Ready to Find Your Calling?
Sign Up Now to Get Your FREE
Changing Course Newsletter!

Serving Seniors: 30 Ways to Turn One Interest into Income

Some of the best business ideas come out of personal experience or crisis.

Kate watched several family members go through some rough medical times in their later years.

From that experience came a burning desire to start a business that served people 60 years old and older.

FYI, Kate had gone to nursing school – but she hated it. So she had no interest in working on the medical side.

In fact, Kate was really specific with her coach about what she did – and didn’t want – in a business.

It had to:

  • be a business she can run alone
  • not involve direct medical care
  • potentially involve teaching and helping
  • not be too expensive to start and generate income within a short time
  • involve some time working alone and some time with others
  • involve no driving
  • ideally, include research and problem-solving
  • not require more education
  • not involve the insurance industry
  • potentially use her gift for writing
  • not involve running errands for people

30 Money-Making Ideas for Working with Seniors

There are SO many ways to serve the booming senior market. Here are just a few that meet Kate’s criteria:

  1. Internet research specialist
  2. Product/service reviewer (nursing homes, senior discounts, etc.)
  3. Family relationships/connections
  4. Senior webzine
  5. Memoir author
  6. How-to guides for seniors (ebook author)
  7. Senior stories videographer/photographer
  8. Matchmaking services
  9. Helping family find housing options for seniors
  10. Website for 60+ regarding health issues
  11. Online dating coach or profile writer
  12. Career coaching
  13. Employment agency for seniors
  14. Handywoman services
  15. Social event organizer
  16. Fitness consulting
  17. Personal organizer / mover
  18. Tour guide / trip planner
  19. Computer consultant
  20. Antique appraisal
  21. Meal planning & delivery
  22. Dog walking or sitting (check out
  23. Delivery service
  24. Household manager
  25. Mediator
  26. Spiritual advisor
  27. Home Stager
  28. Online store owner
  29. Patient advocate
  30. Vacation or travel companion

And if Kate tapped Barbara Winter’s brilliant concept of having multiple income streams, several smaller enterprises could add up to a nice livelihood.

The point is, there are SO many ways to turn your interests into income

All it takes is a little creative thinking!

Need help coming up with your own money making idea?

Isn’t It Time to Profit From Your Passion?

Still don’t know what you want to be “when you grow up?”

Know what you love to do but have no idea how to make money doing it?

Have so many ideas you don’t know where to begin?

The answers are closer than you think! And once you have a direction, doors will open you never knew existed.

Click here to learn how to schedule a personal Work at What You Love career coaching session with me or one of my licensed Profiting From Your Passions ® career coaches today.

Overlooked Key to Freedom from Job Jail

Every guidance counselor, career coach, or academic advisor talks about skills assessments, resumes, and job searches.

But you hear far less about another element that is essential to any successful career change – namely, gratitude.

Researchers already know the benefits of a positive, appreciative attitude including:

  • greater success in work
  • greater health
  • peak performance in sports and business
  • higher sense of well-being
  • faster rate of recovery from surgery.

So imagine what gratitude could do for someone like you who wants want to break out of job jail and do your thing?

I think the reason gratitude is an overlooked key to career change is because it requires you to focus on the present.

And when you hate your soul-sucking job or your lousy commute or micro-managing your boss, your mind is naturally going to be yearning for your future freedom versus being mindful of those blessings, however small, that you have right now.

The thing is, living life from a perspective of gratitude is not just an exercise in happy thinking.

It goes much deeper than that.

Perhaps Melody Beattie said it best:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity…It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Gratitude Cheat Sheet 

If you’re having trouble finding things to be grateful for then ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • What do I take for granted?
  • What moves me?
  • What would give me daily joy if I’d just notice it?

Here are ten ideas to get you started…
1. The senses. Sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. If you have these daily miracles, gratitude is in order.

2. The plant world. From the productivity of a late-summer tomato plant to the delicate unfurling of a fern to new growth on a house plant, nature’s exuberance and tenderness is something to behold.

3. Young children. They serve as wonderful models of important elements of changing course like curiosity, resilience, and playfulness. If you don’t have young children in your life right now, stop to notice them at a playground or even on YouTube. 

4. Beauty. What do your eyes feast on? What splendor makes your soul rejoice? It is all around us every day. Make it a point to spend a moment to just drink it in.

5. The ability to learn. There is no age limit on learning—period. When we stop learning, we really stop living. And when it comes to changing course, information truly will set you free!

6. Color. It’s all around you – and it’s free. Sunsets, Gauguin paintings, the green and reds in your super market’s produce section, blue eyes or deep brown ones. Imagine a world without color and be grateful if you can see it.

7. Music. Music has the ability to inspire, motivate, and lifts our mood. What does it for you? Is it African drumming, violin concertos, Rock & roll, show tunes, gospel, Latin music? Or perhaps for you it’s the sound of a nightingale, a chick cry of the loons?

8. Opportunity. Our steady companion, opportunity is always ready to take us down a path yet unknown. (Hint: We have to say “Yes!”) A quick check of past posts will open your eyes to just how many opportunities there are to make a money without a job-job.

9. The ability to give. Every act of generosity benefits the giver as much as the receiver. Changing course is as much about giving support as it is getting it. Helping someone else see creative ways to profit from their passion, can help you see options for yourself. 

10. Change. It’s unavoidable; the only constant. Change can be unsettling or challenging. But the mystery of it and what lies beyond it can keep us young at heart. Instead of fighting it, be grateful that you have the capacity to change yourself and your life.

Like most healthy habits, gratitude can be difficult to sustain.

So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives.

And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just something we practice at Thanksgiving.

We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.

Super Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude

That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense.

When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.

  • Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.
  • Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.
  • Practice gratitude around the dinner table, start your day texting what you’re grateful for to a friend, or make it part of your nighttime routine.
  • Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.
  • When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.
  • Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude.

As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.

As always, I encourage you to go after your dreams.

At the same time, life is too short to put off happiness until you’ve achieved it.

