Should you happen to drop by in the afternoon, chances are you would find me pacing between my living room and bedroom. Nervous? Frustrated?

Not exactly. I’m probably making a final attempt to reach my step counter goal. Since I began using that little addition on my iPhone, I’m walking farther than I thought I could. 

Counting steps isn’t the only benefit, however. It’s a daily reminder about the power of being accountable.

It’s easy to forget that when you go to work for yourself. After all, one of the best things about being self-employed is that there aren’t any time clocks, performance reviews or limited vacations.

One of the worst things about being self-employed is that there aren’t any time clocks, performance reviews or limited vacations. Without deadlines and the expectations of others, many new entrepreneurs flounder.

It’s not just the headiness of all that time that have to manage for ourselves. Distractions, isolation and lack of clarity can all conspire to keep us from growing the business of our dreams.

If you suspect that you could accomplish more than your current performance, start taking a look at how you could be more accountable. Being accountable isn’t an accident. It’s a discipline we need to embrace if we are to have a reputation for doing what we say we’re going to do. 

Simple adjustments could make a big difference. 

Paul McCartney once told an interviewer that he used to drive his late wife Linda to cooking classes. The first week, he went to a back room and spent the time writing a song.

When the class ended, people asked McCartney if he had been bored waiting. “No,” he said, “I wrote this little tune. Would you like to hear it?”

The class was thrilled, of course, to be the first to listen to a new creation and it became his weekly ritual. He said knowing that they were expecting a new song by the end of the class kept him on his toes.

Want to stay on track? Find an entrepreneurial friend who is willing to be your accountability partner. Return the favor. This isn’t the same as hiring a professional nag, by the way. We all need someone in our lives that isn’t willing to let us settle for less than the best we can be.

Master Mind Groups serve the same purpose, of course. Whether it’s one kindred spirit or a small group, finding someone who wants you to succeed can be one of the best things you can do for yourself and your business. 

Quite simply,  having an accountability partner is an act of commitment to yourself. 

Accountability Opportunity

The Brainstorming with Barbara sessions have been even better than I anticipated. Even though we only spend an hour together, that time is meant to be a catalyst for moving ahead. 

I’m thrilled when an email shows up from someone I’ve worked with. 

Here’s one of the post-brainstorming emails I’ve received. This one comes from Lucas,  who was the very first person to sign up. He wrote, “After our session a few weeks back, I decided to audition an idea I had which was to run a free 90 minute session on the Zoom platform. I had the idea on a Wednesday and set the class for Saturday of the same week- not much lead up time! I was surprised at the response with over thirty folk registering for it. It was hugely successful and has opened up a potential profit centre.  This little experimental endeavor has got me motivated to set up a number of short courses that I can be conduct online. I can imagine a whole suite of them.”

So if you’d like some up close and personal conversation with a self-employment advocate, hop on over to and we’ll  find a time for a Zoom chat of our own. 

Warning: once you’re on my radar and I know what your business is about, I may keep sending you appropriate resources and ideas as I come upon them. I hope you won’t mind.

While I don’t remember precisely where or when it happened, I’m quite certain that I nodded solemnly the first time I heard Helen Keller’s observation that life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing. As time went on, those words were repeated as often as Joseph Campbell’s “follow your bliss”. Both bits of advice lost much of their magic and power by constant repetition. We may have agreed, but it didn’t change things much.

You’ve heard it. You’ve probably even said it: “I so resonate with that.”

I’ve never really, well, resonated with that expression. The phrase that pops into my head when I want to express extreme approval or affection for something is more likely to be, “I identify with that.”

Have you thought about the role that identifying plays in your life choices? For instance, I’ve pondered why it took me so long to realized that the self-employed life was for me. I grew up surrounded by self- employed people, but I didn’t really identify with them.

One of those folks was Ed Tetzloff, the proprietor of a musty and dimly lit dry goods store in my hometown. It was the place where we’d go with our nickels and dimes to purchase penny candy. Transactions with the portly Mr. Tetzloff were often conducted in silence as we handed over our weekly allowance for a few root beer barrels.

Nothing much ever changed in that store—or most of the other stores that stood on our Main Street. Throughout my growing years, the same people stood in the same places selling the same merchandise year in and year out.

