I recently moved and came across the materials from a seminar that you hosted with Valerie Young in western Massachusetts. I found the Work at What You Love workbook and now I am living the life I wrote about then. I’m actually doing even more creative stuff than I could have dreamed of back then.

I remember that I loved the seminar but really was at a place where I thought the ideas would work for anyone but not me. I had very low self-esteem in the area of work because I kept choosing jobs that were a poor match.

This was how I thought my life was going to be: just grin and bear it and accept that I would never live my life from a more authentic place. So I kept working these draining jobs, going to therapy, completely stressed about money all the time.

And yet, there was a part of me that would not give up.

My husband saw an ad for an innkeeper. At the time, I was working at a hotel as a front office manager on Cape Cod and was so miserable. I called and the owner said he was really not looking for an employee, but a business partner.

We were not ready to lease the inn, so we offered to run the inn as independent contractors and had a legal agreement drawn up. Now, basically, we work for ourselves and get a decent percentage of what we bring in.

We run the inn how we want to and we are truly having the time of our lives. We both get to use our skills and because they are so different they compliment each other well.

My husband says that he feels alive in a way that he has not in a long time. We just discovered new space behind the inn that we will be turning into retreat/meeting/yoga    space.

It is so funny because now I am never sure how much money will be coming in week to week and it is the thing I worry about least.

I am having way too much fun working hard and now believe that the Universe will provide me with everything that I need because it already has.

Cheryl Bagangan, Onset, MA

Two weeks ago, Alice Barry did a delightful teleclass to celebrate the anniversary of her Joyfully Jobless life. The title of her program was 7 Lessons I’ve Learned in 7 Years in Business.

She told us that she learned her first lesson at a seminar Nick Williams and I did in Las Vegas called Creating an Inspired Business. What was that lesson that launched her?

Start where you are. To hear Alice tell it, those words served as a mantra and she began moving forward putting her ideas into action.

Today, her business, Entertaining the Idea, helps others put their ideas into action, too.

Alice isn’t the only person I know who’s building a dream, of course.

Liz deNesnera flew from her home in New Jersey to Los Angeles yesterday. She’s spending the week in California taking her Voice Over business to the next level. Happily, she also took time to spend several hours with me.

Like Alice, I first met Liz in person in a Creating an Inspired Business event in Las Vegas.

Liz had been a longtime subscriber to Winning Ways newsletter and had attended a Making a Living Without a Job seminar in New York, but this was the first time we’d officially met. “You’re not just a name on a mailing label anymore,” I joked after we’d become acquainted.

Since then, I’ve received excited calls from Liz when she wants to report on the growth of her business;  it was a real treat being able to get the latest update in person.

As usual, she was bubbling with excitement over the continuing growth of Hire Liz which puts her talents to work in both English and French.

Another former seminar participant has also been on my radar lately. I first met Dyan deNapoli when she attended Valerie Young’s Work at What You Love seminar in Northampton, MA.  Dyan was wearing her passion for penguins on her sleeve—and on her cute VW Beetle.

Her passion has brought her wonderful opportunities including lecturing on an Antarctic cruise and authoring The Great Penguin Rescue. Dyan is also the first person I’ve known to be featured as a speaker at TED Talks.

Then there’s Valerie Young. I’ve known her longer than the other three and still remember our first conversation when she called me after attending Making a Living Without a Job to discuss an idea she had to help corporate employees change course.

Over the years, she’s helped thousands of people do just that through her coaching and seminars. But that was only part of her entrepreneurial endeavors.

Valerie became a popular speaker on the Impostor Syndrome. One day a publisher came calling, and in mid-October her book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, will be published. It’s a stunner.

I was honored to see the manuscript after she invited me to write a testimonial for the book. From the first chapter, I knew this was more than an ordinary business or personal growth book.

Yesterday, another big accolade came in for the still unavailable book when she learned that Publisher’s Weekly is giving it a starred review. Valerie wasn’t the only one who found that exciting!

I’ve been thinking a lot about all four of these inspiring women and what they have in common. Obviously, they’re all lifelong learners. They’ve also all patiently followed their dreams and created their own unique enterprises.

