3 Things I Tell Almost Every Coaching Client

Looking for advice from a life coach? Or self-development tips? Tap through and read 3 personal development tips that apply to almost everyone. #motivation #productivity #selfhelp #selfdevelopment
I stare at the pink, arrow-shaped post-it note on my laptop that reminds me to look into the camera. Blink, blink.


On the other side of the country, my coaching client is nibbling a piece of whole wheat toast and telling me about her overpacked schedule.

She has two kids, a partner who travels a lot, and a program she’s been trying to create for the last six months.

She’s 10,000 words in but she has no idea what she’s doing. She knows she’s over-complicating things, but her calendar and brain are too full to choose a next step. 

I nod along and then share an insight that’s been super helpful to me and helpful to many of my other clients – regardless of the topic we’re discussing.

She smiles into her own laptop camera in Portland. “Thank you,” she says.  “I really needed to hear that.” 


I’ve been working with 1:1 coaching clients more and more these past few months. We turn on our cameras and drink from our respective coffee cups and chat about all sorts of things: money, online business, goal-setting, self-promotion.

I’ve sent clients links to plugins that will help them stay off Anthropologie.com and scripts for how to tell family members they’re dropping out of grad school.

We’ve talked about how to leave unhealthy romantic relationships and how to fit workouts into a super busy schedule.

More than once my 18-year-old cat has scrambled onto my lap mid-session and yowled directly into the camera. #superprofesh

And even though I coach my clients around many different topics, I find myself saying a few things over and over.

These things have been helpful to the business owner who is launching her first ecourse, the person who’s sick of arguing about money with their partner, and the woman who’s trying to launch her writing career. 

So I thought they might be helpful to you, too.

3 Things I Tell Almost Every Coaching Client

1. You’re doing great. I bet you’re doing better than you’re giving yourself credit for!

Listen: acknowledging that you want to change some aspect of your life or business is terrifying and vulnerable and, honestly, pretty rare.

By admitting that we wish things were different, we’re also admitting that we’re going to have to, like, try.

And trying creates an opportunity to fail.
If we don’t acknowledge that we want things to change, we won’t have to try. And if we don't try, we can’t fail. How convenient! Click To TweetWhen they hire me, my coaching clients are saying “I acknowledge that I want to change this part of my life. I’m willing to admit that I want to change and I’m willing to commit money and time to making this change.”

Just by a) admitting they want to change b) taking an active step in the direction of change, they’re wildly ahead of the curve!

And this doesn’t just apply to people who hire coaches.

If you’ve done any of the following, imagine me shouting across the internet “You’re doing great! I bet you’re doing better than you’re giving yourself credit for!”

  • Gone to therapy
  • Read a book about an aspect of your life you’d like to change
  • Told a friend that you want ____ to be different
  • Told your pet that you want ____ to be different
  • Taken a tiny step in the direction of what you want
  • Did something scary and uncomfortable you know will get you closer to where you want to go (even if it didn’t bring the results you wanted)

2. Make it easier to be “good” and harder to be “bad”*

I could spend 72 hours straight talking about neural pathways and the power of self-narrative and creating accountability around our goals.

Blah blah what’s the story you’re telling yourself about that blah.

These things are incredibly important and if you learn how to harness them you will be nigh-on unstoppable!

That being said, sometimes you just need to make it easier to be “good” and harder to be “bad.”

To my clients who are struggling to create their first online course?

Make it harder to procrastinate. Book yourself into a hotel, don’t let them give you the wifi password, and go write your course. I wrote the first draft of Habit School in two days on a goat farm in Wisconsin that doesn’t have internet!

To my clients who want to use their phone more mindfully?

Make it harder to get to your dang phone. Get yourself a good ol’ fashioned alarm clock and stop charging your phone next to your bed.

To my clients who are making more regrettable purchases than they’d like?

Make it harder to shop. Delete the Amazon app from your phone and unsubscribe from the Jcrew newsletter, y’all.

