Sarah Powell, founder of Celebrate Yourself

Celebrate Yourself! An uplifting interview with founder Sarah Powell

We spoke to Founder of Celebrate Yourself, Sarah Powell, about her journey from what she describes as “The Wilderness” – the year after which she suddenly lost her job as a radio show host, and found herself waking up every day feeling anxious and without a sense of purpose – to the epiphany that led to the launch of her unique business.

Imposter Syndrome, anxiety, insecurity and self-doubt are rife, and Celebrate Yourself supports people to embrace those elements and, rather than wait for an imagined future self who is rid of them, to feel great about themselves in the here and now.

In this interview Sarah talks about showing up for your self-worth – the actionable ways and small moments you can respond to what you need instead of external pressures – and how to take self-celebration out of the waiting room.

Hannah Ruth Hassack - Social Media Expert

Hannah: So, tell me all about how Celebrate Yourself started!?

Sarah Powell

Sarah: It’s two years old now, which I can’t quite believe. In my sort of former life, 100 years ago, I was a radio presenter. I went to university came out and fancied being on the radio. I thought ‘I’ll do this for as long as I can, until somebody says I can’t.’ And then I did it for ages. I did it until I was like early 30s. And I’m 36 now.

It was the best job in the world. Like, it was brilliant, you know, we’re coming on, it was talking about waggon wheels and play cars, you know, that was my job! And it was great! It was one of those things that it was great until it wasn’t… you know, and I did a little bit of TV off the back of it, and everything was all very fun. And then it just, it got to the stage where I was like I’m done with the same – because it’s very much the same thing day in day out, even though it’s really fun.

And so I was kind of ready to do something else. I was ready for change. And basically, I got called into a meeting. And I lost my show, which, you know, on the one hand, I was like, ‘This is fantastic. This is just the push I needed.’ On the other hand, it’s really crappy to be asked to leave a party, even if you weren’t enjoying it.

That was kind of a big moment. But I was like, ‘This is going to be amazing! I’m going to find my thing, I’m going to find the thing that I meant to be doing, it’s going to be wonderful!

And it wasn’t. It was very much waking up on that first Monday morning and going, ‘why?’ ‘What am I going to do? What am I going to plough all my energy, change and creativity into?’ And it was like that for about a year.

I just didn’t know, Hannah! I just didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing! Where I was supposed to be. I was on Instagram stories all the time, because I was in the house on my own with nobody to talk to, so I just started talking to them. And it really did take a long time. And I think that, you know, there’s this sort of almost like this myth… What’s the right word? There’s almost this assumption that everybody deep down knows what they’re meant to be doing. Like, you know, everybody’s got a slot. Well, it could be floristry. That’s what I’ve really loved to be doing! Or I’d love to be a baker or whatever… I just think most of the time actually, we just don’t know. We just – we know we’re not quite comfortable doing what we’re doing. But we don’t know where we want to get to. And that’s really hard. Because when you know, you can just work backwards from that – can’t you?

But when you don’t know what that looks like, it’s really hard to know what to do. And I went out for lunch with my friend Lucy Sheridan, who’s the most phenomenal business coach. She’s the world’s first and only comparison coach. And I cannot say enough good things about the work that she does. And she also is an amazing business coach. And I spoke to her, and we had lunch and I was really done at that point. I was like, ‘You know what? I am done with trying to find my passion like I have this year. And I called it – the wilderness. It was just like, ‘What is this?!’

I also read Jen Sincero’s book, which is called ‘You are a badass’ – which is great, because she basically hands it over to you. And she’s like: You can’t just sit and wait for it to turn up. Like you’ve got to go and find it. You’ve got to you’ve got to explore; you’ve got to do something. And so that’s a really good starting point.

Straight back to Lucy. I’d already done my celebrant training, because I always fancied that – to do the wedding thing – so I’d done that celebrant training. And I was talking to Lucy, and that’s when it was – over that lunch! You know when you remember an exact moment, and we started talking and that’s when we came up with self-celebration.

And Hannah, it was like all the lights just went on!

