Years ago when I first learned about goal setting, one of the first written goals I set for myself was to never have two years that were exactly the same. I suspect that goal was inspired by my realization that my teaching job seemed to produce years that were nearly a carbon copy (you do remember carbon copies, don’t you?) of one another.

That goal popped into my mind again a couple of weeks ago when I sat down to shred the papers and receipts from 2002. As I discovered, it was a year quite unlike 2010, which has also been a remarkable year, but in very different ways.

As I looked through the travel documents, I wondered if I had spent any time at home that year. There were trips to Seattle, Toronto, Boston and many spots in between. My passport also had a bit of a workout on two trips to London and another to Italy with my sister and daughter.

This was a year of some unique experiences and firsts. A few days ago, I wrote about the explosion at my daughter’s apartment building that happened that year. Most of the big highlights of 2002 were less dramatic.

Memories of that year were lurking in the checks I was shredding. I noticed it was one I’d written for the down payment on my Saturn, the first brand new card I’d ever purchased. I smiled remembering the day that I surprised myself by buying that car without so much as a test drive.

Then there was that birthday party I threw for myself in Las Vegas. That little celebration, almost planned as a joke, led to several surprising adventures, not the least of which was changing my notions about this city.

As I was reviewing 2002 via my paperwork, I thought of the advice I once heard (and frequently quote) about the simple, but foolproof, test you can use to see if your life is in alignment with your priorities.

That advice? Look at your calendar and checkbook. You can quickly see if you are spending your time and money in ways that support the things that matter to you.

Sadly, for many people there’s a big discrepancy between what they know they want to do and have and what they actually are spending their time and money on.

I’ve recently finished Chris Guillebeau’s wonderful new book The Art of Non-Conformity. Chris set a big goal for himself to visit every country in the world before he turns 35. He’s well on his way, as his legion of followers can attest.

Chris writes eloquently about the importance of determining your own values and then creating a life that lives up to those values. Of course, he also encounters many people who tell him they’d just love to do what he’s doing, but, of course there are abundant reasons and excuses why that’s simply not possible.

Ah, excuses. Seems to me that you can have excuses or you can have your dreams, but you can’t have both.

Those faulty explanations that attempt to explain our disappointments do not create extraordinary years. You certainly can’t experience the rewards of the joyfully jobless life, either, if excuses are running the show.

I’m already thinking about several new adventures that I plan to use to weave 2011. It’s not just a change of address that’s going to make it a different year for me.

And I’m starting that plan with this bit of advice from Chris Guillebeau: “I propose welcoming in a life of abundance, filled to the brim with things you enjoy doing and that leave a legacy.”

Of course, I’m the only one who can determine what that means for me and that’s just fine. My calendar and checkbook are going to make sure that I stay on track so when it is time to shred 2011 I’ll remember it as a year that was filled to the brim.

As I was running errands the other morning, I heard an author on public radio talking about how unwieldy suburban life is. He also talked about the environmental and psychic impact of long daily commutes and suggested we need to rethink how we live and work. “But owning a house in the suburbs is the American Dream, ” the interviewer argued. Surely, the author wasn’t suggesting people abandon The Dream.

We’ve been hearing a great deal about The American Dream lately, a term that always makes my stomach tense up. My understanding of the American Dream is that it involved a house, a spouse and a job. There’s nothing wrong with those things, of course, if that’s your sincere aspiration. Unfortunately, those things were never my dream, although I gave them all a try in early adulthood. It wasn’t a good fit for me, but for years I kept it to myself while trying to fit in. The American Dream felt like a tether. I wanted a bungee cord.

A couple of years ago, a talented young writer called me. I knew that she was conflicted about having a job when she really wanted to be working on a romance novel. In the course of our conversation she told me about a new job offer she’d received. She said she was undecided so was soliciting opinions from people she trusted. Should she take the job which would be more appealing than the one she had, but also more demanding on her time? She laid out the pros and cons.

I listened to her story and then asked her simply, “Whose dream do you want to build?”

Whether we have a job or are building a business, we’re also contributing to the building of someone’s dream. Always.  Perhaps having a job is a step on the road to building a dream of our own, but too often it’s a detour. If it distracts us long enough, we might forget where we were headed to begin with.