P.S. If you really need help with this, might I suggest my March 12th workshop ‘How To Stop Buying Shit You Don’t Need’? It’s both IRL in Minneapolis AND streaming, so you can tune in anywhere in the world! Click here to grab your spot + workbook!

To my clients who want to drink more water?

MAKE IT EASIER TO DRINK MORE WATER. Get a cute water bottle that you like drinking from. Bring it  everywhere.

You’re smart. You get the idea.
Whatever it is that you want to change - you can make it easier to make good choices in the direction of change and harder to make choices that move you further from what you say you want. Click To Tweet

* Obviously, giant air quotes here around “good” and “bad” because your inherent value  as a human is not determined by how much you procrastinate or how many times a week you do yoga.

3. You’re allowed to take imperfect action in the direction of what you want

Whether I’m coaching someone about money, social media, online business, or habits – I want to scream from the rooftops: “You don’t have to do this perfectly to see results! Putting in a B+ effort is better than doing nothing!!!!”

If you cancel those subscriptions you’re not using, but you still order Doordash more than is strictly necessary? It’s an imperfect step in the right direction.

You want to post four times a week on Instagram and this week you only posted twice. It’s still better than the zero times a week you were posting before!

You’re trying to build a morning yoga habit and today you “only” did 10 minutes instead of 40? You still did yoga this morning. You still get to add a star to that chart.

It’s unlikely that every step we take towards change is going to be perfect. 

There will be typos in Instagram posts. There will be launches that under-perform, side hustles that fizzle, attempts at financial negotiations that go nowhere. You’ll probably fall off your good habit wagon a few times.
When things don’t go perfectly - that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong or that you should give up. It means you’re human. Click To Tweet

Where To Start When You’re Not Sure Where To Start.

Not sure where to start? Looking for productivity tips, motivation advice, or self-development tips? Tap through for tips on where to start no matter what project or goal you're undertaking. #habits #goalsetting #motivation #productivityWhen she sends me the “I want to burn this place down” gif from Mad Men I know I need to actually call her – rather than send the usual series of heart and strong arm emojis.

“What’s up?” I ask. I know things have been less-than-ideal in my friend’s life for a while now, but I didn’t realize we were talking season 7 Joan Holloway levels of frustration.

“I hate it. All of it. This stupid job. My hair. I hate all the clothes in my closet. You know I love my dog but even walking her is a production of yanking and barking. And I’m never going to pay off all that school debt. I want to do-over card. I want to burn it all down and move somewhere new and be a totally new person.” 

Friend. I GET IT. When we want everything to change, it’s hard to know where to start. When it feels like nothing is quite the way you want it, where do you start when you don’t know where to start? 

I asked my friend if she was venting and wanted me to listen or if she wanted me to put on my coaching hat and give her advice. (<- something I’m working on because often our friends just want us to listen and not give them unsolicited advice!)

She wanted me to give her advice, so I did. And if you’re in the same ‘I want to change but I don’t know where to start’ place, I’m about to give you the same advice!

Where to start when you don’t know where to start

Start with the obvious thing you KNOW will improve your life

Bluuuuugh. Probably not what you were hoping to hear, right? But the totally unsexy truth is that no matter what we’re trying to accomplish or what we’re struggling with, we all benefit from:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Moving our bodies (in a way we don’t hate!) at least a little, every day
  • Seeing or talking to friends regularly
  • Not being constantly dehydrated

“But Sarah! I’m trying to train for a marathon / build a successful freelance career / save up for IVF treatments! I’M NOT INTERESTED IN STARTING WITH ‘DRINK MORE WATER’!”

Friend, I get it. But the truth is: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs isn’t messing around. Until we meet our most basic physical and emotional needs, we’re really going to struggle with stuff like “launch a podcast” or “navigate adopting a child through foster care” or “find a new job.”

Also? When we’re well-rested, hydrated, and supported we have more energy, creativity, and focus to go after what we want.

