LIVE & WORK ON YOUR OWN TERMS

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

Promote Your Business by Becoming a Columnist

Camille is an attorney who is looking to promote a career counseling practice aimed at other burned out lawyers. Her first inclination was to place an ad in a law publication. From a potential client’s point of view, which do you think would be attract more clients:

A) An ad with Camille’s photo along side a snappy headline like “Ready to Make a Career Change? Call Today For Your Free Initial Consultation.” Or,

B) A column in that same publication called “Life Lines” that examines such topics as work satisfaction, work-life balance, managing stress, and career change. At the end of each column is a short bio explaining that the Camille is as an expert at helping attorneys make satisfying work/life transitions.

If you guessed B) (the column), you’re right! Everyone knows that an ad has one purpose – to sell something. But a columnist is considered to offer unbiased advice from an expert with information to share. If you happen to be interested in using that expert’s services, or perhaps purchasing his or her book, that information is conveniently available at the end of the column.

Becoming a columnist is not as hard as you might think. In fact, with ad revenues down, publications of all kinds are looking for fresh content to help retain subscribers. Your column might run in a local newspaper, a professional association or other niche newsletter, magazine, or online.

To find out if being a columnist is right for you, begin by asking yourself these questions:

~ Am I passionate about my subject? Reader’s can tell when a writer loves to share their passion for bird watching, poker, gardening, parenting, or a 1,000 other things!

~ Do I enjoy writing?

~ Am I ready, willing, and able to take on a long term commitment that’s required with a weekly or monthly column? If you aren’t sure, consider a quarterly an occasional column.

If you’re still interested, I suggest you get a copy of Charlotte Digregorio’s book, You Can Be A Columnist: Writing And Selling Your Way To Prestige. According to Digregorio, being a columnist can help you expand your practice or even lead to lucrative speaking engagements and consultations. A series of columns could also become the basis of a future book.

Digregorio’s book covers such topics as types of columns (creative columns verses informational columns), choosing the right column for you, column structure and writing tips, common pitfalls, getting published, self-syndication pros and cons, guest columns, how to find publications, and more.

Remember, the whole point of writing a column is to establish yourself as an expert in order to build your business. So, don’t expect to get rich from it. In fact, according to writing expert Moira Allen, even the large newspapers rarely pay more than $500 per column.

Moira has written a very informative article on the ins and outs of self-syndication, including the importance of retaining rights to your work. You can find the article and other helpful resources for writers here.

Anyone can become an expert, just start believing that you have something of value to share, never stop learning about your field, believe that you can, and take that first step.

P.S. Speaking of becoming an expert, I highly recommend Robert Bly’s book, Become a Recognized Authority In Your Field In 60 Days or Less. Bob’s book covers everything from becoming a columnist, to getting on the radio, to writing press releases, to creating and selling information products just to name a very few.

Both books – You Can Be A Columnist and Become a Recognized Authority in Your Field – are both in the featured books section of Changing Course bookstore.

 

Did you like this article? Read more free articles about Changing Course.

About the Author

“Profiting From Your Passions®” expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman’s Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.

Reprint Permission

You may re-print these articles electronically, in print, or on your website providing the byline appears at the end of each article. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated. If your publication is sent via email send a copy to [email protected].

If your publication is mailed, please mail to Changing Course, 7 Ripley Road, Montague, MA 01351. If you publish the article(s) on a website, please email us a link to the article.


Still Don’t Know What You Want To Be “When You Grow Up?” Here Are 3 Ways To Find Out

If you’re well into your career but still aren’t really sure what you want to be “when you grow up,” join the mid-life career crisis club! Here are three ways to help you discover your heart’s content.

1. Forget Skill Sets, Think Satisfaction.

In her book, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, career guru Barbara Sher points out that finding your passion is more than just figuring out what you’re good at. Reflecting on her own life as a single parent, Sher realized she was clearly “skilled” at raising two children and managing a home on a tight budget. But did she love it? “You live the good life not by doing what you can do,” Sher learned, “but by doing what you want to do.”

2. Pay Attention to Both Past and Present-day Clues.

In his famous interview with Bill Moyers, renowned mythology scholar Joseph Campbell said, “The way to find out about your happiness, is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you are really happy – not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy.”

The first place to search for clues to your present day passion is in your own childhood. I once read about a man, who, as a young boy loved to make sand castles. Guess what he does for a living now? He runs a company that travels around the world making elaborate sand sculptures for ocean-side special events!

What about today? What so engrosses you that you scarcely notice the time? Is it watching NASCAR racing? Gardening? Tinkering with a broken toaster? Surfing the Internet? Exploring a museum? Traveling? Helping a friend work through a problem? Tracing your family history? Organizing a closet? Working with children? Get a small pad of paper or dedicate a section of your organizer to your passion. As something new hits you, add it to the list.

Still stumped? Try making up your own “I’d rather be__________” bumper sticker. Would you rather be following sports, writing poetry, gardening, shopping, fixing things, fishing, watching reruns of your favorite childhood shows?

3. Enlarge Your View.  

One of the best way to expand your thinking – and your options – is by stepping outside the confines of your day-to-day life. Consider signing up for a class on something entirely new to you like bookbinding, feng shui, woodworking, cooking, copywriting, small engine, or computer repair.

Try reading publications outside your typical areas of interest or expertise. If you usually stick to news or women’s magazines, pick up a copy of National Geographic, Antiques Monthly or Down Beat. Even if you don’t read a single article the advertisements alone will open your eyes to a multitude of fascinating ways to earn a living.

And remember, “When you love what you do,” says author and management guru Harvey McKay, “you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

Learn how you can Fast Track Your Dream of working at what you love on your own terms.

Learn how you can Fast Track Your Dream of working at what you love on your own terms.

Did you like this article? Read more free articles about Changing Course.

About the Author

“Profiting From Your Passions®” expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman’s Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.


Opportunity Knocks: Are You Listening

The topic of opportunity was very much on my mind when I happened upon a past issue of Barbara Winter’s inspiring newsletter Winning Ways (my collection goes back to 1996 when I first became a subscriber). In it was an article with a most intriguing title.

