I know, self-care is a big buzzword right now. But on this episode, I’m chatting with one of the longest-serving life coaches at the forefront of the self-care movement, the wonderful Jennifer Louden.
Jen Louden, also known as the Comfort Queen, has been talking about self-care since way before it was cool. I first encountered her work when I was just nineteen – a baby! – and her teachings have been critical for me ever since. Now she’s writing a new book, where she confronts the question “why bother?”
Jen and I talk about how important it is to have a self-care routine. She shares how the question “why bother” can actually be a great question to ask yourself, as long as you’re asking it with curiosity and compassion (rather than judgment). Jen shares some of her personal struggles with self-care after the rollercoaster of her dad’s death, a divorce, and a new relationship. There’s no doubt this interview will leave you with a lot to think about in both life and business.
Welcome to the Rich Coach Club, the podcast that teaches you how to build your dream coaching practice and how to significantly increase your income. If you’re a coach and you’re determined to start making more money, this show is for you. I’m master certified life coach Susan Hyatt, and I’m psyched for you to join me on this journey. You’re listening to episode number 10, here we go.
Do you have a helping-hangover? Alright, what’s a helping-hangover, you might ask? Oh, I bet it’s something you’ve experienced at least once. You know, it’s that feeling you get when you’ve had a super busy week or month or decade of helping, helping, helping, and some more helping.
You’ve been helping your friends, your family, your clients, your community. You’ve been coaching. You’ve been listening. You’ve been volunteering. You’ve been a thoughtful mom, wife, sister, auntie, friend. You’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty for your clients and you’ve given away tons of your ideas and resources for free.
You’ve given away countless hours of your time. You’re chugging along; going, going, going, helping, helping, helping day after day after day. And then, one morning, you wake up and you’re fucking exhausted. It’s like you’ve got a throbbing hangover from a bottle of cheap vodka. And that’s like totally a no. If you’re going to have a bottle of vodka, at least make it Uncle Tito’s or something.
You feel tired, lethargic, foggy, unmotivated, anxious, stressed, stretched way too thin. You might feel hopeless and depressed. And you might even feel angry and resentful. You might feel like, “Oh, what have I done? This is not the life that I wanted. This isn’t how I wanted my career to feel when I decided to become a coach. Where did things go wrong and how come I feel so freaking tired and how come I feel so broke? Where’s all that money I was supposed to be earning for all of this hard work I’ve been doing?”
Yeah, that’s a helping-hangover. And fortunately, there’s a cure, and it’s called those two words everybody rolls their eyes at; self-care. Ah yes, self-care; I’m sure you’ve heard of it. And I’m sure you encourage your clients to practice it. But, what about you? What’s up with your self-care lately?
Are you taking excellent care of yourself? Are you making your health a top priority? Maybe sometimes, but not very consistently? Or maybe not much at all? Alright, let’s discuss. So first, we’re going to start off with the segment called your Two-Minute Pep-Talk
Here’s your Two-Minute Pep-Talk. And this is the part of the show where I share encouragement and inspiration to get your week started off right, and I try to keep it to 120 seconds or less; just two quick minutes.
So, I want to share a question with you. And this is a question that I ask myself pretty regularly. And I ask this of my clients too. Imagine that you’re a woman who takes exceptional care of herself. Imagine you are that woman. How would that woman plan her day?
Alright, I’m going to ask it again. Imagine you are a woman who takes exceptional care of herself. Imagine you are that woman. You are that woman right now; a woman who takes excellent care of herself. How would she plan her day?
Let that question sink in and take a moment to think about it; how would that woman go about her day today? What kinds of things would she do to take care of herself? What kinds of morning rituals would she do? What kinds of bedtime rituals? What would she eat? And, more importantly, how would she eat?
Would she chomp down her lunch in a big rush while sitting in front of her laptop? Or would she take a relaxed lunch break outside on her porch? What kinds of boundaries would she set? What kinds of things would she not do?
Imagine that you are that woman, you are that strong powerful woman. You are that woman who takes excellent care of herself every day. How would that woman live? It’s time for you to live like that. So I want you to come up with at least one self-care idea that you can incorporate into your day today.
The beauty of self-care is that it feels great and it also makes you rich. I’m not kidding about this. If you take excellent care of yourself, mentally, physically, emotionally, then you literally feel like a different person and you start earning money in a whole new way.
