Life's Little Instruction Book

Jul 02, 2019

This past weekend I flew to New York to celebrate my twin nephews graduation. As part of their graduation gift, my mother gave each of them a copy of the book called “Life’s Little Instruction Book.”  This book was written by a father for his son when he went off to college.  

Did you know we have written little instruction books for the people in our lives too?


Written in these manuals are lists of all the things the people in our life should do or shouldn’t do so that we can feel better.  Of course, we don’t actually tell the other person what’s in this instruction manual - they should just know what to do and how to treat us. Duh!

  • She should call me back when I call her.
  • My kids should clean up after themselves.
  • He should support me.
  • She should listen to me for as long as I listened to her.
  • He should know what I like.
  • My boss should always be in a good mood.
  • People should be kind.
  • He should take out the garbage...
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What is failure?

Jun 25, 2019

“My biggest fear is that I will fail.”

This is a pretty bold statement.   Yet, this is the most common answer when I ask clients, "What is your biggest fear?"

When I follow up with "What does failure mean to you? Why are you afraid of it?"  The response is usually a blank stare. 

According to Google, failure is the omission of an expected or required action.  That’s it.  That’s not a big deal, right?  Something didn’t turn out as we had expected.

What is so scary about that?

It’s the story we tell ourselves when we don’t get the expected outcome.  And that story usually goes something like this:

"I knew it wasn't going to work.  I don't even know why I bother.  I am never going to do this again.  I feel horrible. My life is never going to get better.  I might as well accept this is how things will always be."

And so, you stop trying. Your life stays stuck.  You stop...

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Here is the thing about commitment...

Jun 18, 2019

We get to change our mind.  

Isn’t that such great news?! 

I started Jen Madden Coaching at the beginning of the year.  A coaching practice has been something I have always wanted to do – for years.  In fact, I purchased an online business course in 2012 to learn how to get started.

Um, I took the course in 2018.

Apparently, 2012 just wasn’t the right time for me.

In January 2019, I announced to the world that I am now the owner of Jen Madden Coaching.  Talk about feeling vulnerable.  I would, literally, would be telling people in a very calm, confident manner that I am setting up a coaching practice. Meanwhile, my brain was shouting in my head:

“Shut up, Jen!  Stop telling people.  Jeez, now you are going to have to do something with this business.”

Oh, our brains are funny little things.

I claimed 2019 as my SFD (Shitty First Draft).  I just needed to get started and I would figure it out as I went...

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What does it mean to ‘Show Up for Yourself’?

Jun 11, 2019

When you disconnect from your truth, your wants, and desires, the things you know are good for you, you aren’t showing up for yourself.  

If you want to achieve your goals ~ your legacy ~ you’ve got to keep your word to yourself. If you don’t, you are going facing the same goals over and over again. And then one day, you just might give up.

When you start with one thing – just one – and you consistently do it, something magical starts to happen.


Sure, taking action allows you to make strides towards achieving your goal, but the reward of self-trust is so much bigger.  The more you do what you say you are going to do, the more you actually believe you are going to do it.

Let’s be honest.  We have all had times when we told ourselves we were going to do something, but deep down we didn’t really believe that we were actually going to do.  Do you remember that feeling when you actually did what you said you were...

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One thing

Jun 04, 2019

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

~ Annie Dillard

The past two months were focused on keeping the end in mind.  You spent time thinking about and deciding what you want your legacy to be.  You were challenged on your level of commitment and whether or not what you want your legacy to be was a compelling reason to keep you committed.  I talked about the reasons why people fail and how you needed to learn how to say 'no' to yourself to keep your commitment to yourself.

It is now time for action.

The magic of life is in action.

Think about how you want to be remembered – your legacy.

Are you living this life now?  My guess is no.  So what? No time like the present to get to work.  If it is yes, great! You need a sustainability plan.

What is one thing that you could do regularly that would tremendously impact your personal life or your professional life?

Just one thing.

And remember, this is your legacy.  This...

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Why commitments fail

May 28, 2019

I love the phrase "blowing your own mind." 

To make our brain evolve, we have to ask more of it than it's already doing. Yet, our temptation is to stay where we're at, to stay safe, to hide, to seek pleasure, to expend as little of our energy as possible. If we listen to our primitive brain, we will stop evolving. We have to evolve beyond our current brain. That's what a commitment can do. That's what a compelling reason can do. That's what telling yourself, "No," can do.

Here's how to do it.

Number one, you have to refuse confusion. Refuse it. It's always a lie. You won't commit because you don't know how. That's the worst reason not to commit. You will try to convince yourself that you need to understand precisely how you're going to do something.

You need to be able to commit to the result, and then make as many mistakes as you need to make to learn how to do it, to get the result you want. You don't have to know already exactly how to do it. You're just committing to...

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Do you have a strong enough why?

May 21, 2019

Think about what it is you want. Then ask yourself, "Why don't I have it already?"

The answer is that your compelling reason is not strong enough. Your conflicting desires and your reasons for not doing it are too strong.

For some of you, it may be safety. For some of you, it may be the avoidance of discomfort. For some of you, it may be that you're afraid, and so you want to hide. You may believe that it will be too much work. You may think that it will be too hard. You may afraid of putting yourself out there in the world and being vulnerable.

When you pick something specific to do, you have to recognize why you don't have that already.  There will be distractions including your current pattern of thinking. Remember, your brain has to decide what information to filter out. It has to determine what's important to pay attention to.

The only thing my brain needs to pay attention to is everything it needs to do.

My brain wants to tell me how much work it's going to be. My brain...

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What it means to really commit to something

May 14, 2019

What determines our level of success is our level of commitment.  Our level of commitment will determine our resilience.  Our level of commitment is determined by our compelling reason.

If the life of someone you loved were on the line, you would have a compelling reason to do whatever it took to save their life. You wouldn't be worried about feelings getting hurt.  You wouldn't worry about rejection.  You wouldn't worry about how much time or effort you put into something.  All of that would become irrelevant.  You would become very clear and very focused on the end result because you have to save your loved one's life.

This is an extreme example, but it demonstrates the value of a compelling reason. 

When you know that someone has a compelling reason, you know they are going to stay committed.  When their goal is burning inside of them, you are not going to question their commitment.

Often, when we set a goal for ourselves.  We are...

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The importance of deciding exactly what you want

May 07, 2019

You decided what you want your legacy to be.

Now what? 

You need to make sure you fully own that decision.  I didn't ask you to think about and see maybe what you want or don't want your legacy to be. I asked you to decide. 

You have to decide because often you will have competing aspirations, and you are going to have to reaffirm what you want over and over again. 

Let’s say your legacy is “I want to be someone who prioritizes my health because I believe good health is important to live an active life.”


Except life happens. You find yourself wanting to sleep in and miss your morning exercise class, or you are at your favorite restaurant and you are tempted to indulge in a dessert even though you are full.  You need to decide - health or chocolate cake?

Or maybe your legacy is “I want to be the best employee I can be so that I am viewed as a valuable resource to my manager and my colleagues."

Another great...

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What do you want your legacy to be? Part 3

Apr 30, 2019

I want to be an example of what is possible.

This is what I want my legacy to be.  I hope you took the time to come up with what you want your legacy to be.  This is going to be the statement that you lean on when you need encouragement to show up every day…even when you don’t feel like it.

So now what?

You need to break this down to define exactly what it means for you.

Here is a sample of my breakdown:

I want to be an example of an outstanding manager.  I want other managers to know that managing people is rewarding and that it is okay to be imperfect.  I am going to show up for my team by letting them know I appreciate their work, that I trust them, and that I enjoy working with them.

I want to be an example of someone who takes her health seriously.  I want others to know it is possible to live a healthy lifestyle and not be miserable.  I am going to show up by exercising regularly and choosing to eat foods that fuel my body. I am...

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