Unlike the vast majority of health related articles alerting us to the danger signs of one dreadful condition or another, Barbara took the opposite tack by outlined her 12 Warning Signs of Health

As you read through the list, try ranking your health level on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 – Very Healthy and 1 – I’m in Big Trouble:

12 Warning Signs of Health

1. Persistent presence of a support network.

2. Chronic positive expectations; tendency to frame events in a positive light.

3. Episodic peak experiences.

4. Sense of spiritual involvement.

5. Increased sensitivity.

6. Tendency to adapt to changing conditions.

7. Rapid response and recovery of adrenaline system due to repeated challenges.

8. Increased appetite for physical activity.

9. Tendency to identify and communicate feelings.

10. Repeated episodes of gratitude, generosity or related emotions.

11. Compulsion to contribute to society.

12. Persistent sense of humor.

There’s a lot of evidence pointing to the fact that entrepreneurs are actually healthier than employees. Certainly not all of Barbara’s health signs are exclusive to the self-employed. Anyone can experience for example, a persistent sense of humor or repeated episodes of gratitude, generosity, and the like. But as I look back on my corporate years, I can’t say I ever experienced episodic peak experiences or the persistent presence of a support network.

The 13th Warning Sign of Health

If I were to add a thirteenth warning sign of health it would have to be
this:

13. The adrenalin rush that comes from getting to constantly pick and choose among opportunities.

The reason I’d been thinking about opportunity so much lately, is that I’ve come to realize that the vast majority of people who work for someone else view opportunity very differently than those of us who work for ourselves. Let me tell you what I mean.

I occasionally work as a contract trainer for a company that delivers corporate seminars on time and focus management. In the seminar, I discuss managing priorities in terms of assessing both the urgency and importance. Examples of activities that are both urgent and important include meeting deadlines, managing crises, or responding to opportunities.

Everyone gets meeting deadlines and firefighting. But whenever I ask employees for an example of a work-related opportunity their reaction is always same. With the exception of the folks in sales or marketing, no one can come up with an example. In fact, they look positively baffled. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but I think I have it.

When you work for someone else – and there is no additional financial incentive to either create or respond to opportunities – opportunities are seen as things that add more work.

In contrast, my life as an entrepreneur is ALL about picking and choosing amongst multiple opportunities. For example, I recently passed on authoring a book on finding the perfect job. While I was flattered to be asked, writing is not something that comes easily to me. When I do write my book, it’s got to be on a topic that really excites me… like creating creative income streams or how to be an “opportunity analyst.” To invest all that time into a project that didn’t even excite me just didn’t make sense.

Before my new associate, Lisa Tarrant, left her corporate job to work as a profit-sharing freelancer at Changing Course, she didn’t fully appreciate the opportunity factor. Within a matter of weeks though, Lisa got it.

The same day the book offer came in; we got a call about a promising partnership opportunity, found a new marketing channel, were contacted about a speaking engagement at California Institute for Technology, and were offered the chance to submit an article to a major publication. At the end of an exhilarating day I turned to Lisa and said, “Now do you see what I was talking about?” The huge grin on her face told me she did.

I feel sorry for people who don’t get to experience the rush of adrenalin that comes with having so many opportunities from which to choose. But you don’t have to be an entrepreneur (yet) to start thinking like one!

Frances Bacon once said, “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” As you seek to escape the j-o-b world and create the life you really want, make it a point to focus on all the benefits there are to changing course. To help you stay inspired, add to the list of what your new life will be like: The adrenalin rush that comes from the opportunity to constantly pick and choose among opportunities. It’s a thrilling way to live!

 

Learn how you can Fast Track Your Dream of working at what you love on your own terms.

Did you like this article? Read more free articles about Changing Course.

About the Author

“Profiting From Your Passions®” expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman’s Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.

Reprint Permission

You may re-print these articles electronically, in print, or on your website providing the byline appears at the end of each article. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated. If your publication is sent via email send a copy to [email protected].

If your publication is mailed, please mail to Changing Course, 7 Ripley Road, Montague, MA 01351. If you publish the article(s) on a website, please email us a link to the article.


Ready for Right Livelihood? Take the Changing Course Quiz

A job change — even a career change — is one thing. But changing course by redirecting your energies so that you’re living the life you truly want is quite another. And, it’s not for everyone.

“The saddest people out there,” says Dilbert cartoon creator Scott Adams, “are the ones who are living for their two-week vacation every year. If you’re living for those two weeks, then you have to start changing something.”

What about you? Are you ready for so called right livelihood?  Answer these 10 simple questions and find out! (After you take the quiz, read the 12 Warning Signs of Health)

The Quiz

  1. AGREE-DISAGREE
    You know there has to be more to life than this (staff meetings, high stress deadlines, re-engineering, commuting… you fill in the blanks).
  2. AGREE-DISAGREE
    You crave a job that allows you to spend more time with the people who matter most.
  3. AGREE-DISAGREE
    You’d love a schedule that fits with your own time clock and NOT someone else’s.
  4. AGREE-DISAGREE
    You can’t wait to say so long to those ‘Sunday night blues.’
  5. AGREE-DISAGREE
    You want more than a paycheck — you want a life!
  6. AGREE-DISAGREE
    If you never wear another business suit (tie, pair of pantyhose, etc.), it will be too soon!
  7. AGREE-DISAGREE
    How you feel about your work matters to you.
  8. AGREE-DISAGREE
    When your alarm clock goes off in the morning, you pray it’s Friday.
  9. AGREE-DISAGREE
    You’ve always wanted to be your own boss.
  10. AGREE-DISAGREE
    You believe that life is too short to work at a job that doesn’t feed your spirit.

What did your answers tell you?
When it comes to something as important as your life, there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.  Only what is right for you.

But, if you found yourself agreeing with most of the statements, maybe it’s time to consider  Changing Course. Click here to browse the Live Your Dream store.

12 Warning Signs of Health

From Winning Ways Newsletter by Barbara J. Winter, author of Making a Living Without a Job

1. Persistent presence of a support network.

2. Chronic positive expectations; tendency to frame events in a positive light.

3. Episodic peak experiences.

4. Sense of spiritual involvement.

5. Increased sensitivity.

6. Tendency to adapt to changing conditions.

7. Rapid response and recovery of adrenaline system due to repeated challenges.

8.  Increased appetite for physical activity.

9. Tendency to identify and communicate feelings.

10. Repeated episodes of gratitude, generosity or related emotions.

11. Compulsion to contribute to society.

12. Persistent sense of humor.

To learn more about how Winning Ways can contribute to your good health, click here.


Why Wish Upon a Star When You Can Reach for One?

It’s been nearly thirty years since Pulitzer Prize-winning author 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. In it, is an insightful quote from Nora Watson who says, “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.”

The same can be said of dreams. So many of my clients have jobs that are too small for their dreams. Take Jerry, a 50-year-old airline employee who writes to tell me he “dreads going to work.” His real life’s pleasure, he says, is carpentry. “Whether it’s building a house, cabinets or whatever, I get lost in the project. I can sit for hours and watch [the popular PBS television show] This Old House.