You become more alert, more clear, more focused, more creative, more confident. You’re able to take your business ideas and implement them. you have more energy for everything you want to accomplish. Your power goes up and then your income goes up. Self-care equals money in your pocket.
Okay, always remember that. Self-care is never frivolous; self-care equals money. Self-care is a terrific business plan. Pep-talk, complete.
Now we’re moving into the part of the show where I give shout-outs to you; shout-outs to listeners, clients, and all the wonderful people in my community. Today, I want to give a shout-out to Susan Wagner.
So, Susan is a life coach in my town, Evansville, Indiana. And she sent an email into us that reads, “Susan, I can’t begin to tell you how great your Rich Coach Club Podcast is for me and my business. Every podcast, I take away a little nugget of information I can incorporate into my life coaching business. The women you have introduced me to through your podcast are so enriching. See you in Chicago.”
Thank you so much, Susan, for taking the time to let me know. I’m so glad that you love the guests on these podcasts. I have another great one today. So that’s my shout-out for today. And hey, if you have something to say about this show, please send an email to my team, or even better, post a five-star iTunes review about the show, or post something on social media, and you might hear your name on a future episode.
I love giving shout-outs to people in my community, so holla at me. Thank you for all the love, and I love you guys right back.
So next up, I’ve got a real treat for you because we’re chatting with a long-time friend of mine; the amazing Jennifer Louden. So you probably remember Jen as the Comfort Queen. She is a pioneering voice in the self-care world.
And you know how there are people who’ve been practicing yoga for decades, way before yoga became cool and trendy? Well Jen’s been talking about self-care for decades; way before self-care became a common buzzword that everybody talks about.
And I think I was like 19 years old when I picked up one of her books. I was just a baby, but I loved her work then and I love her work now, I have bowed at the threshold of her genius for decades and I’m thrilled to have her on the show. Here we go…
Susan: Welcome to the podcast, Jen Louden.
Jennifer: Thank you, Miss Susan Hyatt.
Susan: Oh, we’re speaking in accents now? My Southern accent is just going to have to do.
Jennifer: I love your southern accent. I can do a Southern Indiana accent because I was born in Southern Indiana.
Susan: Wait, stop it, I didn’t know that part?
Jennifer: I was born in Bloomington, but my family’s all from Bedford.
Susan: Shut up…
Jennifer: I didn’t grow up there though. I didn’t grow up there.
Susan: Okay, where did you grow up?
Jennifer: I grew up in Florida, but I spent my summers in Southern Indiana.
Susan: So what’s the number one thing, when you think of Southern Indiana, what do you think of?
Jennifer: Oh, I think of – that’s a great question. I think of my two uncles and my dad. And they would sit around in the afternoons or the evenings – I’m sure they were having cocktails – and talk about business. They were all self-employed. They all had their own companies. They were pretty successful actually, and it all came from nothing. And so I think that’s what I think about. I think about that. Then I think about corn. And then I think about heat. And I think about learning to water-ski on the reservoir.
Susan: Oh my god, listen, all the people who tune into this podcast, almost 100%, are entrepreneurs, and so the fact that you grew up, during your summers, listening to all the men in your family talk about business, this is exciting to me. What kind of businesses did they run?
Jennifer: My dad came back from World War Two – my dad was quite a bit older. He was 43 when I was born. And he borrowed $3,200 from his uncle Price and he opened a grocery store. And by the time he sold out in 64, he had five supermarkets in Southern Indiana. And my other uncle, my uncle – I don’t know what uncle Price’s business was, by my other uncle was another food company. They were frozen foods that the restaurants bought from. So they were in the food business.
Susan: This is amazing, okay, and so what kinds of things do you remember, maybe not specifics, but when they talked about business, were they happy about business, were they upset about business?
Jennifer: I think my biggest memory is that – the message that I got was, you should be self-employed. When my husband and I got together, he really has an academic background. None of my family went to college, and he just assumed – and we each had a kid from our first marriages – he just assumed that both of them will go to graduate school. I never assumed that. I always assumed you go out and start your own thing. I have literally been self-employed for all but one year of my after-college life.
Susan: What did you do that one year after college?
