Shifting to Adulthood with Sara Deacon

In our 37th episode, Sofie is joined by Sarah Deacon, an adulting coach dedicated to helping young individuals navigate the transition to adulthood with confidence and clarity. Sarah shares her own winding journey to discovering her passion for empowering young people and offers insights into how Gen Z can shape their own paths to independence. Sarah discusses the balance between seeking guidance and maintaining autonomy, emphasizing the importance of being open to learning from anyone—older, younger, or peers. Sarah also highlights the power of asking “why” and the valuable lessons that can be learned from children who constantly question the world around them. This episode offers practical advice for young adults and a fresh perspective on the transition to adulthood.

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About the Guest

Sara Deacon

Sara Deacon is widely known as The Adulting Coach. Professional speaker & teen whisperer, Sara guides her clients and audiences to a life full of what THEY want instead of what’s expected of them. She is your #1 cheerleader, always providing encouragement and new perspectives to spark laughter and invite reflection.

By day Sara helps teens and young adults figure out for themselves who they want to be when they grow up so they can have the courage to suck at something new, confidently decide how they want to live their own lives and adult successfully.

By night she practices and teaches martial arts. Her energy is electric, and she is enthusiastic about plugging you into your brilliance and spotlighting your special shine.

With her unique blend of discipline and creativity, she provides a center of balance and space to untangle life’s chaos. She believes that when you live your values, choose courage in the face of fear and develop authentic connection with inspiring people, #adultingisfun!

She will literally do karate in the garage with you if that’s what it takes for you to light your inner fire and own your future like a boss!



Sofie: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Claim Your Potential, the empowerment podcast. I’m your host, Sofie, and for this episode, we are joined by Sara Deacon to explore the dynamic topic of shifting to adulthood. Sara’s dedication lies in empowering young individuals to discover their unique path, make confident decisions, and embrace this new chapter with clarity and enthusiasm. As a professional speaker and teen whisperer, Sara’s insights and guidance provide invaluable support as young adults navigate the path towards independence and self-reliance. Sara brings a wealth of profound strategies and personal experiences to the table, equipping young adults with a comprehensive toolkit to not only navigate, but thrive through the challenges and abundant opportunities that characterize this transformative phase of entering adulthood. Her insights and guidance acts as a guiding compass, empowering young individuals to confidently embrace the uncharted territories of independence, responsibility, and personal growth that lie ahead. Please welcome Sara Deacon. Thank you so much for being with us today, Sara.

Sara Deacon: Wow, Sofie that was a fabulous introduction. I’m going to have you write my bios from now on.

Sofie: Thank you. Thank you. That is definitely the best introduction I’ve given as of yet, so I appreciate that compliment there.

Sara Deacon: Always improving. That’s the goal, right?

Sofie: Absolutely. I’d love to start our conversation off with hearing a little bit about your journey. What inspired you to become the adulting coach and focus on helping young adults navigate the transition to adulthood?

Sara Deacon: Well, my story is kind of a long, winding road and I realized that I wasn’t alone. So that’s really the short, short, short version of it, that I wasn’t the only one who was interested in a lot of different things and didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. And that teens and young adults now especially are under a lot of pressure. They are dealing with a lot of anxieties that I didn’t have when I was young. And as I started my coaching journey, I kept getting asked, do you work with teenagers? Oh, my son or daughter could really use you. What would it be like to work with young people? And I had to step back and seriously consider, like, is this where I’m meant to be? Is this where I’m, you know, being called? And I realized it was. So I stepped into it about a year and a half, two years ago, just embracing that demographic, the young people who were, you know, achieving and under a lot of pressure and seemingly thriving, but underneath the surface, they were really kind of afraid and concerned that they were missing something. And that’s what I get to dig into with these young people, is really asking them some of the questions that I was never asked when I was young. Like, why am I going to college? What do I want to do? But more than that, what kind of person do I want to be in the world and how do I want to contribute?

Sofie: Yeah, I love that there. And I think that’s something that a lot of young people, myself included, think through. And for me, that’s why I chose the nonprofit sector, because I realized that where I see me making the most impact is through that work. And I think there are a lot of teens and young adults that I see all the time struggle with finding that path, struggle with identifying, you know, who am I, more importantly, who am I in this world? So I love that that is your approach and how you go about it, making sure that you help them figure that out. And speaking of which, I feel like taking ownership of your future and this is something that I definitely went through is such a daunting task, thought process for many young adults.

Sara Deacon: Yeah.

Sofie: And is there some tips or ways or things that you’ve seen in your work that can really help young people start to take control and shape their path?

Sara Deacon: Well, let’s talk a little bit more on that problem that, oh, my gosh, this task is so huge, so daunting, so overwhelming. I need to know. I need to know right now, and I need to know forever and for the rest of my life. Take a breath. Is that really true? Most cases, what you need to know or get to figure out at this point is what’s next and how does it connect with me? And that breaking it down to the taking the next step or the next two or three steps, instead of having to have the next 80 years figured out of your life, you know, breaking it down and pulling back a little bit and saying, what do I have? What am I equipped with? What have I learned? What do I know? What do I like about myself? What am I proud of? And how can I do more of that? It simplifies it. It takes it out of this huge realm of everything is possible and brings it back to what you know, what is your experience and how can I do more of what lights me up?

Sofie: Yeah.

Sara Deacon: Does that make sense?

Sofie: Oh, my goodness, yes. I am thinking back to the, oh, so many discussions I had with friends, with parents, you know, trying to get it all figured out. And I was definitely approaching it from that, that big thinking lens of, I have to get this right. This is going to be my path for my entire career for the next 20, 30, 40 years, you know? I don’t want to mess it up. It just has to be perfect. And I think that’s something that a lot of young people are trying to figure out and think that they need to have it completely figured out right now. And I, along with you, it sounds like, happily encouraged that it’s okay to not have it 100% figured out, to have the next 40 years of your life planned, bringing it back down to, all right, what am I passionate about now? What decisions can I make to pursue those passions now? And maybe a little bit of long-term thinking in the sense of how do I see these passions showing through my career or showing through the decisions I make later down the line.

Sara Deacon: Yeah, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a big picture vision, having big goals, having a career dream, like, that’s all great, and some people definitely have that and then don’t know how to break it down. So there’s that where you know what you want to do. You’ve known it since you were a kid and you’re going to do everything you can in your power, and nothing’s going to stop you from getting there. But then when it comes to the day to day, there needs to be sort of that, okay, how do I simplify and how do I take steps today? And then there’s the other end, like we’re talking about where I don’t know, I can’t picture myself in 40 years or even 20 years or even 10 years. So it’s okay to have sort of a general vision of maybe what you want your life to look like, who you want to be surrounded by, where you might want to live, and take those things and then come back to where you are now. And like I said, what are you proud of? What lights you up? Where do you feel most yourself? Like, who do you belong with? Who are your people? And then go find them. And I think there’s a lot of pressure coming down, like you said, from parents, even teachers and other older generations who – their experience was, I pick a career, and I’m in it for the duration. That is not the reality of most people’s experience. Even in the Gen X millennial generations, we change jobs, we change our minds, and we are allowed to be flexible and fluid and not have to put ourselves in one single box for the whole, whole story.

Sofie: Yes. Oh, yes. I cannot count how many times I’ve been part of conversations, and it’s very much been along those lines of, oh, you have to have it figured out. I figured mine out when I was 18. I’ve been doing the same thing I’ve been doing since I was 18. I’ve been on the same career since I was 18. And to me, it’s just not that I have an ick reaction, but it’s almost like a wait a second, you’ve been doing the same thing since you were 18 years old. How have you not wanted to change jobs? How have you not found something that you’re more passionate about? How have you not pursued other options? And I think that’s definitely something that I see as a very positive part of the Gen Z generation, is that I feel like Gen Z is a lot more exploratory when it comes to options. They’re a lot more, you know, hey, I am passionate about this. I’m going to try this out. Oh, you know what? I don’t like the company culture. Let me try this out instead. So I definitely feel like they have that going from them there. And speaking of Gen Z, I feel like many people have misconceptions about that generation, whether through news or social media or whatever it may be. What are some of the most common misconceptions that you’ve seen in your work? And how can those in older generations better understand and engage with Gen Z?

Sara Deacon: I think that’s a great question. And honestly, even for myself, part of my journey and my experience was, oh my God, I never want to work with teenagers. They’re so lazy and unmotivated and they don’t really care about the world. And that is so not true. The more I started talking with younger folks and just learning about how they see the world, it has changed my whole perspective. And if we as older generations can be open to just listening to what they have to say, and maybe they are way off base. One of the myths is that they and misconception is they only get their news from social media. And I don’t know if that’s necessarily entirely a myth because I get a lot of my news from social media. So like, that’s just the way our communities are going now that we get to connect with real people and not have to be spoon fed a filtered, polished, produced version of what’s happening in the world. So I think that actually gives younger generations, and even the ones who are willing to go to social media for knowledge or awareness about things that are going on, it gives kind of an advantage because we get to see multiple perspectives and hear about different experiences. And that’s something that I find really powerful and inspiring about Gen Z, is that they are so open to just whatever. They will stand up for people that they might not agree with or they might not identify with. And if they see injustice or unfairness, they will call it out. They don’t have any time for bias. If you are not showing up authentically, if you are saying something different than the way you behave in your life, that old saying, do as I say, not as I do, that does not work anymore on Gen Z. They are watching what we do. The older generation, I’m Gen X, so they are watching what we’re doing and they will call us out for the inauthenticity, the lack of integrity, the bias that we sometimes will tell ourselves, that works, it doesn’t work anymore. And I think that’s just the courage it takes to call out older generations. Either call them out or shut them down. Like you said, they’re happy to move on if they feel like they’re in a toxic workplace. They just have no time for it. Life is short and they know this. And there’s no time to waste on things that are not serving, growing, helping others, lighting their fire and that kind of thing. A lot of times they just kind of don’t know how to connect the dots between what they’re passionate about and what they can – how they can actually show up and behave it in the world. And that’s where I kind of help and help them figure out what that looks like for the unique individual.

Sofie: Yeah, and speaking of that, and I love that you said that Gen Z is — I would say I interpret that as very direct. And I would agree with that, that they are very direct, especially when it comes to calling out injustice, calling out, you know, the bias around them, saying, hey, I don’t agree with this. I’m going to tell you that I don’t agree with this because I don’t have the time to pretend that I agree with this. So definitely I’ve noticed that as well there.

Sara Deacon: Yeah, right or wrong, they share their opinions.

Sofie: Very true. Oh, very true. And you mentioned that part of what you do is really helping young adults live life on their own terms and figure out how to navigate some of that directness into society. And so I’m curious as to how do you encourage young adults to break free from those societal expectations that perhaps might filter their voice, but at the same time do it in a way that it comes out as them sharing their voice versus them screaming at the top of their lungs?

Sara Deacon: I think that is just a brilliant way to word that question because there is a measure of appropriateness. There’s a time and a place to share your opinions. And yes, it is exciting and can be very appropriate to speak up and raise your voice. And there is this balance because some young people, they are afraid to raise their voice if it’s not from behind a screen or typed on a Snapchat or something like that. So there is this level of courage that it takes to actually bring something up face to face or even on the phone or even on a video, something where you are put in a little bit more of a vulnerable position. So the idea and the way that I work with this is we talk a lot about fear. We talk a lot about being receptive to the learning that’s out there and the experiences of others, even if it feels like it’s coming from a place of diss and genuineness. Or an example would be if your parents, you know, your parents always wanted you to go to college and they’re giving you advice about what you should be doing in high school. Well, you might think that they have the agenda that they just want you to get to college so you’re not going to maybe receive their advice or their communication. So we work with changing the perception around that and unpacking the stories that we tell ourselves about what other people are coming at us with. Is it pressure somebody else is putting on us for a specific reason that’s theirs? Are they legitimately trying to help us figure our stuff out? Or is there some other reason? Or is the story we’re telling not even true? So we really start to talk about perception and how to check our own stories because we all tell ourselves stories. And the main thing that I see is we think that other people think about us way more than they actually do. And that’s why it’s ultimately so, so important that what you think about yourself is the biggest influence on your behavior and your decisions.

Sofie: Yeah, and you mentioned that seeking guidance point there where a lot of the time I feel like young people perhaps don’t seek guidance or when they do, it’s – they don’t want to listen to that guidance. And so I think that’s always been, at least for me as well, one of my biggest pain points is figuring out when is asking for help too much versus when do I actually need to do it, when do I need to be independent? And so I feel like it’s such a balancing act, balancing independence and seeking guidance, but it’s so crucial during that transition to adulthood. And so how do you encourage young adults to seek that guidance while also maintaining their autonomy?

Sara Deacon: That’s a really, really excellent question and I think it looks a little bit different for everybody. Some of the young people I’ve worked with, they are highly ambitious. They are ready to take in whatever anybody else gives them. I worked alongside the “Distinguished Young Women Program”, which is a scholarship program and development program for young women who are juniors in high school. And these are phenomenal, high achieving young women bound for medical, legal, high level careers. And they are like, hey, do you have any advice for me about this experience? And they are just like they will ask and they will take it in. Oh wow, thank you for sharing. And then there are others who are like, my mom made me talk to you. And it is a balance between seeking it out, receiving it, and the adults in the world, the parents, coaches, mentors, teachers, understanding that it’s not going to happen in one conversation where you will make the huge life transforming influence on a young person, a young person’s experience. It comes from all of us working together, from the grownups in the room being willing to shut up and listen to what the young folks have to say and also taking the appropriate or the effective things that they are bringing up that are worth talking about and showing them that maybe some of the behaviors or some of the thoughts or opinions or the reasons they’re doing things are not effective for them. And I don’t like to say good or bad or right or wrong, is it working or is it not working? And if it’s not working, that’s when we have to shift. If it is working, we talk about why. So I think that answers your question about how to balance the giving advice, receiving advice, wanting advice, resisting advice. It’s a matter of consistency on both sides being willing to take the next step with each other. For the adults to listen, for the young people to listen, for the adults to share without judgment, and for the young people to understand that they have valuable experience and they still haven’t had a lot of experience in the world yet.