So what’s stopping him? Jerry explained the problem this way: “So many people are trapped in jobs they only tolerate. I guess the fear of failure is our biggest problem. I know it is mine.” I could practically hear the sigh on the other end of the modem as Jerry signed off with a wistful, “Wish I could get the courage to make the change.”

My advice to Jerry was this:

1) Get Perspective.

As career challenges go, Jerry needed to know that he was actually pretty lucky. Most people don’t have a clue as to their finding their calling. “Yet here you are,” I wrote, “letting something as natural – and manageable – as fear stand between you and vocational heaven.”

If this wasn’t enough to shift Jerry’s thinking, I reminded him of what he should really be afraid of, namely, the prospect of spending the next 15 years doing something he dreads.

2) Get Beyond the Obvious.

Sure, Jerry could always become a carpenter. Or, he could think outside the box by experimenting with some creative ways to dabble in his passion.

For example, he might start out by teaching a carpentry class through an adult learning center or writing a how-to column for the local newspaper. Neither of these ideas would require Jerry to quit his airline job. At least not right away. Both though, have the potential of jumpstarting some creative thinking about all the different ways there are to satisfy a calling.

3) Stop Wishing and Start Dreaming.

Before Jerry could make any kind of change he’d first have to get to the heart of his problem – the clue to which lay in his own parting words. “The real reason you’re stuck,” I said, “isn’t fear. It’s that you have been wishing when you should be dreaming.” What’s the difference?

Wishing is passive. We wish for things over which we are powerless. We wish we’d win the lottery. We wish we were taller or thinner. We wish the waiter would hurry up. Many wishes are tinged with regrets about past decisions. We wish we’d ordered the fish instead of the chicken. That we’d taken the other job. That we hadn’t let the love of our lives get away.

Dreaming, though, is different. A dream is active. It’s positive. And it’s speaks to the future. But that’s not all. Unlike “wishful thinking” – which has everything to do with hopelessness and the supposed impracticality of achieving a goal – “dreamful thinking” speaks to exciting prospect of a goal realized. Dreamful thinking invites possibilities into our life.

Still not convinced? Close your eyes and imagine the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he thunders the words, “I have a wish!” Not exactly inspiring is it? That’s because unlike a wish, you can see a dream. And as the U.S. Civil Rights Movement reminds us, when others share a common vision of a dream, the motivation it inspires is contagious.

If Jerry really wanted to pursue his love of carpentry, he’d have to first stop wishing and start dreaming. “Fear is natural,” I told him, “it goes with the change territory. That’s why you need to fortify yourself. Let your dream of doing what you love be the “soul fuel” that propels you to act despite your fears. Once you take those first bold steps on behalf of your dream, the courage will come.”

4) Think Big.

There are dreams and then there are Big Dreams. I closed by tossing out a Big Dream idea. Why didn’t he approach his local television station about producing a weekly home improvement spot? To satisfy that ever-important local angle, offer to feature improvements made to local viewers homes.

I even jokingly suggested Jerry turn his age to his advantage by calling the segment This ‘Old’ Carpenter. “Hey, if you’re going to think big,” I told him, “then think big. Who knows, you may eventually land a spot as the featured carpentry expert on the Today Show!”

Reach for the Stars

Apparently, something I said worked. A week later Jerry wrote to say he was totally pumped about the prospect being an on-air carpentry guru. He’d even set up a potential collaboration between himself and an old friend with a passion for video production. (I told you dreams were contagious!)

This time Jerry closed on an upbeat note: “I’m ready to start following my dreams,” adding, “I sure want to go out of this world doing something I truly enjoy!”

So, what’s your Big Dream? Maybe all you really know for sure is that you’re ready for a change. That’s a start. Now you need to take the goal “make a change” and bump it up a few notches by dreaming big!

  • If you have multiple interests, picture being able to earn a living enjoying them all.
  • If you like the idea of working at home, imagine doing it on an island or maybe working only nine months a year.
  • If you’re just making ends meet in an unfulfilling job, imagine doing something you love and doubling your income at the same time.

You may not get everything you want, but two things are certain:

1) 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.

2) Carl Sandburg once said, “Nothing happens unless first a dream.” So reach for the stars and catch hold of a Big Dream. Then, one day at a time, honor your dream with action.

Learn how you can Fast Track Your Dream of working at what you love on your own terms.

Did you like this article? Read more free articles about Changing Course.

About the Author

“Profiting From Your Passions®” expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman’s Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.


How to Finance Your Dreams

The following ideas come from coach/writer Soni Pitts, winner of ChangingCourse.com’s How to Finance Your Dreams Contest

  1. Gather aluminum cans! You can get lots of exercise if you do this along a highway, and it cleans up your environment. Of course, it takes lots of cans, but the time alone will give you ample opportunity to meditate, work out problems, etc. You can also have friends, bars, vendors, etc save them for you to pick up.
  2. Offer “sponsorships” of your dream. Ask businesses, etc, to consider donating funds in exchange for links on your website, a note thanking them and stating that they were instrumental in generating start-up funds on the bottom of your (menu, business cards, invoices, product packaging, whatever).
  3. Hold a raffle! Use your creativity to generate an item or service to raffle off (quilt, years worth of once-a-month coaching calls, you name it) and sell tickets.
  4. Let your neighbors and friends take out their aggressions on that old junker in the back yard. Sell sledge hammer swings at an old car that has had the gas tank, battery etc. removed (provide safety gear).
  5. Go to the library and look over those “Free Money” books that list specialty grants, scholarships, small business loans, etc (they’re usually reference, so you can’t check them out). You never know!
  6. Consider letting friends and family buy “stock” in your new business. They would chip in x amount of dollars in exchange for y amount of “royalties” on any income for z amount of years.

