Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market may seem an unlikely business to gain international attention, but that’s exactly what happened after filmmaker John Christensen noticed the enthusiasm and energy that the fishmongers brought to their job. He decided to make a film about this unique business.

What Christensen learned was that the fish market had four simple principles that they put into action every day. One of those principles is so important that without it the other three don’t work.

It’s also an option we all have, but not everyone exercises it on a daily basis.

As one of the fishmongers explains, “My buddies and I realized that each day when we come to the fish market we bring an attitude. We can bring a grouchy attitude and irritate our coworkers and customers.

“Or we can bring a playful, cheerful attitude and have a great day. We can choose the kind of day we will have.

“We spent a lot of time talking about this choice, and we realized that as long as we are going to be here, we might as well have the best day we can have.”

That’s not just a nice philosophy, however. Everyone at the fish market looks for creative ways to demonstrate that a positive attitude makes the place delightful for workers and customers alike.

Fish fly through the air and crowds gather around the market that seems to specialize in performance art.

“In fact, we got so excited about our choices that we chose to be world famous. A day spent ‘being world famous’ is a lot more enjoyable than a day spent being ordinary.”

The simple secret of the Pike Place Fish Market is, of course, the realization that attitude is a choice. That’s not something I always believed.

In my early life, I thought that my attitude was a result of what was going on around me. If things were going well, I stayed pretty positive; if my plans weren’t working, it was cause to be cranky. Then I was led to one of the first personal development programs I ever heard of called Adventures in Attitudes.

This program was inspired by the psychologist William James who said,  “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitude of their minds can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

I loved that idea, but found taking charge of my own attitude was not always easy. Just knowing that attitude is a choice—not a random emotional event—is the first step to taking charge of it.

If we don’t know or don’t believe we have choices, we don’t.

When it comes to our attitude, if we don’t exercise those choices, creepy, crawly, dark thoughts can move right in. While we can’t control how we feel, we can control how we think and act.

When we take personal responsibility for our attitude, situations may not change, but how we handle them does. And when we are serious about that responsibility, we refuse to let the behavior of others take control of our own attitude.

As my two-year-old grandson would say, “That’s huge, Grandma. Huge!”

If you want to see your business soar, decide that negativity, crankiness and unpleasantness are not options for you. After all, being in charge of an inspired business begins with being in charge of that way of thinking and behaving we call attitude.

“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop,” says an old Chinese proverb. It is not an exaggeration to say that the ultimate success of your business will be determined more by your attitude than any other factor.


A quick reminder that the Early Bird enrollment for the Joyfully Jobless Jamboree ends at midnight on Labor Day. There will be plenty of positive attitude in action in Austin on October 15 & 16. Don’t miss it.

Should I ever wake up some morning and think, “I guess it’s time to get a job,” I know exactly how I’ll abort that thought. I’ll just get in my car and head for the nearest freeway. A few minutes spent in rush hour traffic would certainly bring me back to my senses. 

It’s not just the slowness of heavy traffic that annoys me: the behavior of my fellow drivers is one of the few things guaranteed to make me lose my cool. No thoughts of universal oneness and love of humanity surface when I’m spending time in traffic.

Shortly after being inspired by Marianne Williamson’s Everyday Grace, I decided to try a new approach. When a fellow driver would threaten my life, I’d send them a silent blessing and then say a short prayer that went something like, “Dear Lord, please send that person better driving skills.”

I figured there was a hidden opportunity here to start shaping up all the folks who didn’t bother using their turn signals or who were distracted by a fascinating phone conversation. 

It calmed me a little as I recalled the Biblical admonition to pray without ceasing and realized that bad drivers were propelling me to a constant state of prayer. I had no idea that another weapon awaited me.

A few years ago, I attended a Laughter Workshop taught by Kim McIntyre Cannold. After all, I love to laugh and I thought it would be fun. I didn’t expect to learn something so amazing, something that has proved invaluable already—especially in traffic.

