Making a Major Life Change with Sarah McCombie

Making a Major Life Change with Sarah McCombie

by: Emily Thomas

We often say PowerSheets® are for everyone - students, empty-nesters, corporate gals, entrepreneurs, stay-at-home moms - and it's true! Thousands of women all over the world have found success with PowerSheets. But to hear from someone in a truly unique career path about how she uses and loves her PowerSheets - well, that's still one of my favorite things.

Friends, I've got a treat for you. Sarah McCombie is a full-time musician, a wife, a PowerSheets user for the last four years, and she has a GREAT story. I'm thrilled to get to share a bit of her wisdom with you today, including how PowerSheets helped her leave her corporate job, how she's broken down one of her biggest goals for the year, and her daily essentials!

P.S. Fun story: Sarah recognized me in the audience at one of her local shows and sent me an email the next day about her love for PowerSheets. Isn't it the best, most small world?!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a full-time musician and band manager of the duo Chatham Rabbits. My husband Austin and I left our corporate jobs last year to pursue a career in music full-time. I play banjo, sing, and write songs. I also manage all of our bookings, merchandise, curating content, and most importantly, serving our incredible fans. 

You've used PowerSheets for the last four years (thank you!). Why do they continue to be a helpful tool for you? What have PowerSheets helped you accomplish over the last few years?
PowerSheets helped me see that my previous career and lifestyle were not adding up to the life I ultimately wanted to lead. I reflected on the words of Lara Casey: “Where you want to be when you're 80—or 90 or 100?” and, at the time, I was pretty far from where I wanted to eventually end up. Each month, I used the Tending List to get closer and closer to a life that felt gratifying.

I still wasn’t sure how it would all pan out, but through my work in the PowerSheets month after month, I knew that I needed to make a drastic change. I ended up leaving my teaching position and my husband left his job as a financial planner. We felt the calling to use these valuable years in our life to do something we might never be able to do again, so we took our band Chatham Rabbits full-time!

PowerSheets are a comforting part of my daily, monthly, and yearly routine. I love having a place where I can keep my sights on the prize — a life I am bursting with excitement about living. 

Tell us about one or two of your goals this year. How have you or do you plan to break them down on the way to completion?
One of my main goals this year is to pour time and attention into my marriage. Sometimes it can be super hard to be in business with your spouse. Most of the time, I am so grateful, but it can be a lot to work through. We are constantly talking about our music from an artistic standpoint, and also our band from the business side of things. We have disagreements, we get frustrated with each other, and at times I have a hard time separating work and life.

This year, I made it a goal to set aside intentional time for Austin, to work on being patient, and to help him in his weaknesses so he can have the strength to help me in mine. I broke this main goal down in a few ways:

First, we started carving out time for date nights without Chatham Rabbits talk. Next, I made it a mini-goal to leave my phone out of our bedroom (whether we are on tour or at home) so I can be more present at the beginning and ending points of the day. I also keep him involved with my PowerSheets prep each month so he can know what I’m trying to work on in myself! The simple step of looping him in on my PowerSheets progress is a way to help us sharpen each other. 

Another goal this year has been to limit my commitments and learn to say no. I spent my college years stretched super thin, trying to please people and saying yes to things I didn’t really want to do just because it seemed like good idea in the moment. Ever since I started using PowerSheets, it’s been easier to say no because my big picture goals are right there in front of me, motivating me to say no to unnecessary things so I can say yes to what matters.

I’m still learning, but here are a few mini goals I’ve implemented: 
1. I keep a list of “10 Ways To Gracefully Say No” (thank you, Cultivate podcast!) on my phone, and refer to it when I need to decline someone’s offer. 
2. I maintain a lot of white space in my planner so that if something fun and spontaneous pops up, I can say yes! Since I am a full-time touring musician, it’s rare that I am home, and I like for my home time to be flexible and relaxed. 
3. I’ve learned that my time and energy is precious, so I focus on giving it to the people that will matter when I’m 80. I ask Austin to help hold me accountable. 

I love your focus on one of our favorite questions. So, where do you want to be when you're 80? 
I still want to adventure with my husband and play music. I want to have a lot of laugh lines and creasy wrinkles from smiling. I want to look back and ahead with a lot of reverence for the beauty of life. And I want to have lots of stories to tell. 

As a busy, on-the-go musician, how do you incorporate your Tending List into your life? 
Touring life is hectic. Austin and I travel in a retro-fitted Sprinter van that’s equipped with a bed in the back. When we’re on the road, we sleep in Cracker Barrel parking lots! When I wake up in the morning, I’ll mosey inside, have a biscuit and some coffee, and take a look at my PowerSheets for the day. It’s honestly the perfect way to start the day as a touring musician. 

Do you have any PowerSheets hacks to share?
If something fun, challenging, or notable happens, I go ahead and write it on my Month In Review page. Even though there are boxes for your entries, no one says you have to stay in them! I love to write in the margins and all over the place. Also, I love to use the stickers in my planner to remind me at the end of the month to start my PowerSheets prep. It always sneaks up on me, but if I set a reminder, then I’m ready with my PowerSheets when the first of the month rolls around again. 

What are your 3-5 daily essentials - the things that, if done, would make even a busy day a success? What tips do you have to make sure they happen?
True, face-to-face communication with my husband is essential. Not only is he my life partner, but he’s my business partner, and it’s crucial for us that we’re on the same page. Although we are with each other 24/7, it’s important to put our phones down, look up, and really see each other.

Other essentials definitely include a pot of coffee from my Chemex, my Dansko clogs, and lots of margin in my schedule. 

We can't do it all and do it all well. What are some things you say "no" to in pursuit of your goals?
I love this question because it’s so important to me to get better at pruning out unnecessary things in my life. A few things I’m learning to say no to in pursuit of my goals: optional commitments that I dread doing, clothes that don’t make me feel good, acquaintances that don’t sharpen me, Instagram accounts that make me compare myself to others, and any sort of unnecessary opportunity that comes onto my radar. Things can be good and still be too much on my plate. 

Thank you so much for sharing, Sarah!
 You can follow along with Sarah on Instagram here and see upcoming Chatham Rabbits tour dates here!

P.S. 2020 PowerSheets are coming October 16th and, as you can see, they have the potential to change your life! :) Get on the list to see the full collection first:

PowerSheets photos by Kristin Coble. Sarah and Austin photo by Kendall Atwater.

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Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is Cultivate What Matters' Content Strategist and Writer. With over a decade at Cultivate, Emily loves helping women uncover what matters, set good goals, and live them out with joy. Her free time is spent with her high-school-sweetheart husband and three young kiddos.

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