1-Sentence-Summary: Never Finished is an inspiring blueprint for leveling up in the game of life that never ends, offering 8 evolutions of thought, painful truths, and motivating stories to help you smash any and all glass ceilings in your life.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
A month ago, I published a massive list of 414 short inspirational quotes. It was the most effort I ever put into a piece on Four Minute Books. The results are only okay. I don’t know whether it will ever become a crowning achievement, but for now, I’ve just gone right back to work. Next list, next attempt!
If you’ve ever felt like you’re turning the final corner while scaling a gigantic mountain, only to realize you’ve reached yet another plateau, David Goggins’ second memoir is the book you need. Following Can’t Hurt Me, the mega-bestseller that sold 4 million copies in 4 short years, Never Finished: Unshackle Your Mind and Win the War Within, is Goggins’ next wake-up call.
The book offers 8 evolutions for our thinking, reminding us that what we think is the limit is actually just the start. Here are 3 lessons that will help you destroy any barriers, real or imagined, in your life:
- After big setbacks, make a 1-second decision to keep fighting, and you’ll instantly turn failure into fuel.
- Don’t get trapped at a level of success that lies much lower than the heights you can actually reach.
- Rather than just meet standards, set your own and raise the bar at your own pace.
Let’s understand what it means that life is “never finished,” why that’s not a bad thing, and how you can keep going forever!
Lesson 1: Use 1-second decisions to boost your resolve when you need it the most.
Goggins isn’t your typical self-help guru, bubbling with inspiration but little else. He’s a straight shooter handing out tough truths people need to hear. “This one second will change your life” is the last thing you’d expect from him, but if you think this one through, it makes sense.
What Goggins calls a “1-Second Decision” is simply the choice to stand up and fight. You can’t win the fight in a second. You can’t even start it. But most people never even choose to fight. They give up at the faintest sign of difficulty, let alone a big setback. But deciding to not give in, to stand your ground and continue the struggle for your dreams, that’s something you can do in a second — and while it seems insignificant, that tiny moment will make all the difference.
Think back to a time when you definitively “declined” some sort of impediment. “No! I will not accept this.” Remember how empowering it felt to assert yourself, even when, or rather because, in that moment, you were down and out? That’s the power of a 1-second decision. Your situation hasn’t been solved, but the fact that you will solve it has now been firmly established.
Imagine opening a rejection letter from your dream college. Think about hearing the words, “You’re fired.” Imagine getting a bill in the mail that’ll drain your life savings. Now, picture the next second in your mind. “No! This will not be the end of my journey. I will fight, survive, and be better because of it.” Can you feel your inner strength rising? Not bad for one second, huh?
Lesson 2: Refuse to accept low-level success.
The core message of Goggins’ book is that life is never finished. You’re never finished. There’s always more to learn, do, and improve. New challenges waiting to be tackled. New heights waiting to be reached.
That’s why Einstein scribbled notes on his deathbed, and why Danielle Steele still writes books at 75 years old. As Seth Godin once said: “Just like skiing, the goal is not to get to the bottom of the hill. The goal is to have a bunch of good runs before the sun sets.”
One trap that keeps us from going on our next run is settling into too low a level of success. Alex Hormozi once explained the business model of his successful gym chain to a mastermind group. The leader thought what Hormozi did was smart — but he was doing it for the wrong customers. “You have a level-1o skill set in a level-2 opportunity,” he told him. After that epiphany, Hormozi licensed his system to other gym chains rather than just opening more locations. That took his revenue from six figures to several million a year.
Goggins reminds us we weren’t born to settle with a question: “What did you achieve on your first day on earth?” As infants fresh out of the womb, none of us achieved anything. In fact, we were a burden to everyone around us. But with some help and nurturing, we became independent, even to the point of being able to raise another human ourselves!
It’s perfectly okay to say, “I have enough” one day. To redefine what success means to you and try something totally new. Just don’t get stuck in a sandbox when you’re meant to use the whole beach as your playground. Never settle for low-level success.
Lesson 3: Don’t just meet standards — set your own and go beyond what anyone thinks you’re capable of.
The worst thing you can do at a new job is to deliver exactly what people ask you to deliver. You’ll blend right in with the invisible masses who “do what’s expected, no more, no less,” and your first promotion will recede into the distance.
When I was interning at BMW in 2014, I learned from James Altucher that the easiest way to stand out is to do more than what you’re supposed to do. If I had a week-long deadline, I’d try to deliver the work in the first three days. When someone asked me to prepare 10 slides, I’d create those plus 5 alternatives. I still do the same here at Four Minute Books today. That quote list from the beginning? When most writers list 10, 50, or maybe 100 quotes, I curated over 400 in 17 categories.
Exceeding expectations is especially easy when people demand quantity, but the point is this: Rather than simply meeting the standards you are presented with, set your own. When you decide what level you want to perform at, you are raising the bar and doing so at your own pace. That’s how you wow people, find success, and discover and expand your limits — and then, because you’re never finished, you do it again.
Never Finished Review
Goggins’ writing-style is authoritative, blunt, and crass. It won’t work for everyone. But it is also honest, forward-looking, and inspiring. If, deep down, you know you need a no-BS, painfully true slap in the face to get off your butt and live your best life, Never Finished is the perfect book for you.
Who would I recommend our Never Finished summary to?
The 22-year-old store worker who is stuck in a dead-end job because she still wallows over a big rejection that happened years ago, the 35-year-old creator who’s outwardly successful but unsatisfied because he is stuck in the wrong opportunity, and anyone who knows they need to make a change but lack the courage to do so.