By Valerie Young
Too many people who want to work at what they love seem to suffer from the misguided notion that there are certain “rules” that must be followed. Let me give you a quick example. At the beginning of every career consultation, I ask clients to describe their ideal life. To prompt their thinking, I pose a series of questions such as what time do you want to get up in the morning, would you like to work at home or outside the home, do you want to work with other people or do you prefer to work alone? The question that gets the biggest reaction is, “Would you like to have summers off?” Invariably someone will say, “Oh, can you do that?”
I’m always tempted to say, “I don’t know, let me consult the official Work-Life Rule Book.” The thing is, I don’t know if you can have summers off or not. But what I do know is this – if the desire to have your summers free is not consciously on your mental radar screen, then the likelihood of it happening is next to nil. If, on the other hand, you were crystal clear that you’d love to take summers off, then you’d be in a better position to make a conscious effort to come up with ways to generate income that would allow for a lengthy work break.
This self-limiting belief that you somehow have to do things a certain way also hampers to a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs. For example, this week alone I’ve spoken with two people who had considered taking the
American Writers and Artists Institute course on how to become a freelance copywriter. The reason they decided against it was they didn’t want to have to write promotional copy for products and services they don’t believe in. Who would? I know I certainly wouldn’t want to pitch Dr. Zildo’s amazing watermelon diet or some shady work from home program.
But where is it written that you HAVE to take on clients you don’t like? I once had a client named Donna whose idea of heaven on earth is to have some kind of a portable income so she can spend months at a time with her daughter in England. Donna enjoys writing and even has a background in advertising. She’d considered the copywriting option in the past but again rejected it because she didn’t want to write about products she didn’t believe in.
Instead of letting this values clash be a show stopper, Donna needed to ask herself, “So, what do I believe in enough to promote?” For Donna it’s the whole mind, body, and soul connection. In fact, her dream job is to organize events for motivational speakers. Because it would be difficult living in a relatively rural area to make a full time living organizing events, we had to come up with a supplemental – and portable – income stream.
This meant challenging the idea that to succeed as a copywriter, or for that matter, in any business, you have to do things a certain way. What if Donna intentionally structured her copywriting business to focus entirely on motivational speakers and authors of mind, body, and soul type books? This kind of niche marketing offers a whole host of advantages.
For one, Donna would genuinely enjoy doing the research on topics she finds interesting. She’d also get a great deal of satisfaction from helping spread the word about concepts and practices she believes in.
Another highly practical advantage is that people in the same field tend to talk to one another. In football terms it’s known as going deep and wide. In my small world, I get to talk to like-minded souls like Barbara Winter and Barbara Sher. I’ve recommended good copywriters to them and they’ve steered me in the direction of great web masters and other vendors. In other words, when you niche market, ultimately you’ll have to do less self-marketing because your business becomes primarily referral-based.
Okay, so what misguided rules are you operating by? Do you think you have to come up with just one way to make a living? Think again. Think you can’t turn your hobby into your career, get paid to work with animals, or that changing course means having to choose between money and happiness? If so, check my ever-increasing list of Cool Jobs at
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” How can you stretch your mind today? Once you realize that some misguided rules about work and life can, and should, be broken, a whole new world of opportunity can open up.