And I would like the idea of building a community and building a brand which is all about getting people to celebrate themselves. I would like, you know, to help you feel like the spotlights come on. You know, you feel like angels are like swarming around your head like that. That’s how it felt! And then I had to work with Lucy to do that. I always say, you know, if it wasn’t for Lucy, it wouldn’t be a business.

Oh, I just really want people to celebrate themselves! I just love it. I love it, you know, I love the community, I feel really, really blessed to have that. And this year I’ve done a launch for membership, which is amazing! So that’s ‘The parlour.’ So that’s just for anybody who wants a bit more – so that’s been amazing. You know, we’ve got over 500 members, which is Yeah, it’s fantastic. It’s been amazing. It’s been really, really great. So, yeah, I’ve loved it! It’s grown. As I’ve said, the more I learn, the bigger it becomes! And that’s something that’s really lovely. It’s changing all the time, because I’m changing all the time – because we’re all changing all the time! I’m very lucky!

Hannah: Fantastic. That’s so nice! It’s so great that you’ve got that personal story that then feeds into what you’re supporting other people with.

Sarah: I’m not a coach. I’m not a therapist. I am just passing on things that have worked for me and the community. In the home. You know what I mean? And I love that, because I always say at the beginning of any sort of workshop or session or anything that I do, I always say, just take what works. And leave the rest. You know, here’s the buffet, come on up, pile your plate high, or just take a sausage roll, like – whatever works for you. And it’s been lovely. It’s been really, really lovely!

Hannah: I’m so glad. ‘ve been watching it from the beginning – so it’s been lovely to see!

Sarah: Oh, that’s so nice.

Hannah: So thinking about Celebrate Yourself. What do you mean by that? What does that mean for someone? What are the kind of actionable parts of that?

Sarah: I’m really glad you’ve asked this, because I think that well-being and self-help can get really lofty, you know? I mean, we’ve all you know… you get the Pinterest quotes and like, just ‘Love yourself.’ Love yourself. And you think, ‘Well, what does that mean?’ You know, I’ve got to find, like a clean bra!?

So yeah, so for me, I’m all about those practical day to day moments. I really believe it’s so important to celebrate who you are, to have that moment with yourself, to remind yourself that at any given moment, you’re doing your best doing with whatever it looks like, you know what I mean?

Even if it’s totally imperfect, even if it doesn’t look at all like you thought it would, you aren’t showing up. You’re here, and you’re doing it, babe, you know! I believe that when we have that, it allows all this kindness and this self-compassion to appear! It rushes in!

Because I needed something. I’m somebody who’s suffered with anxiety and self-doubt and and imposter syndrome and self-loading and all of that. Like, I really sort of get it, because that was me sort of trudging through just waiting to be my future self. The future self that didn’t have those things, you know, who wasn’t insecure, and all of that kind of stuff. And I really believed that that’s where I needed to get to, and then I could sort of skip through life without any problems. And then you realise that doesn’t exist.

And so, that’s what I needed. I needed something that wasn’t the 12-week course, I needed something that I didn’t need to have a notebook and pad handy to do. 10-20 minutes to sit and meditate and all those things are great, that’s really important. I love meditation, you know, it’s life changing, but at the same time, I needed something that could just release and bring me back, you know, just bring me back to a bit of self-compassion because kindness and self-compassion benefits every area of our lives! Everybody around us benefits – friends, work colleagues, family, strangers, everybody benefits from it, and it just makes everything easier. I think it makes everything go smoother and better.

So, when I say celebrate yourself, it’s honouring those moments, you know, it’s honouring those moments and really allowing ourselves to find that kindness and compassion.

Hannah: And you spoke a little bit about some of the things that lots of people experience, you know, imposter syndrome and anxiety and all of the things that something like Celebrate Yourself can be a bit of a kind of remedy.

Do you think that that those feelings of imposter syndrome and so on are more prevalent in women in particular? Is that something that you’ve seen?

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the majority of my audience are women. So that’s the first thing to say. But I mean, having said that, I think men have got a lot going on. I think they’re carrying a lot of stuff, a lot of different stuff. I just think the pressures are different. I think it’s just a case of different pressures, you know, different expectations, different, inherited narrative. We’re all carrying different stories. I’m saying this is for everyone, you know, that’s a really important thing. My work isn’t targeted just at women, it’s just that a lot of my audience tends to be women because it’s relatability. And having a lot of the same experiences and challenges.