In other words, with a dream, as with life, the journey is just as important as the destination.

As you enjoy a drink of clean water, a warm bed, or the company of a loved one today and every day, pause and be grateful for what and who is in your life right now.

Go after that better future full of freedom and joy… but also be here now and savor the journey.


Author’s content used with permission, © Claire Communications


8 Easy Ways to Make a Tough Decision

Let’s face it — making a big decision can be tough.

Which is a big reason why far too many people follow through on their longing to change course.

For starters, whether you dream of opening a bakery or relocating halfway around the world, dreams require a big GO-NO-GO decision.

Assuming you say yes, then you’re faced with quite literally hundreds of other decisions…

What to name your business… where to find good freelancers… which way to get the word out about what you have to offer… where to live… to name a very few.

You probably have your own way of making decisions.

Maybe you carefully consider the pros and cons.

Or you consult with experts.

Or you ask a trusted friend, colleague, or family member what they think you should do.

If none of that has worked so far, there are more creative methods you can try.

As you read through the list, check off the ones you’d like to try.

1. Flip a coin

When faced with the decision to act on your dream or to maintain the status quo, your rational mind will do its best to protect you from the unfamiliar.

A fool-proof way to override that protective mechanism is to flip a coin.

Then pay close attention to your gut response to the outcome. Are you relieved or disappointed?

Either way, there’s your answer.

2. Use a dartboard

Like with the coin flip, the point here is to tune into how you feel when the dart hits its mark – or misses.

If you discover you unconsciously try harder to hit a bulls-eye when thinking of going with option A over option B – pay attention!

(Bonus of using a dartboard is you can do it over a beer at the pub 🙂 )

3. Role-play

Let each person or thing represent a different aspect of the decision.

What does each perspective have to say?

What would your pet tell you to do? Einstein? A wise tribal leader? A historical or contemporary figure you admire?

To make it even more interesting, imagine what perspective a thing might bring to the decision.

What might a flowering plant or a far-off planet say?

Would the constant waves of the ocean see your decision differently than a say a still lake or a raging river?

4. Meditate

When you quiet your mind, the answer may bubble up easily. We know this is true.

Yet we rarely quiet our minds long enough to allow the answers to come.

Instead, we run from friend to friend, or we hop on social media to get everyone else’s take.

When, much like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz discovered, often the answers are right there in your own emotional backyard.

5. Make a drawing or collage

Even if you’re not visual by nature, consider each option pictorially.

Your most attractive option may become obvious.

And don’t worry whether you’re creative or an “artist.” You can also cut images out of a magazine to create simple collages.

Stick figures drawn at different scales and using different colors can reveal which path to take just as well as any Rembrandt.

6. Sleep on it

Before you go to sleep, write out the issue you’re grabbling with.

When you awake, consider any dream to be an answer to your query—or the question behind the question.

Make sure you have something to record your dream on right next to your bed and make sure you capture even the essence of your dream before you get up.

7. Dance each option

If you’re the kind of person who responds to things physically then this approach may prove helpful.

Trying to decide whether to move near the ocean or a bustling city? Or whether to become a speaker, a chef, or a tour guide?

Which feels better in your body? Which flows through you more fluidly?

8. Sing

Make up a song about the decision.

Before you discount it as silly, you might also be really surprised by what comes out of your mouth.

You can do this while you’re in the shower or driving alone in your car or on a walk. And as with drawing, don’t fret about writing a Top 10 hit.

Instead, go for something you’d sing to a three-year-old.

What matters is how each song tells you about what you truly think and feel about your decision.

Deciding Not to Decide

You may be so terrified of making the “wrong” decision, that you do nothing.

Deciding not to decide, IS a decision.

My friend Suzanne Evans says indecision is a form of self-abuse. 

Think about that for a moment.

Few decisions are irreversible.

When it comes to changing course, often a single decision is the first step to a whole new life.

You don’t have to use all eight creative decision-making techniques. But one of them just might lead to the exact right decision for you.

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications

First He Called Me Stupid, Then He Called Me an Idiot!

I’m not used to being called names. But this time the guy doing it was absolutely right.

Let me explain.

Every guru on the planet touts some so-called “secret” to success.

Larry Winget takes a different approach.

There is no secret to the core message that runs through all of his books: You’re responsible for your life.

Larry has written five New York Times best-sellers with head-turning titles like Shut Up, Stop Whining and Get a Life, to Your Kids Are Your Own Fault, and You’re Broke Because You Want to Be.

To Larry there is no secret to creating the life you want, writing:

“Your thoughts, your words, and your actions created the life you are living. You create your results — no one else.”

Nor is he a fan of wishing and hoping that the Law of Attraction will get you where you want to go.

Instead Larry says, “What you think about, talk about, and get off your ass and do something about, comes about.”

My favorite Larry Winget book is, People Are Idiots and I Can Prove It.

In it, Larry looks at the kinds of things we humans constantly “say” we want.

We say we want to be healthy…

We say we want to have more money….

We say we want a good relationship…

We say we want to lose weight…

But our ACTIONS say something very different.

I’m certainly no exception.

When I saw the inscription Larry wrote in my book I laughed out loud!

It read simply, “Valerie — Don’t be an idiot!”

Guess what? I’m taking his advice!


But the day after Larry wrote that inscription, there I was in Phoenix going for an aerobic walk at freakin’ 6:30 am!

Sometimes you just need to hear something said in a different way to get off of your duff and take action.

For me that something was the distinction Larry made between being “ignorant” or “stupid” and being an “idiot.”

If you are ignorant about the dangers of smoking or that a high fat, high sugar diet leads to obesity…

Or if you were never taught how to handle money responsibly…

Or you’re ignorant to the fact that there’s a fabulous conference out there that could be the key to you doing your ideal work…

…then you can’t be held responsible for the outcome.

BUT once you are informed… once you KNOW the danger of acting or not acting…

Once you KNOW what’s out there or what to do…

…and you STILL fail to change your behaviors – then you’re an idiot.

The fact is, I KNOW I need to get more exercise.

