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

Web Time Wasters

How was your week, friends? Are you enjoying this new reality tv show we’re all watching called ‘Impeachment 2019’? In addition to refreshing CNN every 20 minutes, I helped coaching clients with Pinterest strategy, impostor syndrome, and finding the right audiences. We also celebrated one stepson’s half-birthday and another stepson’s Jujitsu medal with some very delicious Mongolian barbecue!

Links for you:

I Am The Trader Joe’s Parking Lot and I’m Here To Destroy You
When you finally spy an open spot, you rush to it. It is a false flag: you will find a mess of discarded carts, a pair of chatting, dreadlocked yogis, or a small yet hip turquoise Vespa that is invisible to the naked eye until it is too late, all placed there by me and my fellow saboteurs.

Two great hostess gifts for the coming holidays: magic salt and candles with a cause

Yup! Self-care I need less of

I got this and it is A GEE DEE DELIGHT.

With Thanksgiving coming and all those leftovers, now would be a GREAT time to plan for a No Grocery Challenge!

13 fun, interesting things to do on Black Friday that don’t involve standing in line at Target

This documentary looks beautiful and important.

A sweet book + reminder.

Ooooooh! This might be a fun departure from the traditional for Thanksgiving deserts.

If you feel guilty about charging for your work, if you chronically undercharge, if you’re constantly offering discounts for no reason – this is for you.

A fun apartment tour!

And two Netflix recommendations:
Shine On – Reese Witherspoon’s interview series with awesome women from all walks of life
Last Chance U – A docu-series that follows “Elite athletes with difficult pasts turn to junior college football for the last shot at turning their lives around and achieving their dreams” WEEEEEEP

Hope you had a lovely week! 

Web Time Wasters

When you see people converting their friends to your course in Facebook comments 💓

How was your week, friends? I spent it getting everything ready for Bank Boost (enrollment closes + class starts at 8 am CST tomorrow! Click here to join us!)

I try really hard to celebrate efforts not just outcomes, so we went away this weekend to La Crosse, WI to celebrate all my launch efforts. We stayed in a cute Airbnb, ate at a supper club called Digger’s Sting (!!?), and experienced the goodness of small city thrift stores – like a $4, mint condition London Fog trench coat!

Links for you

A new-to-me IG account that makes me smile every day.

You already read this great piece, right? This Tom Hanks Story Will Help You Feel Less Bad
That does not really ever happen, an actor waiting for me ahead of the appointed time, versus clearly dreading me two hours past it. “I think a long time ago, I learned how important it was to show up a little bit early,” Hanks told me. “Be ready to go, you know? And to respect the whole process, and I think that you could respect the whole process even when the other people don’t.”

Fellow Northern Hemisphere-ians: let’s talk winter coping mechanisms. Here are mine:
1. This glowy, cute-enough-to-be-in-the-living room humidifier (I have another giant, un-cute humidifier for our bedroom)
2. Darn Tough Socks – yes, they’re expensive. But they literally have a lifetime guarantee!
3. Slippery camisoles under everything – they keep me warmer, let me turn the thermostat down, and lower my dry cleaning bill

THIS is how you do spon con. An inspiration!


Related: The unpleasant truth behind why we “can’t” break our bad habits

Salt and vinegar mashed potatoes – should we try this for Thanksgiving?

I’m totally going to make a vegetarian version of this crispy noodle cake.

Yes! I have long been advocating “putting any random green thing you clip from your yard in a vase” and now it seems that The Professionals finally agree with me!

I loved Alex’s essay about letting go + luggage claim tickets in Tahiti
“I would really like a luggage tag. Please.”

He looked me right in the eyes. The smallest smirk on his face. The tiniest chuckle. His expression said, wordlessly, “Okay, crazy lady. Sure. Fine. I’ll get you…your precious luggage tag.”

He rummaged inside a drawer that probably hadn’t been opened in decades. Found a tattered, stained scrap of paper. Found a pen. Wrote an X on it. No number. No name. Just X. Handed it to me.

My friend Lindsay – interior designer, house flipper, Airbnb owner – just finished her most recent flip house in St. Paul and the before/afters are SO GOOD.

I hope you had a lovely weekend and if you want to join us inside Bank Boost tomorrow, here’s how! 

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.


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. 

This concept – the trap of the overly virtuous lunch – is one of the things I teach + talk about in my live, five-week course Bank Boost. You’ll learn how to earn more money, keep more money, and enjoy your life while doing it. It’s just $97 and we’re so confident it works, we offer a money-back guarantee!

Click here to learn more or just reply with any questions you have!

Photo by Dawit on Unsplash

Web Time Wasters

How was your week, friends? I re-opened my beloved Bank Boost course – if you want five weeks of LIVE support + advice to help you get ahead + earn and keep more money THIS ISH IS FOR YOU.  It’s just $97 for five weeks of accountability, learning,  and live coaching calls. We even offer a money-back guarantee if you follow all the steps and don’t recoup the cost! There’s nothing to lose. Click here to get involved!

Links for you

I was on two podcasts this week!
The Simple Self Care podcast: talking about having a full, lovely life at (almost) any income + boundaries around money. Listen here.
The Flowerlounge Podcast: talking about money as a path to self-awareness + how self-care affects your bottom line. Listen here.

And if you have a podcast, I’d love to be on it! Email me at sarah@yesandyes.org and let’s get a time on the calendar!

I’m a pretty decent cook but I’ve never taken a cooking class outside of Home Ec. in high school, so I enjoyed this post: 15 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Started Cooking

A great essay about remembering to celebrate milestones – big and small.

Photos of stray cats + discarded teddy bears!

It’s time: How To Make Your House Cozy

Whaaaaat?! How to make any liquid into those little caviar-like balls.

Twin Cities friends: coat drive + cocktails + Elizabeth Warren!

Wear this sweatshirt to Thanksgiving

And this would be a great holiday gift for anyone who cares about making the world a better place

And if you haven’t heard me shout about it before: OMG BUY THIS DAWN SIMULATOR ALARM CLOCK my fellow Northern Hemisphere-ians!!!

Daaaaaang. A reminder for my fellow Virgos/INTJ/general know-it-alls.

Extremely adding this hotel to my bucket list.

How to feel your feelings.

And also the Metropol Hotel where A Gentleman In Moscow was set!

Reminder: Enrollment for Bank Boost is open now and class starts on the 18th! Start 2020 with more money in your bank account + confidence in yourself and relationship with money.