Cannold, who is certified by the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, opened her workshop by talking about the different kinds of laughter and had us all try out various types from tittering to belly laughing. Then she boldly suggested that we could schedule a laugh fest every day and simply laugh our heads off for no reason other than it would improve our emotional and physical well-being.

That was news to me. Laughing for the sake of laughing? While laughing as a healing agent has long been known, I’d never heard it suggested that we could just laugh without any outside stimulus.

The next time a driver cut me off, I decided to laugh, although it seemed a bit hypocritical. To my astonishment, it felt great. It felt much better than fuming to myself, which didn’t change the situation. 

Laughing didn’t change the other driver’s behavior, either, (and I figured my prayers might take a little longer to be answered), but it sure changed me. It was obvious that the one who laughs gets the reward.

If you’d like to expand the amount of laughter in your life, here are some ideas that can help.

° Memorize this quote. Ernest Hemingway said, “The seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who can laugh in life the seeds are covered with better soil and a higher grade of manure.”

 ° Take a laughter class. If your local adult ed program has such a class, sign up at once. If you can’t find such a class, get a set of CDs or tapes from your favorite comedian and play them in the car. I love the Prairie Home Companion Pretty Good Jokes album.

° Meet my friend Karyn Ruth. The most hilarious trip I ever took was the London adventure I shared with Karyn Ruth White. We both recall it as a week of nonstop laughter. If she’s not available to accompany you on a trip, order her video Laughing in the Face of Stress or her CD set from She’s a seriously funny woman.

° Meet Annette Goodheart. The first laughter therapist I ever heard of was Dr. Goodheart whose adult ed classes in her hometown of Santa Barbara had long waiting lists. Dr. Goodheart calls laughter ‘Portable Therapy’ and points out that its benefits include: strengthens your immune system, helps you think more clearly, replenishes creativity, releases emotional pain, it’s free. She’s got a great Web site with several surprising features. Go to to see for yourself.

° Read something funny. There aren’t a lot of authors that make me laugh out loud, but one who does is Bill Bryson. His travel books are especially hilarious. I’m especially fond of Neither Here Nor There, although any of his books is bound to produce a giggle or guffaw. 

° Join a Laughing Club. The movement started by The Laughing Clubs of India is spreading throughout the world. You may have a local branch or you might want to start one yourself. The concept is simple: get a group together and laugh for half an hour first thing in the morning. They claim all sorts of amazing cures among their members.

 Laughter and prayer are certainly important for the entrepreneurial life so be generous with both. Look for the funny side and you’ll discover there’s no shortage of goofiness to help you meet your daily quota of laughs. Be bold and test it for yourself. It’s medicine that doesn’t require a prescription.

Every business has times that are less busy than others. You can use this time to fret and worry that your entrepreneurial life has come to an end—or you can view it as a gift of time to do some of those things you’ve been telling yourself you’ll do when you have time. 

It  just makes sense, it seems to me, to spend this time wisely and well. Here are a few possibilities.

 * Review and revise your support system.  Is it time to hire a virtual assistant? Find a new tax accountant? Get expert advice?

Unless you’re willing to settle for the first person that comes along (and we all have had times when we’ve done that and regretted it later), this is a perfect opportunity to clarify what you need from various service providers and make certain that you’re getting it. If  you are ready to add to your support team, start interviewing potential sources of support.

 * Simplify, simplify.  Been meaning to clean out your closets and pass things along to a charity shop? Get your office in shipshape? These are time-consuming tasks that aren’t very glamourous, but the psychic rewards are huge.

 Get out some trash bags, put on some upbeat music and have at it. Get rid of the junk in the junk drawer. Weed your library. Update your filing system. Clean out your e-mailbox. It’s as liberating as losing twenty pounds.

* Up your wellness. Use this extra time to walk or workout. Get a massage or facial. 

Read up on nutrition. Experiment with new healthier foods that take time to prepare. 