  7. Sell futures! Let investors buy the rights to so much of your service, product, what have you, up front, (a return on the investment) to be received when you get up and running.
  8. Volunteer to haul off your friend’s and family’s junk, sort out the icky and yard sale the rest. Donate leftovers to a charity in your new company name for an immediate first year tax deduction!
  9. If you have a degree, or any decent skill, in any subject, then you are set up to do in-home tutoring. Besides the Three R’s of reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic, you can tutor in any field (gardening, basic auto maintenance, organizing or decluttering, Bible studies, small home repairs, etc) Check around for local pricing and put up some flyers and you’re in business.
  10. In a similar vein, local colleges offer continuing education classes and you can teach those. There is usually a reasonable set-up fee (probably depends on your area, but around here it’s $50-$100-ish). If you price your classes wisely and bring in a decent group, you can make good money (and get your name out as an expert in your field, no less). Make sure to give plenty of value (handouts are good, but useful ones are a must). Classes range from basic belly dancing to photography skills to in-depth computer skills and the like.
  11. Take your show on the road. Busking (street performing) is the traditional way to make a few extra bucks. Make sure you have any necessary permits – some areas have permitting systems that are right up there with small-business set ups, while in other areas, they couldn’t care less if you stripped naked, painted yourself with banana yogurt and tap danced to “O! Fortuna” in the middle of the highway median, as long as no one complains. Get out of the box of considering only traditional guitar playing, juggling and mime acts! Give 5-minute lessons on Tai Chi routines or yoga poses, tell jokes, but sell the punch lines for 50 cents.
  12. Why should painting faces be reserved for street fairs? Make every day a carnival with some skin-safe paint pens, some glitter and stick on gems, etc. Find a card table and a well-trafficked public plaza and set up. Do readings of truly awful poetry or novels (complete with Shatner-esque presentation skills) and get paid for your silence ($1 a minute!) or whip out the fishbowl and your flashy scarves and do hilarious fortune readings. Be creative, have fun, and bring some big joy into the world for a small fee!
  13. Take a summer or seasonal temp job (check temp services and the paper) that aren’t around long enough to count on, but that are good for a month’s worth of cash (phone book delivery, Christmas counter help, scouting camp summer help, etc). Make sure that the job won’t cost you more in gas, lunch, child care, etc. than you will make, then go for it. Enough temp jobs in a row can generate a good income, you can almost always choose your hours and you’re never bored.
  14. See if your local printer needs handyman work on his shop or home. Maybe your raw materials provider needs some overtime labor help during the busy season, or maybe they need help with an unrelated issue or business. If you are properly trained, offer professional services (tax preparation, accounting, data entry, child care, catering) in exchange for your needs. You can both fill out invoices of matching “cost” for tax purposes if necessary (don’t forget to claim the goods you receive as income, as well, if you must go this route for whatever reason).
  15. Forget money! Remember that money is just a way to get stuff. But other people need stuff too, and some of these people may be the ones that you need to get your stuff from. Consider bartering your time, skills, products, etc. in exchange for theirs. (My mom got her dentures this way – she traded them and all the associated dental work for a hand stitched quilt). Now, this probably won’t fly in a big multi-national chain store (talk about a blank stare!), but that’s just another reason to shop locally owned and operated businesses!

Reflections on a Different Kind of Boot Camp: Can One Course Really Change the Course of a Life? You Bet!

Boot camp is the place you go for basic training. I can assure you however, there was nothing “basic” about the boot camp I just returned from.

For four days in picturesque Delray Beach, Florida, I had the great privilege of joining 100 enthusiastic – and very determined – dreamers. I was there as a guest of the American Writers & Artists Institute’s (AWAI), who had asked me to address the annual (and sold out) FastTrack to Success Workshop.

The people who attended the workshop, affectionately known as “Copywriting Boot Camp,” all came looking to make a major career – and lifestyle – change by training to become professional freelance copywriters. Simply put, copywriters use words to sell products, services, and/or causes.

While plenty of copywriters work for advertising agencies or in the marketing departments of big companies, freelance copywriters thrive on being, well… free. Not only do freelance copywriters get to call their own shots but it’s a portable occupation. As freelancers, they can make their living from literally anywhere in the world with an Internet connection – and they can make an excellent living in the process.

I could tell you about the big name writers who taught the workshop. People like:

~ Copywriting guru and prolific author, Bob Bly, who has written a whopping 50 books including Secrets of a Freelance Writer: How to Make $85,000 a Year…

~ Or, Michael Masterson, the brains behind the AWAI’s self-paced course called Michael Masterson’s Course in Six Figure Copywriting. Michael is a master at taking popular misconceptions so called copywriting “experts” have about what works and turning them on their head…

~ Or, Don Mahoney, the former woodworker who had to stop because the dust and chemicals were killing him. Don never earned more than $12,000 a year that way. In his first year as a copywriter he tripled that. By the end of his second year he was making $80,000 and today Don enjoys $20,000 MONTHS…

~ Or, Jennifer Stevens. Jen wrote the AWAI’s Travel Writer Course and is a highly successful freelancer, frequent traveler, and mother of an adorable – and active – toddler named Edward.

I could tell you about some of the special guest speakers… people
like:

~ Sara Pond, Creative Director at Nightingale Conant, the world leader in personal development (http://www.nightingale.com) who shared the secrets of writing for the self-improvement market as well as why she’d rather hire AWAI-trained copywriters.

~ Or, self-promotion expert, Ilise Benum who shared her winning strategies for helping new copywriters land clients… fast. (For free self-promotion tips go to http://www.ArtofSelfPromotion.com.)

And I could go on and on about how workshop participants got lots of direct one-on-one feedback on actual in-class writing assignments. Or, how everyone had an equal shot at turning those assignments into their first paid writing job. Or, how if the “winning” participants’ copy outperforms what the client is already using, (known in the business as the “control copy”), that they’ll earn an additional royalty fee each and every time their copy is used. (Royalties are a big reason why copywriting can be so lucrative.)

But I’m a student of dreamers, not copywriting.

So as great as it was, the real story for me wasn’t the course, but the participants who are actively engaged in changing the course of their lives. I learned a ton from Michael, Bob, Jen, Ilise, and all the others. But the real education for me came from getting to know the participants themselves. I got to hear their reasons for taking the course, their aspirations… and their challenges. I think you’ll find their stories as inspiring as I did.

For example, I’d barely arrived at the workshop when I was approached by a soft-spoken woman from North Las Vegas named Linda. “You’re Valerie Young,” she said grinning widely. “I just wanted to say thank you.” “For what?” I asked.

Linda paused, and in a voice not much louder than a whisper, she said something I’d hear from a least a dozen people over the next few days: “You’re the reason I’m here.” (I could have sworn she had tears in her eyes when she said it, but then the lighting was not all that bright and after all, what’s there to get emotional about… it’s only a copywriting course, right?)

Linda went on to explain that it was my newsletter that first introduced her to the AWAI. Right now she’s working at a health club as a massage therapist. The money is good but it’s physically demanding. More importantly, Linda says, she’s just really tired of working for someone else. Instead of completely throwing in the towel and massage oil, Linda plans to set up a small private practice but focus primarily on the far less physically taxing business of copywriting.