Although my career advisers groomed me to take my place in the job market, I continued to believe that this was a world filled with possibilities. Adventures. New experiences.

This was blind faith in action and it took me a long time to move into that richly rewarding world.

The window on that world was opened for my when I read Supergirls: The Autobiography of an Outrageous Business. I realize now that this book was so powerful because from my first encounter with it, I identified with the notion of creating a business that was an extension of who I was and what I cared about. This wasn’t Tetzloff’s Variety Store. It was business as a passport to adventure and creativity.

Whether resonating or identifying is your style, the important thing to remember is that when you find yourself making a mental connection, it’s an invitation to go deeper, to explore, to see what’s waiting to be invited into your life.

That’s where new adventures begin.

    Note: Although I wrote this for newcomers to the homebased business movement,  feel free to borrow any advice that helps you survive as an employee suddenly working from home. 

You finally found the perfect business idea. You’ve turned the spare bedroom into World Headquarters. You got a boxful of business cards you’re proud to hand out. You can’t remember the last time you were this excited.

Then one challenging day the honeymoon is over. It’s so quiet. No phones ringing, no co-workers gossiping around the water cooler. On an especially difficult day you remember that your former boss often praised you for being a team player. Now there’s no team. It’s just you. All by yourself.

Actually, you’re not alone. It’s a common experience for the newly self-employed. How can you survive the Deadly Quiet Phase?

The 16th century essayist Montaigne put it well when he advised, “If you are going to withdraw into yourself, first prepare yourself a welcome.” While I suspect he was talking about becoming introspective, his advice stands up if you’re going to run a solo business.

If you plan to work alone, you can head off the blues by incorporating these ideas into  your schedule.

° Know your own rhythms. Nine-to-five is a thing of the past. Hooray! Whether you’re a morning person or one who is nocturnal, plan your working time to take advantage of your personal high energy times and don’t push yourself when energy is low.

You’ll not only accomplish more, you’ll feel more harmonious and that, in turn, will keep you in touch emotionally as well.

° Dress for the work to be done. The temptation to lounge around in your old bathrobe can be great when you work at home. Don’t give in to the temptation.

While suits, ties and pantyhose may no longer hang out in your closet, you deserve to wear clothes that are comfortable and feel good.

If you have a business that requires you to do different jobs, dress for the work to be done. As a solo entrepreneur told me, “ If I”m feeling like a serious writer, I put on my jeans and a sweater. If my duties are mostly secretarial, I wear a skirt and blouse. If there are client calls to make, I dress like a tycoon.”

Think of it as theater and costume yourself appropriately.

° Use background music. Like wearing the right costume, the right music can help set the stage for the work you’re doing.

London-based needlework/knitting designer Kaffe Fassett spends long hours alone in his studio. He acknowledges the companionship of the BBC’s classical music station makes his studio even more inviting.

Classical or instrumental music makes the best soundtrack for getting things done.

° Break up your day. Run errands, make phone calls, get away in the middle of your working day.

Some efficiency experts think that running your own errands is a waste of time. I disagree. A short change of scenery coupled with a bit of physical activity and human contact is energizing. You’ll return refreshed.

Once in a while take your notebook or laptop to a lovely park or local cafe. Changing the background can have a positive impact on your mood and imagination.

° Post your vision. Whether it’s a single photograph or a fancy vision board, put visible reminders of your goal. in plain sight.  On days when you’re questioning yourself, it will serve to  encourage you to keep going.

The bulletin board in my office urges me to Do Something Today Your Future Self Will Thank You For. Always makes me smile—and get back to work.

° Create a Joyfully Jobless Group. The mastermind idea was first popularized by Napoleon Hill in his classic success handbook, Think and Grow Rich. Meeting regularly with a small group of enterprising people provides creative stimulation—and keeps you accountable.

Coach Christi Hegsted explains, “Essentially, the premise is this: Each of us is smart individually, but when we put our brain power together, we essentially create a third mind – a ‘master mind’ – that is even better. I always find that to be true and leave each mastermind session feeling light and empowered!”

