We hear a lot about the short attention span of both kids and adults. We see the marketplace flooded with items that are here today, gone tomorrow.

Pet rocks are the poster child of that phenomenon. So are most of the books that achieve best seller status.

The media adores stories about overnight success. They pay no attention once the flash in the pan is done flashing.

It’s always seemed to me that have a few minutes in the spotlight could be the entrance to a lifetime of emotional distress. I’ve avoided going after such temporary attention.

I’m thinking about such matters today because it’s also a milestone day for me. On July 15, 1993, a little book called Making a Living Without a Job quietly appeared on bookstore shelves.

Although I did a number of newspaper and radio interviews, the arrival of my baby was a fairly quiet one. My local Barnes & Noble did invite me to do a signing, but it wasn’t well promoted or well attended.

While my crystal ball did not inform me that this unheralded book would still be in print two decades later, I did know something that suggested it might stick around for a while.

What I’ve always known, partly from personal experience, is that we evolve to the notion of self-employment. Few of us grew up with any encouragement to forge our own path.

Many of us have never had friends or family who found work that made their heart sing. Lacking role models, being unaware of entrepreneurial thinking, it simply hasn’t been on our radar.

However, something else has been quietly happening for the past several decades, something that contributed to the long life of my little book.

What was the motivation? Much of it came from a very different direction. The human potential movement, the growing exploration of spirituality has had a direct impact.

The reason is quite simple. People who embark on a personal quest to find answers, better ways of living, often begin their search in bookstores and seminars, but the study phase can only last so long.

There comes a time when we need to create a laboratory, a place to test these ideas that began as self-discovery. For many pilgrims, a little business of their own is ideal.

Right from the start, I knew that there would always be a new group of people who had reached the point where Making a Living Without a Job was the next guidebook they’d need for the journey.

So while I celebrate this milestone, I also celebrate everyone who has stepped out of their comfort zone and joined me on this amazing exploration and journey in creating the life of dreams coming true.

As Soren Kierkegaard so eloquently reminds us, “If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never.”

Several years ago, Marlo Thomas compiled over 100 personal stories in a book called The Right Words at the Right Time.  People both famous and less well known shared stories about a moment when words changed their lives.

Many of the stories concerned moments when someone was on the verge of giving up, but got back on track because of a few encouraging words. The book is a terrific reminder that our words have more power than we may realize.

It wasn’t until I began my own journey of self-discovery that I found myself startled, encouraged and inspired by the words of others. How did that author know I need to hear those very words? Were there universal truths that could be revisited over and over again and make an impact every time?

I didn’t really care what the explanation was. It was enough to know that despite distances of time and geography, there were others who had thoughts that touched me and, frequently, lighted my path.

Soon I found myself filling notebooks with quotations that were eloquent and enlightening. Hundreds of my favorites are now gathered in a nifty little book called Seminar in a Sentence.

Here’s a tiny sampler of thoughts on what it means to Live Rich:

In this world, it’s not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich. ~ Henry  Ward Beecher

Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich. ~ Sarah Bernhardt

I knew that to be at home in the world was the way to grow rich. The way I wanted to be rich. ~ Marlena de Blasi

The lack of wealth is easily repaired but the poverty of the soul is irreplaceable. ~ Michel de Montaigne

Both having money and not having money make fantastic adventures possible that would not otherwise be possible. Same for having, and not having, anything else. ~ Mike Dooley

It is better to live rich than to die rich. ~ Samuel Johnson

Here is what would be pitiful: if your income grew and you didn’t. ~ Jim Rohn

If you’re going to let your fear of poverty govern you life your reward will be that you will eat, but you will not live. ~ George Bernard Shaw

Money loses its value the moment you try to hang onto it. Money only has value when you’re willing to let it go. Money has its greatest value when it leaves your hand, because it empowers you to be, do and have something that you choose to be, do and have. ~ Neale Donald Walsch

The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings. ~ David Weinbaum


If you’d like your own portable Seminar in a Sentence, click on the link and let me know where you’d like yours sent.

While I’ve made no secret about the fact that I spent several years of my life as a genuine self-help junkie, I haven’t talked much about how that led me to quit working for others.

Even though I’m still not certain about all the rewards of that exploratory journey, the biggest gift was discovering things about myself that had been buried, hidden, or ignored. I began trusting my own instincts and came to realize I needed to act on those things I’d uncovered.

Most obvious of all was that I had no business having a job. Not only would I be cheating myself if I continued to be employed, I’d be cheating my employer since I couldn’t ever bring all of myself to the job.

Although my bosses were all happy with my work, they were also clueless about how much more I could have contributed.

At some point, I realized I could continue unhappily working at jobs that bored me or I could turn what might appear to be shortcomings into advantages.

Here are a few of the reasons I’m totally, completely, permanently unemployable.

There are many things I love to do—but almost nothing I want to do day in and day out. This was most apparent with teaching, a top love of my life. When I was expected to teach for seven hours a day, five days a week, nine months of the year, what I loved suddenly wasn’t so lovable anymore.

As a teenager, I’d changed my mind weekly about what I wanted my career to be. Of course, this drove my guidance counselors crazy. “Pick one and stick with it!” was the message.

That struck me as impossible, but I relented and gave it a try. It wasn’t until I began to think about self-employment that I realized I could create a business that incorporated multiple passions.

Commuting makes me crazy. Every job I had involved at least one hour a day of driving. I’ve never calculated how many hours of my life would have been spent that way had I held a job for forty years, but it never seemed a wise use of time to me.

Today, my idea of commuting involves airplanes, preferably with my passport tucked in my purse, headed to a new place I want to explore.

Financial goals mean nothing when someone else determines my income. As I began learning about goal-setting, financial goals were always discussed, but almost meaningless if I was trying to fit my goal into a salary slot.

As I became more entrepreneurial, my ideas about goal-setting changed also. Instead of trying to squeeze my goals into my budget, I discovered it was far more effective to set honest goals first and figure out ways to finance them second–not the other way around.

Crowds make me crazy. I don’t like shopping on Saturday, standing in long lines at the bank or movies. I do like traveling off-season and look for all the ways to avoid busy times when running errands.

It’s far less stressful and, I assume, that adds to my productivity.

Curiosity demands a change of scenery. In Making a Living Without a Job, I say, “I became an entrepreneur because I was curious about what I could become. It was a curiosity not shared by any employer I had.”

But my curiosity goes much farther than uncovering my own potential. I’m curious about the lives of other people, fascinated by the joyfully jobless, want to see places different from the one I call home. Mobility matters to the gypsy in me.

At the beginning of my entrepreneurial life, I had no idea that I had embarked on the best personal growth program ever invented.  The discoveries never end, however, if you’re doing it right.

So while all those things guarantee I’m never going to be named anyone’s Employee of the Month, they’re not the best reasons for remaining unemployable. My number one reason is a bit grander and voiced by writer Stephen M. Pollan.

“Create your own work path,” advises Pollan. ”Those with conventional career patterns age ten spiritual years for every five physical years they spend in the rat race. Those with a unique work path are constantly being reborn.”