To put your goalsetting and entrepreneurial efforts on—track and keep them there—begin by giving your year a theme. It could be a single word or a phrase that becomes your motto. Either way, it will help you gain clarity and focus. When planning your time or making a decision, a quick check will reveal if your choice adds or detracts from the theme you’ve declared.

Let’s say you’re starting a new project, one that you know little about. If you think of it as My Project Where I Am Clueless About What I’m Doing, you’ll produce very different results than if you name it My Exciting Apprenticeship in New Territory. Instead of focusing on everything you don’t know, your attention will be drawn to seek out teachers and sources of help and learning. This is a powerful shorthand technique for bringing your focus back to what your true goals are.

You’ve seen this in action plenty of times. You want to throw a party, but can’t quite figure out how to make it special. A party is just a party, after all, until you give it a theme. Then ideas start rolling. Suddenly it engages the imagination of the guests and the host. Or you decide to go to Paris and  bump into an old friend who just got back from Paris; then articles on your destination seem to appear out of nowhere.  Coincidence or selective awareness caused by focus?

 Here are a few theme possibilities to consider:


Travel Light


Explore More

Make Connections

Build Strength

Ease & Joy

Visible Abundance

No Limits

Daily Laughter

More Magic

Wildly Creative

Amaze Myself

Welcome Opportunity

Keep Moving

Back to Basics

Fully Engaged



Dream Bold

Catch the Spirit

New Adventures

Once you’ve got your overall theme, give individual themes to your projects. Post reminders around your home and office. I also do Treasure Maps that remind me of my themes. One of my current ones is Inspiring People in Beautiful Places. Next to my desk is a poster I’ve done with scenes from Venice, Sedona, Tuscany and the Lake District plus a photo of Valerie Young and me along with participants in Making Dreams Happen, an event we held in Boulder several years ago. 

Give 2009 a theme and ideas will follow. 

$100 Hour: Throw a party. If you love social events and tending to details, why not get paid for all that fun? Once a month you could organize a dinner for your busy friends for the price they’d pay in a restaurant. You could specialize in class reunions or wedding receptions. Alice Barry loves entertaining and loves inspired entrepreneurs so she turns those passions into occasional events like the Holiday Office Party for Inspired Entrepreneurs.

Explore More: Alice Barry calls herself an Idea Artisan. Anyone who’s spent time with her, knows how good she is at helping people gain clarity and plan action.You can book a session with Alice by visiting  

Got your theme? Share it in the comment box, if you’d like.

Money follows ideas. Money doesn’t create anything at all, much less ideas. Money goes where ideas are. ~ Paul Hawken

Build a personal portfolio of ideas. A man I know has the unfortunate habit of running out of money. When this happens, he goes into panic, followed by depression, followed by applying for a job he hopes he won’t get. During his latest cash flow crisis, I tried to explain to him, as gently as possible, that there was no reason for this endless Feast or Famine cycle.

If you’ve read Making a Living Without a Job or taken my seminar of the same name, you’re already familiar with the $100 idea. Whether it’s a new idea to you or not, this is the perfect time to commit to putting it into action.

You can begin implementing the $100 Hour even if you now have a job or other commitments that clamor for your time. Begin by making a pact with yourself that you will set aside time daily, if possible, or at scheduled intervals for the purpose of creating an idea that will bring you $100. You needn’t complete the plan in the hour, but if time permits use your surplus to get your idea rolling. Do research, make calls, write letters—anything that advances your goal. As Neil Fiore points out, “Keep on starting and the finishing will take care of itself.”

If you’re focusing your energies on a single profit center, come up with an idea for expanding it in a way that will earn another $100. If you’re going to try a number of different ideas in order to figure out what you most want to do, then this time can be spent designing a variety of projects. Begin by looking for opportunities that may be hiding in plain sight.

A word of warning is in order here. While this idea works wonders, your ego may tell you that $100 is too insignificant to bother with. Ignore it. After all, great fortunes and grand achievements have been accomplished by steadfast devotion to creating tiny successes—which ultimately add up to enormous success. 

The discipline that comes with using this technique is perhaps its greatest bonus. However, once you start seeing results, don’t stop using it. With continued practice, you’ll find it gets easier and easier to come up with $100 ideas. At that point, you can raise the monetary stakes, if you like. At any rate, you’ll discover that the quality of your ideas gets better and better with practice.

$100 Hour:  Clean out a closet. Why not resell things you no longer use? Clothes, especially high-quality ones that are in good repair, can be taken to a consignment shop—as can toys, sporting equipment, furniture and computers. You can also advertise on Craigslist, sell things directly on eBay or organize your own yard sale. 

Explore More: John Schroeder’s Garage Sale Fever is a perfect handbook whether you’re selling or buying with the purpose of reselling. Even if garage sale season is months away in your part of the world, this will help you get things organized. 

“I’ll never forget this idea” is the devil’s whisper. Catch everything that matters in your notebook. ~ Richard Bach


Entrepreneurial inspiration and information are everywhere. Here are a few—in no particular order—that I’ve collected this past week:

* Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. I have no idea why Twitter is so addictive, but it is. I’m new to Twitter world, but find myself checking in frequently since the folks I’m following leave such interesting tidbits.

Publicity Hound Joan Stewart had a story in her mailing last week about Rebecca Shapiro, an artist from Portland, OR, who got a regular gig on a local tv show thanks to Twitter. Want to know what all the fuss is about? Read Copyblogger’s How to Use Twitter to Grow Your Business.

You can find me on Twitter by clicking on this link. 