Start meditating again. Plan a stress reduction program. Work these things into your schedule now and you’re more apt to keep up with them when your busier times return.

 * Volunteer. Pass your gift of time along to someone else by helping out. If you live in a major metro area in the US and are needing ideas, go to which lists a wide variety of projects in search of help. 

Why not volunteer at your kids’ school or at a local foodbank or shelter? You could even instigate a project of your own and get your friends involved.

 * Learn something new. Build some brain cells with a class or seminar. Add to your computer skills, start learning a new language, take up salsa dancing. Use this time to saturate yourself in a new subject that catches your fancy.

 * Finish things. Okay, not everyone has unfinished projects gathering dust, but chances are there’s an article you started writing or a home improvement project that got bogged down and abandoned because it didn’t seem urgent.  

Imagine if all these loose ends were tied up before you plunge back into your business. It would feel great, wouldn’t it?

 * Take a mini-sabbatical. Got a stack of books you’ve been wanting to read? Been meaning to visit a historic site in a nearby state?  Need to refresh your creative spirit? Plan some purposeful time away.

Borrow a friend’s cottage. Rent a motorhome. Don’t check your messages. A change of scenery may be just what you need to recharge your batteries and come up with some fresh insights.

 * Invest sweat equity in a longterm project. Been putting something off because it will require lots of hours to get to completion? This could be the time to start putting in those hours to get it launched.

Since most of us flourish when working on new projects, getting started has the added bonus of re-energizing other more familiar things.

 * Host an Idea Night potluck. Invite four or five other positive self-bossers to share food and ideas with each other. Make sure that everyone gets equal time and that all ideas get a hearing. 

Idea Parties are more successful if you lay down the ground rule that arguing or discounting ideas is strictly forbidden. Guests go home with an inventory of potential  ideas which they can evaluate later.

* Expand your visibility. Write a press release. Have a new photo taken. Start an ezine. Get yourself interviewed on a local radio show. Revamp your Web site. 

All this seed planting takes time and is easy to overlook when you’re busy. Why not do it now and see what new doors might open?

It happens every time I announce a new special event. Almost immediately, I begin getting messages that say, “Someday I’d love to attend your Storytelling seminar.” Or “When will you be doing your Inspired Livelihood event in Alaska?”

These questions come from folks who don’t understand effective goalsetting. They’ve got it backwards. Sadly, that is a recipe for frustration.

Several years ago when Valerie Young announced our upcoming Making Dreams Happen event, she was deluged with e-mails from people saying they’d like to attend but couldn’t afford the enrollment fee.

She called me to see if I had any ideas about how to handle this onslaught. I pointed out that since this event was about bringing dreams into reality, getting there was the first exercise. 

The ever-creative Valerie issued a challenge to her readers asking them to share what they were doing to fund the conference. We got wonderful stories about the creative ways that participants found to be involved. 

A year earlier, two friends and I decided we wanted to take a little vacation. My cash flow was good so I had the funds;  they had  both spent the previous months working on writing projects that had yet to pay off so their cash flow was squeaky. 

Once we set the goal for the trip, however, they  swung into action. They  had each built a nice little portfolio of cash flow options that included things like selling on eBay, doing market research, spending a Sunday as a flea market vendor. In less than two weeks, they both had the money  they  needed for the trip.

Last year, another entrepreneurial friend was experiencing a cash flow slowdown and decided to get creative. She wanted something that wouldn’t distract too much from other projects she was working on, so she put an ad on her local Craigslist offering her services as a pet sitter in her home. Not long after, I  was talking to her and she proudly announced, “I just passed the $1000 mark with pet sitting.” 

In his blog post Pennies and Dollars, Seth Godin writes, “In fact, too much worrying about cash is the work of the lizard brain, it’s a symptom of someone self-sabotaging the work. The thing to do is invest in scary innovations, large leaps, significant savings.”

So the order of making things happen is this: goal first, funding second. 

What successful goalsetters know is that the process goes something like this: focus on a goal, brainstorm obvious and crazy ways to make it happen, start taking action. 