And by not taking action I WAS BEING AN IDIOT.

So I’ve stopped with the excuses…

No time, too tired, too dark, too early, too late… bla, bla, bla.

Do I fall back on old habits? Of course — we all do.

The key is getting back on track.

How to Stop Being An Idiot About Your Dreams

It’s the same with changing course.

Few of us grew up knowing there were alternatives to having a job-job.

And even fewer were ever tuned into my friend Barbara Winter’s liberating notion of multiple streams of income.

Which means most people are ignorant about the unlimited opportunities there are to make money doing what you love… on your own terms.

But if you’ve followed my newsletter at all over the last 23 years – or you’re reading it today for the very first time — then now you know.

And if you SAY you want to create the life you really want…

If you SAY you want to have more freedom and flexibility in your life…

…but you take no steps to do it – then like Larry says, that makes you, well, stupid.

So what about you?

What’s one thing you SAY you want to do – but somehow never seem to act on?

What’s one thing you KNOW you need to change?

What needs to happen for you to not continue to be an “idiot”?

What kind of support do you need to get out of your own way?

What kinds of simple things can you do to get yourself moving?

For me, it’s the simple act of putting on my sneakers in the morning.

If I say I need to go for a walk, by brain hears, “That would be nice but why don’t you just have another cup of coffee and watch the news.”

But if I tell myself, “I’m just going to put on my sneakers,” then “I’m just going to step outside…”

That’s enough to get me out. Even if it’s just 20 minutes. I’m moving my body.

And that my change seeking friend, is what Larry – and I — would call smart!

Hop down to the comment box to post your answers

I’m sure Larry would agree.

The simple act of putting it in writing is itself a great first step to not being an idiot.

And if you need help getting going, then ask me and your fellow dreamers for what you need.

One thing we all need sometimes is a kick in the behind.

A few years ago I did a fun interview with Larry. I left “smarter” and more inspired to continue to take steps in the direction of my own dreams. I am confident it will do the same for you.

Click below to listen or download to your device. That way you can listen while you’re on your new exercise program!

More Don’t Miss Conferences

Last week you discovered how conferences are a fun and easy way to learn how to make money doing what you love from experts and people who are doing it.  

It’s also a place to: 

– scope out entrepreneurial opportunities 

– find potential clients/customers 

– find vendors

– meet potential joint venture partners

– or even a possible business  

Every year hundreds of thousands of conferences large and small happen all over the world – some even in your own backyard. 

Click here to learn about conferences for romance writers, beer lovers, early American history buffs, dog lovers, and bloggers.    

Here are six more don’t miss conferences — plus tips on how to find the right conference for you and your unique interests.  

2019 Will Be Here Before You Know It   

Larger conferences start advertising a year ahead. 

And 2019 will be here before you know it!  

After all, conferences happening in January open registration in the fall. 

This gives you time to: 

  • do some research about your new career path/business opportunity 
  • start saving for the registration fee and take full advantage of any early bird pricing 
  • get a credit card that gives you airline or hotel points 
  • and otherwise prepare to take maximum advantage of your conference experience 

Horses and Healing  


Love horses and serving others? You’re not alone!   

The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association sprang out of the growing movement to use horses to help disabled children, veterans and others suffering from post-traumatic stress, and others to learn, heal, and grow. Their 2018 conference is over – but the agenda is still available. 

That way you can get an idea of what it’s all about and get on the mailing list so you’re ready for next year’s event.  

Furniture Making 

The Furniture Society conference happened earlier this year as well.  

But you can still view the agenda from the 2018 conference, to get a feel for what it’s all about. 

If you’re like me, you may be surprised by both the range of topics and how many speakers were women!  

Senior Movers  

As people age or become widowed they often look to downsize to smaller homes or over 55 communities.

Those who can no longer live on their own, will move to assisted living or nursing facilities.  

Packing up a lifetime of belongings is daunting at any age. All the more so for seniors and their adult children who may not live nearby. 

If you love organizing and enjoy working with seniors, you need to know about the growing field of helping seniors who willingly or reluctantly are facing relocation. 

The 2018 annual conference of the National Association of Senior Movers is over. Fortunately, you can purchase the conference recordings.  

That way you’ll be well prepared when you go to the 2019 event in San Diego. 

If you’re more curious than committed, for $59 you can purchase an overview of the specialty via a 45 minute webinar.


Would you love to learn how to craft and sell exquisite glass beads? 

The International Society of Glass Bead Makers has regional chapters in the US and Canada as well as Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Australia. 

The site also offers books and other educational information including links to members and organizations that offer classes. 

The annual US conference is next April in Las Vegas. 

Or for a far more international experience, head to The Borneo International Bead conference 

How to Find the Right Conference for You 

The quickest way is to do a search for [your interest] and the word conference.  

If you don’t want to travel far, start by searching more locally either by state/province or region. 

It may take some digging.  

For instance, when I typed in New England organic farm conference I found an association with outdated event listings from 2012. 

Turns out though, that there is a Northeast Organic farmer

Once you reach any association site look for a link that says events.  

My own 2-minute search uncovered a fabulous conference happening six miles from my house! 

If nothing comes up, start looking specifically for associations. Then click on their event tab. 

With minimal effort you could find your tribe, gain valuable education and connections, and launch a whole new life doing what you love!  

Still Trying to Find Your Calling?

Since 1995 I’ve helped thousands of people go from confusion to clarity. 

If you’re still trying to find a way to connect the dots between what you love to do and how you can get paid to do it, schedule one of a limited number of Work at What You Love consultations today. 

To find out if a Work at What You Love consultation is right for you call 413-203-9754 eastern. 

Outside the US send an email to [email protected] with your Skype ID and I’ll get back to you with a meeting time. 

Whether you want to make an extra $500-$1,000 a month or replace your paycheck, it all begins with a great idea! 

9 Don’t Miss Conferences

Want a fun, easy way to learn how to make money doing what you love from people who are doing it? 

Every year literally hundreds of thousands of conferences large and small happen all over the world – some may even in your own backyard. 

I’ve put together a fun list of don’t miss conferences on a host of topics.

Obviously, not all of these conferences will speak to everyone.

But just knowing what’s out there serves as a powerful reminder that there are endless alternatives to having a job-job. 

And next week, I’ll tell you how to find the right conference for you and your unique interests.

Romance Writing 

A few years ago I delivered a keynote to some 3,000 attendees at the annual Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference

I met writers in genres I didn’t even know existed…There’s western romance, young adult, Christian, para-normal, historical, interracial — even Amish romance. 

Romance writers come from all walks of life. Some didn’t finish high school and others have PhDs. I met homemakers, physicians, even a former senior official in the White House! 

Next week’s annual RWA conference in happening in Denver. It features scores of educational sessions on everything from writing technique to period costumes to building a social media following. In addition to networking with highly successful published authors you also get to pitch your book to potential agents and publishers. 

RWA isn’t the only game in town. 

There are upcoming conferences around the world. 

Not quite ready to commit to an entire conference? 

Start by attending a meeting of your local RWA chapter

You’ll get to know published authors in your area and get a ton of information and support from people who genuinely want you to succeed.     

Dog Trainer 

The Association of Professional Dog Trainers convention this October in Memphis is also jam packed with educational sessions. 

(Once you go to the site, click on the conference brochure to see the full agenda.) 

If you’re not a professional dog trainer, this session called Do What You Love for a Living is for you!  

Here’s the description: 

Calling all long-term “weekend” dog trainers, hobbyists, and new trainers: 

If you fantasize about making a good living as a dog trainer, but instead find yourself training nights and weekends while working your “real job” Monday through Friday, this session is for you. 

If you’re a new trainer trying to figure out how to start and transition into a full-time dog training business, you’ll want to attend this one, too. 

Veronica and Gina of dogbiz (formerly dogtec) will show you how to turn your part-time or hobby business into your full-time career by building a personalized step-by-step transition plan. (Yes, it really is possible!) 

We’ll cover all the pesky paperwork you’ll need to get out of the way, too. (Don’t worry—it’s as easy as training a Border Collie to sit. Almost.) 

Find Your Tribe and Learn at the Same Time

Blogging, Pinterest, Podcasting 

There is no shortage of blogging conferences happening in the US, Canada, and the UK. 

And there’s something for everyone including  the Beer Bloggers conferencethe Wine Bloggers conference, the Women in Travel conference, and a conference for entrepreneurial Pinterest users    

In a few short weeks the largest conference for podcasters, Podcast Movement Conference, is happening in Philadelphia. 

One of this year’s keynotes is also my favorite radio show host (which is after all the original podcast) Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air. 

For a more general marketing-oriented conference for power bloggers check out the interestingly named Type A Parent conference

And if you also happen to be Latino, head to the annual Hispanicize conference is in Los Angeles this October. 

Hispanicize is the parent company of the Latina Mom Bloggers network, Being Latino, Hispanicize Wire, and the Hispanic PR Blog.

This massive 3-day event is billed as “the iconic, largest annual event for Latino trendsetters and newsmakers in journalism, blogging, marketing, entertainment and tech entrepreneurship.”

History and Ale Lovers 

Every year Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia offers conferences on a host of topics related to early American history and crafts.

The one that caught my eye was Ale Through the Ages happening October 19-21.

The organizers of this weekend of beer and history described the event as follows:

Beer is the oldest recorded recipe in the world. The ancient Egyptians first documented the brewing process on papyrus scrolls around 5,000 B.C. 

Then, beer eventually made its way from the Middle East across the Mediterranean to Europe, where it became an integral part of life and was valued both for its nutritional value and as a safe alternative to contaminated drinking water. 

Beer arrived in the New World with the first European colonists and Americans have been brewing ever since. 

Ales through the Ages offers a journey through the history of beer with some of the world’s top beer scholars. We will explore ancient ales and indigenous beers of the past, examine the origins of brewing and discover the ingredients brewers have used through time.

If you dream of opening your own micro-brewery…

Or you’d love to be the next “Indiana Jones of Beer” — this may be right up your alley!

Yes, most beer scholars have fancy degrees.

But there’s no reason why you can’t become a self-taught beer expert!

You could partner with area bars and restaurants to host events where guests sample different micro-beers while you delight them with fascinating stories about the history of beer.

Get Creative 

Tiny Houses and More

While not technically a conference, there are tiny house festivals happening all across the US.   

As with any conference, you want to go with an eye for entrepreneurial opportunities. 

What kinds of businesses are currently operating in this space?

What products or services do tiny house owners need?

You could teach people how to build their own tiny house.

Design tiny houses for companies looking to use them as marketing.  

Rent tiny houses to vacationers looking for a unique experience or rent land to people with tiny houses on wheels.

So, what other ways could you monetize a tiny structure? 

Maybe a unique meeting space for groups of 10-20? 

Add a second tiny house with full kitchen and dining area, another for massage or other spa treatments or a business center, add some lovely gardens and you’ve got yourself a tiny retreat center! 

Or, you could bring a tiny chapel to the happy couple.  

That’s what this retired pastor with a passion for tiny houses did.  

For $500 the minister will provide the chapel and officiate the wedding or re-commitment ceremony.

He charges less if the couple comes to him. 

Not all tiny chapels need to be on wheels. The concept could also work well as a permanent rental at a location popular for outdoor weddings. 

Click here to see the inside of one chapel for sale in Texas.

Still Trying to Find Your Calling?

Since 1995 I’ve helped thousands of people go from confusion to clarity. 

If you’re still trying to find a way to connect the dots between what you love to do and how you can get paid to do it, schedule one of a limited number of Work at What You Love consultations today. 

To find out if a Work at What You Love consultation is right for you call 413-203-9754 eastern. 

Outside the US send an email to [email protected] with your Skype ID and I’ll get back to you with a meeting time. 

Whether you want to make an extra $500-$1,000 a month, replace your entire paycheck, or grow an empire — it all begins with a great idea!   

Want to Live Your Dream? 5 Keys to Changing Course

Over my 23 years here at Changing Course, I’ve heard from a lot of people at various junctures along the road to right livelihood.

Some are at the very beginning… still trying to figure out which path is right for them.

Others have happily reached their destination.

Others are midway on their journey.

Regardless of where you are in the process, there are still some very specific steps you need to take to change course.

Here are five keys to get you started:

1. Set Big… and Small Goals

I know it sounds cliché, but if you’re really serious about taking control of your life, you need to set some goals.

Knowing that you want to change your life or work for yourself is a great start.

But expressing a desire is different from stating a goal.

In her Broadway show Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Lily Tomlin’s bag lady character remarks, “I always wanted to be somebody. I realize now I should have been more specific.”

Deciding you want to earn money by making and selling gift baskets is much more specific than saying you want to make money doing something creative. But even here you need to get more precise.

One of the best ways to move a goal along is to quantify it. Using our gift basket example, the key questions are:

  1. how much money do you want to make?
  2. by when?

You can always shoot higher, but for now let’s think in terms of generating $10,000 in gift basket sales.

From here you’d want to make your goal both real and reachable by breaking it down into smaller more manageable goals, like, for example, making and selling six gift baskets in 60 days.

Actually writing the date on your calendar will make it even more real.

2. Figure Out What It Will Take to Reach Your Goal – Then Start Doing It

Some years back I heard from a long-time subscriber named Joe.

Joe understood the importance of looking to others for inspiration.

But he also understood the value of not only hearing about people that have followed their dream and made it happen, but those whose dreams are in process.

The people, Joe described as, “currently traveling the pathway to a new career, setting goals for themselves, managing to keep their dream alive and staying focused on the goal of a new career.”

All the things this then 33-year-old software engineer from Maryland was doing.

But I’ll let Joe tell you about his plans – and progress – in his own words:

“A year and a half ago I started reading a lot of real estate investing books. I wanted to get into the medical field as a Physical Therapist and needed a way to supplement my income. I took classes and soaked up all of the real estate knowledge I could get.”

“I worked with advisors until I landed my first deal. It was a rehab house, and after I repaired it I made $28,000 profit for an endeavor I spent five months on part-time. I was thrilled. I took this money and used it to help purchase a rental property and another rehab which I am now selling.

I set goals for myself. My big goal is a career change at five years. Presently I have four years left. I plan on generating enough income to cover all of my expenses. I also have smaller goals.

At the two-year mark I plan to make $1,000 net cash flow per month. At three years I plan to make $2,000 net cash flow per month. This will allow me to pursue Physical Therapy without worrying about money! I have volunteered in two hospitals and determined that this is where I belong.”

“This is my journey. It’s hard to wake up every morning and go to my current job. However, I now see an end in sight. I know that in a few years I will be enjoying helping people every day. And when that day comes, it will be a dream come true.”

Some of you are probably saying, “Five years! I can’t wait that long.”

You don’t have to.

Joe’s goal is very specific – to generate enough money from real estate to be able to fully support him during his schooling.

Depending on your goals, your financial situation, your level of commitment, and the amount of time you’re willing to invest, you can certainly change course in far less time.

Whether you want to be living your new life in five years or in five months, the point is to set a goal, quantify it, and then, one day at a time.

Then take the small action steps required to make your goal happen.

3. Live Life Now


Shooting for a future goal is great.

But I also received a deeply moving email that reminded me of the importance of also remembering to live life fully in the moment.

Pam wrote to thank me for inspiring her partner Bruce, a man I never met but who I apparently encouraged to live his dream.

Pam has generously allowed me to share her and Bruce’s story with you.

She told me that before he was killed instantly in a traffic accident, Bruce was living his dream.

He’d been a computer consultant who, explained Pam, was tired of the cubicle life.

“Although he made a boatload of money doing it, he realized that there was more out there to do. He always wanted to do something purposeful with his life, and didn’t see that the programs he wrote made much of an impact.”

Pam went on to say that she and Bruce lived together for two very wonderful years…

“…living our dream. We both left the corporate grind, had opened our own business as massage therapists. Bruce was a wonderful man. He had healed so much in his life and many times said, ‘If I’m to be the kind of spiritual man I wish to be, then I need to work on this.’ He was making a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis. I’m so very grateful for every moment that we shared. We were blessed to have many friends. And I plan to continue our dream.”

Although I never had the privilege of meeting Bruce, he sounds like a truly remarkable human being and one who will be missed by many.

And how wonderful that while Bruce was among us, he was living his dream.

Pam’s strength, her gratitude in the face of unspeakable grief and her resolve to continue to live their dream is inspiring indeed.

When we think about goals, we tend to think about achieving some future result.

And yet as John Lennon once observed, “Life is what’s happening when you’re making other plans.”

Bruce’s story serves as an important reminder that even while you strive to reach your future goals, you must live life now and with as few regrets as possible.

4. Break a Rule

Sometimes changing course can begin with the simple act of shaking up your normal routine.

Take Barbara, a former coworker of mine from my corporate days.

Most people spend their Saturday mornings in a frenzy of house cleaning and errands.

Barbara does this stuff too but not until after she’s indulged herself by crawling back into bed with a cup of coffee and watching a suspense movie.

Spending your Saturday morning watching a movie may not be your cup of tea, but surely there is some small fun thing you can do to shake things up.

  • If you tend to read self-help books, try a romance or a suspense novel
  • Walk your dog in a totally new place or drive a different way to work
  • Visit your local historic society or museum
  • On the first day of each month have ice cream for breakfast
  • Go to the movies on a weeknight

Experiencing small changes can make the bigger ones seem more doable.

5. Use the One Step a Day Approach

When I was desperately trying to get myself out of corporate America, I promised myself that I would not go to bed at night until I had taken at least one small step toward my goal. It doesn’t have to be a big step.

For example, I knew that at least in the short term, leaving my job-job would mean I’d be earning less money.

So one day I brainstormed a list of ways to supplement my income.