But the thing that just hit me about them all is that I’ve known all of them before any of these achievements occurred.

If there’s anything more inspiring than knowing real life dreamers who are also doers, I don’t know what it is. Their achievements add to the joy in our lives—and urge us to stretch farther.

It’s also easy to forget that when we see personal achievement, there was a time when it didn’t exist, but all successful people have a Before and After story.

That’s probably why writer Nikki Giovanni warns us, “Do not surround yourself with people who do not have dreams.” The After story is even sweeter when we were present Before it happened.


Working on some wild dreams of your own? Join me on the Idea Safari and collect some dreambuilding tools.

After my Joyfully Jobless News went out this week, I promptly received a number of messages. Instead of replying to the question I’d asked in the mailing (What is the most fun you ever had earning money?), these folks had a question of their own.

The gist of all those messages was, “What should I do?” A couple of them said, “I really don’t have any passions.”

Too many people, it seems to me, get trapped in their own version of Life Limbo. They know something’s missing, but continue to drag themselves through their days doing the same things at the same times with the same people.

That is not a recipe for personal growth. It’s only when we begin to question the less than satisfying choices we’ve made (as the writers of those e-mails did) that we can begin to move out of that limbo.

I wrote back to everyone and gave them a few suggestions for finding their own answers. Then I realized that they probably aren’t the only ones with those questions so I’ve added some things to the list and decided to pass it along here.

Start where you are. Often our greatest opportunities are hiding in plain sight because we have gifts that come so naturally to us that we fail to realize they could be valuable to others.

An honest and ruthless inventory of your likes, dislikes, talents and forgotten pleasures is a necessary starting point. As Agatha Christie reminds us, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Read this book. Barbara Sher is the master at helping people reconnect with their dreams. Her book, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What it Was is a terrific tool to get things moving.

Go for essence. Sadly, we’ve been conditioned to focus on form and that gets us in big trouble.

Learning the difference between essence and form was one of the most liberating things to ever happen to my own goal setting efforts. Here’s a brief explanation from the book Creating Money:

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 it come in whatever way, size, shape or form is most appropriate.

In other words, if you focus on the essence of what would bring you joy, you may find it arriving in a surprise package.

Ask this question. A couple of years ago I tried a little experiment that has now become a regular part of my life. It begins with the simple question, “How can I make it better?”

This isn’t about changing the world; it’s about taking action on the things right in front of you that you can do something about. Robert Pirzig explains it this way: “The place to improve the world is first in one’s own head and heart and hands and then work outward from there.”

Once you get in the habit of looking for opportunities to make things better, you’ll dazzle yourself with all the ways you can make life sweeter.

Create a Passion Quest project. Give yourself 90 days (or more) to simply explore with an open mind and heart. Take notes. Notice when you are so engaged you have no sense of time passing.

Try new things that catch your fancy. Revisit neglected pleasures. Cross things off the list that no longer fit.

Invest in yourself and your dreams. A wonderful starting place for that is to add the Making Dreams Happen Audio Program. This program was recorded during the four days that Barbara Sher, Valerie Young and I spent in Boulder, CO sharing what we know about bringing dreams to life.

You can have the benefit of this terrific event for less than $100. I relisten to it regularly and never fail to find new insights and ideas.

Say thank you. When you ask for—and receive—help, it’s perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that with some sincere gratitude. Apparently,  not everyone knows that.

It happens every time I announce a new special event. Almost immediately, I begin getting messages that say, “Someday I’d love to attend your Storytelling seminar.” Or “When will you be doing your Inspired Livelihood event in Alaska?”

These questions come from folks who don’t understand effective goalsetting. They’ve got it backwards. Sadly, that is a recipe for frustration.

Several years ago when Valerie Young announced our upcoming Making Dreams Happen event, she was deluged with e-mails from people saying they’d like to attend but couldn’t afford the enrollment fee.

She called me to see if I had any ideas about how to handle this onslaught. I pointed out that since this event was about bringing dreams into reality, getting there was the first exercise. 