Keep going until the goal is met. 

Set another goal and repeat.


Been thinking about joining Alice Barry, Terri Belford and me for Inspired Livelihood in Sedona? Don’t let your lizard brain keep you home. Commit to coming, register and create a funding project. And start your project by giving yourself a nice discount by signing up before March 15

There’s a silly scene in Wayne’s World which finds Wayne and Garth lying on the hood of their car at the end of an airport runway reveling in the wake caused by planes taking off. Mike Myers says this scene was inspired by a favorite pastime of his family called No Money Fun. The idea, of course, was to come up with entertaining activities that didn’t cost a dime. 

 When I heard Myers tell that story, I thought, “No wonder he’s so creative.  What a great thing to learn early in life.“  No Money Fun is a terrific way to activate the imagination and it comes with a built-in reward of all that free fun.

 There are two ways to bring more No Money Fun into your life. You can take advantage of the free things around you such as strolling through a beautiful public garden or museum. 

The other option is to use alternative currencies. No, I’m not suggesting that you take up counterfeiting. I am, however, challenging you to become as creative as possible about finding alternate routes to have and do more of what you want. 

Before I go farther, I need to issue a couple of warnings. I’m not talking about becoming a certified cheapskate. In fact, you’ll notice that the very wealthy are masterful at using alternative currencies in place of cash. 

Cheapskates, on the other hand, pride themselves on deprivation. 

So how can you cultivate and use alternative currencies? Begin by refusing to ever, ever use  lack of money as an excuse. 

Start looking for options—then  be dazzled by the abundance of possibilities.

 * Cash in rewards.  Frequent flier miles have long been a popular way to travel with free airfare.

Several credit card companies also offer reward programs that let you cash in earned points for merchandise, travel or, even, tuition. Some people rack up thousands of points by using their credit cards to pay for everything from the mortgage to gas and groceries.

 * Sweat equity. This term may be a bit  rigorous for the things I’m going to suggest, but essentially you trade your time and/or talent and get something wonderful in return. 

Love the symphony? Be a volunteer usher and listen for free. There are plenty of participatory opportunities in the arts, sports and community events.

You can travel on sweat equity, too. Organizing and leading tours in exchange for a free trip of your own is popular. 

One such example comes from my  friend Tom Cook whose wife is a genealogist who does seminars every year on cruise ships. Tom said they once took a Mediterranean cruise that would have cost them $25,000 had they paid for it.

I recently read Michael Pollan’s wonderful book A Place of My Own which chronicles his adventure building a writing house for himself. Besides creating a perfect place to daydream and write, Pollan acquired new skills and confidence.

Of course, many successful businesses never would have survived if not for the willingness of the founder to invest sweat equity at the start. A DIY attitude is helpful.

* Barter. Similar to sweat equity, barter allows you to trade services and products without money being exchanged.  The tricky part of this is figuring out what’s an even exchange. That’s where barter clubs come in allowing you to accumulate credits. (Do an Internet  search to track down a club that suits your needs.)

A man who attended a seminar of mine in Atlanta told me that he had lived for three and a half years totally on bartering. Many people, especially new business owners, find that bartering allows them to get all sorts of things they can use without having to spend cash. 

* Merchant incentives. Discounts, coupons and rebates are all designed to attract your business. Enthusiastic rebaters claim to save thousands every year. You don’t have to just depend on ads in your Sunday paper, either. Lots of special offers can be found online if you want to track them down. 

Mastering No Money Fun is first and foremost an exercise in learning that there’s never just one way of accomplishing things. It’s a good for your imagination as it is for your bank account.

Got a favorite alternative currency of your own? Tell us about it.

One day a friend casually mentioned  pirating some software on her job. When I asked her if that wasn’t stealing, she shrugged and said, “Everyone does it.”

That’s not really news, of course. Years ago, Time magazine had an essay that made a huge impression on me. That piece, Larceny in Everyday Life, explored a growing trend among folks who considered themselves moral and honest. 