Then there’s Raymona Abouzeid. Raymona lives in a rural area of Michigan where jobs – even the low paying kind – are scarce. Despite having a B.S. in Human Growth & Development right now she’s working as a cashier. It’s what Barbara Sher would call the “good enough job” – it pays the bills, takes up no more than 40 hours a week, and basically allows Raymona to build her dream on the side.

How does a cashier from Shelby, Michigan, find her way to a copywriting course in Florida? As it turns out Raymona’s mother, Elizabeth, got a packet in the mail on the benefits of being a freelance copywriter. Since her mom isn’t looking for a new career, she tossed it. A while later another envelope arrived. This time, Raymona’s mom decided, “This must be for my daughter.” How right she was. The way Raymona sees it, finding out about this copywriting course was nothing short of “providence.”

Like I said, everyone had their own reasons for signing up for being there. Some, like Kammy Thurman, already run their own freelance writing business. Kammy came looking to add direct mail copywriting to her repertoire.

Kammy also has a more personal goal. Her husband has a job in the mining industry in Billings, Montana, but his real passion is photography. Kammy and her husband are on what I call the Family Plan. They’re both actively supporting one another’s goal of doing work they love while being work-from-home parents to their three young children.

Like a lot of people, twenty-something Raj from Morgantown, West Virginia, sees copywriting as a means to an end. After earning his degree in broadcast journalism from the University of West Virginia, Raj took a job in a recording studio. He likes his job, he says, but his real passion is writing music. What drew Raj to freelance copywriting is the opportunity to earn a good living while freeing up his time to work on his music.

Ditto for Sharon Hetrick from Malibu, California. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to actually meet Sharon at the workshop. But I did receive a lovely card in the mail a few days later. After 15 years in real estate, Sharon told me she was ready to go after her dream of being a playwright. I’ll let Sharon tell you the rest:

“Well, I have quit selling real estate, have started a new business in copywriting – and went back to college… My first play was read by actors last month. It is a wonderful new life. My copywriting career allows me to still feed by family and affords the time to write my plays.” (Feel free to write to Sharon at [email protected])

I was amazed at how many international participants had made the trip. For Brit, David Litton being self-employed is nothing new. After being downsized ten years ago he started his own business conducting training programs for clients all over the world.

Although his business was very successful, at 57, and recently married, Dave was tired of living out of a suitcase. He says he never fancied himself a copywriter but figures he’s done enough writing during his curriculum design days that learning a new way to use words would be an easy stretch. And with that, Casablanca Copywriting Inc., was born!

Dave phoned from England yesterday to tell me he’d double-mortgaged his house and is building a villa on the side of a mountain in Spain where he plans to permanently relocate his family, including his 87-year-old father whom Dave looks after. Despite living in Europe, Dave says he plans to focus on the U.S. market and is busy brushing up on his American slang. (Feel free to write to Dave at
[email protected])

Unlike Dave, Patrick M. says he always knew he wanted to be a writer. While serving with the U.S. military in Germany, Patrick met and married a German woman and decided to make Germany his home. The 29-year-old recently left his job as a government contractor (“too many headaches,” says Dave) and is now living the far more carefree life of a full-time copywriter.

Winner of the “Proactively Planning For a Change Award” has to go to Captain Kim Anderson. At 30, Kim is already a 13-year veteran of the Canadian Air Force. Right now Kim wears a Canadian uniform while stationed in the Pentagon, where she’s a communication and electronic engineering specialist. When she retires from the military on August 31st, Kim figures she’ll be well positioned to transition right into a whole new career.

What surprised me more than the large international contingent, was the wide range in ages. There were probably close to two dozen retirees there, each eager to use copywriting as a means to earn extra income yet still enjoy the independent life. When asked the question, “Why copywriting?” 76-year-old Bud Ingersall, a twice retired computer programmer and consultant from Navaree, Florida put it this way, “I figure I can write letters so I can learn to do this too.”

On the other end of the age continuum is 20-year-old college business major, Anik Singal. Anik is a very enterprising young man who has already started his own on-line business while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average (GPA). Following the advice to “teach what you know,” Anik has written an eBook for high school and college students and their parents outlining study methods he says can easily improve anyone’s grades in half the study time (You can learn more about Anik’s eBook at
http://hop.clickbank.net/?greatgpa/bettergpa)

I think what most impressed me about Anik though, is his dogged determination to follow his own path, despite stiff resistance from his parents. You see Anik is a first-generation Indian-American who’s eyes light up when he talks about his love for figuring out what makes people tick, writing, and entrepreneurship.

When it comes to choosing a career track however, Anik’s father has other ideas… two to be exact – engineer or doctor. That’s it. (If you’ve seen the summer sleeper, Bend It Like Beckman, just substitute copywriter for soccer player and you’ll get what Anik is up against.) For Anik, the hard part was convincing his dad to let him come to Copywriting Boot Camp. What was clear from talking with him though, is that this very creative and determined young man will have NO trouble succeeding at whatever he puts his mind to.

By far the most exciting part for me was running into people I’d met at last years’ Boot Camp. One participant who was back for a refresher was Beth Erikson. Beth is from rural Minnesota where, like Raymona, jobs are few and far between. Before launching her copywriting career Beth worked at a small department store doing alterations. She earned $7 a hem.

Shortly after completing the copywriting course, Beth got her first paid writing job. When she looked at that $300 check Beth says all she could think was, “Wow! That would take a LOT of hems!” In two years, Beth went from earning minimum wage to becoming, not only a successful full-time copywriter, but a published author and Ezine publisher to boot.

Besides launching a whole new career – and life – Beth got something else out of Boot Camp. A chance meeting outside their hotel rooms was the beginning of a now close friendship with another returning participant, Vickie Heron of Denton, Texas. Although they see each other but once a year at Boot Camp, Beth and Vickie regularly review one anothers’ work and even pass along assignments during busy times. That kind of support can be invaluable when you work alone.

Then there’s 29-year-old Susan Clark. When I met Susan last year she was working as a news writer and producer for the WB television affiliate in Los Angeles. Like the vast majority of Boot Camp attendees, Susan had also been a student of the AWAI’s self-paced learning course (which by the way, she too learned about at Changing Course). Since she was working full time (and as she put it, “wanted to have a social life
too,”) it took her about a year to finish the course.

And what a difference a year makes. Remember the assignment I told you about where Boot Camp attendees have a shot at their first paid writing assignment? Well, Susan’s submission beat the control in 2002.