As you meet other self-employed folks in your area, invite those you feel a connection with to join you for regular brainstorming sessions. Sharing your successes and getting support when you’re stuck are power tools for growing your enterprise.

If you can’t meet in person, tools like Zoom make it easy to connect.

° Leave some time unstructured. Being spontaneous is as important as being efficient. Yes, you can be both.

At least once a week, do something that’s a pure diversion. Julia Cameron urges her readers to make an Artist’s Date once a week and use it to explore a place that stimulates creative thought.

Daydreaming on your patio can also be wonderfully therapeutic.

° Plan a collaboration. When she was in college, my daughter went to Europe by herself. She became an enthusiastic proponent of solo travel, although she frequently would spend a few days traveling with others she met on the way. When they tired of each other or had different destinations in mind, they parted ways.

You can adopt this idea for your business. While you may not want a long term partnership, you might find working on a project with another person from time to time is both rewarding and fun.

° Attend seminars. While all self-bossers are in charge of their own growth and education, savvy ones know that there are fringe benefits in participating in programs designed for enterprising folks.

Being in a room with other lifelong learners is not the same as pulling information off the internet. You never know who you’ll meet. Of course, during these times of lockdowns and isolation, an online program may be the only option.

° Take field trips. A temporary move can recharge your batteries. If you live in the city, take a walk in the country—and vice versa.

Drive to a small town with lots of local businesses and chat with the owners. Being in the same place day in and day out can dull our creative spirit. Move yours around from time to time.

I also like to get in my car and get lost on purpose, driving to a nearby area I’ve never explored.

° Reward yourself. There’s a good reason why companies have contests and prizes for achievements. When you’re on your own, it’s equally important to plan ways to pat yourself on the back.

When she’d been in business for six months, Karyn Ruth White sent herself six roses and a congratulatory card. She upped the number to a dozen for her first anniversary. It’s a ritual she’s continued to remind herself how far she’s come.

Both big and small accomplishments deserve to be acknowledged. Add to the pleasure and celebrate your way to success.

If you are selling pumpkins or Christmas trees, you know that your business will be having a cash flow boom followed by months of no income. Not all business, of course, are quite so dramatic.

However, almost every business, no matter its size, goes through annual cycles. There are months when cash is flowing in and months when its eerily quiet. It takes a few years to uncover the cycles for your particular business.

If you’re new to business, don’t panic when things slow down. Quieter times when you’re not dealing with clients and customers can be used to create new products or acquire new skills or plant more seeds.

At this lovely time of year, take time to clarify what rewards you wish to harvest from your business now and in the future.  Here are some suggestions for growing your business.

Cultivate a Bumper Crop

Ever since I read Paul Hawken’s marvelous Growing a Business, I have looked for metaphors in the plant world to help me solve problems and find better ways of growing my business.

Even though I never lived on a farm, I grew up surrounded by small family farms and went to school with kids who lived on those farms. I didn’t realize they were teaching me many things that would serve me well as a non-farming entrepreneur.

In most places in the Midwest, spring is for planting, summer is for growing and autumn is for harvesting. I remember noticing that even though side-by-side farms endured the same weather conditions and shared the same soil, they didn’t necessarily produce the same results. The human factor had a great deal to do with a farm’s success or failure.

So what does a farmer do when the crops are in the ground, but not ready to come out? A smart farmer works on growing the business.

Your business may resemble a garden more than a farm, but if you want to see visible progress come harvest time do one simple thing: consistently do something— anything—ever day to grow your business.

Here are some lessons gleaned from good farmers that will also work in a business.

° Make business a daily practice. Eastern disciplines such as yoga and meditation talk about the power of daily practice. Paul Hawken says, “Business is no different from learning to play the piano or to ride a surfboard. With most activities there is no presumption of excellence in the beginning, but many newcomers suppose that they should sit down at the desk on the first day and become SuperBusinessperson, in full command of the situation.”

Even if you have not made the transition from employee to entrepreneur, having a regular time every day to move closer will bring big results over time. And if you are years into running a business, be diligent about cultivating new ideas. Complacency is the beginning of the end of even the best business ideas.