As the journalist discovered, these upright citizens saw nothing wrong with stealing from their employers. They weren’t embezzling money, for goodness sake. Pens, copy paper, even ground coffee from the employee lunchroom were finding their way into employee homes.

This pervasive, “it will never be missed” attitude was costing companies hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Now I like to think that integrity goes up when we’re the ones owning the business. For the most part, the folks I deal with are unfailingly honest. That’s why I’m easily shocked when I see someone who is self-employed deviate from the honesty path.

One of the more blatant examples of that happened recently during the gigantic Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. There’s a man I follow on Twitter who describes himself as an entrepreneur and marketer who will help us grow our small businesses faster and smarter, who arrived in town in the middle of the event.

The next day, he startled me by posting a message crowing about the fact that he and a companion had crashed CES. Clever fellow or common crook? 

I commented on his message with a question which was, “And this is admirable because…?” 

His response? “Admirable, no. Fun, yes.” 

He might have saved some money, but it could have cost him far more than he saved. Is this someone whose advice I would want to take? Would I want to do business with him? Not likely.

The thing about integrity—or the lack of it—is that it’s sometimes easier to notice when it’s missing in someone else, but it may not be so obvious in ourselves. I’m thinking of a writer I know who frequently passes on eloquent quotes without attribution.

When I questioned him about such things, he said, “When I read something I like, I just think I’d like to have said that, so I do.”

“You’ll feel differently,” I suggested, “when someone takes something you’ve written and passes it off as their own.”

”Oh, I’d be flattered,” he insisted.

Apparently, he didn’t share the philosophy of another writer who had a clear policy about such matters. “I’d rather be caught holding up a bank than stealing so much as a two-word phrase from another writer,” asserts Jack Smith. Larceny is larceny and size really doesn’t matter.

Every one of these examples have something else in common: the fact that they talk about getting away with these little larcenies suggests that they see nothing wrong with them. 

Maybe I’m naive, but I tend to side with the philosopher who said, “The person who can’t be trusted in small matters, can’t be trusted at all.”

When Karyn Ruth White was a little girl she discovered that she could diffuse her father’s anger—and subsequent punishment—if she could make him laugh. Her father gave her plenty of opportunities to practice and she honed her comedic skills early in life. Somewhere along the way she decided that she wanted to spend her life making as many people laugh as she possibly could.

Karyn left her New England home after college and headed to Los Angeles to build a career as a stand-up comedian. After seven years of performing in nightclubs, she realized she wasn’t happy and it terrified her. She says, “I was afraid to stop because it was my dream and I thought if my dream isn’t making me happy, what’s going to become of me?”

Finally, she did walk away and gave herself time out. She worked at a number of mundane jobs while trying to figure out the next step. 

And figure it out, she did.

Today she continues to keep people laughing, but she’s reinvented herself as a speaker. Some of her stand-up material still finds its way into corporate presentations. 

Karyn hardly took a straight path—even in her current incarnation. Five years into building her speaking business, she felt burned out. Again, she gave herself permission to walk away, but then had an insight that changed everything.

 “I realized that it’s not the dream that’s the problem. It was the way I was doing the dream,” she says. “I was doing everything myself and I just couldn’t keep up.”

She let the dream get bigger and gathered a team that included a personal assistant, an accountant and a Web designer. She says she learned to set boundaries and reminds herself that the essence, not the form of her business, is what matters. 

Karyn describes the essence as, “To follow my soul and use my gifts for the greater good.” If the form that takes changes, she’s fine with it as long as the essence remains intact.

Making a commitment to the essence of your business is quite different than getting stuck in the form.

In their book Creating Money, Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer explain, “The essence of something is the function you want this item to perform, the purposes you will use it for, or what you think it will give you. Many things other than what you picture might give you the essence of what you want, so be open to letting what you want come in whatever way, size, shape or form is most appropriate.” 