This success led to another assignment and another until, after 12 short months, she had enough work lined up to quit her job and write full-time. Susan says lot of her success has to do with the highly supportive staff at AWAI who helped her line up her first paid writing gigs through Agora Publishing.

Oh yeah, remember those tears I thought I saw in Linda’s eyes? Turns out I was right. Linda and I got to chatting in the ladies room a few days later. She said she wanted to once again thank me for putting the AWAI and their copywriting course on her radar screen. Suddenly Linda started to weep.

After I heard her story, I understood where the tears were coming from. Six months ago this vibrant looking 53-year-old suffered a stress-induced stroke that left her paralyzed on one side of her body. On top of putting in a ton of hours at her job as a massage therapist at a local health spa (ironic isn’t it), she was coping with lots of challenges in her personal life – the empty nest syndrome, the end of an important relationship…

Yet, with her health back and a new career on the horizon, Linda explained at this point that her tears were tears of joy. Although she’d signed up for the AWAI’s self-paced copywriting program months earlier, Linda says she’d never made it a priority. Instead it was something she planned to get to “some day.”

The stroke was her wake up call. That was it. Linda told herself it was now or never. In Linda’s case, the chance to earn a good living without the long hours and the stress that comes with working for someone else is nothing short of a lifeline. Getting herself to Copywriting Boot Camp was Linda’s way of turning “Someday” into Today.

People sometimes ask me why I’m so gung ho on the American Writers & Artists Institute and their copywriting, travel writing, resume business, and other courses. The answer is simple… I’ve seen how these courses can and do change lives.

If you’d like to learn more about the American Writers & Artists Institute’s self-paced copywriting course go to http://ChangingCourse.com/awai.htm. If you’re still confused about what copywriters do, you’ll find an example of some great copy that freelance copywriter, Jennifer Stevens, recently did for me at http://ChangingCourse.com/makingdreamshappen.htm

While everyone had their own reasons for being at the workshop, they all agreed on one thing… the time had come to take control of their life. As the great hockey player Wayne Gretsky once said, “I always miss 100% of the shots I don’t take.” Whatever your dream, your age, your geography, or your circumstances, it’s never too late to take a shot at it.

 

Did you like this article? Read more free articles about Changing Course.

About the Author

“Profiting From Your Passions®” expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman’s Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.

Reprint Permission

You may re-print these articles electronically, in print, or on your website providing the byline appears at the end of each article. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated. If your publication is sent via email send a copy to [email protected].

If your publication is mailed, please mail to Changing Course, 7 Ripley Road, Montague, MA 01351. If you publish the article(s) on a website, please email us a link to the article.


10 Steps to Escape the Job World and Create the Life You Really Want

1. GET THE POINT – OF LIFE, THAT IS. How many of us will look back in our old age and wish we’d gone to more meetings or put in more overtime. The point? Despite pressure to “play it safe” by sticking with your day job (“…but dear, you have a good job, you want to be HAPPY too?”) you have every right to follow your entrepreneurial dreams. With the realization that life is for living comes the understanding that it is up to you – and you alone – to create the kind of life you really want.

2. GET THE RIGHT PICTURE. Be honest. How much time do you spend bitching about your lousy boss, hellish commute and on and on? As satisfying as a good gripe session is, you’re wasting precious energy on the wrong picture. Five minutes a day spent visualizing your ideal work-life and fashioning a plan to get you there will move you far closer to your goal than 30 minutes of complaining about what you don’t want. Bottom line: You won’t see yourself doing it until you can see yourself doing it.

3. GET CLUED INTO YOUR PASSION. The most successful entrepreneurs love what they do. Haven’t quite figured out where your passion lies? Start paying attention to situations or things that grab and keep your attention. Focus less on your skills (what you CAN do) or your resume (what you HAVE done) and instead, try to tune into what it is you really LOVE and WANT to do. What types of things did you love to do as a child? What kinds of characteristics or talents do people compliment you on? What kind of work or lifestyles do you envy? If you don’t yet have the knowledge or skills to turn your heart work into a business venture, make it your business to fill the gaps.

4. GET A GRIP ON “IT.” In her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers says IT is what scares you – and ultimately, what’s holding you back from going after your dream. Perhaps your fear centers on money, or that you’re not “smart enough,” or that you’ll fall flat on your face. Let’s face it – shaking up your life is scary. Yet, “Unless you walk out into the unknown,” says Tom Peters, “the odds of making a profound difference in your life are pretty low.” So go ahead and indulge in your worst-case fantasy. Then get busy figuring out what steps you can take to prevent it from happening.

5. GET REAL. You’ve seen the easy money pitches: “Earn $1,000 a week stuffing envelopes in the comfort of your own home.” Sounds great, right? Now, snap out of it! Launching your own business takes time and effort. You should also expect a drop in income – at least in the beginning. Now is the time to revisit the ideal life you outlined in Step 2 and ask yourself, “How much do I really want my ideal life? What am I willing to do or give up to get it?” If you are serious about living life on your own terms, the sacrifice will be worth it.

6. GET INFORMED. Change always seems scarier when you have either inadequate, or worse, inaccurate information. Go to the library. Join associations. Talk to people who have started similar businesses. Take classes. Read trade publications. Subscribe to ezines. The more informed you are, the less “risky” the risks become.

7. GET READY. A goal has been described as a dream with a deadline. Take out a calendar. Even if you haven’t nailed down all the details, you should still go ahead and set a target date for when you want your “new life” to begin. Besides being a great source of motivation, knowing how much time you have between now and “D-ream day” lets you create a realistic plan for hitting it.

8. GET SUPPORT. Enthusiasm is contagious, but so is pessimism. Avoid the nay Sayers and try to seek out others who share your passion for living life on your own terms. Consider meeting weekly with other aspiring entrepreneurs to generate ideas, share information and help each other stay on track.

9. GET GOING. To keep from being overwhelmed – yet still make headway – break your larger goal down into more manageable steps. Then, no matter how hectic thing get, pledge to take at least one action a day. Even the smallest actions – jotting down a new idea, reading a single page, or making one phone call – start to add up. And, once you actually get the ball rolling, it’s hard to stop!

10. GET GRATITUDE. At the same time you’re setting your sights on achieving your future goal, be mindful of how much abundance you have in your life RIGHT NOW! Changing course is a journey. Count your blessings and enjoy the ride. When you think about it, it’s all we really have.

 

Did you like this article? Read more free articles about Changing Course.

About the Author

“Profiting From Your Passions®” expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman’s Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.

