourselves back. We get to live wider.

Your example there of the school rock gal, that’s living wider with vitality at saying, “I want to do these things. I want to feel proud that I showed up and lived it.” It’s not for optics, it’s not just to make other people feel like, “Oh, look at your social media life. It’s so glitzy.” It’s like, I prioritized and I made sure that this list of stuff that I thought would be pretty cool to do, and a life well lived. I made the time for it, and I didn’t defer it. I didn’t defer it to tomorrow that maybe wouldn’t come, or I didn’t defer to tomorrow when I maybe wasn’t able bodied, and I couldn’t actually go on the cruise, and go on the – I know people that have planned, they said I’m going to travel later when I retire, when I retire later, later, and then they did it, Then, their fibromyalgia is so bad, that they basically stayed on the cruise the whole time, and couldn’t go on any of the excursions.

[0:15:06] PF: Yes. It’s so sad because I’ve seen that as well. We had done some adventure travel, probably 10, 15 years ago, and saw a couple that they had saved up, and they had lived for this adventure, and he couldn’t get out of the dinghy to do the climb. Just as sad. It’s like, you do, you want to act on your dreams now. One thing that you do to help us get there is you have a quiz to identify how alive we are. I want to find out like, how did you come up with this? And also, what have you discovered through this?

[0:15:36] JW: Oh, I’ve discovered things I did not expect. It’s a pretty simple quiz that gets you, it’s right on the website. If you go to the website, and annoying pop up will occur, and that’s the quiz that will take you there. Pop ups can be good. That it really tracks to the framework that I was telling you about earlier around this idea about living wider with vitality, and deeper with meaning. If you put those two quadrants – not quadrants, those axes together, then you get quadrants. My goal is to help us see where are we today. Are we in the dead zone? Which is like negative on meaning, negative on vitality, faint pulse. Are we vitally empty, which is where we’ve got lots of fun happening. We are out there, and we are going to the street festivals. But we come home, and we feel like maybe we don’t have a purpose, about 10%, 15% of people follow that zone, and 10% fall in that dead zone I told you about.

The meatiest zone where most people fall in it, and it oscillates between like 39%, 40%, 41% of people call themselves while they identify as through the survey meaningfully bored. That means, they have enough meaning in their life to be plus on meaning. Maybe they have a job that contribute something, or they’re a parent, or looking after aging parents, or something that feels meaningful. But man, do they need a little more fun in their lives? Where’s the excitement, and the novelty, and like, I haven’t tried Thai food in a while. Like living a little. Maybe the sort of the all work, no play feeling. That’s the majority. Like 9% of people are in astonishingly alive, which is truly positive on meaning and truly positive on vitality. That’s, of course, where we’re aiming to be.

If in case, you’re a quick mathematician, and you’re wondering where the math, there’s a big chunk in the middle called the mid zone. That’s where a lot of people just kind of it’s like a catch all where it’s a little bit of everything.

[0:17:31] PF: Yes. How do people become astonishingly alive? Because that phrase, it’s like, I want to be that.

[0:17:39] JW: I know, I know. My first step is to do what I call diagnose the dead zones. Okay. I would be a pretty horrific positive psychology practitioner if I didn’t do a quick shout out to identify where the things are feeling lively in your life, and just do more of them. Amplify your positives and strengths. Do more of it, which actually is a great shortcut. It’s like, if hanging around with Mitzi makes you feel just like you’re laughing, and you pee your pants, and it’s so good, hang around with Mitzi more. Okay, do that. But we also have to diagnose where things have flat lined, and I think sometimes we need to clue in and go, “Oh, the thing that’s making me feel just kind of, “Ugh” is that I haven’t really perked up my social life lately.” Or, it could be that, “Wow, my recreation has just fallen off the map, and I haven’t really done much lately. I used to go to concerts, or I used to take online courses and learn new things.” Maybe if growth matters to you, identify where things need some CPR, so to speak. I’ve got all the metaphors with the jumper cables on it, and then activate by finding one thing you can do in order to help get a little bit of life back in that action.

Many of us think it’s an all or nothing thing, or it needs to be a big grand gesture. Like, “I need to go on a big trip I can’t afford” or “I need to pick up and move across the country” or “Quit my job and go back to school” and do those things if that really gets you going. But for most of us, we just need like the subtle little sustainable things, which include having a list of things that, again, might be on your deathbed regret list. What’s something you really yearn to do, that you would feel that paying of regret for if you’re cashing in your chips. What would be a thing? Well, you know, I’ve always wanted back to speaking Italian. The good news is, we have the Internet now, and we could just look it up, and we could find a way to start to learn Italian tonight.

So, just one small step forward. It’s sort of committing to a small step is a really big deal. Then, back to the idea about, don’t forget to count the Mondays. Don’t forget. The memento mori is the concept we’re talking about here.

[0:19:39] PF: Can you explain that really well. Can you tell us what that means?

[0:19:43] JW: For sure. Yes. It’s an old Latin phrase that dates back centuries. It means, “Remember, we must die.” It is just this whole entire carpe diem philosophy, which is, wow, it’s only by remembering through that temporal scarcity that my time is limited. That it will actually egged me on to do those things that normally I would just procrastinate forever, and go to my grave with a whole lot of coulda, shoulda, wouldas.

[0:20:09] PF: I think the timing on this, I think it’s incredible that you started your map in 2020. You have this whole mission, because I’ve seen so many people who haven’t regained their vibrancy since the shutdown. I see people who are still in their own personal lockdown. I think what you’re doing here is reminding us, like, get out there, and do these things again. So, everybody needs to hear this message, because we are still locked up in a lot of ways.