Clarifying the essence of what you want in your life is also a way of gaining overall clarity and peace. It takes both time and practice to create while focusing on the essence of what you’re doing or what you want to have. 

Commitment  is a lot like love. It grows and strengthens over time when we’re truly committed to something that we care deeply about. 

We don’t always know at the outset what  will become commitment-worthy. What may begin as a simple flirtation, becomes more compelling as we learn more, increase our exposure and devote our energy to it. 

For many of us, we’ve tried to make commitments to things and people and ideas that we really weren’t that crazy about. As the poet  David Whyte warns, “Anyone or anything that does not bring you alive is too small for you.”

No wonder the word commitment elicits feelings of dread and drudgery. And if we’re only willing to commit where the outcome fits our preconceived notions, we’re doomed to a life of commitment avoidance.

Perhaps commitment needs a new press agent to remind us that building commitment happens one day at a time.

And it’s built on innumerable days of recommitting ourselves for as long as it brings us joy, peace, growth and the essence of our best possible life.

When I moved into my house in Las Vegas, I decided to use the master bedroom as my office since it’s not only larger, it’s also brighter, than the smaller bedroom. I especially liked the roomy walk-in closet which has been accumulating all manner of things for the past four years.

With the new year, the time had come for a makeover of World Headquarters. I decided to begin in the closet. There was a large, mysterious box that I hadn’t opened since the mover brought it. I had no idea what it contained, but decided today was the day to take a look.

It turned into a surprisingly nostalgic trip. The box mostly contained keepsakes and memorabilia. There was a collection of interviews I’d given, including one with a paper in Dublin, Ireland that I’d quite forgotten about.

Farther down I uncovered an extra set of CDs from the Making Dreams Happen event I did with Barbara Sher and Valerie Young. I’d been meaning to listen to that lively event again, so put  them in my car.

There was the oversized (faux) check I’d received the year I won $5000 in the Powerball lottery and a funny souvenir from a trip to London. I’d quite forgotten about two gorgeous portfolios I’d gotten at Liberty of London. (Not sure what to do with portfolios, however.)

The big attention-getter for me, however, was the manifesto I’d written about 25 years ago. A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, but for years, I only associated it with political statements, such as the Communist Manifesto.

But it has a broader meaning. Manifesto is derived from the Italian word manifesto, itself derived from the Latin manifestum, meaning clear or conspicuous. Writing one helps us see more clearly what we’re about.

 Although mine was a bit lofty, I couldn’t find anything  that I disagree with. Here’s my declaration:

All change and progress begins with an individual.

 The potential contribution of each individual is enhanced when working in a loving, supportive, positive environment.

The free enterprise system remains the best vehicle for full creative development of every person.

 The freedom to pursue greatness should be accorded a place of high value.

 A creative enterprise provides abundant opportunity to crystalize ideas and ideals.

 The creation of a new age of abundance for all is totally possible now.

The abundant expression of our vision begins where we are, with us.

I’m thinking it’s time to write a new manifesto and I urge you to do the same if you haven’t done so. Clarify your values and let others know what matters to you.

Not only will it help you attract people who are in alignment with your principles, it will also serve as a guide when you stray from your path.

 I know. That sounds lofty, too. Important stuff does.

Yesterday I met Dorinda Mangan who had come to Las Vegas with a group of Denver folks to attend a Super Bowl event. We connected at my favorite hotel, Bellagio, for a chatty brunch. 

Then I suggested that we walk to the sculpture gallery where Richard MacDonald’s stunning work is displayed.  MacDonald is a figurative artist who has worked with Cirque du Soleil performers to create some intriguing works of art. 

What I love most of all about the exhibit is the video showing MacDonald at work. Each piece begins with an exploratory session as the acrobats and dancers pose and perform while he studies their movements. 

When they strike a pose that MacDonald likes, he stops them. Then they have to hold the pose while he makes a clay model. Eventually, the sculpture may be cast in bronze. It’s fascinating to watch the artists at work and see what goes into this collaborative process.