* Long before I moved to Las Vegas, I became fascinated by hotel impresario Steve Wynn. When his newest hotel opened recently, he pointed out that Encore is short on gimmicks and long on great service. As he told the press, his focus is on getting back to basics. Successful entrepreneurs seem to make that discovery over and over.

If you’re interested in knowing more about Wynn and the other entrepreneurial forces in my hometown, I recommend Winner Takes All by Christina Binkley. It’s one of my favorite books of the year. 

And if you want to focus on basics like goalsetting or building your expert status, join me for one–or several–of my upcoming teleclasses. 

* Nevada Public Radio just replayed their interview with Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class and Who’s Your City? Florida said something in that interview I’ve thought to myself, but never heard anyone verbalize before. In the Idea Age, says Florida, we need to rethink our notions about home ownership. After pointing out that home ownership came about as a result of the Industrial Age and led to our crazy love affair with consumerism, Florida said, “If you want people to be able to respond to creative opportunities, the worst thing you can do is trap them in a house.” 

* A tiny little book that made a huge impact on me was Phil Laut’s Money is My Friend. I now read his Emerging Entrepreneur mailings and was struck by what he had to say this week: “People are more powerful than money.  You are more powerful than money. Economics claims to be the study of money and tends to imply that money has a mind of its own, separate from human intervention.  Such an implication is very far from accurate.  If someone dumped a truckload of currency in your back yard today, it would stay there until a human came along and told the money what to do. The same is true for the money flowing through your personal economic system right now– in and out of your checking account, piggy bank or anywhere else you keep your money. You are the one telling it what to do. For this reason, the study and understanding of your own personal money psychology offers the greatest potential for rapid improvement in your financial situation.”

* An photo essay in the LA Times caught my eye. Recycled Living: A bohemian LA loft is decorated with flea market finds showcases the home of realtor Robert Heller and fashion designer Elizabeth Kramer. It looks like a place designed to inspire creative thought.

* The Work-At-Home Success Expo is up and running–and it’s only a mouse click away. Leslie Truex has assembled a month’s worth of resources, ideas and expert interviews. You’ll even find an interview with me. Check it out.

* Then there was this idea from Florida reader Elizabeth Bonet. “A couple of years ago I started doing goal setting every year on my birthday. I set one goal for every year I am (so 39 this year!). At first, it was hard to come up with so many. So it forced me to get creative and also learn how to break goals down more as well—into smaller steps to accomplish a bigger goal, each one counting for one goal. Since I have these set, I don’t feel any pressure to make New Year’s resolutions either.”

What moves those of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.–Eugene Delacroix


Move around. Whenever I see Rodin’s statue of The Thinker, I’m certain that whatever he’s thinking about is not causing a creative rush. Sitting and thinking while hoping ideas will land in your lap is both grueling and ineffective. While our minds need to rest, daydreaming seldom spawns a new idea, although a new idea may erupt after a daydreaming session. Although different people find different experiences creatively stimulating, people in motion seem to generate ideas more easily.

A woman who had left her corporate job and started a small service business called to share her excitement about her new life. As she talked about her venture, she said, “I have so many ideas now. I never had ideas when I worked at my old job.”

“I have a theory about that,” I told her. “I think ideas are out there floating around in the air, but they can’t get through to corporate cubicles.”

I was only partly joking. In order to attract ideas, we need to engage in activities that stimulate our thinking. Sitting and trying hard, doesn’t seem to help at all. Next time we’ll look at a surefire way to generate a steady stream of good ideas.

$100 Hour: Eliminate an expense that doesn’t bring you joy. Every so often, find a way to save $100. Quit smoking. Or find a credit card company with a lower interest rate. Find a tax deduction you overlooked. Cancel the movie channel you never watch. Sometimes our spending becomes automatic and habitual. It’s healthy to reevaluate and change old spending habits from time to time.

Explore More: I’m not sure I’ve ever come up with a good idea while reading about creativity. However, following the suggestions for exercises and activities in such books often gets things rolling. A perennial favorite is How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael Gelb.

Innovation is what you get when you get up from behind your desk and go and see where ideas and people lead you. ~ Richard Branson

According to people who study such things, we’ve gone from the Industrial Age to the Information Age and are now entering the Idea Age. Creative thinking, often scorned by left-brained thinkers, is taking on a new importance. Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, says,  “Access to talented and creative people is to modern business what access to coal and iron ore was to steel making.” 

I am wildly excited about this turn of events because I’ve known about the power of ideas for a long time. Shortly after I started my first business, I came across a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes that became a mantra for me. He said, “A person’s mind stretched to a new idea can never return to its original dimensions.” I could see plenty of evidence of that in my own journey.

It saddens me when people talk about a vision and then dismiss it by saying, “It’s just an idea.” JUST an idea?  Think about this: ideas can be…





















on target















The one thing I know for sure is that the best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas. So this is your official invitation to join me for Ideafest! a month of ideas designed to feed your entrepreneurial spirit. If, as Daniel Pink says, the future belongs to right-brainers, we need to be enthusiastic idea-spotters, gatherers and implementers. I hope you’ll stop back daily to add to your idea collection, find inspiration and launch your best year ever.

Buon Anno!

Another Good Idea: If you want to get focused or simply  need to acquire a power tool for your Joyfully Jobless Journey, join me for Goalsetting 101, a 90-minute teleclass that will show you a creative approach to setting and achieving goals. The teleclass takes place on Tuesday, January 6, 8-9:30 PM Eastern, 5-6:30 PM Pacific. 

Explore More: If you haven’t already done so, read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink asap. 

A person’s mind stretched to a new idea can never return to its original dimensions. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes