June 17, 2021

How to Find What Makes You Happy and Live Life with Purpose with Sarah Von Bargen

How to Find What Makes You Happy and Live Life with Purpose with Sarah Von Bargen

Building healthy habits can feel difficult; we know this all too well, and I think we can all relate! 

Sometimes the habits we’re trying to build seem so challenging we think that the process has to be an “all-or-nothing” action. We start, only to get discouraged and to fall back into our old habits again. It makes us think, why do we fail? What’s the missing link? In this episode, Sarah Von Bargen teaches us that having joy in the habit change 

process and celebrating our efforts instead of just our wins can help us live more intentionally and with purpose.  

Sarah Von Bargen  is a writer, educator, and coach who helps people spend their time, money, and energy on purpose.

Timestamps:

[2:58] - How this linguistic-trained blogger turned into an online Money and Habit Coach

[9:40] - Your self-worth is not tied to how productive you are

[13:50] - Celebrate and commemorate your efforts, not just your accomplishments

[18:24] - Align your spending to what actually makes you happy

__________________________________________________________

For more information on the Make Time for Success podcast, visit:

https://www.maketimeforsuccesspodcast.com


Connect with Us!

Dr. Christine Li -

Website: https://www.procrastinationcoach.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/procrastinationcoach

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/procrastinationcoach/


Sarah Von Bargen -

Website: www.yesandyes.org 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yesandyesblog/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yesandyesblog 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-von-bargen/ 

‘Figure out what makes you happy!’ - Free Resource: https://www.maketimeforsuccesspodcast.com/happiness

Transcript

Christine Li:

Welcome back to the show. This is Episode 27. Today you're going to hear my conversation with one of my blogging idols. Sarah Vaughn bargain. She is the host of the yes and yes blog. And she's been writing prolifically and creating engaging content there since 2008. Yes, she's one of the original online influencers, she is what I would call an anti procrastinator to she gets a lot done. And her expertise now is knowing how to show other people how to use their money, time and energy on purpose. She shares a lot of great examples of how to do just that, in our conversation. And what she taught me inside the conversation was that when we know what makes us happy, we actually have the best planning tool we could ever have. Just knowing what we like to do is a great guide for planning our day and our time. The free resource that will help you figure out what makes you happy that Sarah mentions at the end of the episode is available to you if you go to make time for success. podcast.com slash happiness. Again, it's make time for success. podcast.com slash happiness. I can't wait for you to hear this one. Let's go listen to the episode now. Hi, I'm Dr. Christine Li and I'm a psychologist and a procrastination coach. I've helped 1000s of people move past procrastination and overwhelm so they can begin working to their potential. In this podcast if you're going to learn powerful strategies for getting your mind, body and energy to work together, so that you can focus on what's really important, and accomplish the goals you want to achieve. When you start living within your full power, you're going to see how being productive can be easy, and how you can create success on demand. Welcome to the make time for success podcast. Hi, everyone. I have a very special guest today on the episode, her name is Sarah Vaughn bargain. And for me She is the OG original blogger and thought person, the person you want to follow her thinking on all sorts of issues including time management, budgeting, and just how to live your life the way you would like. So welcome to the show. Sarah, I'm so glad to meet you and to have you here.

Sarah Von Bargen:

Oh my gosh, thank you so much for having me.

Christine Li:

Could you introduce yourself to the audience? And just describe how long you've been an influencer? And sure, a little bit about your journey?

