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Got Courage?

Excerpt from the forthcoming book Redesigning Your Life.

pf_1“What would life be if we did not have the courage to attempt anything?” ~Vincent van Gogh

Picture this: You’re sitting on your couch, gazing out at the night sky, enjoying a nice cup of chamomile tea.  Your mind is wandering, you are daydreaming. (Yes, at night!)

Your thoughts turn to something you’ve always wanted to do.

Skydiving, perhaps? Moving to Bali? Becoming a freelancer or starting your own business?  Writing a blog about the meaning of life or your political views or about your adventures with cooking traditional Chinese dishes? You think: “It’s time to do something about this.  What am I waiting for?  I’m going to put together a plan right now and start letting people know that I’m finally doing it!” You feel excitement.  Super-strong motivation.  This is fun!

Then suddenly it strikes!

And you know it has, because your stomach feels twisty, your chest is tight, your palms are sweating.  Your motivation level drops to an all-time low! You are suddenly overcome by…

Fear!

Fear of the unknown, fear of being hurt, fear of being criticized, fear of exposing yourself. Fear of being vulnerable.  I looked up the definition of fear this morning, and this is what I found:

  1. noun: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
  2. verb: to be uneasy or apprehensive about.
  3. reality: something that holds us back from doing the things we really want to do; often unhealthy and stressful; a great big annoyance.

(Okay, I made up definition #3! But it’s true, isn’t it?) Fear is an insidious thing.  It comes in all shapes and sizes, and often disguises itself as logic or high standards.  We think: “Oh, it doesn’t make sense to leave a job with benefits behind. That would be foolish.” Or: “I just wouldn’t be able to do it justice. I would need a lot more practice first, and where would I find the time?” Or, we feel it wouldn’t be fair to “others.”  It would be inconvenient for them.  So we shelve our plans till the time is right.

We all feel the fear at times. 

It’s a more or less natural part of being human; the survival instinct is a strong one.  If we feel in danger, our natural inclination is to back away slowly and then run to safety as fast as we can!

But what’s the real danger here?

Who is most likely to be hurt if we do not pursue our dreams?  The first and most obvious answer is: we are.  Be it a dull ache or a sharp pain, conscious or not, we will carry it with us throughout our lifetime.  That’s how unrealized potential feels.

Yuck!

Beyond ourselves though, there’s a cast of thousands who will also feel the hurt.  Aware of it or not, they’re waiting for us to share our gifts with them. Whether our gift is teaching or healing or crafting or building or inventing or guiding or inspiring.  Or dancing or playing baseball, building a new social media platform, or horse breeding. Whatever your gifts, there is someone out there who needs them. Just as we need the gifts of others.

Consider the curious case of Vincent van Gogh.

vangoghAlthough he struggled personally and financially in his lifetime, his collective works changed the world forever.  His legacy of beauty and inspiration is incalculable.

But he didn’t go instantly from thoughts of becoming a painter to being a one-of-a-kind artistic genius.  Vincent had fears and obstacles, the disapproval of his father, and trouble putting enough money together for his paints.

He was not the most socially adept person on the planet, and this led him to painful relationship issues.

So, how did he capture the world and reflect it back so uniquely?

He practiced.

He experimented.

He failed.

He learned from his failures.

He questioned his abilities. He feared he would never achieve what he had set out to do.

Yet, he kept trying.

He found a support partner and sponsor in his brother Theo.

He actively studied the masters, including his contemporaries.

He followed his passion.

He moved to Paris, the hub of his artistic universe, then followed the light to Provence.

He spent a great deal of time in nature.

Most importantly?

He didn’t wait!

Vincent van Gogh died at the age of 37.

It’s hard to imagine a world without his Starry Night or Sunflowers.

What if he had waited?

You may be thinking: “Hey, he was a genius, he was born that way.  Not everyone can do something like that.”  But you know what?  You have your own unique genius. You have something in you that no one else has or will ever have.

So when you feel drawn to pursue a passion, go for it!

It may be scary, you may stumble and fall. (We all do!)

But if you strive to follow the “Vincent Path” — moving through the fear, practicing, experimenting, failing, trying again; and most importantly, starting now — your gifts will unfold and develop in the most delightful ways.

And then…the excitement and motivation will return.

This is fun!

Enjoy!


The Secret to Finding a GREAT Business Idea

bigstock-Blueprint-of-bulb-lamp-Styliz-58749746The Nobel Prize winning scientist and humanitarian Linus Pauling said, “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”

After all, the more paths you have to get where you want to go, the better your odds of getting there.

In fact, in my two decades at Changing Course I’ve found that next to fear, the biggest thing keeping people trapped in job jail is lack of ideas.

And that’s a shame.

Because if your dream is to have a portable business so you can live and work from anywhere…

Or if you crave ditching the cubicle to work from home as I do…

Or if you want to find a way you to get paid for your creativity or your writing…

Or you otherwise want to be your own boss – then a great idea is your ticket to freedom.

For instance, last week I posted seven unique ways you – or someone – could cash in on the booming wedding industry.

I say “someone” because the fact is it’s always easier to come up with ideas for other people.

Which is actually very good news.

Because if you search only for cool business ideas for yourself, then you run the very real risk that opportunity will pass you by.

Let me explain…

Why You Need To Be An Idea Junkie

If you opted to skip the wedding article because you have zero interest in a wedding-themed business – then you are missing not only the point but you are also potentially missing the boat to freedom.

fearThat’s because when you only look for ideas for yourself, then you’re far more apt to hit a wall.