° Get rid of the weeds. After a recent seminar I taught on thinking like an entrepreneur, I received an email from one of the participants, telling me that her first project after the program was to get her home office in order. That involved removing nine bags of trash.

Even if the clutter is gone, spend time every day pulling a weed or two. Get rid of a self-limiting thought. Eliminate or revise procedures that aren’t working. Refuse to spend time with negative people. Keep your tools in tiptop shape. You get the idea.

 ° Build a Seed Bank. Like a regular bank, a Seed Bank is a physical space where you store ideas. The best was I know to build such a collection is to constantly be on the lookout for ideas and write them down when they come. Cocktail napkins should only be temporary. Your Seed Bank deserves its own special place whether it’s a journal or jar.

Challenge yourself to see possibilities. If you faithfully did this for the next 90 days, you’d have more ideas than you could use in a year.

° Don’t be afraid to get dirty. The Joyfully Jobless life is participatory, not a spectator sport. Try things. Be willing to do things badly. Reconfigure. Learn to approach problems by finding creative solutions, not running away.

° Keep watering and nurturing. Too many people forget that staying inspired and creating an excellent business requires on-going attention. Know what inspires you and refresh yourself often. Connect often with people who fan your own creative spirit.

I often end a three-day seminar with dinner at a wonderful restaurant. When dinner is over, I notice participants standing on the sidewalk reluctant to leave their new entrepreneurial friends. Once you’ve spent time with a group of creative thinkers, it’s a pleasure you’ll want to repeat.

As Goethe said, “To know someone, here or there, with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of distance or thoughts unexpressed—that can make this earth a garden.”

One of my favorite exercises in The Popcorn Report is the Universal Screen Test. As author Faith Popcorn explains, this is a simple way of taking an idea and holding it up against the major trends.

Is the idea of making a living without a job, for instance, riding the horse in the direction the horse is going? Let’s look.

Cashing Out: Absolutely. The movement  away from working for large corporations and doing work that is satisfying—even if less lucrative—is the wave of the future.

Cocooning: Right on-trend again. Creating a homebased business gives us more time in our own cocoons.

Down-Aging: There are many aspects to this trend including a sense of playfulness. Down-agers want a sense of fun about their work and will ignore ideas about retirement age. On trend here, too.

Egonomics: What could be a more personal statement than creating work that’s an extension of who you are and what you care about? Pass again.

Fantasy Adventure: Our new desire to test the unknown in ways that are safe but exciting makes stepping out on our own a perfect way to live our dreams. We take the prompting of our imagination seriously.  On trend.

99 Lives: Regaining control of our time and lives leads us to self-bossing as a partial solution. Multiple roles might be part of self-employment, but the pace will be less frantic. A+ on this one.

S.O.S.: What better way to put your own values, passions and social concerns into action. Yes, to this trend.

Small Indulgences: Every successful entrepreneur learns the value and joy of rewarding themself in small ways. This trend could also suggest many product ideas.

Staying Alive: Knowing what we do about job-related, stress-induced illnesses, how could any health conscious person NOT work for themself? Major on-trend.

The Vigilante Consumer: Changing the way things are done sometimes involves doing it yourself. Some vigilantes will discover their most effective weapon is being an honest businessperson. This ethic will spill over into the way we all run our enterprises.

According to my calculations, self-bossing receives a perfect 10! Way to go Joyfully Jobless trendsetters.

On the back cover of Tools of Titans, there’s a list of some of the folks Tim Ferris includes. All of them seem to have qualified because of big numbers. 
Reading that list brought to mind something that still puzzles me.
For some time now, I’ve wondered if I’m the only one who winces at the frequent admonition to Go Big or Go Home. That sounds more threatening than inspiring to me. Why, I muse, would folks smart enough to abandon a huge soulless working environment want to replicate that? 
And why, oh why, is millionaire status still flaunted as the pinnacle of success? Or home ownership the epito-me of the American Dream? 
It all seems so, well, Twentieth Century. 
That hasn’t slowed down the current crop of  snake oil salesmen and women who imply that if we aren’t earning six figures, we’re losers. Of course, they’ll eagerly enroll you in a program that will move you from lump of coal to diamond so you can join the Cool Kids Club and flaunt your six-figure income. (Or maybe just help snake oil sellers increase their wealth.) 
Fortunately, not everyone has bought into this in-sanity. I came across a blog post, by an anonymous author, that began, “Every time I go to a seminar on business and marketing they talk about growing my business BIGGER. The truth is, I don’t want my business bigger. I don’t want to scale it or leverage it or expand it. I want to deepen it.”
When I read this post, which goes on to describe the author’s personal vision for her business and life, it sounded familiarly like my own.
The real issue, it seems to me, is not whether goals of bigness are right or wrong. The more important consideration is this: are you measuring success using some-one else’s yardstick?
It’s incredibly easy to do. Systems of measurement have been imposed on us since we came home with our first report card.

