Zibby Owens: Welcome, Jen. Thank you so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.”

Jen Sincero: Thanks so much for having me. I love the title of your show.

Zibby: Thank you. I love the title of your books. I feel like you are single-handedly responsible for getting the term badass into mainstream culture. That’s quite an accomplishment.

Jen: Thank you very much.

Zibby: No problem. Your latest book tackles habits. Thank you for that. There are so many habits I feel like I want to change. I didn’t even know which one to write down in all capital letters as you suggested. I know this is one of many extensions, including how to be better with your money and other things where you can apply the badassery, if you will. Why habits? Why did you pick that to tackle in this book?

Jen: I feel like the first three books, You are a Badass, Badass at Making Money, and You are a Badass Every Day, they’re about taking action, but they were really about getting the mindset pieces down and to really wake up to all your screwed-up thoughts and beliefs and actions and words. I felt like habits was the awesome follow-up to those because you could really start implementing some of the stuff you were learning in those books and make them habits. We don’t even realize how habitual everything is. The way you think is habitual. The things you talk about are habitual. We’re riddled with habits. It was time to really get into that.

Zibby: That was one of my favorite points of the book. You’re like, we don’t even congratulate ourselves on the habits that we don’t think about, like, hey, congratulations, I put my underwear on every day, or all these things that we just do. Your whole argument is we can do anything we want as long as we get in the right mindset, which I felt like was so freeing. It’s not hard to make habits. It’s just the focusing on them. Getting the right mindset to do it is all that’s required, really.

Jen: There are certainly little tricks you can do to make it easier, but yeah, that’s really it.

Zibby: I loved your framework. You basically outlined — by the way, I also loved when you said how to catch yourself from wandering down Woe-is-me Lane. I am totally going to use that because I’m always like, I hate to say woe is me. Woe-is-me Lane, I can see a whole board game with Woe-is-me Lane. Here are the pitfalls. Maybe there needs to be a Badass board game or something.

Jen: Oh, my god, that’s an awesome idea. It’s a good pandemic project.

Zibby: Pandemic project, there you go, with Woe-is-me Lane in Badassery Village. Anyway, you work on that. In the meantime, you have all these stages like the trigger, the sequence, repetition, ease, patience, and identity which make up habit forming. Take me through this general paradigm. How did you come up with this?

Jen: I started looking at why we behave the way we do. The first thing we do is we unconsciously participate in “reality” because we believe that money is really hard to make or we think that we suck at relationships or we talk about how there’s no good men or women out there. We get into these patterns. We unconsciously just take them as truth. It’s once we wake up to what we’ve got going on and question our beliefs and our thoughts and our words and be like, why do I believe that? There’s plenty of people doing A, B, C, or D that I have decided that for myself it is impossible and unavailable. The first step is always awareness and always catching yourself in whatever your stories are that are not serving you. That really is the first part. I just outlined that. Then with the triggers and the sequence and all of that, there is very concrete way that habits happen. The trigger is you want to take your dog for a walk. The sequence starts with you putting on your shoes and putting the leash on the dog. Then you go out for the walk. We’re unaware of so many of these trigger sequences, things that we’ve got going on. For a lot of people, a negative habit is — the trigger is, I’m having a cocktail. Now I got to have a cigarette. Becoming aware of the triggers and the sequences that follow them allow you to unhook from them. It’s almost like stepping outside of yourself and watching yourself behave. Then you can be like, you know what, that’s not how I want to show up. That’s not who I want to be. Then that empowers you to make different choices.

Zibby: That was the other thing I thought was so great, was how to identify a habit worth breaking. You outlined a couple steps, four different parts of this, which made it even harder for me to pick my habit. You said, “Pick habits, one, would give you a sense of being the person you know you’re meant to be, a sense of empowerment, an improved quality of life, and a sense of accomplishment.” Some of the habits, I was thinking before I started reading this book, are not that important to who I’m meant to me. How I eat is not who I’m meant to be. I would like to stop snacking at night, but that’s such a minor thing. It wouldn’t make me feel accomplished or proud.

Jen: Think about that, though. Think about that. You have one body that you travel around in for your finite experience on planet Earth. Your body is the most important thing you’ve got going. Changing how you eat and how you treat it and giving it what it needs to thrive and feel good and stay healthy is epic. That little shift of not eating late at night means your little body that does all these amazing things for you doesn’t have to work really hard when it’s supposed to be in this regenerative mode of sleeping. It really is all about perspective. Give me another one. I’ll knock it down.