Hannah: It’s interesting to get your kind of perspective on that, I suppose. And obviously, Yellow Eve is very much about empowering women in the workplace so that tends to be the focus, but absolutely, you know, those challenges are there for men as well. They’re just different.

We’ve set the bar so high

Sarah: Yeah, and also, I think that point about expectations, I think we set the bar so high with what we expect. And you know, a lot of that’s been given to us and handed to us. But also, a lot of it, we’ve created like, ‘I’ve got to be this, I should be there. I’ve got to be this to this person.’ And I think perhaps that is more prevalent in women, you know, that ‘I’ve got to be all things to all people all the time.’ So yeah, I do think that that’s something that women can suffer with a little bit more, perhaps.

Hannah: And what do you think holds people back from feeling able to accept and celebrate who they are in the moment? And, you know, that living in the future thing..,I know I can relate to that!

I know so many of my peer group can. It’s such a common thing, prevalent in our generation. And I wonder, do you have any thoughts about what’s holding people back?

Sarah: I think for me, it’s the disconnect between thinking like, if you say to most people, ‘Would you like to celebrate yourself more?’ I think first of all, people get very scared. People are really scared that if they start celebrating themselves, everyone will go, ‘Who do you think you are?’

That’s the first thing to say: that all self-celebration is about really supporting yourself. So, nobody has to know you’re doing it! It’s not about going around and telling everybody how fantastic you are, and how wonderful you know, you are all those things. That’s not what it’s about. Because that just usually leads to validation seeking and all the rest of it.

I think it’s the disconnect between knowing we should love ourselves more, knowing we should take care of ourselves more – but how do I bring that into my day to day when my day to day is already really packed? You know, so I’m already really busy, I haven’t got time for the self-love!

That’s why I really encourage everyone to look at the tiny day to day actions where you can show up for your self-worth. Is it that your water bottle is always empty? Is it that you don’t always have breakfast? I know that if I only have a tangerine for breakfast, something’s gone wrong, something’s off!

It’s all about bringing it into those day to day actions. Self-care can be bought by a nice candle. But it can also be, you know, not going to spin at six o’clock in the morning, because you’re shattered. And it can be saying no to a hair do that has gone over the 200-pound mark. Self-care for me yesterday look like smoked salmon, because I was like, ‘That’s what self-care looks like today’.

So when we’re able to do those things, when we’re able to honour those things, you know, it can be laying your outfit out the night before, that is self-care, that’s perfect, like access health care, and then you celebrate it, you know, you celebrate that you’re able to do that.  You made it there on time, you celebrate that you found your keys really quickly in your bag, and it didn’t take you 20 minutes and you drop in the shopping, you know, you celebrate those tiny little moments!

I feel like that that can pull us back in to that kindness, and that self-compassion, because I think quite often, you know, people think, well, ‘I’ve got to find two hours every day to do yoga’ – and it’s just not gonna happen. So, ‘I’ll do that in the future.’ You know, in the future, I really love myself, I really take care of myself…

Hannah: I love what you said about kind of breaking it down into those small moments. And so, it’s about sort of prioritising the time and energy that you invest in something that you know is going to help you. You’re really responding to what you need, rather than these external pressures.

Sarah: Yeah! It builds from there. Your self-care and self-celebration is going to look very different to mine. Okay. But, it’s about honouring those moments that we were able to take care of ourselves. And it’s about showing up for our self-worth. I’m worth taking my makeup off as soon as I get in, you know, and I’m worth making sure that I’ve got tea bags in. Like, I’m worth it, you know?

Hannah: Yeah, that’s really interesting. And it’s so good, because it’s actionable things. So, thinking about the workplace, which is really interesting, because obviously, this is where you kind of started your journey – it was to do with your workplace, and that not being quite right. How can people celebrate themselves more in that space, whether they’re self-employed or in an office or working at home, whatever, how can they empower themselves to celebrate themselves at work?