Sarah Von Bargen:

Sure. So my name is Sarah Bargen. My elevator pitch is I say that I help people spend their time, money and energy on purpose. So for me that looks like leading courses and programs about intentional spending goal setting in a way that sustainable habit change. I do one on one coaching with people around that and I have been doing this work. Oh my gosh, I started Yes. And yes, in 2008, which is on a blogspot blog, you know, which is just wild. So yeah, so I've been doing this for a very, very long time. And sort of my space on the internet and things that I talked about have, you know, changed a little bit as I've grown up, you know, because I started this when I was God, what like 27, you know, and I've, I've moved, I've gotten married, I became a step mom, I became a business owner. And so I try to incorporate lessons learned the hard way. And also, I have my master's degree in applied linguistics, which is a fancy way of saying, I studied neuro linguistics and how the words that we use affect the way we think about ourselves when we think about things. And I was also a classroom teacher for years. So I incorporate a lot of the stuff that I learned in terms of like curriculum development, and how to teach concepts in a way that's accessible. I use those things in my one on one coaching and in my courses. I think I now understand why your blog writing and your posts are so appealing, you really know how to grab and attract the audience and keep the attention going. So thank you for being that kind of thoughtful person and poster. Oh, thank you. And it's funny because like, I started a blog when I moved back, I had been living abroad for a long time. And I moved back to the US and I struggled with sort of reactive meaning to life in the US and I wanted a creative outlet, which is why I started a blog. I certainly did not expect that this master's degree in this weird, you know, area of study, or that classroom teaching would end up being really helpful and applicable to this weird job that didn't exist before, you know, 2008. But I was very lucky that my professional skill set lent itself to this stuff. masking to describe how you felt about coming online, and creating a job that didn't exist for yourself. Oh, yeah. I mean, it felt well. And when I started, I certainly like I guess I sort of felt like, wow, gosh, wouldn't it be cool if this could be my whole job, but it was 2008. So that wasn't even if I mean, Instagram didn't exist. I don't know if Twitter even existed. I couldn't see anyone doing it. So I was just like, you know what I'm just gonna try. It's just gonna be fun. I remember the first time I went to like somebody else's blog and left a comment. Like, I think I was like, literally sweating like, Oh, my God, I'm going to talk to a stranger on the internet. And hilariously, I am still friends with that woman. Like, I have tons of internet friends who I've known for 12 years, because we left comments on each other's blogspot blogs. So it definitely felt strange and surreal. And when I would tell people at parties that I had a blog, and everyone was like, That's weird. And of course, now it's super normal influencers are normal. Being on Instagram and taking pictures of your food is normal. But in 2008, it was very strange.

Christine Li:

Gotcha. Well, you make it fun. So thank you, again, because I've enjoyed your work for about eight years. I think if I date backwards, I know a lot of your work has been around productivity, time management, and as you said, kind of sticking to your goals. And I'm wondering how that came to be an area of focus for you, and what your take on people's difficulty in doing time management and sticking to what they want?

Sarah Von Bargen:

Yeah, well, I would say, a lot of the work I do. So and you've probably heard me talk about this, but my personality type and my sort of what I jokingly call the software that came installed in my brain, I'm an eldest child, I'm an INTJ. I'm very type A, I'm a Virgo. It's, you know, like, I wouldn't recommend that the way my brain works is not the same as the way a lot of people's brains work. And so things that come naturally to me, for better or for worse, are not the things that necessarily come naturally to a lot of other people. And so, people would say to me, you know, when I was still teaching, and I had a blog, and I had a second job, and I was dating, they would be like, how are you doing this? And you also don't seem like you're having meltdowns every day? Like, how are you doing this? How are you publishing? Five blog posts a week? How are you working with clients and on social media and reading blog posts. And because I was a classroom teacher, I could get enough distance on my own thought process, I could witness my thoughts. And then as a teacher think, okay, here's how I've navigated this. And here's how I can make this a teachable moment, and help people sort of like replicate this, while also sort of realizing that not everybody's an INTJ not everybody is a type A personality, not everybody's neurotypical. So I try really hard to also pull from, you know, academic I do, I actually read up a lot on approaches and tools where people have ADHD. Because obviously, as you know, those tools for people with neuro diverse brains are helpful to all of us. Like, you don't have to have ADHD to benefit from the tools that are helpful to people who have ADHD. So I sort of looked at the things that worked for me tried to make them teachable, while also simultaneously actively studying tools and methods that are helpful for other personality types and other brains.