Maybe it’s the “That will never work” wall…

Or, the “I can’t make enough money doing that” wall…

Or, the “But I don’t have any experience” wall…

Sound familiar?

But when you get in the habit of seeing money-making opportunities unrelated to your unique gifts or interests, you are fearless.

And because there are no walls, you’re more receptive to possibility.

Knowing that things are possible, you’ll also see how one great idea can lead to another!

And before long, you’ll find the perfect path for you.

Share the Wealth

Ideas are meant to be shared.

Thankfully, many of your fellow travelers on the road to right livelihood not only read the wedding article, but they know how fun it can be to brainstorm with others – if even virtually.

dollarinhandFive generous souls took up the Brainstorm Nation challenge and posted their own money-making ideas for all of us.

Handy with a sewing machine? Debra suggests you could make custom bridal headpieces, purses, garters, and ring bear pillows.

Lee Ann Vermeulen-Roberts from Holland by way of California took a different approach.

Being a singer, songwriter, musician, and creativity coach herself, Lee Ann naturally came up with performing live music (singing or instrumental) during the ceremony itself or being a DJ at reception.

Once you have a great idea, you need to know where to start.

So building on the helpful resources already in the article Debbie DiClaudio Orwat from Colorado posted:

If you want to be a wedding planner PlannersLounge.com has a lot of free information and articles on getting started.

Finally, for Denise Washington the wedding theme was personal – and timely!

If you have a knack for finding bargains, and you enjoy entertaining on the cheap, Denise shared a great idea for a profitable and FUN niche.

brideYou see Denise is getting married on July 24th and wisely she is doing her wedding on a budget.

So she knows first-hand that some people can or choose to drop $50,000 to well over a million dollars on their wedding, for others there is a real need for budget wedding planners and coordinators who know how to put on an event for $15K or less that still looks nice.

And Debbie adds, there is also a need for wedding planners/coordinators who specialize in showing people how to do-it-yourself (DIY) regarding flowers, dresses, decorations, and the like.

But our bride-to-be didn’t stop there. Denise generously offered not one, not two, but NINE more income-generating ideas!

1. Wedding vows writer
2. Graphic designer for programs, invites, placeholders, etc.
3. Wedding toasts writer
4. Engagement and/or wedding scrapbook (digital or printed) creator
5. Wedding day video production
6. Engagement story video production
7. Silk flowers floral arrangements and bouquets
8. Specialty garter belts
9. Offbeat wedding coordinator (roller derby, superheroes, zombie)

You see there truly is no shortage of ways to make money doing what you love!

Tap A Tribe of Idea Generators

freshideasStill I know there are lots more ways to cash in on the booming wedding industry. And when it comes to brainstorming, more brains are always better than one!

And who better to tap than people who get paid to come up with neat business ideas?

So I headed over to the private Facebook page for graduates of the Profiting From Your Passions® coach training to get their thoughts.

Cathy Summers of Inspired 4 Life Coaching in the UK also had a musical idea. But instead of singing at the ceremony, she suggested organizing an entire chorus.

childrenschoirWhen I read Cathy’s pitch to the happy couple to “hire your own chorus of angels,” I thought hmmm, wouldn’t it be interesting to organize a children’s choir! You make money as the organizer and the kids learn the value of earning their own money too.

For planner types, Cathy also suggested hanging out your shingle as a travel planner to design and run local excursions and otherwise manage travel for out of town guests.

Someone who knows a lot about weddings is Tim Grover the Career Optioneer at Changing Life Bulbs. That’s because for 25 years prior to changing course, Tim owned his own DJ service.

Since leaving the business, he’s observed a few new trends other aspiring DJs could offer. Like playing music videos in the background, bringing in a live drummer (presumably to give more of a live feel to recorded music), and providing tambourines and cowbells for guests to get into the act.

Finally, building on Denise’s pre-wedding video ideas, LA-based Solo-Entrepreneurship coach Susan Baker of EscapeHatcher.com wrote:

…my hubby is an editor and I have a background as a producer so our wedding video was editing together and interspersed with in depth interviews with both of us as well as b-roll [background shots or video of the couple] – I suspect this would be a huge hit with other couples.

Turns out Dr. Pauling was right.

The best way to have a good idea truly IS to have lots of ideas – and a Tribe of idea generators in your corner doesn’t hurt either!

It’s why I chose as my company motto: Changing Course begins with a great idea.

Armed with an idea you then need the courage to act on it.

If fear is holding you back, you’re in luck!

Keep your eye out on Monday for a great article on courage by another graduate of the Profiting From Your Passions® program — Redesign Strategist Peggy Fall of RedesignYourLife.com.

And if you love coming up with small business ideas like Cathy, Tim, Susan, and Peggy, stay tuned!

Summer School for the Profiting From Your Passions® training program begins in July.

For more information on this first and only class for people who want to get paid to brainstorm sign up here now to get on the early notification list.

Join the Brainstorm Nation Family! 

Do you have additional ideas for self-bossers who want to break into the wedding business?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post!

Don’t use Facebook? Just scroll to the bottom of this page to post your ideas!


Want to Live Happily Ever After? Start a Wedding Business!

Placing_a_wedding_ringWith all the talk from some about how marriage is “under siege,” you’d think it was a dying institution. Nonsense!

In fact, the wedding industry is booming. And with 2.5 million weddings being celebrated last year, there’s never been a better time to launch a business catering to happy couples!

So how did an industry that’s been around for over a century become red hot again?