Reprint Permission

You may re-print these articles electronically, in print, or on your website providing the byline appears at the end of each article. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated. If your publication is sent via email send a copy to [email protected].

If your publication is mailed, please mail to Changing Course, 7 Ripley Road, Montague, MA 01351. If you publish the article(s) on a website, please email us a link to the article.


Live and Work in Paradise: How to Transition to the Right Job in the Right Place

What if you could earn a living working not only at what you love but where you love as well? If for you, location is everything, here is the low-down on locating your ideal work in your ideal place.

Over There, Over There

Is your idea of heaven-on-earth to live in a Paris flat, on a houseboat in Tahiti or seaside in Belize? Before booking a ticket or updating that resume, says Clay Hubbs, publisher of Transitions Abroad magazine you need to ask yourself a few questions. Like:

1)  Where do you want to go? If don’t have a clue, start with a general region of the world and start doing your homework from there.

2)  What do you have to offer? Landing a job overseas is not that much different than at home. Much of it comes down to whether you have the skills or knowledge that a prospective employer needs. While jobs in China are easy to come by, in Western Europe and other developed nations (including the U.S.) getting a work permit can be tough. It requires proving that you – more so than a native – are uniquely qualified for the job. (Before you get too discouraged, keep in mind that your keen insight into the American psyche may prove invaluable to a company looking to tap the US market.) Jobs for Americans, especially those teaching English as a second language, are more plentiful in Eastern Europe but the pay tends to be low, especially compared to Japan, Taiwan and Korea where such jobs pay considerably more.

3)  What kinds of jobs are available? USA Today reports that work-wherever-they-want telecommuters may be the wave of the future. If you want to work for an American employer, seek out U.S.-based companies that have a strong overseas presence. Smaller but innovative, flex-friendly companies typical of the high tech industry are also good bets. Or, track down the local English language newspaper on-line and peruse their employment section.

4)  What kind of contacts do I have? No international connections leap to mind? Keep thinking. Doesn’t your uncle have a second cousin in Athens? And didn’t a former coworker’s wife once work for a company with an Argentine affiliate? If you really come up dry, hop on a plane and do the same thing you’d do in any new place – network like crazy!

Do Your Own Thing

Think warm sea breezes, swaying palm trees, white sand and clear blue waters. That’s what Vicki Phelps, a homemaker who had been working part-time in her husband’s software business pictured when she decided to move to the U.S. Virgin Islands to bake cookies.

On their numerous Caribbean vacations, Vicki noticed how few island-themed gift items were actually made locally. Spying an opportunity to relocate herself and her family to paradise, she decided the recipe for success lay in capitalizing on the island’s native fruits and spices. That was the start of The Original Caribbean Cookie Company. An immediate hit with the tourists, Vickie’s husband was soon able to close his business and join her full-time.

Starting your own small business, says Hubbs, is a smart move, especially since in countries like Italy, for instance, it can be all but impossible for a non-European to get a job. That’s what Jules Maidoff did. Bucking the stereotypic image of the struggling artist, Maidoff is living proof that, like Phelps, you can have your cookies and eat them too. Since his humble beginnings as a summer art class instructor to a handful of American students in Tuscany some 25 years ago, Maidoff went on to found Studio Art Center International in the heart of Florence, Italy. Billed as a “school with a view,” SACI’s 100+ students, many with no formal training or even a college degree, are drawn to the school’s wide range of offerings from fresco and lithography to ceramics and art conservation.

If you’re thinking about starting a business overseas Hubbs recommends you connect with that country’s branch of the American Chamber of Commerce. Better yet, get the latest edition of Hubb’s book, Work Abroad: The Complete Guide to Finding a Job Overseas. The book offers a comprehensive guide to all aspects of international work, including work permits, short-term jobs, job listings by profession and region of the world, key employers by country, and starting your own business.

Paradise Without a Passport

Whether you want to move half way around the world or to the other side of the country, the same steps apply. Thankfully, you won’t need to track down local newspapers for employment listings. Thanks to affiliations with local resources from coast-to-coast, CareerBuilder.com let’s you search 75+ sites for job openings nationwide. And while you’re at it, check out the Salary Wizard. In seconds, a city-dwelling web designer torn between relocating to the tropics or the mountains can compare salaries in Honolulu with those in Helena.

Once again, you can always create your own job. Fearing that their stress-filled jobs and long commutes had them “heading for a heart attack,” Dean and Darlene Jacobson transplanted themselves from Philadelphia to Charlottesville, Virginia. Motivated by their love of horses they saw an unfilled niche and decided to tap it. With the help of the free one-to-one counseling they received from two volunteers from the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), the Dean’s now publish the Virginia Horse Journal right from their farm.

Like all major work/life transitions, this one took time. While Dean was getting the publication up and running, Darlene continued to work. When she was finally able to quit and join him, their combined income dropped about $100,000. But Darlene’s not complaining. “Every so often I ask Dean, ‘Are we working or are we having fun?’ and he says, ‘I think we’re working.’”

Testing the Waters

If you’re not ready for a permanent international move, try to short-term stint. A good place to start is Working Abroad, an international networking service for volunteers, workers and travelers. Projects can be short or long term, paid or unpaid, skilled or unskilled depending on your needs, qualifications and interests. You can go black bear tracking in Canada, excavate archaeological sites in France, work as a management trainer and administrator in Ghana and more.

Crunched for time and money? Take shorter and cheaper trips as an air travel courier. This is where you carry shipping documents on international flights for a courier company in exchange for discounted airfare with http://www.thecorsetcenter.com/kim-khloe-kardashian-waist-training-corsets/ to say Rio for $200 or Rome for as little as $100. To learn more, check out the Air Courier Association.

A creative, low-cost way to try out a new area in the U.S. is to live rent-free by taking care of someone else’s property. The Caretaker Gazette lists caretaking, professional estate management, work exchange and house swapping opportunities in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The number one rule in any real estate search is location, location, location. Apply this same principle to your work life and you may not only find your dream house but the life you’ve been dreaming of as well!

 

Learn how you can Fast Track Your Dream of working at what you love on your own terms.

Did you like this article? Read more free articles about Changing Course.

About the Author

“Profiting From Your Passions®” expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman’s Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.


What Do You Really Want? The Inspiring Story of How One Woman Discovered Her True Desires and How You Can Too

We humans think we’re so darned smart. Fortunately, life has a way of reminding us that most of time we have no idea what we’re talking about. Let me tell you want I mean…

Think back over your life to all the times you “thought” you knew exactly what you wanted… the job you were just sure was perfect for you, the coveted promotion to senior whatever, the guy or girl back in junior high school that you just had to be with. At the time, you had total confidence in the trueness of your desires and were probably devastated when things didn’t go the way you wanted.