Growing up, there may have been no discussions about finding our own vision of what success included. A predictable life was the most we could aspire to achieve.
Here’s the thing. If we don’t decide for ourselves what defines success, we can’t possibly know if what we accomplished meets that definition. 
Deciding what we don’t want is just as important as deciding what we want to embrace. Happily, this an be an on-going process as our vision or priorities change.
Author Tama Kieves wrote, “Infinite patience brings immediate results, says A Course in Miracles. Today, I practice patience. I practice knowing that when some-thing moves slowly, it is deep, lasting and developing generously. I don’t want a knock off. I want a masterpiece.”
“Developing generously” sounds like a worthy pursuit to me. I do not have the same reaction when some-one demands, “monetize it.”
This isn’t just a matter of semantics, however. If we have followed a path that was suggested by others, one that kept us from hearing our own voice, and we’re afraid to question that, we never figure out what genuine success looks and feels like to us. Money may not be the most important way to measure things.
But if we’re bold enough to keep going, following our own hunches, noticing opportunities and acting on them, being brave enough to fail, we soon discover that every day becomes a treasure hunt of its own filled with new ideas, new possibilities. 
Of course, we’ll still see bigness flaunted as the pinnacle of achievement. I’d prefer joy and peace as guidelines. Roots and wings. Gratitude and generosity. Curiosity and discovery.  Adventure. Intangibles have a higher priority with me.
What about you? How do you measure success? Your list will be different than mine, of course. 
Make sure it’s filled with things that truly matter to you. It’s your yardstick, after all.

When I drive the 40 miles or so to Ventura, much of the trip takes me through an agricultural area. There are vineyards and fields bursting with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

The road is also lined with produce stands run by farm families. It’s a lovely contrast to the big city environment of Los Angels.

One October trip was especially memorable. In the springtime, this drive reminds me of Ireland because the craggy hills are so lush and green. Right now they’re festooned in shades of beige and brown, but it’s still a pleasant drive.

The road goes through an agricultural area with two small towns on the way. There are orange and lemon groves alongside a little red schoolhouse, a honey tasting place and small stands selling produce.

Something had been added since I made the drive a couple of weeks ago. The produce places now had big displays of pumpkins for sale. I passed a field where big fat pumpkins laid waiting for buyers to come and pick them.

That got me thinking about the folks who grow these autumn favorites. If you’ve taken my Making a Living Without a Job seminar, you may even recall my talking about pumpkin growing as an example of a seasonal business.

If you’re a pumpkin grower, I point out, you don’t have much cash flow for most of the year. Then around the first of October, millions of us are suddenly eager to go out and buy a pumpkin or two.

A cash flow avalanche for the pumpkin farmers ensues.

Then it stops until the next pumpkin season rolls around.

Of course, it’s not just pumpkin farmers who deal with long income gaps. Anyone who grows crops learns valuable lessons in patience while dealing with uncertainty of every sort.

When I passed another pumpkin patch on my drive, I began thinking that all of us who are self-employed could learn important lessons that we could apply to our own undertakings. There’s no picking if we aren’t planting, I thought.

As I was musing on such things, I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw a large black pickup truck advancing rapidly in my direction. Since I have a policy to avoid tailgaters, I slipped back into the right lane and he soared past.

Even though he was speeding and driving aggressively, I couldn’t help but notice that his rear window was painted with a large ad for his plumbing services. “Hey, Dude,” I wanted to yell, “you’re driving a billboard.”

I made a mental note never to use his services.

