Sarah McCrum is a teacher, author, and business founder. She is the creator of Thank You Money, a collection of online courses that teach you how to grow the inner skills you need to handle the challenges of money and business. McCrum is the author of the books Love Money, Money Loves You and Energy on Demand: Master Your Personal Energy and Never Burn Out.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in a British, Naval family with an artist mother. It was very middle class. The best thing about my younger years was the freedom I had as a teenager. We lived near the sea and I and all my friends sailed dinghies. We learned a lot about adventure, risk, and fun without being watched all the time. It was a very healthy way of growing up, immersed in nature and the elements. 

The event that most shaped my life was the death of my younger sister when I was 30 and she was 28. She had a brain tumor and it was a huge shock to our whole family. I learned that you can’t rely on the medical profession to take care of your health or happiness and that triggered my curiosity and years of exploration of alternative approaches. I haven’t seen a medical doctor in over 30 years, because I learned how to take responsibility for my own health.

Her death led me to train for 22 years with two Chinese Masters and my whole life became about energy, health, and wellbeing and how to live a full, rich, and rewarding life. I’m sure I would never have taken this path if she hadn’t died. 

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

I wish I learned about energy when I was a teenager and I wish even more that I had learned about business. My education was very academic and I was totally unprepared for life when I graduated. It took me years to figure out that a Cambridge University degree was no help at all when it came to relationships, health, or making money. In fact, everything that was important had been missed by my education, apart from learning how to think.

I grew up believing that business was something you look down on. It took me years to recover from that perspective and realize that business is one of the most meaningful activities you can participate in.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

I find that people are encouraged to spend far too much time focusing on removing or releasing blockages. They tend to end up finding more and more blockages and it becomes a long-term emotional roller-coaster.

For a long time, there’s been too much emphasis on being positive and getting rid of negativity. Our more challenging and negative experiences are some of the richest and deepest moments of our life and it’s sad that so many people are trying to run away from them. They miss much of the real gold.

I often hear teachers saying that God or the Universe will be unhappy or disappointed if we do the wrong thing or fail to understand a “life lesson.” I don’t believe that life is full of lessons. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Life is far richer and more beautiful than a kind of clumsy school that punishes you for failing a test. And the idea that God, Life, or the Universe could be unhappy is absolute nonsense to me. I actually find it quite a dangerous belief. The only thing that makes sense to me is that life is an unconditionally loving energy. If that’s the case, there can’t be any expectation that we will do or achieve anything in particular. Unconditional means that it doesn’t matter what you do or how you mess up your life. None of that changes the underlying nature of life, which is love. This is a very big concept to grasp and it’s deeply liberating to reflect on what it really means.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I had several years after I’d been training for many years already with Chinese Masters, where I was unhappy and not getting results. I had no money and seemed unable to manifest anything. It was confusing because I’d spent so much time learning from great teachers. I couldn’t understand why it didn’t work, so I thought there was something wrong with me. At times, it felt like I had an irredeemable flaw and had become “damaged goods”. That was a terrible feeling.

I found someone who taught me about karma, which was a huge issue for me. I spent around two years dealing with karma on a weekly basis, which enabled me to open my heart and feel alive again. I gradually had to learn how to get in touch with myself and my inner desires and how to respect and listen to my soul. I couldn’t get that through the Chinese tradition. This was challenging because we were taught to stick to one path for your whole life. I had to find some other paths to resolve the unhappiness. I had to grapple with the feeling that I was a traitor or a heretic, which was very hard at times. But I’m glad that I eventually gave myself permission to question any teaching freely and explore what actually works for me, in my own life.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

I’ve learned not to pretend to be someone I’m not. I try not to promise people results they might not achieve. I aim to be real about the journey ahead of them and about all the ups and downs along the way. This means that it doesn’t matter what someone is going through. I can be patient and help them, time and time again if necessary. It’s also helped me let go of a lot of judgment of people. I don’t know what stories lie behind their current situation so I don’t judge. I take it for what it is and show up as best I can. In a world where many people are quite fake about their achievements, this has helped me build a lot of trusts.

What is your morning routine?

I usually wake up before 5 am in the summer, a bit later in the winter. I like to be up between and 5 and 5.30. First of all, I go outside and look at our farm and vegetable garden. I pick vegetables for the day and get some fresh air.

Then I have a special routine for grounding my energy. I relax for around one hour with my husband. I exercise for 30 minutes (mainly bodyweight-based strength exercise) and I write or do something creative for 30 to 45 minutes. I have breakfast at 8.30, so I can get a lot done before then. 

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Without question, the most important habit I’ve learned is daily relaxation. It’s the way I manage my energy, recover from any kind of health challenge, prepare myself for work, and resolve any problem. My first thought in any difficult situation is to relax. If life itself is challenging I relax more.

I haven’t found anything, anywhere, that’s more powerful than the simple art of doing nothing in a way that enables me to receive new energy and release old energy. This is what I learned from my Chinese Masters. It goes as deep as I’m capable of and it also creates relief and freedom from the inside. It’s a truly beautiful experience, time and time again. 

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I teach something called Working Light. This is a daily relaxation routine that enables people to achieve way more than usual in less time and with less effort. This is my most important productivity strategy and it can be quite remarkable how much I can get done in a very short time as a result. People often comment on it.

The other thing is that I aim to do something important every day. I don’t feel satisfied if I just cross jobs off a list or constantly respond to urgent tasks. I need to do something that is creative, beautiful, or significant every day. 

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

I try not to read too many books, partly because I already read far too much every day in the course of my work, and also because I find reading other people’s ideas can get in the way of my own clarity.

When I was younger, the Conversations With God books by Neale Donald Walsch was very influential because they gave me permission to question all the old notions I had about God, divinity, and spirituality and they didn’t try to tell me what I should believe instead.

For me, a book is a passing experience and is unlikely to be a powerful influence on my life.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

It’s very rare that I think of quotes. Occasionally I remind myself that it’s better to create a solution at a new level than to try to solve existing problems at the same level. I believe this is a mix of an Einstein and a Buckminster Fuller quote. I guess I’m not much of a soundbite person, so quotes tend not to resonate with me.