On Changes + Really, Actually Trying + Gratitude


2008 me, a few months after starting Yes & Yes. Yes, that’s cop in riot gear. We were trying to sneak into the Republican Convention hence my ‘disguise.’ (??)

I never thought I’d be writing this blog post.

When I started Yes & Yes, I was 28 and living in a ‘garden apartment’ (read: basement apartment with pipes hanging from the ceiling). I’d just moved back to America after five years of living abroad and, to be honest, I was completely miserable.

The job I took in St. Paul? $16,000 pay cut from my last job. My commute? Tripled. My health insurance was somehow both expensive and inadequate and my vacation time was nearly non-existent.

One time, my coworkers and I found cockroach eggs laid in the inner workings of our water cooler. Another time, someone walked off the street into our offices and stole my coworker’s purse out of her desk. In a moment of adrenaline and bad decision-making I chased him (???) and spent the rest of the morning describing the entire thing to police.

Clearly, what I needed was a blog.

It sounds ridiculous but the moment I published that first post, my life changed for the better. Not because I started making tons of money or became internet famous or understood business. The moment I pushed that first little blog post into the world I had a creative outlet and a way to connect with other people who cared about the same things I did.

For the first year I blogged, I didn’t need as much sleep. Truely! I looked for the lessons in life’s challenges. I asked strangers if I could interview them and I learned about lifestyles, experiences, and decisions I hadn’t even known existed. I worked up the nerve to leave comments on other blogs and made friends I still have today.


Friends met via the internet: Alex, Winona, and Carly

And as strange as it sounds – after eight years of blogging and five years of self-employment – it’s only recently that I’ve begun to, uh, take this whole blogging thing seriously. It’s only in the past year that I’ve started to consider what works, what doesn’t, and what I can do about it.

For a long time, I thought I was taking some sort of moral high ground by publishing absolutely whatever I wanted, without really taking into consideration which posts you guys liked, commented on, or shared. I rolled my eyes at hashtags. I thought webinars where annoying. I thought SEO “didn’t apply to me.” (Spoiler alert: SEO applies to everyone.)

But if I’m being really honest, I think I adopted this mindset because I was afraid to really, actually try. If I didn’t really, actually try, then I couldn’t really, actually fail. I could climb atop my high horse and sniff “Well, sure! If I used a million hashtags and self-promoted endlessly then I could have numbers like that. BUT I’M ABOVE THAT.”

Guys, I’m not above it. And if you created something you believe in you shouldn’t be “above it” either. (There’s no ‘above’ in this situation.)

If you make something you believe in, you owe it to yourself to REALLY, ACTUALLY try. Click To Tweet If you made something great and it can truly change people’s lives or businesses, shouldn’t you be trying to get it into as many hands as possible?

Let’s think for a moment about the books/movies/methodologies that have changed our lives. Where would we be if John Gottman or Liz Gilbert or Ira Glass or Danielle LaPorte had blushed and stammered and refused to self-promote?

We’d never know about their wonderful, life-improving, mind-shifting work.

And if we’re working on something that ISN’T going to wildly improve people’s lives or businesses or hearts or minds, well, then why are we doing it?

This is also where I thank you guys for all the kind words, emails, and tweets about my course Put Your Money Where Your Happy Is. It’s something that I’m incredibly proud of and it’s about a million times more personal than anything else I’ve ever packaged or sold.

For years, I ‘really, actually tried’ with client work, but I left the personal and the emotional out of it in my own work. Not much hangs in the balance emotionally when you’re ghostwriting business books or blog posts about smoothies.

But when you create a course based on 10 years of self-study and trial and error and personal epiphanies? On a topic that makes people uncomfortable? In which you tell everyone how much debt you incurred from the Master’s Degree you sort of regret getting?


Thankfully, you guys have been incredibly warm and supportive. And – just as sweetly – you haven’t complained about all the sales pitches and webinars and social media updates devoted to Put Your Money Where Your Happy Is.

