Some experiences simply do not translate. You have to go to know.  ~ Kobi Yamada

Although there are an unlimited number of ways to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur or from current business to a new profit center, people stuck in either-or thinking overlook one of the best options.

What I’m talking about is a variation of what Barbara Sher calls “a temporary permanent commitment.” Instead of disposing of all current enterprises, you find a creative way to test your passion.

You’re in a much better position, after all, to assess an idea once you have actively engaged in its pursuit. In many instances, you’ll have to create your own opportunities, but don’t overlook these resources that can allow you to audition an idea and decide if it belongs in your repertoire.

° Intern. Small businessowners have been eager users of intern talent during the summertime when ambitious college students are looking for some hands-on experience.

There’s a growing trend, however, toward internship programs for adults. Since many older career changers are not limited to summer availability as their younger counterparts are, this is an idea that’s catching on.

° Volunteer Vacations. In the past decade, volunteer vacations have grown in popularity with people wanting to donate time and energy to helping others. Global Volunteers has been one organization leading the way with programs located around the world.

It seems to me that there’s another reward of participating. Let’s say you’re contemplating a long term move abroad to a country that’s caught your fancy. If you’ve only visited as a tourist, you may have an incomplete picture of what it would be like to actually live there.

That’s where a volunteer vacation can give you another point of view. In most instances, you’ll be working alongside residents of the country, living in small towns and interacting in a way that tourists don’t normally manage to do.

° Apprentice. Another old idea that’s seen a revival involves an experienced person entering into a long term relationship with a novice to teach what they know. A woman in one of my workshops had set up such an arrangement with an artist she admired and worked happily alongside for several months.

If your desires are aimed at skilled trades, most states have information on apprenticeship programs that also involve classroom instruction.

° Design Your Own Curriculum. Remember those required classes you had to take (and pay for) in college even if you weren’t  slightly interested? Don’t let those boring experiences keep you out of the classroom now.

This time around, you get to decide what you want to learn. A bonus of being a regular student is that you can sort out your passions from your passing fancies and move along to things that really suit you.

° 90 Day Trial. A quarter of a year is a nifty time frame for auditioning an idea. You must do more than just carry it around. As Patricia T. O’Conner points out, “An idea in your head is merely an idle notion. But an idea written down, that’s the beginning of something.”

It’s pretty simple, actually. For 90 days you focus, experiment and reserve judgment. Once the time is up, then it’s time to take inventory, evaluate and decide if your idea deserves another 90 days or, even, a permanent  role in your life.

Not  sure if your idea passed the audition or not?  Use this guideline from David Whyte: “Anyone or anything that does not bring you alive, is too small for you.”

My 7-year-old granddaughter came over early today before the heat and humidity rolled in. Without any prompting from me, Zoe headed to my balcony garden and began deadheading the dianthus.

I’m just learning to garden in this new-to-me climate, but I’ve already discovered that deadheading is my friend. My lavender plant, which seemed ready to give up when all its blooms turned brown, sprang back to life when I snipped off the dead blossoms which were promptly replaced by a new crop of buds.

Novice gardener that I am, I had always assumed that plants were deadheaded simply to remove the unattractive blooms that had completed their life cycle. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

According to a gardening expert, for many plants, deadheading promotes more flowering on the plants  than would occur without such plant care. It’s another fine lesson from the garden that we can transplant to our businesses.

Every ninety days or so (or even every month), take a look at what’s blooming and what’s just hanging on. Are there activities that are more duty than they are joy? Clients who aren’t really a good match? Entire parts of your business that need cutting back?

If you’re haunted by scarcity thinking, this is a challenging thing to do. You’ll start recalling the many times you’ve been told that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

You’ll be tempted to hang on to what you’ve got for fear that letting go will be the beginning of the end of your Joyfully Jobless life.

Poet David Whyte got my attention when he wrote, “Anyone or anything that does not bring you alive is too small for you.” Reminding yourself of that is an excellent way to decide where deadheading is in order.

Consider this. What if deadheading those things you’ve outgrown is actually your way of making room for new growth?  What if getting what you want begins with getting rid of what you don’t want first?

In one of the early chapters of Catherine Ponder’s classic The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity she talks about this very thing (although she doesn’t call it deadheading). She suggests that when we fail to see progress in our lives, it’s often because we haven’t made room for what we truly want.

She writes, “Begin moving the tangible and intangibles out of your life in the faith that you can have what you really want and desire. Often it is difficult to know what you do want until you get rid of what you don’t want.”

Deadheading, as my garden is reminding me, is an on-going process, one that pays visible dividends. In my business, it’s the way to keep evolving ahead.

As Catherine Ponder points out, “It takes bold, daring faith to set it into operation, as well as a sense of adventure and expectation to reap its full benefits.”

Whether it’s a luscious garden or a luscious business that you’re growing, be bold in clearing out that parts that don’t fit. Don’t wait to discover that deadheading really is your friend.


Years ago when I lived in Santa Barbara, I observed a weekly ritual—the Friday migration north which was followed by the Sunday migration south. I’ve often wondered if such traffic jams inspired Loverboy’s Working for the Weekend.

For too many of us, work and fun have occupied separate territories.  In my family, there was a frequently quoted German adage that translated to “first you work, then you play.” The implication was that never the twain shall meet.

No adults I knew growing up suggested that I should discover what brought me joy before I began to think about choosing a career—and I certainly didn’t see many folks who seemed to be having a great time going about their work.

When I realized that I would be spending a huge amount of time working, an occasional fun weekend didn’t seem a fair tradeoff for days of drudgery. Although it was done in private, I began my own Joy Quest to see if I could get paid to have fun.

Along the way, I heard Moneylove author Jerry Gilles say, “Anything worth having is worth having fun getting.” It seemed like an idea worth testing. I decided to go for joy all along the way.

Some of the things I discovered were downright startling. I found that as my own boss, with a new vision to create, I could tackle things on behalf of building my own business that would have driven me crazy had I been doing them as part of a job.

Working with joy seemed to spill over to activities I might previously have dreaded. For instance, if someone had handed me thousands of newsletters to label and stamp, I’d have tensed right up, but when that pile is Winning Ways, and I’ve put it together myself, I can’t wait to share it with my subscribers.

When our work is also a source of joy and fun, it leads us to become more creative, more engaged, more masterful. Those rewards are much harder to obtain when we’re only working for money.

So during March, we’ll be exploring the theme of Money for Fun. I’d love to hear your stories about the most fun you’ve ever had earning money. Since I made that request in the last Joyfully Jobless News, people have been sending me delightful examples which I’m going to be sharing throughout the month, but I’d love more inspiring tales.

As poet David Whyte reminds us, “Anyone or anything that does not bring you alive is too small for you.”

I’m pretty sure that includes work.

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.