Christine Li:

So I think to summarize what you're saying with all those coded, coded things that you described yourself with is that you are a student of your own mental clarity. Yes. And that you've just got better and better as time has gone on and as you've grown up and matured, absolutely. Okay, so what is your thought about where people go awry? Well, gosh, mental clarity and time management?

Sarah Von Bargen:

Well, I would say for one thing for a lot of us in the US, especially women, we tie our self worth to how productive we are and as much as possible and this is the work of a lifetime, but you know to unhook your ego and your self worth from how much you've accomplished during the day. I am not kidding you. I am still working on it. And a lot of times, what I do is I literally have to schedule fun and downtime into my calendar, otherwise, I will not do it. And I also have to create account with the sounds so dumb, I had to create accountability around having fun. Because otherwise I won't. Like, after we finished this podcast, I am meeting up with a friend and we are going to a greenhouse to like buy stuff for our gardens. And I'm meeting up with my friend cuz I want to see her and I'm also meeting up with her because if I didn't schedule to meet up with a friend something, quote, more important would come up. And I would not, I would just work for 10 hours. And so I kind of forced myself to have fun. And I forced myself to be less productive by scheduling meetups with friends by like getting a massage and making an appointment, getting a pedicure and making an appointment making a reservation at a restaurant. Because if I don't do that, if there's not somebody else, depending on me to have fun, I will not.

Christine Li:

I guess I'm in my head. I'm stuck on I think an old post of yours, where you mentioned that you had written so many blog posts. And I think you reached a point where you realize that maybe that it was all becoming too much. And maybe something like you were overworking in that way. Am I remembering correctly?

Sarah Von Bargen:

I have dramatically reduced how much I publish. And I have gotten much more intentional about repurposing stuff. Because also as a former classroom teacher, I know and you probably know, and everyone listening probably knows that it takes people seven to 15 interactions with a piece of information to take action on it. So why am I burning myself out? You know, writing 900 word blog posts three times a week when honestly, what most of us need is like something repeated more times in a different format.

Christine Li:

So in some ways, you kind of gave yourself more time.

Sarah Von Bargen:

Yes, absolutely. I gave myself more time, I also try with varying degrees of success to just generally like, lower my expectations, lower my expectations of myself, lower my expectations of pretty much everything. It's hard. It's hard and doesn't come naturally to me. But also realizing we're not robots, my brain, my body, like it's going to be different from day to day. Just like anyone, I'm affected by the weather, I'm affected by the news, I'm affected by, you know how things are going with my family members and the people that I care about and like expecting, when the Capitol was stormed, I live in the Twin Cities when George Floyd was murdered. It's not reasonable to expect myself to be like, you know what, let's just carry on and continue to write really helpful blog posts when it feels like the world is crumbling. And so sort of just realizing that I'm not a robot, and it's not realistic to expect my self to be that I think is also really helpful.

Christine Li:

I think that's helpful to me, because I think I am continually on a journey myself about remembering building the podcast as the capital was being stormed, and wondering, what should I be doing? It should have been more obvious to me, I think at the time, but I appreciate the fact that you're just saying that this is something that you work on continuously, and it's not necessarily going to be perfected at any given point.

Sarah Von Bargen:

Yeah, yeah. And I think two other things that I do that might be helpful to your listeners are, I try really hard to celebrate and commemorate my efforts, not just my accomplishments, which is not something that comes naturally and it's not something that our society understands or does. So an example might be I have online courses that I run live. And, you know, launching an online course is very time consuming and laborious. And it's very easy to tell myself the story that I'm only allowed to celebrate. If I make X amount of sales, I'm only allowed to celebrate if I enroll X amount of people. But hey, we can only control so much of the outcome. Like I was in the middle of a launch when the capital was stormed. Obviously I'm not going to be sending marketing emails. When it seems like there's going to be like, Is there a cool What's happening? So, when I'm doing things, especially things where I can't really can completely control the outcome which is most things I make a list of you know, I am going to create seven Instagram posts about this, I am going to two Facebook Lives about this, I'm going to send 10 emails or whatever. And then if I keep my promise to myself, I get a reward. Like, because the important thing is that I did what I said I was going to do, not so much the outcome. And the thing is, it's not magic, if you just keep doing the stuff you said you're gonna do, you're gonna see results. But when we only allow ourselves to celebrate when we get this incredibly specific outcome, which again, PS none of us control as much as we think we do. We're really denying ourselves a lot of joy in life. And we're creating and strengthening the story that we only deserve nice things are good things are to be treated well, when we when or when we make a lot of money or when we get out or praise.

Christine Li:

So I think overall, you're encouraging us to feel good throughout, maybe not even wait for this celebration that yes, we're working with joy in our hearts.

Sarah Von Bargen:

Absolutely, absolutely. And also, if you're doing something that is really like a long process to celebrate all the different parts. So my husband and I bought a duplex last year. And there were so you know, first you have to save up the downpayment, and then you get approved for the mortgage, then you find a realtor, then you start looking then you start like putting down offers. And so we had little celebrations or awards planned for each of those things. Because finding a duplex that met our incredibly specific needs was a year long process even after we saved the downpayment. And so if we waited to celebrate until we actually closed on the house, that's a year of like, really emotionally demoralizing, hard stuff, during which we don't commemorate our hard work at all.

Christine Li:

Congratulations on the duplex. And for doing it with joy. I think when I work with people being stuck in procrastination cycles, I think one of the first things I tend to encourage is action, in a joyful way, in a kind of relaxed way in a way that you can say I totally screwed up, or I didn't go through with it to the end. But the point is to just get that energy back, where you're not feeling like you're a loser, you don't have what it takes. There's no time all those stories that are just stories, and to do what's good enough?

Sarah Von Bargen:

Oh my gosh, yes. Oh, my gosh, I am on a mission to make people only do things like a minus, which again, externally does not come naturally to me. But like, I tell clients all the time, oh my gosh, get a Roomba start buying frozen entrees from Trader Joe's. That's all you need to do. That's all you need to do. Like, let it be good enough. Set a timer clean for 15 minutes now Your house is officially clean enough.

Christine Li:

Thank you for that. And let's now shift to the topic of money if you don't mind, because I know you have at least one probably multiple products on helping people learn how to manage their money in a way that is joyful, but also smart. Can you describe what you do there?

Sarah Von Bargen:

Yes. So I have two courses. My most popular one is called bank boost. And the three pillars of bank boost are spend with join intention, rescue wayward money, and get out of your comfort zone to bring in more money. And the nice thing is that, honestly, you only have to do one or two, you don't even have to do all three to see results. But what I think is particularly unique about the way I navigate it is I want people to have a deeper understanding of what actually makes them happy. And then to align their spending with that, which sounds so basic and simple when I say it, but you would be amazed at how like my most downloaded freebie is a workbook called How to figure out what makes you happy. And if you google how to figure out what makes you happy, I'm pretty sure that I'm on the front page of Google with it. Because we're terrible at it. We absorb these stories from our families of origin, from TV from movies from our friends, like even me the story I always tell is a lot of my friends love to ride their bikes and go on big group bike rides to breweries, which is like so cool and like something that you would see in a rom com. And it took me years to be like, I hate riding my bike in groups. I also don't like beer. And it took me a surprisingly long time to figure out that I didn't like it because everybody I knew liked it and it also seems like a cool thing to do.

Christine Li:

It sounds like a horrible thing.

Sarah Von Bargen:

Oh my god, it's awful. I hate beer so much and riding in a group is so stressful. Like I constantly want to like kick like stick my leg on be like you're too close.