At the time I had a finished basement with a bath.

Mind you this was decades before Airbnb or VRBO or other short-term stay options were even a thing.

My idea was to rent out the space to a commuting grad student who needed a place to stay during the week.

Ideas only work with action.

So, the next day I stopped by the hardware store to see what I could find out about sound proof ceiling tiles.

The following day I looked up the Web site for the housing office at the local college, and so on.

Not only do small steps add up, but just as important is the sense of momentum you’ll gain. And once you get started on a dream, it’s hard to stop!

“The big break for me,” said Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, “was deciding that this is my life.”

Since this is indeed YOUR life, let this be the year you start making your dreams happen.

Speaking of making dreams happen…

That’s also the name of an amazing workshop I did with career and self-employment guru’s Barbara Sher and Barbara Winter.

Never before, or since, have the three of us been in one place offering our very best strategies to help you discover and then create the life you really want.

For a limited time, you can get a recording of the entire 4-day Making Dreams Happen workshop for $25 off the regular price.

Click here and then enter code MDHyes at check out to receive your discount.

Valerie is the founder and Dreamer in Residence at where she’s been showing people how to make a living without a job since 1995. The Changing Course newsletter is read by over 20,000 change seekers around the world. She has trained and licensed over 350 people from 19 countries to show aspiring self-bossers how to turn their interests into income.

Her career-related advice has been cited around the world including BBC radio, Yahoo Financial News, CNN Money, Wall Street Journal, USA Weekend, Inc., Kiplinger’s, O magazine, Entrepreneur, Science, Elle, Redbook, Woman’s Day, The Chicago Tribune, and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Valerie is also an internationally recognized expert on impostor syndrome. She’s spoken to such diverse organizations as Boeing, Facebook, BP, Intel, Chrysler, Apple, IBM, Merck, Ernst & Young, Procter & Gamble, the Space Telescope Science Institute, American Women in Radio and Television, Society of Women Engineers, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and many others.

Valerie’s books include It’s Never Too Late to Find Your Calling and Being Realistic is Killing Your Dream (Changing Course Publications) and her award-winning book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive In Spite of It (Crown/Random House) is now available in five languages.

Survey Uncovers Our Biggest Regrets – This One May Surprise You

Regrets are an inevitable part of life. Fortunately, not all regrets are created equal.

Some regrets are minor.

You regret buying those too tight shoes just because they were on sale….

Or picking up the phone as you were trying to leave the office….

Or ordering the fish when everyone in your party is raving about the pasta.

The good news?

Regrets like these (often referred to as “First World problems”) are ones we can learn from and hopefully, minimize the chance of repeating.

Utmost regrets, on the other hand, are more problematic because the consequences are so much bigger.

Utmost regrets, are also more difficult – and sadly, sometimes even impossible to reverse.

I’m referring to the kinds of things you’d absolutely hate to know would one day be etched on your headstone.

Vivian could have been a great writer, if she’d tried.

Sam could have changed a lot of lives, if he’d had the courage to act on his idea.

Ordering the fish is one thing. Bailing on your dream of helping unadoptable kids or entering a writing contest is quite another.

Elizabeth Berg learned a lot about dreams. However, she learned even more about regrets while working as a nurse with terminally ill people.

In an article titled, Dreams Are Not Enough, the award-winning novelist wrote movingly about how not pursuing our dreams may be the riskiest move of all.

It is a lesson she learned from those whose time had almost run out.

Those dying people I cared for believed, as most of us do, that they would have time for everything. So they put things off… Then suddenly their days were almost gone.

They were out of the time they thought they would have forever. And while I bathed them, they stared out the window and talked about what they had missed.

They might say, ‘I always wanted to see Hawaii, but… I don’t know. I never did.’

The sense of regret was so strong that we both ached.

I wanted to lift those people up out of bed, put them in a wheelchair, and take them to the airport. ‘Hawaii, please,’ I wanted to tell the ticket agent.

Everyone has dreams, sadly far too often they get put on hold.

Asking, and then answering her own question, Berg writes:

“What happens to our dreams? They die of lack of nourishment, that’s what. ‘Later,’ we say, and when we turn around, they’re gone.”

The Worry Factor

According to many of the 1,200 elders who took part in Cornell University’s Legacy Project, there is a powerful link between regret about the past and worry in the present.

When asked what they most regret when they look back on their lives, the answer most often given was they wished they hadn’t worried so much.

The way 102-year-old Eleanor sees it,

You just can’t go on worrying all the time because it destroys you and your life, really…. You have to put it out of your mind as much as you can at the time. It’s a good idea to plan ahead if possible, but you can’t always do that because things don’t always happen the way you were hoping. So the most important thing is one day at a time.

And 87-year-old James Huang agrees…

Why? I ask myself. What possible difference did it make that I kept my mind on every little thing that might go wrong? When I realized that it made no difference at all, I experienced a freedom that’s hard to describe.

The thing that takes a lot of people by surprise is this.

We waste our lives worrying about the “unknown risks” that change can bring, when in reality we should be more scared of the known risk of spending the rest of lives in the same place we are today.

If we fail to at least try to create the life we really want, we risk making good on Benjamin Disraeli’s often quoted prediction that “most people die with their music still locked up inside them.”

The sudden loss of my mother at just 61 totally changed how I viewed time (we can choose how we use it)… money (things work out)… and life (it’s all too short).

I won’t lie.

Walking away from a good job with good benefits was – and still is – not without risk.

Yet I knew that the real risk was looking back at my life and saying, “I was miserable, but at least I had a good dental plan.”

What Will You Most Regret?

Take a moment now to choose the THREE things you would most regret not doing in your lifetime.

Now name one small thing you can do today – not tomorrow, not next week or next year, but today – to help prevent this utmost regret from occurring.

I first posed this question three years ago. And was moved by some of the responses I received.

Like Sandra who wrote:

I’m tired of my lack of pursuing my dreams. Procrastinating! Love to write songs, and wanting to write plays. The 9-to-5 for 25 years is coming to an end. The children are grown with their own families no more excuses. Time to get busy. Age not a limit.

