In his chapter on fear in The War of Art, Steven Pressfield has this to say:”We know that if we embrace out ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us. What will become of us? We will lose our friends and family, 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 on to.

“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 friend. And we’re better and truer to them.”

I’ve been thinking about these words alot lately as I’ve been dazzled by the helpful, delightful, creative people that are in my life. Some of them have been around for a long time; others I’m just getting to know. I seem to consistently attract people who are curious, adventurous and committed to making a difference. I think of them as my personal faculty in my own journey of discovery.

My experience seems to contradict a number of recent polls that show more and more of us feel isolated and lonely. This phenomenon does not just affect adults; kids in school often feel disconnected from their peers. Consequently, isolation is often a concern for people who contemplate solo entrepreneurship. Will they end up talking to their cat?

It’s possible, I suppose, but it’s also the antithesis of the entrepreneurial life. Being an entrepreneur is about connecting and collaborating with others. In fact, one of my earliest observations about the Joyfully Jobless life was that this is where we come to get our Ph.D. in human relations.

When we make changes in our lives, it’s natural that the cast of characters around us may change as well. There will be newcomers that join us and there will be old-timers that disappear. There will also be permanent cast members who welcome and weather the changes. The wise person consciously chooses to include people who enrich, challenge and delight. In the end our best relationships are built on a balance of contribution.

Do not surround yourself with people who do not have dreams. ~ Nikki Giovanni

When I started my first business, The Successful Woman, I thought I’d model it after existing personal development companies. I quickly realized that many of the people making a living as motivational speakers were doing things that I had no interest in emulating. My response to some of the business practices I saw was to devise a list of personal rules which I have continued to follow. Unlike ordinary goals, these rules weren’t about what I wanted to do; they were about what I didn’t want to do.

Not long ago, I was thinking about those rules and how they have helped me design a business that keeps me captivated. These rules have also helped me avoid pitfalls and temptations. While they may not apply to your business, I wanted to share them and suggest you come up with your own counterpart that fits who you are.

Don’t have two years that are exactly alike. This rule came about in response to the years I’d spent teaching at the high school level, years that seemed to be carbon copies of one another. One of the big motivations with self-employment for me was the opportunity to try many things and make continuous discoveries. 

Don’t teach what I haven’t learned. When I was starting out, I was eager to hear and observe as many professional speakers as possible. While I learned a great deal about effective presentations from observing the pros, I also saw far too speakers who relied on platitudes and less than original thinking. Even though I knew it would take longer, I was determined to learn first, teach later.

Don’t build dependency relationships. At its worst, we think of cults as engendering blind obedience. Plenty of other gurus have also created organizations that foster dependency. I want people to discover their own power and passion and that can never happen if they’re dependent on me.

Thinking about what you don’t want to include in your business can save time, save missteps and frustration—and keep you focused on those things that make your heart sing.

P.S. Want to be a more effective goal-setter? Check out my upcoming teleclass, Goalsetting 101.