I, too, am a blog reader. I am painfully familiar with the 2-3 week onslaught of promotion that accompanies the launch of anything. I, too, have rolled my eyes at the 17th blog post about the book tour or the 27th Facebook Live update reminding us to join the webinar.

I get it. And I appreciate your patience and grace during this, my season of promotion. Don’t worry! It’s done for now. 😉

This long, rambling post is mostly just a love letter to you, dear reader. Thank you for giving me a space to share my thoughts and ideas. Thank you for nudging me towards a better version of myself. Thank you for allowing me to really, actually try. I can only hope that this space does the same for you. <3

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  1. Justina

    I was so worried when I started reading this post that you were going to say you were quitting blogging (I get that way whenever one of my favorite bloggers makes a post about change). I’m so glad to read that you are going to start really trying. I think this is a lesson I could apply to my own life and I am excited to keep reading your posts and engaging with your content as you continue on this journey.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      You’re so sweet to say so, Justina! Thank YOU for reading <3

  2. K

    Sarah, if this blog has been you “not really trying” then I can’t imagine how crazy amazing this will get!
    Reminds me of this quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”

    You, “not trying,” is already brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous. Really excited to see how you continue to grow this.

    Anyway, I just think you’re great. Cheers 🙂

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      K! What a lovely thing to say! Thanks so much for reading 🙂

  3. Chloe // One Infinite Life

    Thank you so much for sharing this Sarah. I think it’s such a courageous thing to openly share this. I think so many of us (even subconsciously) feel like if we don’t try then it’s okay because if it doesn’t turn out how we thought it would when we didn’t really fail because we weren’t even trying. Thank you for shining a light on this and making me consider my own mindset with this.

    I love this: “If you make something you believe in, you owe it to yourself to REALLY, ACTUALLY try.” I just launched something and I hit my target of sign ups this week, so I was like cool I’m not going to promote it anymore that’s enough people. But there’s still a week to go and I do believe in this project so I need to keep sharing it. Thank you for this reminder.


  4. Rachel Thomas

    I clicked on this thinking OMG she’s quitting blogging!! NOOOOO!

    Phew. Anyway, I too get a tad bored of the sales pitchy stuff but with you it’s just not like that! You’re so very very good at this whole blogging thing and you genuinely have so much knowledge to share and that my dear is worth its weight in gold. ❤️

  5. Katrina

    Sarah, I love your blog so much. It’s exactly what I want to see on my corner of the internet. I love that it’s a mix of your own personal life (the relationship tips from divorced people is still one of the best advice articles I have EVER read) and other people’s cool lives with tips on money, general adulting, and total randomness mixed in. You are so awesome!!! You make ME want to blog!

  6. Jessica

    Thank you for exposing your tender underbelly (insert picture of furry kitten belly here).

    These admissions are what make the rest of us feel ‘normal’.

    Go get’em girl!


  7. Rebecca

    Thank you for the love letter you beautiful pumpkin (my latest term of endearment!).

    Your blogs and emails inspire me to keep on trying and doing. Your content always touches me (not in that naughty way – sheesh!). You are the ONLY blog I read that isn’t purely about business/entrepreneurship/business skills etc. THE ONLY ONE! I have no patience for anything else but might try a few of the lovely folk that appear on your blogs. I really am that grumpy old British lady with a million cats. Well a cat, kitten and a teenager but by golly they drive me round the bend. I digress…

    Promote away you Hunk of Gorgeousness – for everything you produce is of value to us and we welcome it with open arms. Disclaimer: If a million affiliates start bombarding me like they do with some launches (you know the ones) then I may have a little weep – other than that – go nuts.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Rebecca! This just warmed my heart! <3 <3

  8. Camila @ AdventitiousViolet

    I recently realised that I’m guilty of ‘not trying not failing’ mentality. Though I think it’s really unconscious because I always have a million plans, but don’t always act up on them. Thanks for a lovely post and for this amazing blog! Continue the good work 🙂

  9. Smaggle

    Hello lovely internet friend! I was literally just thinking about you the other day. I still read your blog, I just say less stuff. But you’re still awesome and I’ll def come to the twin cities one day and see you again!


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