[0:20:37] JW: Thanks for saying that. I agree with that fully. Your discussion about get out there, I think about this, like the workshops I give, there are people that rightfully will say, “Hey, what if though, I’m more of an introvert, and getting up, and out there is actually to me my version of like a horror show.” I would say, “Well, don’t ruin your life. I’m not – there’s not a full prescription.” You must be out five nights a week? No, because I also am a homebody, and my inclination is like cozy at home with a great movie and a great meal. I also know, it’s like finding your right balance for now.

But I think we have that sense, if we’re being honest with ourselves. Even if you’ve been feeling like, “No, I like the quiet life, or I just want to read, and I just want the –” great, do that. What else though, look back in history, has made you feel alive? And usually, it does mean saying yes a little bit more to some of those invitations in life. I have to force myself. I in my own case study, because my inclination like I said, “Hello, Netflix.” I need to be the one to remind myself when I get an invitation to go out to a happy hour. My first thought is, “Oh, I just want to wash my face, and get in my jammies.” Well, you know what? When you come home from the thing from the happy hour, how often have you regretted doing it? Not often. Usually, just makes you feel a little more invigorated and alive. I just know my dose, is I can’t have more than one night a week, like one thing a week, but that’s my prescription. If I go a month, where I’d have been kind of cocooning, well then, I know. “Oh, honey, you’re going to need – remember, don’t forget to widen your life with some vitality.” What might that look like?

[0:22:15] PF: I love that. I love that. You have a new book coming out. It’s ready for preorder. It’s coming out in May. But we’re going to tell listeners how they can preorder it, we’ll give them a link to that. Can you talk a little bit about what they can expect from this book?

[0:22:28] JW: Oh, thanks for asking. It’s called, You Only Die Once: How to Make It to The End with No Regrets. You know what? It’s like everything we’ve been talking about here. It’s 10 chapters, or we start with a premortem. It’s meant to be experiential, because as a coach, it’s like, I’m not just going to be telling you stuff. I want you to do, and think, and then, literally do more. But it’s this premortem to analyze, like, “Where am I today? Where do I want to be? What scares me? What would like an astonishingly live life look like?”

Then, we get into. Okay, let’s just talk for a quick hot sec, that we are going to die, and why all this works, and how like talk a little bit about death. We go on a date with death. Then, we talk about the idea about tapping into your regrets, and how to shake things up, and bust some of your habits that might be just kind of turning you into that highly functioning zombie. Then, talking about how to widen your life with vitality, how to deepen your life with meaning. Then, I’m really literal about like a paint by numbers approach to you designing what would make you feel. Like as Hunter S. Thompson said, like skidding in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out into our graves. I want us to skid in broadside, and so, this book is helping you to figure out what’s your version of skidding in broadside. Then, of course, there was a post mortem, which is analyzing, okay, wrapping it all up. What one thing do you want to do next, because it needs to be manageable. So yes, that is the experience. That’s the wild ride of you only die once.

[0:23:51] PF: So excited for this book to come out. So excited to see what this does and to really share your message with our listeners. If they’re listening right now, they can’t get their hands on it until May, what do they do right now? Where do they start? How do they get off autopilot today, and really start living with purpose?

 

[0:24:06] JW: Love it. Love it. Love it.

[0:24:09] JW: My thought is let’s just go to the good old fashioned, count your Mondays. So go to the resources page at fourthousandmondays.com. Do that. Get yourself centered, see how it feels. You may look at it. I did a workshop earlier this week, and someone was like, “Well, that looks like a lot of Mondays.” I said, “Well, high five to you. Still, what do you want to do within those Mondays?” Mind you. she wasn’t even at the halfway mark yet.

[0:24:31] PF: Then, it seems like a lot.

[0:24:32] JW: I remember those years. Yes. I would say, yes. First thing is. count the Mondays, and then. even something simple is just start jotting down notes about the stuff that you longed to do. It could be the most miniature version of a bucket list. Silly little things like – I remember when I turned 33, which was a very big year for me at that time. Three is my favorite number, so that I knew was going to be a big year. I’m going to cook my own artichoke. It just felt like that was something I wanted to do. Then, of course, there were things that were bigger scale that might sound more impressive for whatever, but who cares. Little big, minute, magnificent. Just start listing some things that you might love to fit into this one wild and precious life. Then, when the book comes out, you can make more sense of it. Absolutely.

[0:25:19] PF: I love it. I love it. Jodi, we have so much to learn from you, and you make it so fun to learn, which doesn’t always happen. I appreciate you sitting down, taking his time with us, and talking to us about living like we were dying.

[0:25:33] JW: Well put. In a world where like time is scarce, spending this time with you has been time well spent. So, thank you.

[END OF INTERVIEW]

[0:25:43] PF: That was Jodi Wellman. Talking about how recognizing our mortality can help us make the most of the time that we have left. If you’d like to learn more about Jodi, take her free astonishingly alive assessment. Follow her on social media or by copy of You Only Die Once: How to Make It to The End with No Regrets. Just visit us at livehappy.com, and click on the podcast tab. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for our weekly Live Happy newsletter. Every Tuesday, we’ll drop a little bit of joy in your inbox with the latest stories, podcast info, and even a happy song of the week. That is all we have time for today. We’ll meet you back here again next week for an all-new episode. Until then, this is Paula Felps, reminding you to make every day a happy one.

 

[END]

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