Demographics and Cultural Shifts = Opportunity

Part of the credit goes to the Millennial Generation, or what statisticians call “Baby Boom 2.0.”

Since the late 1980s, the US birth rate has surpassed 4 million a year, the threshold that is officially considered a baby boom. The first wave of this demographic group is now in their mid to late 20s so just entering the marriage market.

Another major shift is marriage equality.

Currently more than 70 percent of the US population lives in jurisdictions where same sex-couples can legally marry.

And 19 countries – the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, Britain, Luxembourg, Finland and Ireland – outright acknowledge same-sex marriage.

moneytreeThis seismic shift in social attitudes toward the GLBT community has a huge financial upside.

In the first year of legalization alone, gay couples made up 17% of the total weddings in Washington State. According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, same-sex weddings infused $39 million into Washington’s economy – and that only includes couples who actually reside in the state.

Both same-sex couples and Millennials are statistically a little older when they marry and thus have higher incomes.

That means they have a bigger budget to spend on all the bells and whistles – fancy catering, posh venues, and other amenities.

They’re also more likely to want a unique wedding that expresses their personal values and interests.

And current or aspiring small business owners are perfectly positioned to reap the benefits, especially if you can offer a niche service or product.

You already know the obvious ones… wedding photographers, florists, and caterers.

If any of these float your boat, there’s always room for talented people to join in the fun.

In fact, if you’re highly organized, love managing projects, and are a romantic at heart you can train to become a certified wedding planner. Click here for a list of schools.

At the same time there are lots of other, less obvious ways you can grab your share of the $100 billion wedding industry.

Maybe one of these 7 ideas may be your perfect full or side-line business:

  1. Wedding tableDay-of-Event Coordinator – If you are highly organized but don’t want the responsibility of organizing an entire wedding consider hanging out your shingle as a Day-of-Event Coordinator.
    spacer
    Unlike a traditional wedding planner, a Day-of-Event Coordinator specializes in running the show on the big day, making sure things run smoothly and preventing wedding-day disasters.
  1. Wedding Officiant – A number of online interfaith organizations will ordain you as a minister, entitling you to legally perform marriage ceremonies.
    spacer
    At WeddingOfficiants.com I learned you can make up to $1,000 for a single wedding. During the busy summer season you could easily officiate two or more weddings a week. Cha-ching!Obviously prices vary regionally. When I entered my zip code I found local officiant Amanda Brown whose fees to preside over a wedding and write the service start at $550.There’s more to officiating weddings than understanding scripture or asking objectors to speak now or forever hold their peace.Which is why, it may be worthwhile for you to check out the training offered by the Celebrant Institute. (A very outside the box idea itself – and one with room for competition… from you!)Using Amanda’s fee as an example, the $2,400 you’d pay to be trained by the Celebrant Institute would be recouped after officiating just four weddings.

    Plus you can deduct the cost of the training as a business expense. Sweet!

    And for couples who are outside your geographic range or for do-it-yourselfers, you could always follow Amanda’s wise example and create a Do It Yourself (DIY) course on UDEMY on how to write your own wedding ceremony.

  1. Same-Sex Wedding Consultant –That means the demand for wedding consultants who know the ropes for same-sex couples is skyrocketing.
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    A same-sex wedding expert can recommend officiants and venues for the ceremony and can refer the couple to specific vendors who are gay-friendly.Live in a state or country that bans gay marriages? Remember, problem = opportunity.In these locations you could perhaps specialize in destination weddings and “Elopement Packages,” including travel, accommodations, and touring.
  1. "Dancing lesson 16507650" by Jerry Daykin from Cambridge, United Kingdom, upload by Herrick - IMG_0975. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dancing_lesson_16507650.jpg#/media/File:Dancing_lesson_16507650.jpgPrivate Dance Lessons – Have a background in dance? More and more people are seeking out instructors for private classes for the couple (or perhaps a group class for the wedding party) who want to make a big impression when they hit the dance floor at the reception.
    spacer
    Here again prices vary.In pricey London it appears you can fetch £80 for a single hour to as much as £495 for more sessions. (In dollars that’s around $89-$550).For the same number of lessons in Billings, Montana you can ask $48-$335.
  1. Pre-Wedding Boot Camp – Everyone wants to look their best for the big event. Services offered might include fitness training, teeth whitening, skin treatments, and hair removal.
    spacer
    If you don’t have the skills or licensing to provide hair and makeup services on the actual wedding day then partner with practitioners who can.
  1. Start a Wedding Website – If you’re tech savvy then create a website as an aggregator for wedding information and tips and/or to match couples with local vendors.
    spacer
    The vendors pay a fee to be on the site and you can earn more cash as an affiliate or by accepting ads.
  1. Close Up Of Detail On Wedding Breakfast Dining Table Setting WitCreate a coordinated wedding themeNot just old-fashioned stationery – more like personalized branding complete with a custom wedding theme for stationery, table linens, even decorative banners.

Thanks to social and cultural shifts, the wedding industry is hot again. And with such a wide range of opportunities, there’s something for every aspiring entrepreneur.

Join the Brainstorm Nation Family! 

Do you have additional ideas for self-bossers who want to break into the wedding business?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post!

Don’t use Facebook? Just scroll to the bottom of this page to post your ideas!


7 Ways to Cash In On the College Market

students

I just returned from on a whirlwind 5-city speaking tour in beautiful British Columbia.

Coincidentally, my topic – the impostor syndrome – was also a major theme of actress Natalie Portman’s Commencement address at her alma mater, Harvard.