Jennifer: I had two jobs. The first I was fired from; let’s just get that out of the way. I was a literary assistant to a literary agent, because I went to Film School. I lived in LA. And in my second job, I was a reader at a creative artist agency. So I read books and wrote book reports to see if they wanted to make them into movies.
Susan: So everything you have done your whole career has been around writing and books?
Jennifer: It has, but it’s also been this self-help part too, right? Because the majority of my books, well all of my published books – let’s not talk about the ones in the drawer, but we can if you want – they are all self-help books. So there was also, out of that, came this natural thing of teaching and leading retreats and learning to accept that part of me, which was actually really difficult. So it has taken me years to realize that I also love teaching. And then that part wants to kind of sometimes eat up the writing part because it’s easier to teach everybody for me. I could teach all day. And writing is hard. Writing is hard for me; not for everybody, but…
Susan: I don’t know any writer who says writing is super, super easy. Do you know writers who say it’s easy?
Jennifer: Well here’s what I think; this is what I’ve come to, in my years of also working with writers and my own process. I think certain kinds of writing are easy. So journaling is easy. Sometimes first drafts are easy. There can be this feeling of, like, lightning. What I don’t think is easy is making it actually work to connect with the reader.
Jennifer: So I can sit here and fill pages, and then I can go back and read them and there’s phrases and ideas and pieces that are great, but taking it to that next level where it really takes you into another world or transports you, or in your case of your upcoming book, really gives people the mind-shift; that’s hard. I don’t know anyone who that’s easy for. But I bet it’s easy for Stephen King, I don’t know.
Susan: I don’t know. I mean, you look at these prolific writers and you think, to produce that much content, those many pages again and again and again, is it easy? I don’t know.
Jennifer: One of the things that I find fascinating about some of the writers that I know who are ultra-successful fiction writers I’m thinking of, some people are just genius at story and they can sit down and it comes out in a way, or enough of a way, in the first draft that they don’t have to really study structure or sentences the way that a mere mortal like myself does.
Susan: A mere mortal – you have a body of work that is amazing. In fact, I always have to tell people this when I tell people – like even today, I was like, “I get to interview Jen Louden, and do you know, I’ve been reading her since I was like 19 years old.”
Jennifer: Tell everybody I’m 10 years older than you; go ahead…
Susan: No, but I mean, that’s amazing to me that you’ve created so many pieces of self-help that have helped so many people, including myself. And I want to go back to the fact that you honored that it was difficult for you to except the self-help teacher part. So why was that part difficult?
Jennifer: I have – and I’m trying to write about this in the current book – I have a very uneasy relationship with the self-help world. I think there’s a variety of reasons for it. One of them is there is a lot of crap. But there’s also, I think, too many easy answers, and I never wanted to be part of that world. And when I read my books, I don’t think there’s really much of that in there. There’s a lot of – they’re more like encyclopedias and questions and things to try. But I always felt just this unease being associated with that. I’m also the kind of person, I think, in my heart, that I really want people to get value. It would never be enough for me to create a program and go, “Look, I made a lot of money but nobody did it and nobody had a shift and nobody came away from it…” oh, I would just want to rip my hair out. So that’s hard. It’s hard to come up with the things that – it’s one thing to write a book about all the ways to take care of yourself, and it’s another thing to really help people take care of themselves.
And the other thing I want to say is, I did start teaching in 1992, so all the resources, some of which I created, that help people teach more effectively, they were not available. So I made it up and I stumbled and I was often, for many years, the youngest person in the room. And so there was a lot of feeling like an imposter, for good reason.
Susan: Right, well I do think – so many people probably listening right now are nodding emphatically, that as coaches, we want to create change in the world and reduce human suffering and have an impact. And we are swimming around in this pool with people who, like you said, who are creating things that aren’t necessarily with the intention to create impact and change and that are teaching things that many of us may not agree with, that we may find overly simplistic, or not just misleading, but actually dangerous.
Jennifer: Right, damaging, absolutely – I’m nodding vigorously.
Susan: And so what do you think the remedy of that is, because I have coaching sessions almost daily with coaches who say, “I hate calling myself a life coach.”