Sarah: You’ve got to really acknowledge how well you’re doing and let go. I think it’s very easy to slip into comparison. And so if anybody you know, finds themselves in a comparison trap, I would go and see Lucy Sheridan’s page immediately, but also recognise that you’re in it. Recognise that you’re comparing and is that making you feel bad? Or is that making you feel good?

Acknowledge how well you’re doing at work

I think, yes, first and foremost, acknowledge how well you’re doing at work, because I think if we’re constantly looking for validation, from somewhere else, a client or manager, whatever, I think that’s going to be very hard. I think that’s good – if you’re anything like me, it will never be enough. I can’t be told enough how good that presentation was, or whatever, you know. I think that’s the first thing.

It can be good to try and cultivate a group of other women so we’re able to kind of support each other in that way. I’m really lucky to have that. And, but I think that if you can find a way of cultivating a sort of, well, yeah, changing the culture of a place to encourage each other to celebrate, you know, a little bit more so, because the thing is, you know, we can really admire other people and really think they’re great, but they might never know.

So, if there is a way of sort of really making sure that you do celebrate other people and what they’re doing. I believe that that will come back to you. You know, and that’s not the reason why we’re doing it. We’re not celebrating it, you know, but just to say to somebody, ‘God, I thought that email you said was great,’ or, you know, like, ‘Thanks for Mike, thank you for getting tea bags.’ I believe that that kindness. can change your place. It makes everything run a little bit smoother. Everything’s just a little bit lighter.

Equally, if anybody is sort of reading this and thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s just not my environment, like, the environment of my workplace is just not like that.’ Make sure you’re doing it for yourself! First and foremost.

If you are working in a toxic environment, first of all, please know that you don’t have to do. You can sort of change that or move on. That might not be instantly available to you, but you can. The other thing is that you’re forced to build up your force field around you… you’ve got to make sure that you have got the things that you need, whether that’s power podcasts, whether that’s listening to music, you got your headphones on, you’ve got a plan from the desk, whatever, you know what I mean, just make sure that you are supporting yourself!

Hannah: Last question! Obviously, we’ve spoken a little bit about the kind of pressure that people feel and especially, you know, in people’s working lives, there’s the mentality that demanding, relentlessness exhaustion is a badge of honour. Do you think that in the workplace in particular, but you know, in life too, there is a kind of empowerment and confidence that comes with just doing less? How can people tap into that?

Sarah: Yes, I think people will be amazed how much more they can do by slowing down. Like, it’s incredible. And, you know, we’re terrified of slowing down. Because most of us have got 25 plates spinning, you know, before we’ve even had breakfast! There’s so many things, and we’re terrified of slowing down or releasing that grit, because something’s gonna go wrong!

Like, that’s what we’re taught is to keep going. You’ve got to keep going, keep going. Keep spinning the plates. So, everybody’s responsibilities look different. So that’s the first thing to say. It’s really important to get honest with yourself about what’s important to you. What are the non-negotiables? What is it? What if you stripped it right back to the absolute basics? What would it look like? You know, what would it be? And then I think you can be really, really precious about what else gets your energy. And what else gets your time.

That does apply as much in work as anything else, you know, it is a case of – I don’t know, switching. Making it clear that you only check your emails at certain times of the day. Is it not being on the team Skype? Is it not being available? I think availability is a really interesting thing in the workplace. Because we all think we’ve got to be available to everyone all the time. And it’s just not true. It’s just not true. Getting really honest, and being really clear is good.

Also, you know, the ego plays a role in it. We all think, ‘Oh, gosh, well, you know, if I slow down or if I don’t do it, then people won’t respect me or people won’t like me, or people won’t think I’m very good at my job.’ And it’s so rarely the case that that is true.

Hannah: Yeah, absolutely. It’s kind of knowing ‘Okay, I guess I’m feeling good about myself when I’m not doing all of these productive things.’

Sarah: Yeah, the productivity is not your self-worth. You are not your productivity. It does not equal your self-worth. You are worthy – you don’t have to do anything to earn it! That was the other thing. I always thought that to be kind to myself and to have a rest or slow down I had to earn it, or otherwise I didn’t deserve it. And yet, the most important thing to know is that you deserve it. And that you don’t have to do anything to earn the good stuff, but you can just have it – like it’s available!

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