Either you run the day or the day runs you;

either you run the business or the business runs you.

Jim Rohn

Although self-bossers are quick to realize that having control of their own time is one of the great rewards of self-employment, using time wisely may be a new skill we need to acquire since most of us have spent a fair amount of time following schedules set by others who told us when to arrive at class, the office or the dinner table.

Go For Balance

Travel writer Rick Steves says, “When you let your time become money you cheapen your life. One measure of a culture is its treatment of time. In the United States time is money: we save it, spend it, invest it and waste it.”

This can be a difficult attitude to get over, but the key may not be to manage our time, but to balance our lives.

“Whenever our schedules become disproportionate, our energy drops,” Doreen Virtue points out. “Lowered energy creates the illusion that there isn’t enough time in the day, so a vicious cycle of time limitation ensues….Balancing your life between work, play, spirituality, exercise, and relationships helps you to grow and feel joy.”

Being self-employed gives us a head start in creating the balance Virtue talks about.

Check Your Priorities

It’s only with regular and frequent reviewing of our priorities that we can create a life that reflects what we value most. Otherwise we get swept along by chores, tasks and the demands of others.

In his book How To Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, Alan Lakein shares his simple method for setting priorities on a daily basis.  Once you’ve written down your To Do List, you give each item an A, B, or C rating.

A items are the most important; B items are those you’ll get to if the A items get done; C items may just be busy work. Eventually, C items disappear altogether as we focus on our most important activities.

Sometimes our true priorities dictate that we be obsessive about a single task until it is done. At other times, our priorities may be to have lots of variety of activities in our day.

The important thing is to know what truly matters and then set up each day to reflect that.

60 Minutes did a story that illustrated how little attention is given to creative idleness. The piece was a study of the young people known as Echo Boomers, children of the Baby Boom generation. Now reaching their late teens, this group has grown up with jam-packed schedules and endless encouragement to be team players. Sadly, many of these kids are at a loss given unscheduled time on their own.

Staring out a window or walking in a woods is not necessarily the sign of a slacker. Writer Anna Quindlen concurs.

She says, “Downtime is where we become ourselves. I don’t believe you can write poetry, or compose music, or become an actor without downtime and plenty of it, a hiatus that passes for boredom but is really the quiet moving of the wheels inside that fuel creativity.”

Successful entrepreneurs master the fine art of woolgathering.

So don’t ditch your Day Planner or Palm Pilot, but do give attention to alignment, balance and creativity in arranging your moments.

After all, you put yourself in charge when you decided to go after a dream and only you can decide if you’ll move closer or farther away minute by minute by minute.

Every so often I’ll be chatting with someone and mention a book that I loved or that seems appropriate for them. I’m always startled when the response is, “I don’t read much.”  

Why would anyone deprive themselves of the pleasure, ideas, information and inspiration that can be found in books? 

During a time when I was wondering if I’d ever figure out what to do with my life, it was a book that lit the way. One evening years ago, I read a short newspaper article about two women who had started their own business using their natural talents and imagination to create a successful enterprise. 

The next day, I went to the bookstore and found their only copy of Supergirls: The Autobiography of an Outrageous Business by Claudia Jessup and Genie Chipps. Their story became my handbook. 

Although I ultimately started a very different business from the one they’d created, I gleaned so many lessons from their story. 

They started on a shoestring. So did I. They got lots of free publicity. Me too. They evolved into a very different business over time. That’s what happened to me.

I still wonder if I would have found my entrepreneurial spirit without that book to point me in the right direction. What I know for sure is that books have made a continuous contribution to my growth and development as a person and as an entrepreneur.

In Tim Sanders’  book Love is the Killer App, he speaks passionately about the importance of books. Here’s what he has to say:

Here’s another 80/20 rule: Spend 80 percent of your time on books and 20 percent on articles and newspapers. And by books, I don’t mean just any book. I mean hardcovers. A paperback is made to be read. A hardcover is made to be studied. There’s a huge difference.

True, hardcovers are more expensive. But I’m talking about your career. If you can afford to party, or to buy new techno-gadgets, or to eat in fancy restaurants, you can afford a few hardcover books. The books you read today will fuel your earning power tomorrow.

 Simply put, hardcover books are the bomb. They are fun to hold. They become personal the first time you mark them up, the first time you bend back the binding. There’s something exciting about writing down the ideas that interest you. Soon your book becomes more than just pages between covers. It becomes your ticket to success.

The ability to transfer knowledge is a huge advantage for anyone struggling to succeed in the new economy. It’s an easy skill to learn, it’s simple to facilitate, and there are more good books than you will ever be able to use, which means that the resources are unlimited. In fact, it’s so easy that there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start now.

Buy a book. Carry it with you. Its power is so great that you will feel as though you were carrying plutonium in a briefcase.

 Jim Rohn was a popular speaker who frequently encouraged his audiences to take up reading if they want to succeed. “Skip a meal if you must, but don’t miss a book.”

Why? “The only thing worse than not reading a book in the last ninety days,” said Rohn, “is not reading a book in the last ninety days and thinking it doesn’t matter.”

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


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.

Knowing that information exists that can answer almost any question is an enormous confidence builder— but that fact is frequently overlooked. While the helpless loser goes around whining, “But I don’t know how to do that,” the successful among us are busy seeking information that will show them how.  Then they get busy putting what they’ve uncovered to work for them. 

This fascination with information is also necessary for entrepreneurial success. “In times of change,” wrote Eric Hoffer, “learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

Whatever your business is about, one of the best ways to ensure success is to make a commitment to becoming an Informed Source. Here are some ways to do just that.

* Make learning a priority and schedule time for it.  While  just running a business can be a profound learning experience, we need other points of view, other bits of information in order to grow to our fullest potential. Make time for acquiring that knowledge by regular reading, attending seminars, meeting with other self-bossers who are farther down the road. 

* Learn from the best.  Jim Rohn is vocal in urging his audiences to seek learning from the best sources they can find. He says, “There are three ways one can go about learning from others: 1. Through published literature such as books and audio or video tapes. 2. By listening to the wisdom and folly of others. 3. Through observations of winners and losers. So become a good observer. “ 

The barriers that keep many people from learning from the best sources is that they either can’t discern good from not so good or they start comparing themselves to those who are more accomplished and miss the lessons they could learn. It’s far more effective to decide to find the best teachers you can and devour their experiences.

* Learn to edit.  Editing is the process of sifting through large amounts of material and taking out the bad, the so-so, the mediocre, the unimportant, and leaving in the best.  Learning to edit is also learning to discriminate, to prioritize, to evaluate. As an Informed Source, your audience depends on you to deliver only that information which is pertinent.  Incidentally, being a good editor doesn’t  just apply to information: it’s also a necessary skill for living your best life…or posting on Twitter.

* Be generous in sharing. Robert Allen earned his first fortune investing in real estate. He built a second empire sharing his successful system through seminars and books. Even if you have no interest in packaging information yourself, there are many ways to share what you know. For instance, one of the most popular guests on Minnesota Public Radio was Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens who frequently shared information on getting the most from your computer. That visibility (plus some fabulously creative marketing)  made him stand out from the crowd.

* Put it to work.  “Knowledge is power is only half a truth,” said Andrew Carnegie, “for knowledge is only potential power. It may become a power only when it is organized and expressed in terms of definite action.”  Yes, it’s fun to know things just for the sake of knowing them, but the truly brilliant users of information are always looking for ways to adapt what they’ve learned to their own situations. Doing your homework gives you confidence, but only if you use what you’ve learned.