Today we have the 7th of a series of interviews. During this series we will be show casing other Freedom Fighters from around the world. I am excited to introduce you to our seventh guest, Sarah Peterson of Unsettle.org. I am excited to showcase our first female in the series (and she is kicking ass and taking names). It’s important that we get perspective from both genders and I am making an active effort to reach out to the awesome chicks in the community.
I have already learned a lot from Sarah about building an online business and a thriving community. Read Sarah’s awesome story below. And if you would like to be featured in the Freedom Fighter interview series then be sure to check out the Guest Posting page for more information (it’s open to anyone that is willing to share their fight for freedom: Time Freedom, Location Freedom, and Financial Freedom).
Now I will turn it over to Sarah…
1. Who are you and what do you do? What is your story? How are you fighting for your Freedom? Where did you start, where in the journey are you, and where do you ultimately want to end up?
My name is Sarah Peterson and I help people stop settling from mediocre careers (and therefore lives) by helping them build online businesses they’ll love at Unsettle.org.
When I was in college, I thought that you had to get a job with a pension and good benefits, try to work your way up the corporate ladder, and squirrel away money as much as possible so that you could – maybe – retire a little early. I thought that dreading Mondays and living for the weekends was normal and doing what you loved should be reserved for hobbies and time off.
But as I started in a “good” job with a pension and benefits and the boatload of work misery that came with it, I started to think that maybe there’s another way to earn the money you need to live a good life, and I began to explore the alternatives.
As I started to build businesses online, I saw what was possible. And as my online income outpaced my income from my day job, the only thing holding me back from freedom was myself.
My website and my whole mission is all about freedom. Everything I do is to help my community build more freedom into their lives. I know what it’s like to be stuck in a job you hate, limited to working on the projects you’re told to, when you’re told to, and having to request approval to go travel. To me and to my community, that’s a pretty bleak existence.
2. What is your favorite Quote or Mantra that you live by?
One quote that I always go back to when I’m writing articles or coaching a client is Henry Ford:
“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right”
I strongly believe that all of our restrictions in the developed world – not being an expert, not having enough time, not having enough money to pursue our dreams or build something that matters – all of those things that hold us back from greatness are self-imposed.
They’re made of self-doubt and fear and societal expectation, but they aren’t actual barriers.
I had a very modest upbringing. I was a child of a single mother in small-town Canada where jobs were few and far between (pre-internet), especially for women, and especially for single women with little formal education.
There are dozens of restrictions I could make up for myself, and I’m an anomaly in the online space when it comes to people who are perceived as successful.
I’m not male. I’m not American. I don’t have an Ivy League education. I wasn’t raised with privilege. I don’t live anywhere near Portland or the Bay area or New York, which seems to be the hotspot for successful internet lifestyle entrepreneurs.
But what I do have is something unique, something that nobody else has.
I have my own unique set of skills, experience, and traits that lend themselves to my ability to build a career and community around something that deeply matters to me.
Sure, I could use those other things as an excuse to let the world down by not bringing myself to the table. But that would be silly. Because they are self-imposed limitations.
3. Are you a morning or a night person? What time do you wake up and go to sleep?
I’m a morning person, which is great! Studies show that the majority of humans are more creative in the morning, so I wake up at 5:00 AM to write. That sounds early, but it becomes quite easy when you’re consistent with it. Plus, I go to bed at around 10:00 PM so I get a decent amount of sleep every night.
4. What is your definition of Financial Freedom? And what is your FREEDOM number?
This is an interesting question. Financial freedom is simply the ability to spend your time on what you want. That’s what we’re all striving for, isn’t it? The money to be able to buy back our time.
We have these notions that if we make millions of dollars we’ll finally be able to take some time off, retire early, do what we want. The beauty of life though is that you can already do that.
So, this is a long answer to tell you I don’t have a freedom number, because I’m already free. I don’t need to worry about retiring early when I feel as though I’m already retired.
We want to be able to retire early so we can gain more control over our lives – how we spend our time, and how we use our resources – but I already have control over that 🙂
5. When it comes to building wealth, do you spend more time figuring out how to cut expenses or increase income? Why?
I spend most of my time thinking about money considering increasing my income. But I try to cut expenses where possible, as well.
