A talented and creative young woman I know, who currently lives in Madison, posted a message on Facebook that said, “Wishing I weren’t so hooked on Boulder so I could just move to Minneapolis instead.” I promptly responded saying that since I had lived in both places (and since I was going to be seeing her soon) that I’d like to have a chat with her.

Boulder and Minneapolis were big teachers for me. One was traumatic and the other nurturing. I know there were numerous factors that made one my perfect place and the other a nightmare. Like any other relationship, there’s not always a villian in the story. Sometimes we just make a bad match.

In his wonderful book Actualizations, Stewart Emery eloquently discusses our relationship to our environment. He writes, “If the environmental conditions surrounding our life support our evolution toward self-actualization, we will move in that direction. Let’s state this another way: if you were a willow tree living by a riverside, the environmental conditions of your existence would support your evolution toward becoming a self-actualized willow tree…If, on the other hand, you were a willow tree and you were planted in the desert, the chances of your making it as a self-actualized willow tree would be virtually nil. The environmental condiitons simply wouldn’t allow it.”

Of course, we see this all the time. People who lack education, encouragement, and support don’t even begin to fulfill their potential. However, Emery points out that we have some advantages over the aforementioned willow tree. “A willow tree that finds itself planted in the desert cannot hail a passing yellow cab and ask the driver to take it to the riverside. You and I, on the other hand, can. You and I have within us the creative intelligence to recognize the conditions of existence that support our growth toward self-actualization and we have the wherewithal to place ourselves in such an environment.”

So, obviously, it’s not about Boulder vs. Minneapolis. It’s about knowing how we want to grow ourselves and finding out where that riverbank is—then insisting that we are rooted in it. 

And that begins by identifying what we want to become. We can’t stay seated in a cubicle and become a fully actualized entrepreneur. We can’t avoid taking seminars or connecting with other Joyfully Jobless folks and expect our own entrepreneurial spirit to bloom. Or as Quentin Crisp once observed, “It’s no good saying ‘I want to be a ballet dancer’ if you continue to tend your pig farm. By then pigs will have become your style.”

Despite what the old adage says, it’s not always possible to bloom where we are planted, but it is possible to plant ourselves where we can bloom. Sometimes our biggest act of courage is the process we call transplanting.

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. Up-date 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 www.volunteermatch.com 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. 

To be continued…

We think much more about the use of money, which is renewable, than we do about the use of time, which is irreplaceable. ~ Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber

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

One New Year’s Day during my daughter’s college years, she called to  tell me about her celebration the night before. “The party I thought was going to be fun wasn’t,” Jennie said, “and the one I thought was  going to be boring was terrific.”

“What a great metaphor,” I replied. 

“Oh, Mom,” she groaned, “you think everything is a metaphor.”

She was right, of course. I love metaphor and think they’re highly underrated as learning tools. I’m not alone in thinking so. In his wonderful book, Growing a Business, Paul Hawken suggests that the best training for running a business is gardening. I have always found the parallels fascinating and thought of it again when I came across an article about Geri Larkin’s book Plant Seed, Pull Weed

Here’s what you need to do, says Larkin, if you want to have a great garden:

1. Want a great garden

2. Do what needs doing

3. See what’s in front of you

4. Share its abundance

5. Give it your enthusiasm

6. Keep the weeds at bay

7. Have patience

8. Harvest its joys

These steps may sound simple—obvious, even—but they require mindfulness and continuous practice. Just like meditation or gardening or raising baby humans. However, if you want to have a great business you couldn’t find a better outline. Nice metaphor, huh?

The vast majority of success stories are written by the plodders. ~ Paul Hawken