In Living Out Loud,  Keri Smith’s a fun book of creative exercises, she writes, “In recent years lifestyle stores have become the rage selling products related to all aspects of living, eating, decorating, bathing, sleeping and dressing.

“If you were to open your own lifestyle store, what would you sell?”

Here’s how I answered that question.

The first thing you notice when you walk up the stone path to the sprawling English cottage that houses Cottage Industry is that the front yard is a luscious garden where flowers and vegetables grow side by side.

Pass under the rose-covered archway and you’ll enter a large room that resembles a comfy old library. You’ll be greeted by the faint smell of nag champs incense and soft music.

There are shelves of books and inviting chairs for browsing. Each corner has a different subject:
there are personal growth books in the Taking Care of the Boss corner, and eclectic mix of favorite authors in the Kindred Spirits corner.

In another are helpful books for Making a Living Without a Job and in the fourth corner  you’ll find books to Feed Your Wanderlust.

Vintage travel posters hang on the walls and favorite quotes are painted over the doorways.

Shelves in the center of the shop hold a collection of tools for creative entrepreneurs. You’ll find arty file folders, kaleidoscopes and framed quotations to add to the decor in your own World Headquarters.

But Cottage Industry isn’t just about stuff. It’s also about stuff happening. Walk toward the back and you’ll enter a glass conservatory known as The Idea Room overlooking another garden. Tea and coffee and treats are served in this room that invites gathering to brainstorm ideas.

Another large room to the left, known as the Follow Through Center, serves as a perfect setting for classes and coaching. 

I like to think of Cottage Industry as a spa for your imagination.

Do you have any idea how much fun that was for me to write? Try it for yourself. As Smith urges, “”Make a list of what it would contain. Draw pictures of what it would look like. What items best represent you? Come up with a name for your store.”

Feel free to rave about your store in the comment section below.

                     They’re your dreams; it’s your life. No one else is going
              to make things right for you. Only your actions can provide the
              kind of life you want.
                                                           Harry Browne

Marnie loves the symphony, but with a business in its infancy season tickets are a bit out of reach. That didn’t stop her from enjoying the full spectrum of concerts last year, however.

She became an usher at Symphony Hall and heard every note. In addition, she was paid a tiny amount of money for her services so she was following a favorite rule of the entrepreneur’s unwritten code: find ways to get paid to do what you want to do.

Thinking this way is new to Marnie. She says, “Before I had my own business, I just assumed  I could only do things that I had the money for. Now I look for ways to make things happen in the most creative possible way. Sometimes that involves no money at all.”

There’s a silly scene in Wayne’s World which finds Wayne and Garth lying on the hood of their car at the end of an airport runway reveling in the wake caused by planes taking off.

Mike Myers says this scene was inspired by a favorite pastime in his family called No Money Fun.

The idea was to come up with entertaining activities that didn’t cost a cent.

When I heard Myers tell the story, I thought, “No wonder he’s so creative. What a great thing to learn early in life.” No Money Fun is a terrific way to activate the imagination and it comes with the built-in reward of all that free fun.

There are two ways to bring more No Money Fun into your life.

You can take advantage of all the free things around you such as strolling through a beautiful public garden or museum.

The other option is to use alternative currencies. No, I’m not suggesting you take up counterfeiting. I am, however, challenging you to become as creative as possible about finding alternative routes to have and do more of what you want.

This is not about becoming a certified cheapskate, however. In fact, you’ll notice that the wealthy are masterful at using alternative currencies in place of cash.

Cheapskates, on the other hand, pride themselves on deprivation. The other caution is that you only use alternative currencies to acquire things you actually want or need.

So how can you cultivate alternative currencies? Begin by refusing to ever, ever use lack of money as an excuse. You can only master this if you understand that this is a practical exercise in creative thinking and living.

Start looking for options—and open yourself to offbeat ideas.

Let’s say you want to live in a gorgeous home. Most people think that their options include buying or renting. Don’t tell that to Joe.

When he was in his early twenties, he found himself drawn to the ocean and wanted to live as close to it as possible. He got the idea to offer his services as a yacht sitter and almost immediately found himself living in luxury.

Or perhaps more travel is on your Dream List. Jan is a bookworm who published a newsletter for cozy mystery lovers. Next to books, her other great passion is England.

For nine years, she organized and led Cozy Crimes, Cream Teas and Books, Books, Books tours to the UK creating a free trip for herself and a delightful experience for other mystery lovers.

When creating innovative ways to get more of what you want, it’s essential that you design mutually beneficial arrangements. For instance, Joe didn’t just get a great place to live, he provided security for the yacht owner.

There’s an even bigger benefit in all of this, one with longterm rewards. Mastering No Money Fun is first and foremost an exercise in learning that there’s never just one way of accomplishing things.

It can banish uninspired thinking and open up a new world of creative possibility.  Best of all, you’ll be living your life from a position of abundance and imagination.

What business wouldn’t be better with that kind of thinking running it?