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What Did You Learn This Summer That Can Further Your Dream of Changing Course?

By Valerie Young

Remember those “How I spent my summer vacation” essays the teacher had you do as kids? The focus then was on what you “did.” Imagine how much more value there would have been if you’d been encouraged to reflect on what you “learned.”

The last two months were filled with too many memories and lessons to list in one article. So, here are just a very few of the many take aways that can help you change course…


Summer is a time of growth. Part of my morning dog walking ritual is to take notice of some small gift of nature. Doing so forces me to stop and just be in the moment. It is also my time to take stock of how very much there is to be grateful for — things both big and small.

On the work side of life, much of my creative focus was on making a new video for my home page. It’s called 3 Essential Secrets to Changing Course to Work at What You Love and to date it’s already had over 4,200 views. Instead of the usual (yawn) talking head I did something a little different… when you have a minute, I’d LOVE your feedback!

June was also when I once again began to take on a small number of clients. Since I can’t work with everyone, I also gathered together some of my top graduates of the Profiting From Your Passion Coach Training program to offer free 15 minute coaching sessions to anyone looking for a way to make money without a job-job. The reason I didn’t announce this earlier was I wanted to make sure we worked out any operational kinks before hundreds of people scrambled to set up sessions all at once.

The people who’ve already taken advantage of the opportunity not only discover how to use the 5-Step Changing Course Formula to create a clear vision of the work you were born to do (hint: it won’t even feel like work), they uncover hidden challenges that may be sabotaging their success and preventing them from getting from where they are now to where they want to be, and from the feedback we’re gotten so far, people tell us they leave the free coaching session renewed, re-energized, and inspired to create a viable plan to launch a richer, more rewarding work life. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Lessons Learned

Practice gratitude.

When your entire focus is on changing course to a new, more fulfilling life, it’s easy to get pre-occupied with the future. But as John Lennon said, “Life is what’s happening when you’re making other plans.” Do work building your future life. Just be sure to take stock of how much there is to be thankful for right this very minute.


Matching the schedules of nine coaches with hundreds of eager people is no easy task. Much of the behind the scenes work involved coming up with a system where people could easily book a session and communicate with their coach with little involvement from me. Lisa, being her brilliant self, found a software called BookingBug. I’m thrilled to say — so far so good.


In July, local farmer’s markets are in full swing. When you put on your entrepreneur glasses, even a simple trip to your local farmer’s market can serve up a healthy serving of information. I for one am as excited by the people behind the tables as I am with the bounty of veggies, goat cheese, and bread they’re selling.

At the Amherst, Massachusetts market I met lots of interesting self-bossers like Marion and J.P. Welsh who produce maple syrup and handmade brooms at Justamere Tree Farm and James D. Pitts of Delta Organic Farm. And savvy marketer Leslie Cerier, AKA the “Organic Gourmet,” was also there selling copies of her latest cookbooks Gluten Free Cooking and Going Wild in the Kitchen.

Lessons Learned

You can be small and still go big.

Too many one-person operations assume they’re too small to play on a national stage. Not so. Leslie not only conducts her cooking classes locally, but also has upcoming classes at such famous venues as Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California and Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

And J.P. may live in the boonies, but he’s not out of range of Martha Stewart. If you love the idea of working with your hands, or you are just intensely curious as I am about how things are made, you’ll love this segment where J.P. shows Martha’s viewers how he makes his brooms one at a time.

In October I’ll be attending a national publicity summit in New York City. If you want expert pre-event coaching on exactly how to pitch your message to the media and the chance to put yourself and your message in front of producers of mega shows like The View and Good Morning America…. then being there would be a wise investment.

Think multiple-income streams.

I discovered most of the folks at the farmer’s market are no stranger to the concept of multiple profit centers. Leslie is not only a talented cook, she’s also an author, teacher, consultant, caterer, and photographer!

James runs an organic farm plus a successful bed and breakfast.

Hang out with the people who are where you want to be.

Kid Rock’s dad used to tell him, “If you want to be a painter, don’t hang out with carpenters.” The same goes for being self-employed. Your assignment this week: Talk to at least two entrepreneurs. Then post what you learned at the blog so everyone can benefit from the experience.


I just returned from 10 glorious days at a lake in New Hampshire. I went to relax, do some kayaking, and enjoy the mesmerizing call of the loons. Mostly, though, I went to escape the differently mesmerizing call of email and social media so I could focus 100 percent on editing my book and do some serious reflecting on where I want to take my business (and myself) once I hand it over to Random House.