Christine Li:

All right. So with bank boost clients, can I ask you to share some of their wins? You know, kind of what happens when you get your money crap together and figure it out?

Sarah Von Bargen:

Yeah, so bank list is only four weeks long. But very, very regularly, people keep applying the tools that I teach them for months. And biggest is $97. And I regularly get DMS from people saying like, I paid off $20,000 worth of debt, I paid off $15,000 worth of debt, I paid up like, people use it to pay off tons of debt, and which is great. And I'm really glad that happens. And almost more importantly, people tell me, I am so much more in touch, like I'm so much happier in my day to day life. Because I really figured out that what makes me happy is drinking a really nice cup of coffee on the deck reading a novel, which is practically free, or I figured out that what really makes me happy is spending quality time one on one with these specific friends. And I realized that I can do that at my house with a bunch of Trader Joe's frozen appetizers. And so when we figure out that stuff, it sounds silly, and it sounds basic. But literally just figure out what makes you happy. And one of the things we do in bank boost is we plan our spending and our happiness for the coming week. Because what happens for so many of us is we deny and deprive ourselves all week long. Because we're working demanding jobs, we have kids, we have a commute. And then on the weekend we overspend we over drink, we over scroll, whatever. But it doesn't even actually feel good. Because we've denied ourselves a week. And then it's just like, you know, there's a point of diminishing returns with Netflix, there's a point of diminishing returns with Amazon. And also, as I'm sure you know, we get 30% of our enjoyment from an experience from anticipating it. So when we don't plan that fun, we're literally reducing the amount of enjoyment we get out of it. So I teach that on Friday night, some sometime Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I want you to plan how you're going to spend your money for the coming week and what fun things you're going to do. So you can look forward to it. So if you decide that you're going to go out for a really nice dinner on Friday, you can look forward to it all week, you can go online and look at the menu and be so excited about what you're going to order. You can talk to your partner about like, okay, we're going to the Lexington like let's dress nice, that is a totally different experience than coming home and not feeling like cooking and then ordering takeout. And honestly, it's about the same price point. But it's a much more lovely enriching supportive experience, when you have to look forward to it, and you're doing it on purpose.

Christine Li:

I want to thank you again for that tip, because I am not much of a planner, I'm trying to learn these skills. And I could very much get on board with the idea that part of the joy is in the anticipation. So thank you for sharing that with me and our listeners. So let's talk about I'm just curious, because we're getting to know each other live here. What kind of fears Do you struggle with? What kind of self doubt fear that might hold you back?

Sarah Von Bargen:

Oh, that is a really good question. I would say. So for better for worse. I'm not a naturally fearful person, sometimes my own detriment. Also, I think I spent most of my 20s traveling internationally, through developing countries by myself. So I got a lot of my fears out that way. I would say what I sort of worked through is I'm an under buyer. And also I grew up in the second poorest county in Minnesota. My parents are public school teachers. I when I was a teacher, I made $16 an hour. And so I've had to really work through. Like when I started to outturn my parents, oh my gosh, that I have to work through some hang ups about that. When I started to like earn more than my friends who were still you know, working in a nonprofit, I really had to work through that sort of like unhooking from the belief that you can't be like I literally said out loud to a live in boyfriend when I was like 24. I was like, I don't believe that good. people earn more than 60 grand a year, he was earning 60 grand a year. So that was awkward. Like, that was a real belief that I had because my parents were public school teachers and like the nurses and you know, like firefighters and all the like, sort of quote unquote good people that I knew, you know, they earned like $42,000 a year. So I would say that's my hang up. Am I 100% passive? No, but I do like actively work on hooking for That belief.

Christine Li:

I like that. I think you're teaching us that we've all got stories of Assad unkind and that it's helpful to look at them and talk about them instead of just acting from within them because we don't necessarily know what is confining us if we're not really telling our boyfriends or feeling those feelings that we just kind of repeat. We don't want to repeat cycles that are not friendly to us. Yeah, I think that's my whole thing with procrastination and trying to help people to find their success path is that you don't want to be knocking your head against the same wall all time. Yeah. Did you ever have a habit of making money and then having it disappear, because you were maintaining a certain level.