Jennifer: …said that exact thing. Oh my god…
Susan: Right, it’s like, “Ohh, I don’t want to call myself a life coach…” but then they go so far in the opposite direction that – I did a podcast episode with someone who, Alexandra Franzen, who said she had, on her business card, that she was a – what did she call it – a disco monk. It’s like, people come up with these crazy titles that mean nothing. It’s like, we so much don’t want to call ourselves a life coach that we’ll call ourselves a disco monk. But really, I just early on had to make peace with it and say, “Listen, I’m going to call myself a life coach and I’m just going to try to embody a really different way of coaching.” And that is it. How did you get over the hump of feeling like an imposter, as, you know, the youngest person in the room, and also just making peace with the fact that, like, okay, I’m part of this industry?
Jennifer: Well, I think it was actually when I created a course that’s no longer available. It was called Teach Now. And it was for non-traditional teachers. And in creating it, I had to go into a lot of that self-doubt and the places that I had learned to be confident and the places that I still hadn’t, and turn it into material and turn it into exercises. And that was profoundly interesting for me, and actually really healing. I also think it was showing up year after year to create my retreats and really making that such an odd thing to have gotten good at. And again, like, when I was doing it, there wasn’t any retreat coach certification or anything like that. I was like, the only people I know that retreat are the Catholics and the Buddhists.
Susan: Right, that is true, yes.
Jennifer: And so I found these ways, over time, to really make a container and the pieces that work and have these people come back year after year and see the changes. So I’ve seen some of the benefit and the way that I could keep being humbled by what didn’t work. Because when I was younger, when it didn’t work, I was devastated because I took it personally, which to some degree we should, right? I think some of the people out there that I think of as shysters and some of the stories and things I’ve seen behind the scenes that just make my skin crawl should have a little bit more of a … The other thing I think is going to work though is just time. Like, the coaching industry is in universities now. The coaching industry – there’s more and more research into neuroscience. There’s things that people are learning that look at efficacy, and I think people are just burned out on false promises, you know. As we grow and our students grow, maybe we’ll fall for it less.
Susan: So we were talking, before I started the recording, about this concept for women, like why bother? You know, why bother with this next phase of life and why bother doing anything?
Jennifer: Yeah, why bother? And that’s very much the subject of the book I’m trying to write. Hopefully I won’t be asking myself that too much about the book. Although, it’s actually a great question to ask. I have it come up with my writers all the time – if I might digress for a minute?
Susan: Yeah, go ahead…
Jennifer: And they often ask, why bother? There’s so many books out there, there’s so many programs, whatever they’re creating, there’s so many blogs. And I’m like, actually, why bother is a fabulous question, if you ask it with compassion and curiosity. What is my deep why? But I think what happened to me, and the book I’m writing is very much a memoir, is after my dad’s death – and I missed my dad, I wasn’t with him, and when I looked back on it, it was an incredibly blind and stupid choice. It wasn’t even a choice. My divorce happened around the same time. It was just a very messy period of time. But I kind of rose out of it very beautifully and I was like the poster child for resiliency and I then fell in love and I got in incredible shape. And I remember, my doctor was going through a divorce about a year after I was and she said, “I just want to be just like you. I want to come through this the same way you did.”
So it was really quite a bit after the fact, about a year after, that things started to kind of really fall apart. And a lot of why I think for me, what I’m exploring about why bother – and I think this is something we all have to reckon with at some point in our lives – is the things that I hadn’t really examined and looked at. We all have unfinished stuff, and that’s part of why, right now, the structures of the book are the self-help tropes. You know, everything happens for a reason, and you know, you have to love yourself before you can love someone else. And in some ways, as being part of this industry, even though I was always scrunching my nose at it, I was also kind of doing a spiritual and emotional bypass in ways. Part of my digging myself out after my rebound into despair after Bob and I had our beautiful falling in love period and riding the front of the ferry like the Titanic – although neither one of us would see the movie. We were always too scared. We thought it would be too sad – was to really go back and do that reckoning. And so I think why bother is this incredible place that we come to. We may come to it at 25. I think I did in some ways. And the first book came out of that. And then we may come to it again.
For me, that was about 46, 47, and we have to ask. And the question changes as we age. I was talking to a friend of mine and her why bother is, like, she’s up for a really interesting job, but she’s like, “Do I have it in me anymore?” We know the cost of things now. We’re not innocent. I couldn’t move to LA like I did when I was 19 and be like, “I’m moving to LA, it’s going to be great, we’re going to make movies.” I know what that would take. So there’s so many interesting questions about how do we engage with the scars and the dents and the limitations that we now know so much more intimately?
