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Expert Answers: Performance Coach Sarah Sarkis

In this new franchise, we’re asking trusted experts all our wellness and finance questions and sharing our top takeaways. First up: Sarah Sarkis, PsyD, a certified executive and performance coach based in Boston. 

First Things First: Meet Sarah

Can you introduce yourself?

I’m Dr. Sarah Sarkis. I’m a licensed psychologist and executive coach, a blogger, and I have a podcast. I work almost exclusively now with CEOs, athletes, entrepreneurs, coaches, and people that are really looking to optimize their psychology for overall well being.

How long have you been at it?

Almost 20 years. And I had a really traditional practice—what you would think of when you think of going to a shrink—until about eight or nine years ago, [when] I changed my direction from having a lens of ‘what’s gone wrong’ to ‘what would it be like if we focused on wellness and well being and what’s going right?’ 

What do people think you do as a performance coach versus what you actually do? 

I think people come in thinking I’m going to give them advice, and I would say 90% of what I do is ask good questions. And I think people are surprised to find out that much of the work is in how you frame your own inquiries.

The Top Takeaways

What does wellness look like to you?

When I think about well being, I think about it like a wheel. There’s nutrition [and] hydration, there’s sleep, there’s movement, there’s stillness, and there’s connection—the relationship you have with yourself, and then the relationship you have with everybody else. 

There are times in our life where it’s not designed to feel good. You aren’t designed to have this overwhelming sense of well being when you’re burying a loved one, or you’re in between jobs, or you’re facing a global pandemic, or any other personal crisis that occurs. But, I feel like if you tend to [do] more of those things on the wheel than not, you’re going to have the resources to get through the hard times. We fall into rituals, right? They anchor us. And there’s a lot of times in life where you need an anchor.

What’s the most common thing people are doing wrong across the board?

Not focusing enough on recovery. Just not having enough down-regulation things in their life. I like to introduce two concepts to people [in] performance. One is longevity, how long you do it, and the other is health span: How long, in that longness, do you feel well? Recovery will take you the furthest. A recovery practice of some kind will take you really far.

What does financial self-care mean to you? 

This year, I did a whole financial audit. So I went through every single membership we have, every purchase I made for the whole year. Turns out, when you audit yourself, there are no hiding spots anymore. It was super sobering, but it was also very clarifying. And I think it’s something I will probably do every January or every other January. 

What’s been your best personal finance decision? 

Going to school—spending a lot of money to educate myself. [And] becoming a mother was a really huge financial investment. That’s for sure the best one.

What’s been your best wellness-related investment?The best one that I’ve made is a sauna. I got super into saunaing maybe six years ago. I lived in a building that had one. And then I moved and I just couldn’t live without it.