Sarah Von Bargen:

I'm much more. I mean, hoarder is not the right word. But I'm much more like I earn six figures. And I am not kidding you that I still get things off the resection of next door. Like, I still am incredibly meticulous about food waste. My husband's a climatologist. And so I also think like you can't earn your way out of your carbon footprint. You know, like, just because I make good money doesn't mean that I need to be like buying a bunch of brand new things with giant carbon footprints doesn't mean that I should be eating red meat three times a day, you know, and like throwing food in the garbage. And I can also acknowledge myself like, okay, self, you're not like 24. And you know, like making $16 an hour anymore. It is okay. It is okay to buy things new occasionally.

Christine Li:

Great. So thank you so much for teaching us about you, and about your brilliant brain and your joy for helping people do better with their time and money and resources and thoughts. I've learned a lot from you in this very short call already. And I appreciate you coming on to the show and teaching us in this way. What tip would you leave our listeners with about kind of maybe opening up the road for personal success?

Sarah Von Bargen:

Oh, gosh, I would say a lot of it starts with knowing yourself, knowing what works for you, and what doesn't and not being unkind to yourself, when someone else's approach doesn't work for you. Like, I'm not somebody who does well with self paced online courses, I need outer accountability. And so rather than like telling myself a story that I'm somehow less than, I've just realized, like I need to do in person workshops, or I need to do something live. So if you realize that you need one on one coaching, or that you need like an in person support group, or you need an accountability, buddy. That's great. That's good. Like, don't get down on yourself. Just because you know, some productivity app didn't work for you, or paper habit tracker didn't work for you. I think a good way to think about it is sort of in terms of when I think about body positivity. Like instead of saying, My body doesn't fit in these pants, and therefore my body is wrong. No, it's the fault of the pants. So rather than like making it about like how you're never going to figure it out, because this productivity app or this to do listen work for you know, just try a different tool.

Christine Li:

I like it. So everyone, remember, you've got options. Always unhook yourself from any beliefs that you might be caught in in the moment. And be mindful about your actions because I think that always be in the present moment with your life. So thank you, Sarah. I know you have a free resource for our listeners too. Could you share what that is? And

Sarah Von Bargen:

yes, I would point everyone towards my how to figure what makes you happy workbook. It is very helpful for that the weird problem that most of us have of not knowing what makes us happy. My The best thing I've heard the best feedback I've gotten is a woman said no joke. This saved me two or three therapy sessions. I was like that is high praise.

Christine Li:

Wonderful and you should continue to go to therapy.

Sarah Von Bargen:

Yes. A free workbook is not the same.

Christine Li:

Not the same. Could you tell us the link for that workbook. Do you have it?

Sarah Von Bargen:

If they just go get this go to yes and yes and click in the search bar how to figure out me makes you happy, it will just pop right up.

Christine Li:

Okay, wonderful. And we will put that in the show notes for you. Thank you so much, Sara. It's been a delight getting to know you and I totally connect with everything you do and say so thank you. Thank you so much. Take care. Thank you for listening to this episode of The make time for success podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard, you can subscribe to make sure you get notified of upcoming episodes. You can also visit our website make time for success podcast.com for past episodes, show notes and all the resources we mentioned on the show. Feel free to connect with me over on Instagram too. You can find me there under the name procrastination coach. Send me a DM and let me know what your thoughts are about the episodes you've been listening to. And let me know any topics that you might like me to talk about on the show. I'd love to hear all about how you're making time for success. Talk to you soon.

Sarah Von Bargen

Writer, Educator & Coach

Sarah is a writer, educator, and coach who helps people spend their time, money, and energy on purpose.