Susan: It’s so beautiful to hear you talk through it that way. And it’s interesting listening to you talk about it. I’m 45, my husband is 54…
Jennifer: Both so young…
Susan: We are so young. But it’s interesting, that nine-and-a-half-year difference, right, how we approach business and what we’re doing and that sort of thing. And he definitely is a little bit like – you know, we have a big decision make when my daughter Cora graduates from high school this May. Where are we going to live and what are we going to be doing? And he’s just kind of like, “I’m not going to go restart my commercial real estate career somewhere else, so I’ll figure maybe something else out to do…” but it’s not like, you know, at 19, I’m going to set the world on fire sort of thing. He still has plenty of things he wants to do, but it’s a different energy when you consider why bother, what do I want to be up to? What do I want to devote my energy to? What kind of impact do I want to have on my legacy? It’s really different.
Jennifer: It is really different and for me, part of what I’m exploring in the book is how I couldn’t ask that question in a full interesting curious way because there was things that I had put in too neat of a package or that I had – or there were self-help tricks that I had so completely dismissed, but there was actually wisdom there to find and bring back to this phase of my life, to this why bother.
Susan: So, Jen, if there was a self-help trope you had dismissed before that you’re not embracing, what’s your number one?
Jennifer: Oh gosh, I don’t know. I so want to answer that question in a really wonderful way…
Susan: It’s okay that you don’t know. I don’t think we have to know…
Jennifer: It’s a good question though. I will be thinking about it.
Susan: I’m going to be thinking about it too. What is, sort of, a mantra or a popular saying that I’ve typically turned my nose up to that might be really valuable?
Jennifer: There’s instances where I either turned my nose up or I thought I knew it, right? And I think that’s part of the why bother question, no matter our age, is there’s a freshness that we have to find a way to bring to how we’re living. And it definitely gets more difficult. I’ve been reading a book called Daemon Voices by Philip Pullman, who wrote His Dark Materials, which the Golden Compass, The Amber Spyglass, among many other books, and he’s obsessed with Paradise Lost, Milton’s epic poem. And he realized that part of his work and what the books were really about, after he started the first one, was the loss of innocence. It’s not something that we then spend the rest of our lives bemoaning; the loss of innocence is the cost of wisdom.
Susan: Stop it…
Jennifer: And that’s what I think my work, this book, is really about. And I think part of why we’re stuck in the, “Why bother, I can’t ask it…” I wanted my life to be over. Not in any, kind of, I wanted to commit suicide way ever, ever, ever, but just like, I just don’t want to do anything anymore. And I think it was because I was holding onto my innocence, which was the life that I had before, the family before, my dad being alive. My own form of innocence was, “I want things to be that way still.” And part of what I think we’re asked to do, to ask this deep why bother question, is we have to let go of the life that we had, whatever that means. Whether it was health for people who have chronic illness, whether it was an identity issue – I’ve watched my husband go through this. He used to work for the biggest environmental organization in the world. It was really painful to let that go and work for other equally great organizations, but that don’t have that brand awareness.
Susan: Right, right, wow. I am going to be thinking about that at least for the next 48 hours.
Jennifer: I want more than that from you. I want 72…
Susan: Alright, a whole week. It’s amazing. So, Jen, of course, we’re going to have in the show notes where everyone can find you and play with you, but where’s the best place for people to experience you if they want to hang out with you more?
Jennifer: Well, the easiest thing is to subscribe. And I write a piece almost every week, and these last few weeks, I’ve been writing about anger and how I have no idea how to be angry…
Susan: I don’t believe you, but okay.
Jennifer: I don’t know how to be angry without trying to fix something. I don’t know how to just be angry. Anyway, and then the second thing is, two times a year, we open up membership in my membership program. It’s called the Writers Oasis. It’s for writers and creatives of all kinds to re-center yourself and your heart every week and recommit to your art. And that’s a super affordable way to have a really amazing experience.
Susan: Yes, experience it and sign up now because Jen will – I’m going to be forcing her to raise her rates… No, I’m joking…
Jennifer: Yeah, sign up now before Susan makes me raise my rates. Excellent…
Susan: Thank you so much for being here with us today.