We all needs dreams, of course, but it’s high time that we stop talking about The American Dream and start considering that there are millions of different dreams, all unique to their owner.

So whose dream do you want to build? 

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s and guess what they have planned for you? Not much ~ Jim Rohn

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Chris Guillebeau eloquently challenges limiting ideas about what’s possible via his Art of Non-Conformity blog. Check out his All the Things You Don’t Need  and you’ll see how he’s using his concepts to live on his own terms…and encouraging others to do the same.

My weekend excursion includes a return visit to Colorado Free University in Denver followed by a quick trip to Austin to visit my grandchildren. My artistic granddaughter Zoe and I are going to see if we can locate the Chihuly glass sculpture at the Austin Museum of Art.

Even though I’ve been under the weather for the past 10 days, I’ve rounded up some terrific resources to add to your Joyfully Jobless tool kit. Check these out.

If you haven’t met Chris Guillebeau yet, here’s a great way to get to know him. You can get his new manifesto called 279 Days to Overnight Success for, as Zoe says, zero dollars. Here’s what you’ll learn:

• How I Became a Full-Time Writer in 279 Days

• The Complete Revenue Estimate for my Personal Site in 2009

• The World Domination Strategy for Establishing Your Brand

• Avoiding the Vampires who Want You to Fail

• Why Adsense (and most other Web Advertising) Sucks

• How to Stay Off the Digg Home Page and Still Get All the Traffic You 

Got wanderlust? Then you’ve got to read Christopher Elliott’s Secret to an Endless Vacation. It’s full of great advice for entrepreneurial gypsies.

Has there ever been a better time to be a career coach? Whether by choice or by chance,thousands of  people are reevaluating their choices, looking for new opportunities. If you’d like to help others find their calling, I highly recommend that you learn how to do just that from Valerie Young. Her Outside the Job Box consulting program is terrific and will help you launch a new business while helping others change course.

Seth Godin shares the secret of the new marketing. Good stuff, as always, from Seth.

Do you Twitter? If not, why not? When I came across Katherine Goldstein’s article, Twitiquette:The 5 Biggest Twitter Faux Pas, I thought she really nailed it. If you’re using this fun networking site, avoid these common annoyances.

April 15th is one of those landmark dates that’s not a holiday. I was thinking about it this year and wondering how many people would find themselves in pretty much the same situation when April 15 rolls around again next year. 

There’s one group of people who I’m certain will be making visible progress long before that ominous day. The folks who are coming to Follow Through Camp on May 15 & 16 in Dodge City, KS are going to leave with a saddlebag full of tools and a new focus and plan. There’s still room for a few more folks and if you would like to be one of them, sign up now

Ever think about taking a sabbatical? Here are some entrepreneurs who did just that.

Another great story from someone making the transition from employee to entrepreneur:

For more years than I care to count, I’ve dreamed of owning my own business.  I suffered an injury in 2007 and was off work for an extended period of time.  I spent a lot of that time thinking and exploring the possibility of starting my own business.  I also happened upon a description of a class you were offering in Upper Arlington, Ohio.  I promptly signed my husband and myself up for that class.

I found your class so amazing and inspiring.  I immediately read your book, signed up for your newsletter, and started doing my homework.  Doubt got in the way.  My injury healed as much as it would and I ultimately returned to my regular job….but I’ve never stopped thinking, planning, dreaming, and hoping.  A few months ago, while thinking about one of my potential business ideas, I decided to take the leap and mention it to my husband.  He was 100% supportive!  That gave me the courage to “take the plunge”.

So, I am proud to share with you that I am starting a homemade dog treat business called Jade Clare’s Canine Cookies & Treats.  I will be debuting and selling my products at a local farmer’s market this summer.  I have had so much fun applying for the market, researching laws pertaining to vendors, playing with cookie recipes, designing my display, etc.  I’m working my butt off (as I’m still employed at a traditional job as well) but loving every minute of it!!!!  This is a part-time gig right now but the sky’s the limit!  The endless possibilities make me feel so liberated and hopeful about my future.

Thank you.  Thank you for teaching, inspiring, encouraging, and empowering me for the last two years!

Sincerely,

Ann Marie Wiley

New Albany, Ohio


Connecting with people who share the same passions affirms that you’re not alone; that there are others like you and that while many might not understand your passion, some do. ~ Ken Robinson