Sometimes we want to believe that success is magical or special or a mystery - but a surprising amount depends on unsexy things like hours slept, glasses of water consumed, and the number of high five emojis in the text chain. Click To Tweet

Start with something binary

Already got the basics down? I am high-fiving you through the internet! What’s another place to start when you don’t know where to start? The binary behaviors and choices in your life.

Many of the things we want to change in our lives are a little squishy and grey area-y.

We want to stop stalking our ex on social media, but then they show up in a friend’s photos on Facebook and we read all the comments. Does that count?

Or we want to read more. We take a writing class and the professor assigns several books so we read them. Does that count?

Set yourself up for success – and create momentum and motivation for future success – by choosing a binary change. Either you did it or you didn’t.

Either you took your medication or you didn’t.

Either you did your physical therapy exercises or you didn’t. 

Either you sent the networking email or you didn’t.

When we give ourselves black and white, tangible, check-off-able goals, we’re more likely to achieve them.

Start with something that’s semi-public

If you’re already doing the basics and that binary advice doesn’t apply to you, try changing something that’s semi-public.

Why? Because when we do things in a semi-public way we’re creating accountability and creating the identity for ourselves as someone who does _______________.

(And usually those identities are positive and we want to keep them!)

A semi-public change is a change that involves other people or is witnessed by your friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.

If you and your co-workers eat lunch together every day, and you start bringing lunch, they’ll notice + comment and you’ll feel accountable to keep it up.

If you and your partner get up at the same time every day, they’ll notice if you start drinking a big glass of water before breakfast or stretch while your Poptart is toasting. Accountability, ahoy!

If you get coffee at the same coffee shop every morning, the barista is going to notice if you switch to decaf or tea. You just created accountability, friend!

Change is possible, y’all. I see it every day with my students and coaching clients. I know that starting small might seem silly or ineffective, but I promise you – it’s not.

P.S. Want to know EXACTLY which change to start with? Like: “Do this. Start with this specific ONE thing”? I made you a free, fun, 90-quiz! And I’ll send you tips specific to your quiz results about how to make that change happen! ALSO IT INCLUDES MEMES AND INTERNET ANIMALS WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Stop Doing Things That Aren’t Working

Stuck in a rut? Looking for motivational tips or inspiration? Tap through to learn how to get out of your own way. #motivation #productivity #inspiration #selfdevelopment
Picture this: we’re sitting around a campfire in Yosemite on a crisp September night.


We’re wearing cute flannel shirts, artfully scuffed jeans, and drinking out of those blue and white metal mugs that L.L. Bean sells.

We’re taking turns swapping stories of wonder and woe.

I shift on my camping stool, lean in, and terrify you with the tale of how my ego and self-absorption stymied my career for, oh, A DECADE. 

I put the flashlight under my chin for a more atmospheric effect and begin.

For 20 years, I’ve been getting paid to write; it’s been my sole source of income for a decade now. And according to Glassdoor.com, I earn significantly more than the average writer.

“I’ve been doing this for so long and supporting myself so comfortably, I must have it all figured out!” I’d smug to myself.

Every time I’d encounter a course or a coach or a program that promised to teach me how to write sales copy or Instagram comments or pitches, I’d internally flounce and toss my hair, believing that I didn’t need it.

What could these youths teach me that I, a seasoned veteran, didn’t already know?!

True, I’d occasionally read a blog post or download a freebie about how to write for ______ purpose, but that was about it. I refused to believe that there was more I could learn or that I needed to know something more than what I could glean from Googling or a library book.

Did my sales funnel covert? It was … fine. Were my launches hugely successful? Successful but not, like, hugely successful.

(This is where my story takes a turn. The plot thickens!)

Then we decided to buy a duplex. Duplexes are expensive. 

Committed to accruing that hallowed 20% down payment, I decided I was going to try something different for my next course launch. I was going to suck it up and take a course about sales + launch writing.

Even if I thought I already knew a lot about writing.

Even if I was worried it wouldn’t work.

I bet you can see where this is going, dear reader. I took this course and had the best launch of my career. I made double what I’ve made on any other launch; my sales page converted at 18%. Industry average is 2.3%. 