Or Pat…

No regrets here, I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009 so I live life one day at a time and enjoy every minute of each day. I applied for a patent for my design am waiting for the approved patent to get the product on the market.

Sandi spoke about the fear…and excitement of changing course.

I actually just left a soul-sucking job with good benefits and am in transition to living a life of my own design. My biggest fear was that I would lose disability insurance coverage (I’m not as afraid of dying as I am of surviving and being unable to take care of myself) — but I realized that staying in the stressful job was more than likely going to ensure that I would indeed become disabled at some point from all the stress-induced illness that are so common when we are unhappy and unfulfilled.

So…. I was staying in a job that would most likely either kill or disable me — just so that I could have life and disability insurance??? That’s nuts! Once I figured out that it was a no-win situation, I pulled the plug on that sick logic and took the leap into my new adventure. SO exciting to know that whatever happens, at least I made the choice from freedom instead of fear.

Marsha shared a similar experience…

Staying in my old administrative job for as long as I did is my utmost regret. In March 2014 I quit that soul-sucking job without really knowing what I would do instead. I just knew that I couldn’t stick it out for 10 more years – the time it would take to retire with health benefits – in a job that was so out of alignment with my values. Staying in that job for 13 years seemed to have drained the passion I’d had for anything. I’m finally on to something and taking baby steps toward it.

Your turn…

What are the THREE things you would most regret not doing in your lifetime?

What’s one small thing you can do today – not tomorrow, not next week or next year, but today – to help prevent this utmost regret from occurring?

Can’t wait to hear from you!

P.S. If one of your three biggest regrets would be to spend the rest of your life in a soul-sucking job… I’d like to help.

I just created a version of my popular Work at What You Love workshop that’s immediately accessible (and ridiculously affordable).

If you want to find your calling and a way to make money doing it, I invite you to become a part of the growing community of inspired change seekers.

Then, when you go to bed tonight, try not worrying about what will happen if you fail.

Instead, worry about what you have to lose by not ever trying.

The 7 Fears Keeping You From What You Want

Fear often stands between us and our ability to make decisions, take actions, ask for what we want—even to know what we really want. It is the gatekeeper of our comfort zone.

But as poet-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.”

Below are 7 fears that stand between you and your dream of following your own road.

As you go through the list, think about your own concerns about changing course from having a boss to being your boss.

You may experience them all.

But since not all fears are equal, take a moment to rank order each from 1-7 with 1 being the number one fear that’s holding you back.

1. Fear of being judged. Needing approval from family or peers can keep us from going after dreams and goals. And the people who love you the most are the least likely people to support your dream of doing your own thing.

2. Fear of rejection. We worry that no one will like our art or read our novel or want us to coach them. When in fact, rejection just means that someone else has a different opinion.

3. Fear of embarrassment. What if your first talk flops? Or no one comes to your gallery showing? Making mistakes publicly is awful only when we let ourselves feel ashamed.

4. Fear of being alone/abandoned. It’s a lot easier to change course when your spouse or partner has you back. A strong sense of self-worth and what we can offer the world reduces this fear.

5. Fear of failure. A biggie for most of us and born of the notion that it’s not OK to fail, learn from what happened, and try again.

6. Fear of success. More responsibility, more attention, pressure to perform can be frightening when we don’t believe in ourselves.

7. Fear of the unknown. The number one reason people stay in miserable jobs or relationships or locations that they really could leave is simple — fear of the unknown.

At least you know your crappy job or area.

What if you can’t make enough money from your idea?

What if you don’t really like living in Belize or Paris or on an island off the coast of Maine?

Or what if you find out you don’t really want to run a little bookstore in a village in England or be a life coach or any other dream you’d had forever…
The unknown can be exciting and vast if we shift our fear to curiosity.

More importantly, as Tom Peters said, “Unless you walk out into the unknown, the odds of making a profound difference in your life are pretty low.”
If you want to make a profound difference in your life… I’d like to help.

I recently found a way to turn my popular Work at What You Love workshop into a class you can take whenever you want,
The workshop is divided into four parts:

  1. Get clear
  2. Get paid
  3. Get unstuck
  4. Get a plan

I mention this because the Get Unstuck section includes still more reasons why people fail to pursue their dreams. Reasons that go beyond fear.
Things like…

  • procrastination
  • self- doubt/lack of confidence
  • perfectionism
  • lack of support/other people’s skepticism or negativity
  • finding the time
  • money
  • lack of sales or marketing experience/know-how
  • the willingness to make the sacrifices or investments of even limited amounts of time/money required to create the life described when you got clear.

Sound familiar?

If so, I just opened the doors to the new Work at What You Love On Demand Workshop.

If you’ve been letting fear – or any of these other challenges – stand between you and the life you really want…

And, if you want to discover what you love to do and how to make money doing it… then I invite you to sign on now.

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications

4 Simple Steps to Work at What You Love

Years ago Studs Terkel traveled the country conducting interviews for his book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.

Among them was a worker named Nora Watson who said, something I never forgot…

“I think most of us are looking for a calling, not a job. Most of us, like the assembly line worker, have jobs that are too small for our spirit.”

I think the same can be said for our dreams.

Most people have dreams that are too small for their spirit.

Perhaps you do too.

Not long ago I told you about someone who started out as a workshop participant and soon became a friend.

Her name is Dyan deNapoli.

And her inspiring story serves as a guide to how you too can do work that pays the bills… and feeds your soul

1) Return to your childhood

Dyan’s big dream began as a child with a family vacation to Sea World where she was fascinated with the people who trained and cared for the animals.

Decades later she decided to pursue her childhood dream to find a way that she too could work with marine life.

So the then 32-year-old self-employed silversmith returned to college for a degree in animal science.

Following back-to-back stints as an intern and volunteer at the New England Aquarium in Boston Dyan was hired to be the Senior Penguin Aquarist.

Among the many highlights of her career was participating in the rescue of 40,000 penguins at risk from a massive oil spill off the coast of South Africa.

