Category: life advice

You probably have to get uncomfortable to get what you want

A bit of real talk about self-development, business, and self-improvement: you're more likely to get what you want if you're willing to get uncomfortable. Click through for a pep talk about getting outside of your comfort zone.

Here’s a short list of times I’ve been so uncomfortable I sweat through my shirt:

Moving to New Zealand, knowing no one
Is it a terrible idea to enroll in a graduate program in another country? I don’t know anyone here – who will I call if something goes wrong? How do I get around the city? How am I going to find an apartment?

Meeting a blog reader for coffee for the first time
What are we going to talk about? What should I wear that’s simultaneously cool and not-trying-too-hard? What if she’s disappointed by who I am IRL?

Sending a fourth follow-up email to that Dream Client
Are they going to block my emails? Will they forward them around the office, mocking me? Will I be blacklisted from their entire industry, known as That Horrible Pushy Woman From Minneapolis?

And the results of those cringe-worthy, sweat-inducing experiences?

Once-in-a-lifetime memories + an education that helps me create better courses
An eight-year friendship that includes yearly vacations to wonderful places
A five-figure contract of I-can’t-believe-you’re-paying-me-to-do-this projects

Of course, there have been puh-lenty of times I’ve screwed up my courage and flung myself out of my comfort zone, for naught. There was culture shock, refund requests, and rejected pitches.

And it’s likely that my future holds more of these awkward, unpleasant realities because that’s the nature of doing things that make you uncomfortable.

But.  
There is a direct correlation between how uncomfortable you are willing to be and how likely you are to get what you want. Click To TweetRight now, I’m witnessing this in real time.  I’m currently leading 250 people through Bank Boost, a live program where we alllll put ourselves on Spending Diets + Earning Sprees for six weeks. We cheer each other on, share ideas, and discuss the merits of Nextdoor.com’s free section.

Here’s what I’ve noticed. A few of the people doing Bank Boost have thrown themselves into their Earning Sprees headlong. Becoming a shopper for Instacart? Sure, they’ll give it a try! Figuring out how to sell things on Poshmark? Okay! Telling people (repeatedly! on different social media platforms!) that they’re available for hire? Yup!

Unsurprisingly, the people who have been willing to try new things and make themselves uncomfortable are the exact same people who have brought in an extra $1,000 in three weeks.

Coincidence? Nope.
The vast majority of people are unwilling to make themselves uncomfortable. When you inhabit a space most people are unwilling to go, you’ve got less competition and you’re more likely to get what you want. Click To TweetI am not, of course, suggesting that you push past your discomfort to follow a dicey-seeming dude down a dark alley to see the puppies in his windowless van. This is not where I convince you that you should remain in your uncomfortable job with your emotionally abusive boss.

But I imagine we all know the difference between good-for-you uncomfortable and bad-for-you uncomfortable.

Good-for-your uncomfortable feels terrifying and brave and exciting. It’s doing the things you know you need to do, even though you might not be doing them perfectly. It’s taking a deep breath and clicking ‘send.’

It’s walking into a room full of strangers with your head held high, your heart beating in your throat, and a desire to try your best – even if you’re sweating through your shirt a little bit.

I want to hear from you! If you’re good at doing things that make you uncomfortable, tell us how you work up the courage in the comments below so we can learn from you!

P.S. If you need 1-on-1 help or accountability to get uncomfortable, I can do that!

Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect, It Just Has To Be Something

Supporting friends, running a business, making good choices, being politically involved - it doesn't have to be perfect. Doing anything is better than doing nothing. Click through for a pep talk and good ideas!

I see my friend across the noisy bar and I immediately blush and smile awkwardly.

Seven months ago, my friend went through Something Awful. The sort of thing they write country songs about and base made-for-tv movies on. I was heartbroken for her! I was vicariously incensed! I had no idea what to say to her so I didn’t say anything!

Now this friend – the one who has spent the last half-year rebuilding her life with zero support from me – is making her way through the crowd in my direction.

And as soon as she is within hearing distance I start babbling a strange combination of small talk questions and reasons/excuses for why she hasn’t heard from me.

“I’m so sorry, dude. I wanted to write you the world’s most perfect card and I didn’t know what to say, so I just didn’t say anything. And that’s awful and you deserve better and I’m really sorry. Seriously, I’m so sorry. ”

She waits me out and then puts her hand on my arm and says, “Sarah, it didn’t have to be perfect. It just had to be something.”

Of course, I teared up and we hugged, and I vowed to do better in pretty much every arena of my life and our conversation moved on to her plans for the holiday season and aren’t the fries at this place great?

Unsurprisingly, her words stayed with me and I’ve started applying them to other parts of my life.

Because here’s the thing: Perfectionism isn’t actually about perfection. It’s about procrastination and fear of vulnerability. Click To Tweet
If we don’t move forward till something is perfect – what luck! – we never have to move forward! We never have to make ourselves vulnerable to rejection or failure. We never have to feel awkward or worry that we’re doing the wrong thing because we’re not doing anything.

If you know you should be doing something, don’t hide in perfectionism.

When your friend loses a parent, goes through a health crisis, or gets divorced, your support doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be something. Don’t spend so long searching for the perfect words that you don’t say anything.

You can shoot her an email. You can spend 60 seconds writing out a fond memory of their late parent. You can send him a text that says “thinking of you today.”

When your senator votes to deport Dreamers or your mayor makes racist comments, don’t wait till you’ve crafted the perfect call script or fax. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be something. You can leave a voicemail after hours that just says “We’re disappointed in your policies and behavior and will be voting accordingly.”