It seems to me that we’d all be a great deal more patient if we could watch others going through the building/creating process. We’d quickly discover that the things we admire the most demanded a hefty investment of time. 

Maybe we’d stop asking ourselves, “Why is it taking so long?” when our own plans seem to be advancing at a snail’s pace. The truth is that it’s very difficult to estimate how long it will take to do something we’ve never done before. Yet we do just that over and over again.

It’s been about a year since my sister Margaret started her delightful business, Over the Top Fascinators. Last week I got an e-mail from her giving me an update—and insight. 

She wrote, Gretchen (her daughter and web master) said yesterday that she feels the business is just now really being launched, and I agree. The whole last year was about learning how to make things properly, sourcing the materials and building up enough designs to make it look like more than a hobby. 

“We’re looking for a partner to share a booth at the spring Art Walk downtown (there’s a local maker of purses from vintage fabric we like a lot) and I’m thinking I want to advertise on the website Offbeat Bride. I will still work with the bridal shop, but their style is a little traditional and flashy for me. I want the brides getting married on the beach to find me.”

While deadlines are useful for outsmarting procrastination, it’s equally useful to realize that laying a foundation can take an investment of time. Predicting what that will be, is the tricky part. As Seth Godin points out, “Figure out how long your idea will take to spread, and multiply by 4.”

Honestly, if you aren’t willing to invest your time, you’ll be better off punching someone else’s time clock.

According to Wikipedia, singer Josh Groban has sold nearly 20 million albums in his short career. The other evening he told his Twitter followers that he’d just finished a two hour voice lesson and  “think it’s time to turn pro.”

So why would a rich and famous performer keep taking lessons? More to the point, why would a would-be entrerpreneur or freelancer or traveler not be investing in their dreams?

It’s that second question that keeps me awake nights.

Brazen Careerist Penelope Trunk had a particularly interesting piece this week called Frugality is a Career Tool. She wrote “I have earned a lot of money in my life. But I have never had an extravagant life. I don’t own a house. I’ve never bought a new car. I’ve never bought a new piece of living room furniture, and I do not own a single piece of real jewelry. What I have spent money on was always intended to help me with my career. That was so I know that I can always earn money doing something I love.” 

If you want good things to happen, you’ve got to take the first step, ask for the date, risk being turned down. Otherwise you’re just practising wishful thinking, which is neither active nor useful. 

How do you notify your dreams that you mean business? Here are a few of my favorite ways.

Get equipped. In Making a Living Without a Job, I tell the story about how things changed for me when I splurged (or so it seemed at the time) on a passport. After years of failing to find a way to bring my travel dreams to life, I got serious and started getting ready for a trip. I bought guidebooks, I thought about my itinerary and wardrobe.

In less than a year, I was headed for the UK. Ever since, my passport has been called into service at least twice a year.

Get dressed. When my granddaugther  showed up at breakfast wearing a fancy dress and rainboots  before heading out to kiindergarten, her father took one look and said “Lose the boots.” 

Zoe was having none of it. “Dad,” she explained, “I’m an artist. I can wear what I want.” 

Costumes are essential to theater and they’re equally essential to building a dream. As they say in some circles, bring the outer into alignment with the inner.

Make space. In Eric Maisel’s The Creativity Book, he advises, “By designating a room as your writing study or rearranging your garage so your band can practice in it, you are setting up a sacred space and honoring your commitment to realize your creative potential.”  

A successful writer observed, “I don’t know where inspiration comes from, but I know that it shows up at my desk every morning when I sit down to write.”

Get connected. Transplant yourself into a dreambuilding environment as often as possible. Gather with others who are motivated and proactive. Make idea gathering your favorite hobby. Listen to inspiring speakers and read eloquent authors who have taken a higher path.

Refuse to believe that you aren’t a good investment because, quite simply, if you want your dreams to show up, you’ve got to show up first. So show ’em you mean business.