How do you feel about these unfulfilled desires today? I don’t know about you, but I’m relieved that I’m not spending my life with my first crush!

Fortunately life has way of whispering in our ear, “Hey, you’re going the wrong way” and suddenly you realize that, in fact, who or what you thought you wanted isn’t what you wanted at all… That is, if you’re willing to listen.

A recent email served as a vivid – and inspiring reminder – of what can happen when we carefully explore what we think we want, and are willing to shift gears at the arrival of new information. The email was from a vivacious woman named Peg who attended the recent Making Dreams Happen workshop out in Boulder, Colorado.

In a few minutes, I’d like to tell you more about how you too can enjoy Making Dreams Happen. For now I want you to hear in Peg’s own words how she came to discover her true desire… and the inspiring story of what she’s doing to make her dreams happen. Peg writes:

“I’ve loved reading about archaeology ever since I was about 10. I majored in anthro in college and always dreamed of going on a dig. I’d just always imagined that ‘sometime’ I’d find six months to spend on a dig in some marvelously exotic corner of the world – and of course that time never arrived. After the Boulder workshop, I figured, well, going on a dig is one dream that I can make happen now!

I had only a week of vacation left for the year, but I looked in the Earthwatch catalogue (http://www.Earthwatch.org) and to my surprise discovered a one-week dig session was available this fall. Even better, it was in New Mexico – one of my favorite places in the world and a spot I’d been yearning to go back and visit ever since spending time there in the 70s. So I called Earthwatch, learned there were still a couple of openings, and signed up. I leave Saturday morning!

The dig itself involves excavating Anasazi and Mimbres ruins in a river valley in southwestern New Mexico. I’ll be one of 12 volunteers on the crew, under the direction of two archaeologists who’ve been working in the valley for several years. We’ll excavate in the mornings, do lab work in the afternoons, hear talks and lectures in the evenings, sleep in tents, and eat meals in an adobe ranch house.

I’m so excited about it all! I’ve even loved doing the recommended reading this past month – I’ve been staying up too late reading books on Pueblo prehistory because I can’t put them down!

Anyway, this is not at all what I thought I’d get out of Boulder, but it’s certainly making life more interesting and fun! (And I’m happier at work, too.)

…I’ve been meaning to let you and the Barbaras know what a big (and
unexpected) impact the Boulder workshop had on me.

I went to Boulder feeling sure that I was ready for a big career change, but to my profound surprise, what I discovered was that, although I might be weary of some aspects of the corporate world, I was already doing work I loved – editing books for kids, with plenty of writing thrown in. When I really thought about it, I realized I had a more than [what Barbara Sher calls the] “good enough job,’ and that was a wonderfully liberating realization.

Then Barbara Sher asked me a question that proved to be key for me. She said, “Well, pretend you have five quintuplet sisters in your head. While you’re being an editor and a writer, what would they be doing?” Answers flew off my tongue – going on a dig, making furniture, weaving, etc., etc.

In the weeks after Boulder, I gradually arrived at a surprisingly clear sense that I really didn’t need or want to spend my energy thinking about changing careers or jobs, nor was I very interested in trying my hand at freelance writing/editing – I was doing enough writing and editing at work.

What I REALLY needed to do was make sure that I left my job at quitting time and started paying more attention to all those neglected sisters in my head!

So in addition to signing up for the dig (which feels so deeply right I can’t even tell you!), I took a knitting class for the sister that wants to create with her hands (and because I always wanted to learn to knit). I’m working on sweater #2 now, and I have yarn for the next one in my closet.

And I’m keeping my eyes and ears open for anything else that make me think, ‘That sounds like fun!’ or “I’ve always wanted to do that!” – that reaction has become my litmus test, my gold standard now. (Maybe the next thing on my list will be community theater. Just last week a coworker was telling me that she’s the stage manager and needs crew members…and ‘I’ve always wanted to do that!’)”

Peg’s email is such a wonderful illustration of why we need to tune into our true desires. It’s also an important reminder that our dreams are far to precious to ignore. And, as we in the northern hemisphere move into our winter darkness – and therefore for many, prime couch potato time – it’s also a wake up call to use our time on the planet in the service of our dreams.

But how do you know what it is you really want? If you’re like me, there’s a part of you that knows exactly what you want. You just need practice listening. Here’s a simple exercise to help you get into the habit of tuning into your true desires.

The exercise works best when you’re having trouble deciding between two choices. It could be deciding between two jobs, whether or not to relocate, or where to vacation. Got something in mind? Good, now flip a coin.

Don’t panic. I’m not suggesting you leave major life decisions to chance. The point of the exercise is to pay attention to how you “feel” about the outcome of the coin flip. If “heads” means move to Paris and “tails” means don’t go and the sight of tails makes your heart sink, start brushing up on your French. Because, deep down inside, you wanted to go to Paris all along. It was that the “rational” (“It’s crazy) or irrational (“It’s too scary”) part of you that was muddying the mental waters.

The point is this… When it comes to something as important as changing course, take the time to ask yourself what you really, truly want. Then tune into the messages life sends your way that confirm or clarify your desire. And if you discover that what you thought you wanted isn’t what you want after all, take a page from Peg’s book and be willing let go of the old goal and enthusiastically embrace the new.

Oh, and for all of you archeology buffs out there, here’s Peg’s update on the New Mexico dig:

“The dig was just great. We worked hard, but I really got to see what working on a dig involved. The team leaders took very good care of us and made sure the week was educational, enriching, and well-paced – and their passion for their work was inspiring. The other volunteers were enthusiastic and fun, and we worked every day in an incredibly beautiful spot. At night, we ate dinner by candlelight on the verandah of the ranch house and watched the stars come out and the Milky Way spill across the sky. All in all, it really was a dream come true. I’d love to do it again!”

 

Learn how you can Fast Track Your Dream of working at what you love on your own terms.

Did you like this article? Read more free articles about Changing Course.

About the Author

“Profiting From Your Passions®” expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman’s Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.

Reprint Permission

You may re-print these articles electronically, in print, or on your website providing the byline appears at the end of each article. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated. If your publication is sent via email send a copy to [email protected].

If your publication is mailed, please mail to Changing Course, 7 Ripley Road, Montague, MA 01351. If you publish the article(s) on a website, please email us a link to the article.


Page 19 of 20First...181920

Praise

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