Sofie: Yes, I loved that ending point there because I know that’s something that I, as a part of Gen Z, have struggled with is there are those moments where I get into know it all mode, and it’s almost like, yeah, I’ve done this before. I know what I’m doing. I know what I’m talking about. And to some extent, there are moments where I might have more experience on something than someone else in the room. But 99% of the time, that is not the case. 99% of the time, everyone else around me has far more life experience, far more work experience, far more just experience, understanding who they are and how to show that to the world. And so absolutely understanding and that’s at least advice that I would give to young people, is understanding and recognizing that you’re not an expert yet at everything. And that’s okay. And there’s time to get there. And so listening to people around you, understanding the experiences of people around you and finding ways to learn from them and to perhaps practice and even avoid some of the mistakes that they’ve made. And that’s something that at least my parents always told me growing up was, hey, Sofie, the reason I tell you these things is because I made this mistake growing up, and I don’t want you to do it too. And all those moments, I never listened to them. I made the same mistake. And it was like the I told you so dance of didn’t I tell you not to do that? Because you’re going to end up with this output here. Like, this is what’s going to happen. And so definitely for our young people out there, you got to listen to people sometimes. I know it’s hard. I know it doesn’t sound fun in the moment but I’m hoping is not coming across as, like, me trying to tell you what to do here. But I will say, speaking as a part of Gen Z to Gen Z, definitely pay attention to when people give you advice because it’s coming from a place of they don’t want you to make the same mistakes. And in terms of connecting everything together, what is one thing that our listeners should take away from this episode? What’s that one piece of advice for our young people out there?

Sara Deacon: You know what? I’m just going to go off of what you just said. Be willing to learn from anyone, and this does not invalidate your experience. I want to say that I want to emphasize that to Gen Z. You have valid experience and be proud of that and own the experience that you do have. And I know that can be tough when the adults in the room might be dismissive or not take you seriously. That doesn’t mean that it’s not valid and not worth utilizing in whatever way is appropriate at the time. So I want to acknowledge that you do have powerful experiences and unique experiences and you bring value because of that. The other thing, like, to go back to what you were saying yes. Be willing. Be open to listening to the heart and the spirit of the advice that’s being given. You may not like the way it’s being delivered to you, but try to see past your own maybe feelings or resistance to it and get to the heart and the meat of what somebody might be saying to you. And the other thing I just want to add real quick, be open to learning from people younger than you. Kids are great teachers. Four year olds are awesome because they always ask ‘Why?’. Keep asking Why. Take the advice of a four year old and ask Why? And allow yourself to find the real Why answers for yourself. So be willing to learn from people older than you. Be willing to learn from your peers. Be willing to learn from people younger than you or people you wouldn’t expect to have something of value to teach because we all do. You have value to teach and so do the people around you.

Sofie: Yes, I love that point there on also listening to those younger than you. And that’s definitely something that I try to encourage those that I work with, especially those that are older than me, where and I do appreciate this quite a bit because of just the nature of the spaces that I work in and also with claim your potential. We’re a not for profit. And so I work with a lot of staff around my age, older than me, younger than me, and those that are older than me. I do so much appreciate those moments where they ask for my advice or they ask for my experience, or they ask questions about, you know, hey, I would love your feedback on this. I know that you’re passionate about this topic. I want to hear what you have to say. And there’s so much empowerment in that and I think that’s something that I’m hoping more Gen Z do is putting themselves in spaces where not only they ask the questions, but they get questions asked of them.

Sara Deacon: For real, I think just what you said is very powerful and I appreciate you saying it.

Sofie: Thank you. And for all of our listeners that do not want to stop hearing your amazing wisdom and that would love to get in touch with you, what is the best way that our listeners can connect with you?

Sara Deacon: Well, you can start by stalking me on social media because I know that’s what you all do. I’m Sara Deacon coach on all the platforms @Saradeaconcoach. There’s no ‘h’ in Sara. I’m sure you’ll put the links somewhere easily. And then my main website is (

Sofie: Wonderful. I want to say thank you so much for coming onto the podcast and yes, all of those links will be in the description box. So to all of our listeners that are listening right now, go ahead, go down in that description box, connect with Sara, and just keep the advice coming because I have thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. I think this was very empowering and invigorating for me as part of Gen Z. I think that being in a space where I feel respected for my experiences has been truly fantastic. So I want to say thank you again so much for coming onto the podcast, Sara, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Sara Deacon: Sofie, thank you so much for having me. It was a really fun conversation. I really appreciate you.

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