I don’t think one or the other is the answer to wealth. I think that if you’re focused on increasing your income so much so that you can spend money on dinners out every night and Starbucks every morning and expensive cars and bigger houses, that’s extremely mentally, emotionally, and even physically unhealthy.
6. How many hours a week do you watch TV? What’s your favorite show?
I try to limit my TV time, because it’s really not the healthiest of activities for me – I get really sucked into shows and when I do that, I lose a lot of time marathon-watching them! But, my favorite show is Orange is the New Black. I’m also a huge fan of Parks and Recreation. Sometimes it’s nice to take a mental break with a TV show 🙂
7. If you had to recommend 1 book, what would it be? And why?
My one book would be The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. It gets a lot of flack for its extremist approach and the fanatics it seemed to have produced, but I appreciate how it redefines “rich” and challenges the status quo. The first half of the book is very motivational, as well.
8. What does living life by design look like to you? A typical day, week, month, year, or whatever?
Living life by design means being the drivers of our own lives; having control over our work, our money, and our health.
And really, almost all of us are already the drivers of our own lives. You already have control over your work. You choose who you work for, and therefore what you do on a day-to-day basis.
You already have control over your money. You choose what you spend money on, and although it doesn’t seem like it sometimes, you’re in control of how much you make (because remember, you have control over your work).
Most people already have control over their physical health. You choose what you put in your body, how much you exercise, how deeply you breathe.
So really, you’re already living life by design. It’s just that sometimes, the designs we get down on canvas doesn’t match the one we envisioned in our head, so we have to let go of that design and start with a blank canvas.
9.Where can we find you online? If you’re a blogger, this is the perfect plug to talk about your blog and why it’s great
My blog, where I teach people how to paint a different picture on their canvas, is Unsettle.org. If you want to do work you love, but don’t know where to start, I created a free course to help you find the perfect idea. You can sign up for it here (100% free). You can also find me on Twitter, which is where I spend most of my social media hours.
Sarah, I couldn’t tell. Was Unsettle your first business that provided the bulk of the income, or do you (or did you) have other unrelated online businesses that did well?
Unsettle certainly wasn’t the first 🙂 My first side business that paid for my 4 week honeymoon, wedding, down payment on our house, and has funded my retirement accounts and emergency funds was actually a personal finance blog. I sold that, but in the past few years I’ve opened and successfully run an Etsy side business, a freelancing/service based business, and even a local one. =)
Impressive on the personal finance blog. There aren’t many that are monetized at that level.
You may be surprised, Adam! There are actually a lot of PF blogs that are monetized quite heavily – it can be a lucrative field = )
Great to learn a little more about you. I’d heard about your site, but hadn’t actually checked it out yet (I will now!).
Also a huge fan of parks and rec – one of the very few TV shows I’ve watched 🙂
4HWW has also given me plenty of inspiration, and one of the books I return to again and again when I’m feeling a little stuck with my progress towards living the life I want.
Thanks GYFG for sharing Sarah’s story, and Sarah for sharing!
Glad you enjoyed the interview Jason!
Thanks for your comment! Love Parks & Rec =)
It may not be that clear what Sarah Peterson’s online businesses are which made her rich and successful, but, for me based on her answers to the interview, it is true that there are a lot of barriers to success and most of us fail to accomplish what we aspire due to some restrictions. But, nearly all of us are unaware that these restrictions aren’t actually what hinder us from obtaining whatever our goals are, it is in ways we think negatively that make our dreams far to accomplish. As the saying goes, if you really want to achieve something, be positive and focused and you will eventually obtain it.
Thanks for your comment. As mentioned above, I have an Etsy store (this is a side business and certainly not my full business), I used to have a personal finance blog which I sold but made a decent amount of money on, I am a freelancer and consultant, and I also coach a select few Unsettlers.
Finally, I earn affiliate income from products I recommend on Unsettle that I love and use.
It’s not as complicated as it may seem =) I have a very diverse income from my businesses, which has served me well.
You’re completely right. It’s mostly mindset!
Hi Sarah, I really appreciate your brand, and it’s cool to see a more personal side of you in this interview.
Sarah, You are doing a remarkable job. I am just wondering how you manage to write this much of content, I have seen some 5,000+ word posts written by you. Also, you do guest posting on websites such as HuffingtonPost and more. I mean can you write this much epic content.