The ever-creative Valerie issued a challenge to her readers asking them to share what they were doing to fund the conference. We got wonderful stories about the creative ways that participants found to be involved. 

A year earlier, two friends and I decided we wanted to take a little vacation. My cash flow was good so I had the funds;  they had  both spent the previous months working on writing projects that had yet to pay off so their cash flow was squeaky. 

Once we set the goal for the trip, however, they  swung into action. They  had each built a nice little portfolio of cash flow options that included things like selling on eBay, doing market research, spending a Sunday as a flea market vendor. In less than two weeks, they both had the money  they  needed for the trip.

Last year, another entrepreneurial friend was experiencing a cash flow slowdown and decided to get creative. She wanted something that wouldn’t distract too much from other projects she was working on, so she put an ad on her local Craigslist offering her services as a pet sitter in her home. Not long after, I  was talking to her and she proudly announced, “I just passed the $1000 mark with pet sitting.” 

In his blog post Pennies and Dollars, Seth Godin writes, “In fact, too much worrying about cash is the work of the lizard brain, it’s a symptom of someone self-sabotaging the work. The thing to do is invest in scary innovations, large leaps, significant savings.”

So the order of making things happen is this: goal first, funding second. 

What successful goalsetters know is that the process goes something like this: focus on a goal, brainstorm obvious and crazy ways to make it happen, start taking action. 

Keep going until the goal is met. 

Set another goal and repeat.


Been thinking about joining Alice Barry, Terri Belford and me for Inspired Livelihood in Sedona? Don’t let your lizard brain keep you home. Commit to coming, register and create a funding project. And start your project by giving yourself a nice discount by signing up before March 15


There are dozens of things to love about being joyfully jobless, but at the top of my list are the fascinating people that I would never have met had I stayed put in my old life.


For many years, relationships were something ordained by blood or geography. Even as I became an adult and expanded my world a bit, I mostly knew people who worked with me or attended the same church. Of course, I liked some more than others, but I had no idea that there were so many fantastic people in the world and that knowing them would enrich my life. 


That discovery didn’t happen until I became self-employed.


I thought about this blessing of people on a recent morning when I sat down to check my messages. Besides all sorts of intriguing posts from my Twitter friends (many of whom I’ve never met in person), there were several lovely e-mails from new readers of Making a Living Without a Job.


Then there was a message that said, “Hi Babs! Where are *your videos?* I miss seeing you speak. You’re smart and you’re fun.” That nudge came from Barbara Sher and it made me giggle. Then there was a delightfully excited message from Valerie Young who was about to spend the day with Sir Richard Branson. I was almost as excited for her as she was.


These pleasant encounters got me thinking about an important-—but seldom talked about—aspect of moving ahead in life.: the cast of characters in our life is going to change when we do. And that can be terrifying.


Consider what Steven Pressfield says about that very thing in The War of Art. “We know that if we embrace our ideals we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us. What will become of us? We will lose our family and friends who will no longer recognize us. We will wind up alone, in the cold void of starry space, with nothing and no one to hold onto.


“Of course, this is exactly what happens. But here’s the trick. We wind up in space, but not alone. Instead we are tapped into an unquenchable, undepletable, inexhaustible source of wisdom, consciousness, companionship. Yeah, we lose friends, but we find friends, too, in places we never thought to look. And they’re better friends, truer friends. And we’re better and truer to them.”


Last year, Seth Godin shone a spotlight on our need for connection when he wrote Tribes and set up a Website to foster connections between kindred spirits. He explains, “Human beings can’t help it: we need to belong. One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people…Tribes make our lives better.”


Several years ago, I began to notice that when I led a two or three day event, people would start saying, “I finally found my tribe.” There always sounded a bit giddy at having made this discovery because they knew it was going to make their own life better.


If you aren’t actively looking for your tribe, you’re missing one of the great bonuses of the joyfully jobless life—rich relationships that are the result of choice, not chance.




You can connect with the Joyfully Jobless tribe at our upcoming Follow Through Camp on November 6 & 7 in Chaska, MN. Even though that’s coming up fast, we still have a spot left. Is it yours?