Jennifer: You’re fantastic. Thank you.
What an awesome interview. I just love Jen Louden. And throughout this episode, we’ve been talking about the importance of self-care. Everyone needs to have a self-care routine, but especially if you work in a helping profession.
If you’re a coach, therapist, counselor, social worker, teacher, anything like that, then you seriously need self-care happening in your life consistently. You’ve chosen an exceptionally demanding profession and one that takes a toll on your mind and your body.
So for you, self-care is just Crucial, with a capital C… Sometimes, the hardest part about self-care is simply remembering to do it. Like, you know you need to do it and you know it’s important, but you wake up, you check your email, and you have your first client meeting of the morning, and then the day rushes by. And before you know it, it’s 9pm and you’ve forgotten all about the self-care; oops.
So to help you remember to take excellent care of yourself, here’s something fun for you to try. My friend Alex bought herself a bulletin board from Target and a bunch of big sheets of paper. And every week, usually on a Sunday morning, she makes a self-care checklist and she pins it to her bulletin board.
She takes a big thick Sharpie marker and a big sheet of paper and, in big letters, she writes down 10, 12, maybe 15 self-care ideas that she wants to complete in the next week. And everything on her checklist is really small and really simple; just little small things that make her feel strong and energized.
So for instance, her checklist might go: pet a dog, call your mom, take a gentle yoga class, do a face mask, take a hot shower with lavender essential oil, lie outside in the sunshine for five minutes, stretch before bedtime, and so on… And each time she completes one item, she checks it off the list. And by the end of the week, her checklist is all checked off and done.
So Alex told me that she used to write her self-care ideas inside a notebook or she put little reminders on her Google Calendar. But this just didn’t work out so great for her, so ever since, she started making this big weekly bulletin board and it’s really helped her to be more consistent.
I mean, it makes sense, right? If you write yourself a self-care plan inside a notebook and then toss the notebook in your purse, it’s easier to forget about it. And if you put a little reminder on your phone, I mean, it’s kind of easy to ignore that.
But if you write your plan on a huge bulletin board that’s three feet wide with big letters, then it’s pretty hard to forget your self-care plan. Alex keeps her board right in her kitchen area, so that’s the first thing she sees every morning when she makes her coffee and it makes it practically impossible to forget about self-care. Plus, she gets a little thrill of satisfaction every time she checks something off the list.
I am totally a checklist person too. There’s just something that feels so good about doing that check mark. Yes, it’s orgasmic. So, if you struggle to make time for self-care or if you struggle to remember self-care, try this out. Go big. Get yourself a big old bulletin board, a big chalkboard, a big dry erase board, a big sheet of paper; something that’s big as a big visual reminder, and make yourself a weekly checklist.
And if you try this out, please let me know. Send me a photo of your bulletin board checklist. Email it to my team or post it on Facebook or Instagram and tag me. I want to see your self-care plan for the week. Make it big.
Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. After listening to today’s episode, I sure hope you’re feeling inspired to take excellent care of yourself. And remember that every minute of self-care equals money in your bank account. Take good care of yourself so that you can serve your clients at the highest possible level and so that you’ve got plenty of energy for everything you want to accomplish in your business and your life.
When you take your self-care habits to the next level, you’ll take your coaching practice and your income to the next level too. And that is the truth. So upgrade your self-care today, this week, forever and ever. Pick one small thing that you can incorporate into your day. And remember, imagine you’re a woman who takes exceptional care of herself. How would that woman behave and what are some things she would do?
Whatever she would do, you do that. As of this moment, that woman is you.
Alright, thank you so much listening to Susan Hyatt’s Rich Coach Club. If you enjoyed today’s show, please head over to shyatt.com/rich where you’ll find a free worksheet with audio called Three Things You Can Do Right Now To Get More Clients. You can download the worksheet and the audio, print it out, there’s a fun checklist for you to check off. Just three things to do. Check, check, checkidy-check.
This worksheet makes finding clients feel so much simpler and not so scary. So head to shyatt.com/rich to get that worksheet. Over there, you’re also going to find a free Facebook you can join especially for coaches. Bring your coaching practice and your income to the next level at shyatt.com. See you next week.