If you’re trying to buy fewer things you don’t need or save up for a big exciting purchase, you don’t have to avoid Target for the rest of your life. You don’t have to de-clutter down to, like, two t-shirts and one vase. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be something.

Don’t wait till the perfect moment to get your finances figured out. Once wedding season is past? When this big work project is over? You can unsubscribe from J. Crew’s newsletter. You can bring lunch to work once a week.

We hide in perfectionism when we’re not sure which step to take next. More often than not, the right step is ANY step. Click To Tweet

But I want to hear from you! Are you a recovering perfectionist? If you are, how’d you get past it? Have you ever used perfection as an excuse not to do something?

P.S. If you need 1-on-1 support and accountability to get past your perfectionism, I can help with that!

photo by Jose Llamas // cc

Sometimes You Win The Race Because Everyone Else Stops Running

Success isn’t always predicated on one, golden idea. In fact, it often comes from years of showing up, meeting deadlines, and doing what you said you were going to do while other people give up.

She leans across the table and taps the voice recorder app on her phone. She asks me – in that way only a college sophomore who’s doing a class project can – “To what do you owe your success?”

I laaaaaugh and stare into my latte and give her an answer that will never,ever be embroidered on a pillow:

“I kept writing and working when lots of other people stopped.”

And then she laughs because when we first sat down, she told me she’d been reading my blog since middle school. She has seen, first hand, that I’ve been writing and working (and then writing and working some more) for literally a decade.

And if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve probably seen this, too. That the “success” I’ve experienced has mostly occurred through sheer force of will. 70% of bloggers quit blogging after three months. I just …didn’t.

Because here’s the thing: I think I’m a good writer and I think I have good ideas.

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Reminder: What’s Easy + Obvious To You Isn’t Easy + Obvious To Everyone

Not sure if the advice you're going to share is "too basic"? Worried that you're pointing out the obvious? You're probably not! Something that's easy for you isn't necessarily easy for everyone.

I’m co-working with my best friend on a sunny Tuesday, drinking coffee on her couch, and sifting through my inbox.

She walks behind me on her way to the kitchen and glances at my screen. “You know you can just click on that little arrow to read the next email, right?” she says as she rinses out her mug. “You don’t have to keep going back to your inbox.”

What now? My email-reading life = changed. Productivity = upped. With an afterthought of a comment, my friend significantly improved my work life.

And I’m sure she nearly didn’t tell me because she thought her suggestion was too obvious.

We’re all guilty of this, right? Discounting our knowledge because it has become so ingrained in our everyday life that we assume everybody else knows that thing or has that skill set.

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51 Ways To Get What You Want Without Following “The Rules”

There are plenty of ways to get what you want without following 'the rules' - click through for 51 ideas on how to gain new professional skills, travel cheaply, meet someone, or launch a creative career!

“I just thought if I followed through rules, things would work out, ya know?”

It’s 2005 and I’m walking down an alley in Nei Li, Taiwan, drinking coffee out of a plastic bag and commiserating with my co-worker. I’ve been working as an ESL teacher for a year and, while I love it, it’s not exactly the future I pictured for myself.

“I thought if I got good grades, got into the right school, paid all that tuition, and did all those internships … well, I didn’t think I’d be living with two roommates and working two jobs.”

This is the bill of goods we’ve been sold by modern life, isn’t it?

Incur $XX,XXX of school debt acquiring a professional skill set.
Spend $X,XXX on a vacation somewhere warm.
Join Tinder to meet your honey. 

Move to Hollywood to become a performer.
Get a literary agent to publish your writing.

This is how we’re supposed to do it, right? These are the rules we follow to get what we want, correct?  These are the foregone conclusion, one-straight-line solutions to The Good Stuff.

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You Can Pull People Up The Ladder Behind You

Want to empower women? Be a mentor? Pull people up the ladder behind you. No matter where you are in your career or life, you can use these 10 ideas to help others. I’m sitting in the sunny corner of a coffee shop in Minneapolis, tucking into a late afternoon latte when my friend slides into the seat across from me. She slaps the table with both hands, leans forward and whisper shouts “You will NOT believe what just happened.”

“Tell me everything!” I whisper shout back.

My friend has been going through rough patch in her business. Like a “I don’t know if I can make my half of the mortgage, should I sell these boots on Ebay” sort of rough patch.

She’d been invited to pitch a project to a new client in Los Angeles. She sluethed a bit and discovered that the woman she was pitching was A Big Deal. Yale MBA, started her own company in her twenties, the whole thing.*

Feeling both intimidated and broke, my friend readied herself for the pitch call. After a few minutes of chitchat, my friend explained how she planned to run this project and shared her quote: $7,000.

There was silence on the other end of the line.

And then a sigh.

Firmly but kindly, the Fancy L.A. Lady said, “I’m so tired of women undercharging for their work. We had $40,000 set aside for this project so I want you to rewrite your proposal for that amount and send it through again. I’ll present it to the board along with the recommendation that we hire you. And I want you to promise that you’ll raise your rates.”

ARE YOU WEEPING YET BECAUSE I AM!!!!

When I shared this story, the nearly unanimous response I heard was “Someday I want to be able to do that for someone.”

Friends, we don’t have to wait till we’re millionaires or CEOs to help people. We can start where we are, with what we have, right now. No matter who you are, where you live, or how much you earn, you can pull someone up the ladder behind you. Click To Tweet

10 ways to pull people up the ladder behind you

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