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.

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

6 Comments

Kamina

I really needed to read this just now, Sarah. I’m sitting in my kitchen regretting the second bowl of cereal I just ate (at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, for some reason?), having just decided to ditch my regular Friday afternoon gym session in favour of working later on this chapter of my PhD, feeling really overwhelmed and disappointed in my choices this week. And it was just really good to be reminded that I’m doing better than I think and imperfect steps are okay. Okay, I missed the gym today, but I HAVE a regular exercise habit and I maintain it 90% of the time. I’m surfing the internet while “working” on my PhD but at least I wrote some sentences instead of no sentences. My idea of binge eating is A SECOND WEETBIX WITH ALMOND MILK OH NO. Your blog post came exactly when I needed it. I’m grateful for you and your work.

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Sarah Von Bargen

Oh, I’m so glad you found it helpful, friend! And, yes, if your “biggest problem” is eating a second, not entirely necessary bowl of cereal, you’re doing better than you’re giving yourself credit for! <3

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Ellen

Thanks for this Sarah, what a good read for the current times we’re in. I definitely need to remind myself I’m doing better than I think I am as I work on shifting my business online! AND that imperfect steps still count.

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