May is the time when millions of students graduate from college.

And if you want to be your own boss, May should also be the time when you start thinking about creative ways to tap the college market.

Within a 10 mile radius of my home are three Ivy League colleges, a small super expensive private college, and a large state university.

If you live near a college you know how much the student population contributes to your local economy.

If you want to be your own boss, then these same students can boost your personal economy as well!

There are lots of ways to profit from the lucrative student or faculty market. Here are 7 ideas to get you started.

Sell to Parents

Conventional business wisdom says to avoid a target market that lacks a lot of disposable income. When it comes to college students however, you’ll want to ignore that rule.

For one, there are plenty of students attending elite schools who have money to spend.

More importantly, there will always be parents with both the desire and the financial means to provide every advantage for their pampered offspring.

So let’s begin with ideas aimed primarily at parents of current or college bound students.

1. Private admissions consultant Competition at elite colleges and universities is fierce. So much so that according to USA Today, there’s a huge surge in parents are willing to plunk down as much as $3,000 for a “private admissions consultant” to assist with their kids’ college application. How huge? In 2013, 26% of applicants to Stanford University hired a consultant – triple the number from just a decade earlier.

Man underwear2. Student concierge Wealthy parents are eager to eliminate anything that might otherwise distract their child from his or her studies. Enter Lana Drew’s Student Concierge Service.

Parents of students attending elite Brown University and other colleges in Providence, Rhode Island tap Lana’s “Lifestyle Management” services to do anything from moving into dorms to handling dry cleaning and laundry to installing a sound system. Her company even has doctors, attorneys, and bankers on call to assist her client’s offspring as needed.Clearly aimed at wealthy parents who will gladly pay to give their kid every possible advantage, Lana’s concierge services start at a whopping $2,500 a semester and can go much higher.

3. Care package creator  CarePackages.com understands that virtually all parents (and grandparents) want to make college life a little easier – and fun. The site offers an assortment of care packages for different occasions like new students, final exam period and Sample cpa exam questions, or graduation.There’s definitely room in this space for you to put together your own care packages of healthy snacks or junk food, toys, birthday cakes, funny t-shirts, gift certificates to a local yoga studio, iTunes… get creative!

duster-with-glove_M11i8PKu4. Dorm cleaning service – College janitorial services are typically limited to bathrooms, hallways, and other public areas. A lot of students with dorm or fraternity/sorority rooms that resemble those in the film Animal House would love to hire someone to clean up.

Since they’re small, dorm rooms can be cleaned quickly. And if parents aren’t willing to cover the cost then suite occupants may be willing to split it.

If you don’t want to do the actual cleaning yourself then build on the Dorm Mom app model and find local students to do the work.

5. Tutor If you’re knowledgeable in a particular academic subject, earn money helping a struggling student pass a class. If you’re targeting undergraduates, marketing-wise you may want to target the paying parent, it may be the parent footing the bill.

When I was studying for the Graduate Entrance Exam (GRE) I personally hired a math tutor to help me brush up on my algebra and geometry.

So don’t forget to tap all those students either applying for advanced degree programs or who need to pass final licensing exams also need help preparing for the various examinations.

If you don’t want to deal with promoting your services yourself then sign up with a clearing house like Take Lessons. Algebra tutors on their site get paid $15-$35 for 30 minutes of tutoring.

Push pin on sudy text6. Coach ADD/ADHD/autistic students – Most schools have on-site professionals to assist with students with a variety of special needs including attention deficit and/or hyperactivity or autism.

That said, there’s plenty of room for customized private coaching for those students who need one-to-one help to negotiate the maze of university bureaucracy, deal with the social and academic demands of college, manage money, stay fit, and juggle laundry and other chores new to many young people out on their for the first time.

Parents are already paying through the nose for tuition. What’s another $200-$500 a month to ensure their son or daughter graduates?

7. Career advising for lost students – Imagine spending a small fortune on your kid’s tuition only to have him or her drop out, flunk out, or graduate but still be utterly directionless.

My friends Tim and Martha were dismayed when their daughter Katie flunked out of her pricey private high school. So they sent her to a private career counselor.

In addition to doing a bunch of testing, the counselor arranged for Katie to spend a month with a volunteer organization in Latin America as well as other experiential outings.

The bill… $3,000 plus the cost of travel!

Once again, you don’t need to be the one providing the counseling. You just need to find the counselors and promote and manage the business.

With 21 million college students in the US and another 1.7 in Canada, there’s ample opportunity to cash in on students — and their paying parents.

And since college doesn’t start up again until the fall, that gives you a full three months to start putting your ideas in place. So… what are you waiting for? Your future profit center is waiting for you!

We’d Love to Hear From You

Have another idea for tapping the lucrative college market? Share it with your fellow Changing Course change seekers here!

If you don’t use Facebook, just scroll down to post there.

The best idea will receive a FREE copy of Being Realistic is Killing Your Dream (a $19 value)


How to Get Away With Murdering Your Dream

In my two decades at Changing Course I’ve grieved the premature death of hundreds of perfectly viable business ideas.

Ideas which were totally possible – some even brilliant.

Ideas which if acted upon could have sprung their owners from job jail and made a difference in the world as well.

But sadly their owner let them perish.

There are a lot of ways to kill a dream.

For instance you can believe all those life-long cubicle dwellers who love to tell you that being your own boss is just a pipe dream.

Or you can become so overwhelmed with the thought of acting on your great idea that all you want to do is zone out in front of the television.

Or you can become consumed with the “what ifs.”

  • What if no one likes, wants, or buys my stuff?
  • What if I fall flat on my face?
  • What if I don’t know enough or am not smart enough to pull it off?

So much so that you never pause to consider what your life will be like in the far more likely event that you actually succeed!

There are dozens more of course. But by far the most common way to get away with murdering your dream is to simply keep it to yourself.

After all, if no one ever knows about your big idea they can’t possibly judge it – or you.

If you don’t share your business plan then no one will know that you didn’t lift a single finger to get it off the launch pad.

If you never let your idea see the light of day, never show your art or share your writing then no one will expect anything from you.

In other words, when you’re accountable only to yourself, then there’s no real consequence for failing to follow through.

That is of course other than spending the next ten or twenty years stuck in a job-job. 

If you think that’s too high a price to pay, then you have a choice. You can continue to slowly starve your dream to death through sheer neglect.

Or you can decide to get off the misery-go-round.

If you wisely chose the latter, here are two simple steps you can take right this very minute.

Step 1: Publicly Declare Your Intention

For five years I produced a wonderful workshop called Work at What You Love which I also co-led with and my good friend and author of Making a Living Without a Job Barbara Winter.

make your dreams come true - motivational slogan on a napkin witIn the final hour of this multi-day seminar participants were instructed to stand and publicly declare an intention. One by one upwards of 150 people rose microphone in hand to publicly give voice to their dream.

And now you can too.



The ground rules of a public declaration are simple:

  • It must be summarized in one sentence.
  • It can’t begin with “I’d like to…” or “Maybe I will…” or “It would be great if I could….” Instead, your declaration must begin with the words “I’m going to___”
  • It must include a commitment to act.

Some of the intentions shared over the years are downright inspiring!

“I’m going to be the penguin expert on a tour of the Galapagos.”

“I’m going to open a bakery-café that caters to stay at home parents and their kids.”

“I’m going to spend six months every year in the south of France.”

“I’m going to write the biography of my grandfather’s life.”

“I’m going to move to an island and open a bike repair shop.”

So you have a choice. You can murder your idea and no one will ever know.

Or you breathe life into your dream by scrolling down to either the Facebook OR the general comments section to make your own public declaration now.

Step 2: Find people who want to see your idea succeed as much as you do

The forces of fear, self-doubt, and overwhelm are mighty. That’s why you need a team of people who want to see you realize your dream as much as you do.

People who will be there to support one another, to hold each other accountable for making slow steady progress, to offer new ideas and solutions, to help one another overcome the inevitable setbacks, and to celebrate the wins big and small.

It’s interesting. Left on your own and you can feel hopeless.

But when you’re in a group like this, somehow you feel empowered. You become almost “bigger” than you usually are.

You feel a confidence that’s sometimes impossible to muster on your own. Yet with this network of supporters cheering you on, you’re inspired to go on… to plow ahead with a certain audacity that you might not normally feel you have in you.

As importantly, your productivity will soar. With a dream team behind you, you will get more done in six months than you would otherwise accomplish in six years!
Group Of Business People Are Focused On The JobThe people on your dream team can be friends, like-minded co-workers, even total strangers. You can meet in person or via conference call.

Regardless of who’s in your group or how you communicate the key is commitment. To truly succeed your dream team must commit to meeting weekly for no less than six months.

I’ve been a member in three business-building groups myself and each one has helped me grow in leaps and bounds.

I’m so convinced of the power of having a “mastermind” behind you that I recently created a formal Changing Course Dream Team.

The people who’ve already joined a dream team did so as a result of signing up for the recent Work @ What You Love workshop. (If you missed it and still want to take the class, you have until February 14 to get the complete webinar recordings.)

You don’t need to have attended Work at What You Love to join a Dream Team. That’s why I’m opening up the Dream Teams to my larger Changing Course newsletter readership.

These Dream Teams are set to begin in the next two weeks.

Right now there only 5 spots left. Once you sign up you can select your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice from various days and times.

Don’t murder your dream. Instead take a moment now to learn how you can join a Changing Course support group and to discover 5 ways a dream team can help you achieve your dream.

Even if a dream team is not for you, I encourage you to scroll down this page to publically declare your intention today. After all, a dream is a terrible thing to waste!

I hope you enjoyed this preview and I hope to see YOU in a dream team!


There Are No Coincidences

 
I’m not one to throw around words like “magical.”

But time and again I’ve seen what happens when people step into their dreams.

The smallest step can lead to pure magic.

Take Stephanie.

We were barely into our Find My Perfect Business coaching session when Stephanie made an off-handed reference to a dream she’d long abandoned.

That’s when I learned of her decades-long fascination with the world of public policy – an interest sparked by her high school boyfriend.

The topic continued to tug at her heart… and so did the old boyfriend.

As she talked, Stephanie’s entire voice changed. She was animated, excited… happy.

I was instantly reminded of something 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.”

But Stephanie followed a different path and spent the last twenty years in the mental health field.

She was convinced it was just too late to transition into policy making. For starters she really didn’t want to go back to school for yet another masters’ degree.

Besides, even if she could break in, she lives in the Midwest and the vast majority of policy jobs are in Washington DC.

Stephanie was not opposed to moving. It’s just that her other lifelong dream was to live by a lake.

Neither of Stephanie’s dreams looked promising. Or so she thought…

I challenged Stephanie to back up her discouragement with actual facts by researching the question, “how to get into public policy.”

To further light a fire under her I issued a two week deadline.

Stephanie sprang into action!

She began reading books and articles.

She called think tanks and set up multiple informational interviews with people working in the field.

She found, and then promptly joined, a public policy group that advocates on behalf of people touched by mental illness.

Not only was a pricey public policy degree not necessary to enter this field, but her new peers were so impressed with Stephanie’s mental health credentials; they invited her to chair the group!

It gets better!

Stephanie also discovered a prestigious public policy center located two hours from home – and it’s on a lake!

And in another remarkable twist of fate, after not seeing her old high school boyfriend for decades Stephanie bumped into him in a parking lot!

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote,

“At The Moment Of Commitment The Entire Universe Conspires To Assist You.”

Goethe understood amazing things happen when you stop wishing and start acting.

Confusion makes way for the gift of clarity…

People come out of the woodwork to help you…

Answers that eluded you for years suddenly appear…

Experiences you never imagined possible are now available…

I am living proof.

I started the Changing Course newsletter in 1995 with a whopping two subscribers!

In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined where my business would take me.

12115_1That I’d sit down for an intimate Q&A with billionaire social entrepreneur and adventure seeker Sir Richard Branson.

Or that while in Los Angeles I’d attend a star-studded fundraiser Branson hosted called Rock the Kasbah.

(I managed to snap this photo of Branson chatting with Sharon Stone and this one of Paula Abdul.)

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There were other stars on hand – stars in the coaching and online world. People like Ali Brown and Mari Smith, Eban Paegan, Joe Polish and Yanik Silver.

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12115_7Starting out I could have never imaged meeting Gary Vaynerchuk (known to his 1.11 million Twitter followers as Gary Vee) at a New York cafe and picking his amazing entrepreneurial brain – something his corporate clients gladly pay $75,000 to be able to do.

Or that Arianna Huffington would personally email me to ask me to blog for the Huffington Post or that Forbes magazine editor Steve Forbes’ office would call for a signed copy of my book.

When I stood up to give my first very shaky public talk it was simply inconceivable that major corporations and universities like IBM, Procter & Gamble, Boeing, Harvard and Stanford would later pay me thousands of dollars to speak for a single hour.

Or that I’d land a six-figure book deal or that my book would go on to be published in five languages – including Russian.

Starting out – none of these things seemed possible. Now I know better.

“At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.”

And it all began with taking one small step.

Why not make today the day you step into your dream and see for yourself how even the smallest step can lead to pure magic.

And speaking of magic…

You still have two days to join the enthusiastic tribe of change seekers from as far away as New Zealand and Egypt who already signed on for the first-ever Work @ What You Love Virtual Weekend Workshop.

Join us live online. Or take the workshop on your own schedule. Your choice.

Either way, it’s an incredibly low cost way to open the door and let a little magic into your life!


The Biggest Regret of All 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.

worryI’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.

regretnothingWe 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 invite you to post it either in the Facebook comment section, or scroll down for the general comments area.

If one of your three utmost regrets is spending your life in a soul-sucking job, I have good news.

As I write this, 108 of your fellow change seekers from six countries and 32 states have signed on for the fast approaching Work @ What You Love Virtual Weekend Workshop.

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If you share the dream of finding your calling and a way to make money doing it in order to live a life where you get to calls the shots, then don’t worry…

You still have time to join us. The Early Bird 96% SAVINGS ends Tuesday, January 20th.

But don’t wait too long, because after midnight January 20th, the price DOUBLES.

Spending twice as much money is not the worse regret in life. But wouldn’t it be nice to invest the money you’ll save in the service of your dream?

Can’t Make the January 24-25 Dates?

No problem. You can still get access to the Work @ What You Love Roadmap.

For a limited time you can pre-order recordings of the entire 2-day workshop. That way you won’t miss a thing. Plus you can take the class on your own schedule and pace — and retake it as often as you like.

To make sure you get maximum value from the replay, you’ll also receive a complete set of the Work @ What You Love handouts.

Whether you join us live or you take the Work @ What You Love workshop on your own schedule… remember this:

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.


Yes You Can – And I Can Prove It

Fear… self-doubt… procrastination… Are these dream-busters keeping you from going after your dream of being your own boss?

Why wouldn’t they?

“By the time you’ve hit your 20’s,” says Walter Anderson, author of Courage is a Three Letter Word and The Greatest Risk of All, “you’ll have heard a whopping 25,000 ‘can’ts’.”

Twenty-five THOUSAND… that’s a lot of “can’ts.”

“You can’t work at what you love and make a good living.” “Impossible. Can’t be done.”

What most people call “reality” is a very poor place to nurture dreams… and to share them with others? Forget it.

Erma Bombeck once said, “It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”

Erma knew that other people’s fear, skepticism and negativity can be as contagious as the flu. And unless you’ve built up your immune system, these dream stompers can knock you – and your precious dreams – for a loop.

Don’t believe me? Try this at your next gathering…

Announce to your family and friends that you’ve decided to quit your job to become a writer… or a personal organizer… or do your art… or be an aroma-therapist… or flip houses… or pursue your love for history… or travel the world for a year… or whatever it is you’d love to do.

What do you think their reaction would be?

Would they encourage you to “go for it?” Or might it sound more like this…

“Yeah right, in your dreams.”  “It’ll never work.”  “Better to play it safe.”

If you listen to the naysayers out there, the message is loud and clear. Stay stuck, don’t even dare to hope, forget your dreams.

Is it any wonder you’re probably finding it hard to take control of your life and whole-heartedly pursue your dreams?

Think about how all the “It’ll never work,” “Forget your crazy dreams,” “You should be happy that you have a job,” messages have buried themselves deep into your psyche and affected how you see the world.

For example, if you sat down right now and took a personal inventory of your life, would your list look something like this?

  • cautionI’m miserable in my job. But it’s impossible to make any money doing what I love.
  • I feel like life is passing me by… but there’s nothing I can do about it.
  • I keep thinking there has to be more to life than this…. I suppose I should just forget my crazy dreams

Sound familiar? Okay, so what do you do?

Well, for starters you might want to think about what will happen if you do nothing.

Close your eyes and picture what your life will be like if you continue to be ruled by your fears and self-doubts and heed the red lights thrown up by your well-meaning family and friends.

In other words, imagine staying where you are right now… day after day, year after year dragging yourself through the work week until you retire.

Pretty scary isn’t it?

Now imagine feeling encouraged and empowered to go after your dream.

Picture yourself looking back at your life and basking in the self-satisfaction of knowing you went for it…. If you like the way that felt then you’ve already begun to experience how powerful it is to readjust your thinking. You see the thing is…

doorfieldIf you really want to create a more balanced, rewarding life doing work you truly love, you’ll need to create a mindset that will instantly turn ‘can’t’ into ‘can.’

There will always be dream dashers.

But the world is also full of people who believe in the power of a dream. You just need to find them.

Fortunately you don’t have to look all that far. A few years ago I compiled a book filled with the voices of just such people.

People like best-selling authors Barbara Sher and Barbara Winter, creativity expert Bob Baker, motivational speaker Steve Simms, and a dozen experts join a chorus of Changing Course readers who allowed me to share their success stories.

Think of Yes You Can as the inspirational kick in the pants you need to take control of your life and go after your dreams.

It’s a message I deemed so important that I’m giving a free copy of Yes You Can away to all the people who’ve been signing up for an online workshop I’m leading called Work @ What You Love.

WWL-VirtualGifting Yes You Can is my way of rewarding you for taking decisive action to turn can’t into can. There’s still time to get yours, but you must act by Thursday, January 15th at 4PM(16:00).

I hope you can join the enthusiastic tribe of change seekers who’ve already registered to attend Work @ What You Love.

There’s just no better way to adjust your mindset than by “hanging out” with people who know how to guide you along your path and give you that inspirational jolt you need to realize that yes you can.

On any given day we all need help remembering this – myself included.

It’s why as a child Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez’s father told her to start each day with this single thought…

“Today is going to be a great day. I can, I will.”

WWL-VirtualThe Half Price Early Bird Price is Still Available – But the Yes You Can Bonus Offer (a $29 Value) Ends Today

 


Remembering My Boy Cokie “Roberts”

If you are a long time subscriber of the Changing Course newsletter than you will no doubt recall this early photo of Cokie and me that appeared in each issue.

We were both a lot younger then!

Cokie was a fixture at the “Work at What You Love” workshop/retreats that I used to hold in the living room of my former home in Montague Massachusetts.

Mostly he just hung out while the participants were busy making plans for how to make a living with a j-o-b.
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Other times he preferred to share the teacher’s chair and actively participate in the discussion.



But I’ll let Cokie tell you in his own way, what he loved most about these gatherings…

He was just a year and half when I took him home from a no-kill shelter. The staff there had named him Pokie.

I suppose it was because whereas every other dog would run at the sight of food, Cokie would take his oh-so-sweet time making his way to his dish.

You’d have to really be a dog lover to watch this next video. With that warning, here’s Cokie NOT rushing to his dish.

In fact he was almost never in a rush. Unless that is, there was a squirrel involved. Then he was, I used to tell him, faster than a greyhound!

I wasn’t crazy about the name “Pokie.” At the same time I also didn’t want to confuse him with an entirely new one. So I settled on Cokie.

Despite being a boy, just for fun I added “Roberts” onto his name in honor of a longtime favorite NPR correspondent, Cokie Roberts.

I must admit I did take adolescent humor in the annual call from the vet’s office reminding me about using best vacuum cleaner for pet hair is the best way to please bring in a stool sample from Cokie Roberts. Although I’ve never shared this with Ms. Roberts, I like to think she’d be amused.

Cokie offered many life lessons – like during our morning “delicious selection of treats” ritual

When I first got Cokie there were no cameras in cell phones. In fact, there were no cell phones!
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I have some earlier photos of him packed away somewhere.

But finding them and then figuring out how to use my new scanner? Well, that’s just more than my brain can handle today.

Instead here are a few favorites from the last 7 years…

Waiting for the vet… It was not his favorite place (understatement) yet I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Diamond and the team at Valley Veterinary.

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He’d much rather be in his bed…

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Preferably dreaming…

Or sledding with the dog sitter (who knew!)

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Or snuggling on the couch…

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I used to always tell Cokie he was “smarter and braver than Lassie.” You decide…

Good Boy! He got it right!

Like any self-bosser, Cokie worked really hard!

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Yet Cokie still found time to hang out with his many friends.

This is him with his girlfriend Megan. (He always liked older women.)

In fact, the minute I said her name, Cokie would immediately cock his head trying to understand… Is she here? Are we going there? Where’s Megan?!

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And waiting at the door with his hiking pal Mercie.

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Cokie even loved cats.

In fact a neighbor’s cat used to rub up against him purring and licking his ears.

Apparently mistaking the cat’s “advances” Cokie tried to have “relations” with her.

When I asked my vet if this was normal behavior in dogs he answered with an emphatic “No.”

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Cokie’s first toy was a monkey.

So after that all toys were known as monkeys. He had a cow monkey, a giraffe monkey, a bear monkey…

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Some years before she passed away my mother admired this porcelain dog she saw in a store in Vermont. So my sister Susan surprised her with it.

Though my mother never got to meet Cokie, the resemblance to my future dog is remarkable – even the same red collar!

My dad recently gave me the statue. At first I couldn’t bear to see it. It was too soon. Today his look-alike sits in my office. In the spring I may put it on his grave.

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Finally, two of my favorite photos: Basking in the sun on the porch at the old house in Montague.

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I guess like his “Mom,” Cokie understood that life is all about taking the long view.

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Thanks for letting me share these thoughts and images of Cokie.

Mostly, thank you for letting me share him with all of you for the past 14 years. You rock.

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5 Ways to Fund Your Dream Part 2

When it comes to changing course, money – or rather the lack of it – stops a lot of people in their tracks.

So to help, I’ve put together a five-part series on creative ways to fund your dream.

You may not be able to take advantage of every idea or resource. In fact, none of the five ideas may be right for you and your personal situation. You need to read them anyway. Why?

First, the strategy that may not be a fit for you today may indeed be the one that launches your dream a few years from now.

Second, just knowing that options truly do exist will remind you that your crazy dream is not so crazy after all.

And finally, one of the ideas or resources you see here may be perfect for someone you know. Pass it on and you just might change a life!

Strategy #2: Get Your Priorities Right

Comedian and actor Chris Rock remarked in an interview, “Having money doesn’t make you rich. Having options makes you rich.”

Arianne and Scott Bennett didn’t have either. The couple desperately wanted to travel. But they didn’t have any expendable income.

However they were both able to afford their $4.50 pack a day cigarette habit. Smoking had become a priority.

So in 1998 they both decided to quit and stash the money they saved into a travel fund. Ten months later the couple had enough money to fly to Amsterdam where some friends had recently moved. Check the e cigarette reviews

falafelThey loved the canals and the old world charm. But what Arianne and Scott really fell in love with were the many falafel shops. So they returned to the states to open their first Amsterdam Falafel shop and today run a booming franchise business.

Arianne and Scott’s dream began with a simple decision to put their money into something that would bring them joy. Can you say that about where your money goes?

If not, where can you cut back? Could you cancel or downgrade a pricey cable bill. Pack your lunch. Skip the daily latte. Whatever you do be sure you redirect the money you save into a special Dream Account.

For my friends Linda and Waino saving money isn’t a strategy. It’s a lifestyle.

Throughout his life Waino had a series of low-paying jobs, including school bus driver and hired hand at a dairy farm. Linda started out as an English teacher but soon discovered a love of making pottery.

For the last 30 years she’s thrown pots in her well-lit basement studio. In the spring and fall, Linda teaches pottery classes at a local college. And for a few weeks each summer, she runs classes for kids in her studio.

Of course like everyone, there are times when, Linda feels pressured by the demands for her work. But while her employed friends get a measly 2-3 weeks of vacation, Linda takes ten.

Freshly-Harvested-VegetablesThe couple grows much of their own food. So she takes three weeks off in May to plant their massive vegetable garden. The entire month of August is spent reading books, playing cards, and swimming at a rustic cottage on a remote lake in Maine that the couple own with Linda’s sister and her husband.

After a hectic few month run up to the busy Christmas craft season Linda takes three weeks off in January to cross country ski from her front door and to catch up on things around the house.

This isn’t Linda’s only vacation time. In the last few years she and Hanne Eidberg cross-country skied their way across a part of Switzerland, spent a week with other long-time friends and me in Cozumel Mexico, and last year she accompanied a friend to Ecuador.

Did I mention that Linda and Waino’s combined income has never been more than $50,000? If you’re wondering how they can do all of this and still afford to take over ten weeks off a year, it has everything to do with priorities.

The couple prides themselves on living a full but frugal life. Ardent environmentalists, they repair rather than replace, buy only what they need and for everything else they go used, barter with friends, or go without. They raise chickens for the eggs and grow and preserve a fair amount of their own food.

The mortgage on their small but comfortable home has long been paid off and they have more saved for retirement than the vast majority of those earning two-to-three times more.

If you live in pricy areas like New York City, Boston, or San Francisco it’s not always easy to live on less. So if you’re ready for a change of scenery, consider relocating to a more affordable place where your dollar will go much further.

cafeIf you’re up for re-prioritizing in a big way, you could always go international. Running an existing portable business or starting a new business in another country is actually pretty doable. There are ex-pats opening cafes, using Skype to continue to work with clients back home, and importing crafts and other products back home.

Getting a job in another country can be a major challenge, but it’s not impossible. The reason Linda went to Ecuador was to accompany a friend who couldn’t afford to retire in the U.S. and wanted to check things out. On her first visit the friend got a job teaching English and has since relocated there full-time.

You don’t have to retire to benefit from this list of best places to retire from International Living magazine.

Nor do you need to move, raise your own chickens or grow your own food. But, if you’re serious about finding a way to fund your dream – and enjoy more life – then consider ways you can live on less. In a word: Prioritize.

As Margaret Young said:

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.”

Strategy 1: Find a Contest Related to Your Dream and Enter It
Strategy 3: Make and Stash Some Extra Cash
Strategy 4: Barter
Strategy 5: Know Your Options


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