Then sadly, Dyan’s mom died.

My own mother died unexpectedly at just 61 years old. So, I know first-hand how wake-up calls can cause us to re-evaluate our lives.

After nine years at her job, Dyan had already begun to feel restless. And losing her mother just accelerated the desire for change.

She was still passionate about protecting wildlife – particularly penguins.

But now Dyan longed for the freedom and flexibility she’d enjoyed when she worked for herself.

But how on earth do you become a self-employed penguin expert???

That was the question Dyan brought to the 2007 Work at What You Love workshop in Northampton, Massachusetts.

There, among some 125 other change seekers, is where the idea to offer interactive educational programs at local libraries, senior centers, schools, and civic organizations was hatched.

2) Talk less, do more

Most people talk about their dreams… they endlessly research and plan and tweak and perfect.

But they never begin.

Not Dyan.

A mere three months later Dyan became “the Penguin Lady” and was already booked to deliver the first of what would be many local – and paid – talks.

I was so impressed I invited her back to next year’s Work at What You Love workshop to share her progress.

I loved hearing how Dyan had found a way to make money without a job-job.

But it was also clear that she’d only scratched the surface of what was possible.

I told Dyan if she really wanted to help save the penguins, she should think nationally – and even internationally.

Something I said must have clicked — because the next day Dyan stood up and announced her next big goal:

To be the onboard penguin expert on a nature cruise to the Galapagos Islands.

Within three months Dyan had collaborated with a local travel agent to be the penguin expert on a 10-day cruise to the Galapagos!

A few months later CNN came calling to interview her about a mass penguin stranding off of Brazil.

Then just a year after the Galapagos cruise she was tapped to be the on-board penguin educator on a cruise to Antarctica.

And remember that South African oil spill rescue operation Dyan worked on?

She signed a six-figure contract with Simon & Schuster to write about it – which became her award-winning book The Great Penguin Rescue.

Since then, Dyan’s dream, adventures, and income have all grown in ways she could have never imagined including…

  • traveling to Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, the Galapagos Islands, and South Africa to work with, teach about, and observe penguins in the wild
  • appearing as an expert on numerous television and radio shows, including CNN and BBC Radio
  • Delivering not one but four – count ‘em – FOUR – TEDx talks!
  • Being selected to be one of 76 women scientists from around the world to take part in a leadership training program aboard a cruise ship in Antarctica
    In fact, as you read this, Dyan just left for her next big adventure as an expert guide on the prestigious National Geographic’s Antarctica expedition!

How cool is that?!

3) Ask the question – “Why not me?”

Do people tell your dream is “unrealistic”?

The first time Dyan heard it was when she decided to earn the science degree she needed to pursue her childhood dream.

Math and science were not her strengths.

All the more reason, Dyan said, “I had to believe in myself and ignore the people who kept telling me, ‘There’s too much competition,’ or, ‘It’s too hard.’”

But Dyan kept telling herself, “Someone is going to get that cool job—it might as well be me.”

Think about it…

  • Why Suze Orman, Mia Lin, or the sibling stars of The Property Brothers and not you?
  • Why Rachel Ray, Mary Kay Ash, or Vera Wang and not you?
  • Why Anita Roddick, Damon John, Amy Tan and not you?
  • Why Margaret Mead, Tyler Perry, or Toni Morrison and not you?
  • Why Louise Hay, Jane Goodall, Richard Branson, Annie Leibovitz and not you?

Not one of these accomplished men or women are or were inherently smarter, better, luckier, or more amazing than you are.

True, they acquired certain knowledge, skills, and experience.

But the operative word here is acquired.

An improbable television phenomenon like Julia Child did not come out of the womb being “Julia Child,” cooking legend.

She became Julia Child – and at 49-years-old at that.

Playwright Wendy Wasserstein’s turning point came when a friend told her that “the way to be taken seriously is to take yourself seriously,”

You can have a big dream without becoming a household name or making millions.

In fact, sometimes shooting higher involves the bold decision to live a smaller, slower, but ultimately more content life.

It takes just as much courage, if not more, to walk away from what everyone else considers a “dream job” to follow your own road. Just ask Dyan.

Today, the self-employed penguin expert lives and works on her own terms.

Best of all, she’s making a living and making a difference.

4) Dream big

Deep down maybe you’ve always wanted to study tile making in Greece or shamanism in Ecuador or wine making in Napa.

Or maybe you’d like to have your own TV show… open a board game café… run yoga retreats in Bali… or help disadvantaged youth become entrepreneurs.

For the record, not every dream has to be work related.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to hike the Camino trail… or interview octogenarians in your community… or go fly fishing in Alaska… or learn sign language.

I know it sounds cliché to say, but you really can do anything you put your mind to.

It takes not one ounce of energy more to dream big than it does to settle.

And you’ve got a lot more to gain by shooting high than by shooting low.

Do you want work that feeds your soul and pays the bills like Dyan did? If so, I’d like to help.

Next week I’m opening up my NEW Work at What You Love On Demand Workshop.

This is your chance to…

  • Discover your long buried gifts and interests – the things that make you truly happy
  • See how having multiple interests actually position you to enjoy the benefits of multiple streams of income
  • Quickly spot ways you can turn your interests into income
  • Find the money, time, courage, and support to act on your dream
  • Take steps to live and work on your own terms
  • Ask me anything!

I’ll be in touch with more details about the on-demand workshop shortly.

But first, would you take 30 seconds to help me?

I want to make this the best Work at What You Love experience EVER

Would you be so kind as to click here now and answer a few super quick questions…   

Thank you in advance. I’m truly grateful for your willingness to help me to best help YOU!

Page 1 of 41123...Last


A New Direction

I decided to take the Work @ What You Love Workshop and also work one-on-one with Valerie. The workshop explored so many unusual and unexpected solutions to my specific questions. I made so many new connections to what clearly works for me in crea...

Julia Raymond
Curvology Studio

Read More Testimonials »

Facebook Twitter RSS
(413) 203-9754

Pin It on Pinterest