All this happened because I finally got over myself and realized:

  • maybe someone else knows things that I don’t know
  • within every skill set there are incredibly specific subsets
  • what I was doing – half-heartedly reading blog posts – wasn’t working

Too bad it took me ten years to get over myself and figure this out.

Just because I’m an expert at playing the flamenco guitar, doesn’t mean I could play lead guitar for Guns N Roses.

A ballerina doesn’t assume that she could land a lead role in a tap dancing musical.

I guess what I’m saying is: If you’ve been trying to change something in your life – your health, your career, your relationships, your habits, your spending habits – and the things you’ve been doing haven’t been working?

Maybe it’s time to try something new. Maybe it’s time to get over yourself and your ego and your belief that you can journal and Youtube and library book your way through this.

(And when I say “you” I mean “me too OH GOD I AM SO DEEPLY INCLUDED IN THIS NARRATIVE.”)
If muscling your way through change with a library book, a journal, and some Youtube tutorials worked - things would be different by now. Click To Tweet

Maybe getting serious about change looks like hiring me to coach you (my rates are going up in 2020!) or taking one of my live, online courses (Habit School opens January 6th!)

Or maybe it looks like:

  • Going to therapy
  • Enrolling in a college course 
  • Enrolling in a Community Ed. course
  • Taking a class on Udemy or Skillshare or Lynda
  • Finding an accountability buddy 
  • Joining a group on Meetup so you’ll have meetings to attend and friends with similar interests/issues to talk to 
  • Finding a support group
  • Join an online forum or message board

Change is possible! We can all learn new things and get new + different results. It starts with acknowledging that maybe it’s time to get outside of our heads and start taking action. 

Photo by Luke van Zyl on Unsplash

The Trap Of The ‘Overly Virtuous Lunch’ + How To Avoid It

Struggling with self-control? Looking for self-discipline tips or motivation advice? Click through and read this post for unexpected advice. #motivation #habits #personaldevelopment #budgeting
It is a truth universally acknowledged that bringing lunch to work is one of the best, smartest, most healthy choices a person can make.

(snoooooore)

Who among us hasn’t pledged to ‘do better’ and schlepped a Tupperware full of under-dressed lettuce across town, truly believing that come noon we’re going to eat that plastic box of leaves and enjoy it?

When I was a classroom teacher, I’d do this all the time. In a valiant attempt to save money and eat healthy, I’d trundle my salad from my apartment to my desk.

At noon, I’d open my desk drawer, see that salad, stand up and walk next door to Sun Foods and buy: 
1. A bag of Cheetos (the crunchy kind, not the puffy kind)
2. A small can of Mr. Brown’s canned coffee
3. A ‘kempswich’ ice cream sandwich which is the best ice cream sandwich on the market don’t @ me

Now, if you’re keeping track, this ridiculous lunch neither made me healthier nor saved me money. In fact, it pretty emphatically did the exact opposite.


You know what I should have done? BROUGHT A LUNCH I ACTUALLY WANTED TO EAT.

The fancy, psychologist-sanctioned term for what happened here is ‘ego depletion’ – the idea that self-control or willpower draws upon a limited pool of mental resources that can be used up.

I call it “the trap of the overly virtuous lunch.”

See, I was asking too much of myself – I was asking myself to eat something I didn’t particularly like (I don’t like salads) AND I was asking myself to skip going to lunch with my fun, lovely co-workers.

I added insult to injury – denying myself doubly, which then backfired and led to me spending $9 a day on junk food and canned coffee.

So how did I solve this problem? I started bringing lunches I actually wanted to eat: couscous with crunchy cucumbers and lots of feta. Pad thai. Vegetarian chili and a little bag of Fritos for dipping.

And you know what happened? I stopped spending $9 a day on ice cream sandwiches and canned coffee.

But overly virtuous lunches aren’t just lunches, they can show up anywhere in our lives.