Also in August I had the thrill of seeing Jeff Bridges perform songs from his Academy Award winning movie Crazy Heart. The concert was the culminating event of a 3-day Western Socially Engaged Buddhism Seminar at the Zen Peacemaker center (which sadly I did not attend).

The center is essentially a huge barn overlooking rolling hills at the other end of my street. I felt so fortunate to be in such an intimate setting seeing one of my favorite movie stars perform with an engaging singer songwriter from Nashville named John Goodwin. John not only wrote one of the songs in the movie but he and Jeff have been friends since age four and it really showed in their onstage banter.

On a family note, my brother Mark visited from Florida. It was one of those days where I really didn’t have time. But when my Dad and brother called to invite me to meet up at a local landmark/hole in the wall called Nick’s Nest, I couldn’t resist. It’s the same “gourmet” joint I brought Barbara Winter a few summers ago (hey, I spare no expense with special guestsJ). When she saw this photo on Facebook, Barbara wistfully recalled “knowing the joys of the nest.”

August was also “giving” month. I donated blood to the Red Cross for the first time in way too long. It felt good to get back on track with my regular donations. If you’re not a donor I encourage you to do so. The best part was getting a free ticket ($15 value) to my beloved “Big E” — the New England state fair PLUS a coupon for six chocolate covered strawberries from Edible Arrangements.

In 1999 I signed up to be apart of the National Bone Marrow Registry — again something I encourage everyone to do. I just found out I’m a 4 out of 5 match to be a donor for a 61 year old man with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. There are several other hoops to go through before I am a confirmed match. If all goes well in a few months I’ll be going to Mass General Boston for the procedure

Lessons Learned

Find your own “think spot.”

We all need a place that nourishes us, where we can reflect on where we want to go and how we plan to get there. For me it’s the lake and my porch overlooking the next door neighbor’s pasture and cows. And, if your “think spot” also happens to be where you go to work, write, or plan as I did… it’s also a nice tax deduction!

Go local.

One of the least tapped sources of information is small hometown newspapers. They’re often the ones that feature the goings on of inspiring local entrepreneurs that other bigger papers find too minor to mention. It was via my own local weekly, the Montague Reporter that I got the early scoop that Jeff Bridges was performing less than a mile from my house and was able to scoop up the last two tickets.

Don’t be afraid to look foolish.

I always feel awkward asking celebrities for photos. Jeff was of course, incredibly gracious. I, on the other hand, babbled on about his dad, Lloyd and Sea Hunt but said nothing about Jeff’s own well-deserved Oscar for best actor. As mortified as I was I don’t think he’s losing sleep over it and I got a great photo!

I also know it’s the things we don’t do that we most regret, not the things we did. As Cynthia Heimel said, “There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.”

Take the time to find the joy in your own backyard.

It took Dorothy an often frightening romp through Oz to figure this one out but it really is true. There are delightful surprises and people wherever you live. You just have to look for them… and make the time.

Do it your way.

In this day and age when your TGIF’s and Ruby Tuesday’s offer six page menus, since opening in 1921 Nick’s Nest serves just three things: hot dogs, baked beans, and popcorn. Me? I go for the chocolate milkshake and a dog every time. If something works, stick with it.

Giving is good for you — and it’s good marketing too.

I’m not a huge fan of franchises, but if you’re going to go that route, delivering lovely fruit arrangements is pretty cool. The free coupon I got for donating blood from Edible Arrangements is a great marketing tool because:

1) the coupon lists every location in Massachusetts

2) the fact that you have to go there to pick up your chocolates further connects the brand in the consumer’s mind,

3) the consumer is bound to tell others about their neat gift further spreading the brand message, and

4) the brand becomes associated with a good cause, in this case the Red Cross. Bottom line — everybody wins!

It’s the same with my offer to you for a free 15 minute private coaching call with a Profiting From Your Passion Career Coach. I win because it gives me a chance to showcase this unique training program. The coaches win because it gives them a chance to use their gifts of helping people who want to turn their interests into income. And of course you win because you get a no-obligation opportunity to discover what it takes to profit from your own passions. If it sounds like something you, or someone you know, might find beneficial, click here to schedule a session.

How did you spend your summer… and more importantly, what did you learn that can speed your own path to right livelihood?

There is 1 comment. Add yours.

  1. Vinh Luu

    Glad to hear your BookingBug booking system is doing great for you so far πŸ™‚ If you need anything please let us know.

    – BookingBug Team


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