The Impatient Plumber. The Patient Pumpkin Grower.

During the days when I taught high school English, I would never have assigned a book that I hadn’t read myself.  That carried over into my self-employment journey where I vowed to only recommend things I’d found worthwhile

That showed up in other ways as well. I decided to treat my business as a laboratory where I would experiment, test ideas, pay close attention to what worked—and what didn’t. I vowed to never teach what I hadn’t learned myself.

What I didn’t know back at the beginning was that the learning would never end. My curiosity never went on vacation.

There have been some wonderful surprises, of course. Along the way, I filled up two passports with stamps as I discovered my business could support my wanderlust. On top of that my travels became legitimate tax deductions.

While we all know that we’re living in a big, noisy Information Age, I’ve been thinking a lately about how incredibly valuable genuine learning is. The real thing goes way beyond a quick Google search.

I’m not the only one who has found being in a room with curious explorers is amazingly valuable.

My mentor, Bob Conklin, once added up all his investments including real estate, stocks, and money spent on attending seminars. He concluded that the biggest returns came from the time and money spent learning.

Earlier this year, I began to gather my best business practices. At the beginning, I was just reviewing my lab results and checking to see if I was forgetting anything.

I even surprised myself at how much great information I had gathered. I’m pretty sure I  said, “Wow” dozens of times.

As the list began growing, so did my desire to share these best practices with others. Could I do so in a weekend event?

It seemed daunting, but with a bit of editing I knew that I could share the brightest and best ideas that have kept me joyfully jobless for over three decades.

And I’d love to pass them along to you. If you join me in Nashville on September 14 & 15 for the upcoming Small, Sassy and Successful, I promise you’ll leave with a toolbox filled with ideas and information that will make running your own business even more fun and profitable.

Trendspotters agree that the market for unique and customized items is having a resurgence as more and more of us are learning to cherish the work of human hands.

Not all artisans are taking advantage of the opportunities, however.

Several years ago, I met a man who was a masterful carpenter who loved restoring old houses, flawlessly repairing woodwork and cabinetry.  At that time, he had abandoned his craft believing that no market existed for his services.

He had bought the myth of the starving artist and was living proof.

Happily, that myth is becoming outmoded as artisans are carving out their own merchandising niche proving that old-fashioned craftsmanship can be profitable.

If you want to put your arts or crafts skills to work for you, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re in the business of marketing to everyone. Specialized products will attract a specialized clientele who appreciate and value such craftsmanship.

Once you are convinced that you do, indeed, have something to offer, you’re on your way to creating a profit center that’s as unique as you are.

In The Ice Palace That Melted Away, Bill Stumpf writes about exploring the Isle of Skye  where he and his wife came across a sign that read, “Woolen Socks for Sale.” They knocked on the door of the house and were welcomed by a friendly couple who fed them tea and scones and told them about their business.

The husband was a retired Army officer and the wife a part time artist. They decided they didn’t want to fade into oblivion upon retirement. They chose knitting as a business although they were untrained in the craft.

“They sold socks in local towns but worked no more than three days a week. In addition, they raised raspberries and Australian shepherds,” Stumpf recalls.

There’s plenty of evidence that as mass production continues to fill malls and online catalogs, those who create and market one-of- a-kind or limited edition products lovingly made will find an appreciative clientele.

 It isn’t only handmade clothing and decorative household items that will find a welcome market.

Skillful woodworkers and plasterers and preservationists are finding their special talents in demand by those who long to salvage buildings from the past.

There’s a renaissance going on that is bringing a new appreciation and prosperity to those who use old-fashioned skills and patience to create wonderful things. If you have such a talent, your next profit center may be as close as your fingertips.

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 will 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 sure you’re getting it.

If you’re ready to add to your support team, start interviewing potential candidates.

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

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.

° 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 those 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 that involves a road trip? Need to refresh your creative spirit? Plan some purposeful time away.

Borrow a friend’s cottage. Rent a motor home. 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 long-term 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-bowsers 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 a blog. Get yourself interviewed on a local radio show. Revamp your website. All this seed planting takes time and is easy to overlook when you’re busy.

Why not do it now and see what doors might open?