  • Going “no spend” for six months and then freaking out, falling off the wagon, and spending all the money you saved.
  • Dragging yourself to the gym at 5 am, seven days a week, to do a workout you totally hate, only to injure yourself and never, ever go back.
  • Giving up tv and social media completely, try to make yourself like knitting and puzzles when you really love Netflix, fail and then binge watch movies for four days.

What if you just found ways to get where you want to go in a way that’s actually enjoyable?

What if you stopped denying yourself everything, ever and gave yourself a release valve so you could stay the course in a sustainable, enjoyable way?

What if you admitted to yourself that you don’t actually like salads that much but you’d be very happy to eat pasta and roasted veggies for lunch?

It’s hard to deprive and deny and shame our way to success. It's not kind, fun, or particularly sustainable. Click To Tweet

It’s totally possible to get where you want to go without eating a single “overly virtuous lunch” – whatever shape that takes for you.

Photo by Dawit on Unsplash

How To Use Envy As A Tool (Yes, For Real)

How can you use envy as a tool? If you're looking for motivation tips or productivity advice, you might find it in envy. Click through to read more! #motivation #selfhelp

 

I’m scrolling through Instagram as I wait for my coffee to brew when I’m hit by a wave of envy – mouth twisting, eye-narrowing, I-should-click-away envy.

I stare at my screen, fantasizing about the day I can do what this woman does. I feel weak just imagining it. I give myself over to daydreaming about what life would be like if I could do this, too.

What was it that filled me with envy, that morning as I stood in my kitchen?

It was my friend’s Instagram bio. 

“Founder of ______. Dog mom, cheese-eater, carry-on only traveler.” And then her IG feed was fun random photos of her dog and her vacations! No carefully curated, on-brand photos. No push to watch her webinar. No sales pitches. No ‘calls to action.’

She just shared photos of stuff she liked and that was it. CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE????

And until that moment, I hadn’t even realized that was something I wanted – to ‘just’ be a business owner, without the pressure of selling and strategizing and monetizing and sharing everything, ever.

(I’m working on it.)

And this epiphany was brought to you by envy – an emotion that gets a bad rap and we all try to avoid. We view envy as weakness or insecurity or a character flaw.
What if we used our envy to learn more about ourselves, what we really want, and what’s possible? Click To Tweet

View Envy as an educator

One of the most common things I hear from students and clients is “I don’t know how to get what I want because I, uh, don’t know what I want.”

To which I say “Good news! One of the fastest ways to figure out what you want is to look at who + what makes you feel envious.” (If you need help figuring out what makes you happy, this free workbook will help!)

For example, I have a friend who owns a gorgeous apartment in a doormanned building in Manhattan. Not envious.

I have another friend who lives in Tulum, has a double-take worthy body and an Instagram following of 95k. 100% not envious.

But my friend who runs a successful company without being on ANY social media? So envious I could weep.

The friends who bought a house on the water, in a Minneapolis suburb, for less than $300,000? Teeth-gnashing envy.

So what does this tell me? It tells me that I want to step away from social media and live on the water. I want to get a good deal on a house. I don’t want to live on the beach or wear my swimsuit all day, every day. I never need to live in NYC.

These might strike you as rather obvious epiphanies, but until I examined my envy, I didn’t realize these things about myself. 

I could very easily have spent years chasing an apartment-in-New York dream or a live-on-the-beach-in-Mexico dream. But when I noticed that my friends had those very things and I didn’t particularly care, I gained insight into the things I truly want.

View Envy as evidence of what’s possible

When we see something that makes us green with envy, it’s easy to think “They got it now I’ll never have it I HATE EVERYTHING.”

What if we viewed envy – and the things that make us feel envious – as evidence of what’s possible?

The fact that Alex can run a very successful writing business from a small town in Hawaii, while being on zero social media platforms is evidence that such a thing is possible. Finding clients, working from a far off time zone, without a funnel or webinars or optimized blog posts? It can be done!

My friends found a house with great bones, at the end of a cul de sac, overlooking a lake, in a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis for $270,000? Sure, they got lucky and they’ve done some work on said house but the fact that such a house was even on the market? Makes me hopeful we can find our dream house. 

Instead of “they have something I want and now I can’t have it” we can view someone else’s success as “they have something I want and now I know that someday I can have it, too.” Click To Tweet

I’d love to hear about your relationship with envy! Do you struggle with it? Resist it? Use it to figure out what you want?

P.S. Hope to see you at The Get What You Want Workshop on Monday!

The ‘I Deserve It’ Loophole + The Trick I Use To Beat It

Do you tell yourself "I deserve it" too much? If the usual budgeting tips or diet tips aren't helping, this might be why. Read on for money advice and goal-setting advice you haven't heard before! #budgettips #moneytips #FIRE #savemoney #intentionalspending

Picture this: It’s 8 pm on a rainy Friday night and you’re just now leaving work. The week has been a mess of unexpected expenses, grumpy coworkers, boring obligations, and yesterday the cat puked on your white sofa.

Your mind is fried and your spirit is crumpled.

Clearly, the answer is Target.

Two throw pillows, three t-shirts, some face masks, and two art prints? You deserve them.

When you get home? Delivery pizza, a full bottle of red, and three hours of Netflix. “I deeeeseeeerve this!!!!”

Then an hour of Instagram scrolling, because “I deserve it” is the battle cry of the day/week/month/year.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Maybe you swing by Home Goods instead of Target and watch Hulu instead of Netflix. (I like watching late 90s/early 00s teen rom coms and eating noodles with butter + that terrible powdered Parmesan).

We all recognize this scenario because EVERY BLESSED HUMAN engages in some version of this. When we have a bad day – or a good day! – we throw our heads back and howl “I deserve it!” while running full speed towards things that often make our lives worse. The truth is, many of our “I deserve this” choices move us further from the things we say we want. Click To Tweet
If we have credit card debt, ‘treating’ ourselves with a shopping spree is actually a pretty unkind thing to do. If our bodies don’t like dairy or gluten, ‘rewarding’ ourselves with pizza is a peculiar kind of (delicious) torture. 

Imagine if your best friend turned to you over dinner and calmly said “Ya know what? I deserve to be saddled with thousands of dollars of credit card debt for the rest of my life.”

What if she said “I’ve been thinking about it and I really believe that I deserve to sleep poorly every night. And I deserve all the health issues that come with a long-term sleep deficit.”

Or “I’ve worked hard. I deserve low-grade stomach aches several times a week. Yup!”

We’d never let our friends treat themselves this way. We’d stop them mid-sentence and talk some sense into them. But many of us treat ourselves to these self-sabotaging ‘rewards’ on a daily basis. 

So how do we stop these self-defeating, self-sabotaging ‘rewards’?

How to avoid the ‘I deserve it’ loophole

When you find yourself saying “I deserve it” + treating yourself, be really honest about the effects of these things you “deserve.” Do you DESERVE more credit card debt? An upset stomach? To sleep poorly? Click To Tweet

Take a moment to look a few hours or days down the line. How will this thing you ‘deserve’ impact your life?

If your reward looks like debt, poor health, low-quality sleep, unhealthy relationships, or wasted time? YOU DO NOT DESERVE THAT. No one does.

Instead, think about what you truly deserve and how you can treat yourself in a way that helps you get that.

Do you deserve rejuvenation and relaxation after a busy week? Maybe the answer is a walk next to a body of water, re-reading a favorite novel, and going to bed early after one hour of Netflix (not three).

Do you deserve to feel pampered because you spent all week dealing with other people’s needs? Maybe you could treat yourself with a long sauna at the gym, spend 30 extra seconds making your meal look nice (you’d be amazed what a drizzle of olive oil can do!) and buy one new scented candle.

We all deserve to feel good, supported, and cared for. We all deserve the occasional treat or reward for a long week or a job well done. Let’s make sure our rewards get us closer to what we want, rather than further away. 

P.S. If you want help ending this sort of self-sabotaging behavior, download in The Get What You Want Workshop! You guys told me you were sick of six-courses you couldn’t finish so we’re trying two hours instead! Click here to download your workbook!