Zibby: I really said that so that I could continue snacking at night, so if you wouldn’t mind taking what you just said and we’ll pretend that never happened. Also, developing a habit of writing regularly. I’m so busy. I love to write. I feel like I squeeze my writing into posting on Instagram or little snippets. How great would it be if I could make time to do it? That, I feel like, would give me more of these things than something like working out.

Jen: Back to the body again. I’m going to go there.

Zibby: That’s a lost cause. Let’s go back to try to fit writing in. That’s something that people might want to start doing, not changing a bad habit, but just introducing something new into the regular rotation. Tell me a little about that because they’re different.

Jen: First, I would start out with busting yourself on why you haven’t done it yet and your beliefs and thoughts and words around how hard writing is, about how you don’t have the time, about how you’ve tried before and you failed. Get mighty clear on all the many, many reasons that it hasn’t happened yet and why you think you’re going to suck at it because they exist if you’re not doing it yet and it’s something you want to do. Write them down. It really is about specifics. Write them down and be like, oh, hello. Then question them all and counter them all because they all have counters. You’ve created this belief system. A lot of the times, it’s so subconscious. You’ve just taken it as truth. I’m a mom. I got a podcast. I got a job. I got a blah, blah, blah. I don’t have time. It’s true. It’s true. It’s true. Is it? Could you fit in a fifteen-minute writing session somewhere? Could you set up a boundary with your family to be like, “Listen, you’re out of luck. I am writing.”? I always talk about how we talk about how we don’t have time to work out and treat our bodies right, but if we get sick and go to the hospital, we have time to go to the hospital. We are in the damn hospital. There’s suddenly time for that. Time really is, as Einstein — was he the one who said that it’s a concept? It really is a concept. You can’t wait for time. You have to make time. Make it happen for yourself because it is there if it’s important. It really is.

Zibby: I try to say that about reading. I feel like I’ve gotten that in. When I talk to other people who say — hence the name of the podcast — we don’t have time to read or this or that, I think about all the things we do make the time for every single day. Why? Why those things? It’s not the same, necessarily, as a habit.

Jen: You’re right, though. It’s true. You get into the habit of surfing the internet for shoes or whatever you do. It’s about the awareness. We just get stuck in these patterns of unaware — they say that if you’ve got a job that you go to for eight hours a day, you actually spend about three hours of those days actually working. Then you’re just screwing around the rest of the time. We spend a lot of time screwing around. Listen, I’m a big fan of screwing around and doing whatever you want to do, but if there’s something you really want to do, you have time. You’ve just got to really make the time and consciously decide to make the time.

Zibby: Do you feel like you’ve put all this extra pressure on yourself now that you came out with a book about habits? Are there any habits that secretly you still haven’t really nailed and now you can’t admit it because the book is out?

Jen: You should do a podcast with my friends who see how I live my life. Plus, we’re in a pandemic. I am in my sweatpants right now. Totally, come on. Yes, I have absolutely succeeded at so many habits. I actually open the book in the introduction talking about, who the hell am I to write a book on habits? I still love fried food. Eat it all the time. I can coach you through. I know what to do. Whether I do it or not really doesn’t matter as long as I tell you how to do it.

Zibby: I think it matters a little bit. Not that you have to hold yourself to that standard. Is this like a those who can’t do, teach type of thing?

Jen: Totally. No. My point in the beginning of the book was I am focusing on all the habits I suck at. Meanwhile, I have absolutely rocked some very hard habits for me to change. Nobody’s perfect. We’re all learning and changing and doing it.

Zibby: You’ve rocked the habit of becoming a best-selling author and writing more and more books. That’s pretty cool. You’re also doing these really awesome seminars, a $97 class to write a book proposal. I saw that all these people were selling books because of your coaching with them. That must make you feel amazing.

Jen: It’s funny. I have a little pod here now with some people staying who fled the city. I was saying now I’m back on book tour because Habits has come out. I was like, god, and especially during the pandemic where I haven’t left the house and I haven’t done a damn thing. I’m just slothing around reading books, hanging out. That’s right, there’s this whole other world out there of the Badass people and all my readers. They’re so amazing. It’s been so nice to ramp that back up and be in that world and to remember that there is all this change going on and that people are just doing incredible things. It’s so inspiring. It really, truly is.

Zibby: Wow, how great for you to help them, though. That’s great. What is next in the Badass hopper? What are the next couple books? What’s the plan?

Jen: You are a Badass at Taking Naps in Your Sweatpants. You know, I don’t know. I got to be honest. Each book is a birth. It’s rather epic. I just birthed Badass Habits. I’m just going to enjoy my new little baby and celebrate it and parade her around and see what comes out of that and what I feel drawn to do next.

Zibby: The board game, that’s what you’re going to do.

Jen: I will be contacting you to give you your ten percent when the board game comes out because that’s such a good idea.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh. One other thing that I thought was so great in the book was when you divided people about their boundary bungling, which is so great. I hated to even admit where I would fall short on this, as I’m sure most people reading the book would. You have too yes-y, too much no, and too control-y. You even have a huge section on if you’re trying to launch a podcast about music and how you would have to put other things on hold. I literally was doing this, and obviously, this isn’t about music, but I was like, she’s talking to me. These are all the ways you have to make time in your life if you want to have a podcast. I’m looking around like, thank you. Tell me about how important it is to maintain your boundaries when you’re trying to form some habits.

Jen: I have to be honest. When we came up with this chapter for the book, I was talking to my editor and I was like — I’m fifty-five now. When I hit fifty, man, I got so good at setting boundaries. All of a sudden, all these insecurities fell away. I was just kicking people out of my house and not inviting you to a party if I didn’t want you to come. I don’t care. I mean, not completely. We all have stuff to work through. It was so different. I really did. I remember my dad saying, “I don’t know if you get older and wiser, or older and more tired.” I was like, he’s right. I don’t have the energy to deal with people I don’t want to deal with. I don’t have the energy to say yes when I really want to say no. It’s such a gift. I was like, I would love to write this so that the youngsters who don’t — you don’t have to wait until you’re fifty. You can actually start really becoming aware of your boundary issues and putting them into place and decriminalizing boundaries. I felt this was so important. When you set a solid boundary, you’re not a mean person who’s cutting off other people and not helping out other people.

You’re actually informing them of what you’re available for so that they know what to expect. Then you’re not all caught up in this passive-aggressiveness and resentment and obligation and all those really fun things. It really serves everybody. No one’s walking around on eggshells. I was super excited to write all that. Then I was talking to my editor. She was like, “Of course, for habits, if you’re going to shift who you’re being in the world, you’re going to need totally new boundaries.” You’re going to have to set up boundaries around time that you need to implement these habits. You’re going to be shifting who you are. If you are starting the habit of not drinking anymore, you are unavailable to go to bars with your friends. You are setting up that boundary. It’s all about boundaries. It was really fun to write about this topic that I was so excited about and thrilled to be quite an expert on because I’m old and possibly very much more tired, but also to relate it to habits because I don’t think that that comes into a lot of the books and discussions around habits. It’s super important.

Zibby: I totally agree. It’s more like complete behavior modification. It’s an interpersonal coaching of finding what’s important to you.

Jen: Exactly, and specifics and getting clear.

Zibby: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Jen: Let’s see. Writing equals ass plus chair. That’s the big mysterious equation to writing a book. It is about just staying. I’ll tell you the thing for me. I am a really reluctant writer. I have to drag myself kicking and screaming. It’s really painful for me, actually. I’ve heard that from a lot of writers too. I have a friend who can’t wait to sit down to write. I’m just like, I hate you. She’s actually my writing partner. She’s always excited. I’m always trying to get out of it. That’s another story. What I do is I chunk it down. Chunking down has saved my ass when it comes to writing books because I’m so squirmy and I so just, . What I do is I chunk it down into twenty-minute writing sessions where I am unauthorized to pee, to answer the phone, to go on the internet. Twenty minutes, I set an alarm. Then I’m allowed to have a ten-minute break or a five-minute break or whatever. I’m really serious about it because I know myself. I know by minute ten, I’m going to be squirming and coming up with excuses. Once I’ve set that timer, I know that it’s not just about this twenty-minute writing session. This is about my career. This is about who I show up as in the world. I’ve got to get this done. Making that commitment is manageable for me. It’s not the whole, I’m going to spend five hours writing today, which will be really a half hour. For me, chunking stuff down is extremely helpful. I highly recommend it.

Zibby: Excellent. That always helps. Isn’t it like the whole quote, a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step? Something like that. I don’t know.

Jen: Well done. You’ll be done before you start if you start out with overwhelm. That’s why that one day at a time is such a brilliant theory. It’s just one day at a time. Just relax. We’re so drama oriented.

Zibby: It’s so true. Awesome. Thank you so much. I have loved our conversation. Your book was fantastic. I am going to keep it close by, especially during this holiday time when everything that is a problem becomes a really big problem.

Jen: Thank you, holidays.

Zibby: Exactly. Thank you so much, Jen. Thanks for all your time.

Jen: Thank you. It was great talking to you.

Zibby: Have a great day. Buh-bye.

Jen: You too. Bye-bye.