Meet Barbara Winter


Barbara J Winter is a pioneering self-employment advocate, writer and teacher who has spent the last twenty-five years pondering the question, “Why aren’t we all self-employed?” Helping others discover the Joyfully Jobless life is her favorite occupation. To readers of Read more

Benvenuto!


Buon viaggio….good journey. How nice to have you along. This blog has been a long time brewing. Hardly a day passes when I don’t come across a fascinating new business idea, inspiring story or useful resource and want to pass Read more

Why Self-help Doesn’t Help

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Last week I wrote an article for the upcoming  Winning Ways newsletter and mentioned that I’m not fond of the term self-help because it ignores the fact that it’s not truly a DIY project. It involves a teacher as well.

No matter what we call it, not everyone is getting the kind of results they anticipated. Here are some thoughts on how we can make the most of our personal growth excursions.

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When I first discovered the literature of personal growth and development, there weren’t many titles to choose from. Today there are thousands.

I always have a self-help book or two in my current reading pile, because there’s so much to learn.

However, the self-help movement has spawned plenty of dropouts. Why don’t all readers and seminar participants find this material helpful?

Here are some thoughts on that.

° Refuse to abandon skepticism. Hanging onto cherished beliefs is a guaranteed way to prevent growth.

“I tried that positive thinking stuff once. Didn’t work.” is the motto of the self-help dropout.

Simply reading a single book or attending one seminar is not going to produce visible change. It’s more a process of chipping away at limiting thoughts and behaviors that have taken hold over years.

Then there’s the woman I know who dismisses any personal growth suggestions with a quick,”I’ve already heard that.” With great discipline, I resist saying, “If your life doesn’t show it, you don’t really know it.”

° Exercises are too much trouble. Most of us think of reading as zooming from the beginning to the end of a book.

Self-help books invite us to slow down and take a slower journey. Exercises are like rest stops along the way, causing us to pause, reflect and apply.

° TMI Syndrome. It may seem like a good idea to gobble up as much information as you can.

Sign up for every guru’s mailing list. Be a perpetual seminar attendee.

However, too much information is as dangerous as too little. It causes confusion and leads to inaction.

° Right book at the wrong time. Personal growth is an evolutionary process and we expand our receptiveness one concept at a time.

Sometimes a book arrives ahead of our readiness. When that happens, don’t abandon personal growth. Try a different book.

° Miss the point. As Henry David Thoreau said, “A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”

Listening to a Wise Man

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During the years that I lived in Santa Barbara, I always looked forward to the annual writer’s conference. Although I never attended the entire program, I often showed up for the evening talks given by successful writers.

The highlight for me was opening night when the legendary Ray Bradbury was the conference kick-off speaker. He was so popular that he held that distinction for years.

Members of the audience were often treated to personal information such as the fact that he refused to travel by air and would only go places that could be reached by car or train.

It was also [...] Continue Reading…

13 Ways to Take a Creative Excursion

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Julia Cameron calls them Artist’s Dates. Sarah Ban Breathnach calls them Creative Excursions. Whatever you call them, they are worth making a regular event in your life.

“The Artist Date need not be overtly artistic,” says Cameron, “think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration.”

The purpose of such solo events is to take time every week to make a visit to a new place to gather ideas or just [...] Continue Reading…

A Step Back

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When Marla decided she wanted to leave her high-paying corporate job and start a small business, she feared it would be difficult to convince her musician husband of the wisdom of her plan. She carefully outlined her vision to him and waited for his response.

He considered what she said about living on a tighter budget and rearranging responsibilities and then replied, “Oh, so you’re saying we’ll move ahead by going backwards first.”

His insight is one that many people, unfortunately, lack.

But almost every dream worth going after demands a willingness to step back. That step can take many [...] Continue Reading…

A Short Story About a Long Success

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On July 15, 1993, I woke up feeling excited and apprehensive. The cause of this emotional turmoil had been years in the making. It was publication day for Making a Living Without a Job.

I had spent much of the previous year writing and rewriting and writing some more. But the story truly began decades earlier when I set out on my own rather lonely journey in self-employment.

My experience was very much like Paul Hawken’s who said, “When I started the natural food business in Boston, my business knowledge was scant. I did the best I could and began reading [...] Continue Reading…

Turning On Selective Awareness

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You’ve probably had the experience of coming across a new word, looking it up in the dictionary, then noticing that the word appears all over the place.

Or you start thinking about taking a trip to Paris and the next thing you know Woody Allen has a movie coming out called Midnight in Paris. A few days later, you strike up a conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop and they mention they’ve just come back from Paris.

While we often think of such happenings as synchronicity, I believe there’s another factor at work here. I call it selective awareness. [...] Continue Reading…

Signs of Prosperity

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My friend Chris and I loved an old cartoon in which Ziggy declared,  “My idea of prosperity is a checking account with commas.” We promptly adopted that as our prosperity symbol.

Feeling prosperous is a highly individual thing and each of us has a different notion of what constitutes prosperity.  For many people, alas, prosperity means having more than whatever they currently have.

It’s much healthier to find small reminders that we are creating abundance in our own lives. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

* You use up your deposit slips faster than you use your check blanks. (This [...] Continue Reading…

Why Self-help Doesn’t Always Help

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Nick Ortner, author of the wildly successful The Tapping Solution, recently wrote about encountering a powerful bit of advice. The words that got his attention were “who you spend time with…is who you become.”

He says, “I first heard this quote and concept over 15 years ago at a Tony Robbins weekend event. I was there by myself, having seen an advertisement for it while walking the streets of New York where I lived, and knowing I needed to do something different with my life.”

Of course, if you look at his life today as a bestselling author and sought after [...] Continue Reading…

In Praise of Creative Excursions

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Julia Cameron calls them Artist’s Dates. Sarah Ban Breathnach calls them creative excursions. Whatever you call them, they are worth making a regular event in your life.

“The Artist Date need not be overtly artistic,” says Cameron, “think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration.”

The purpose of such solo events is to take time every week to make a visit to a new place to gather ideas or just [...] Continue Reading…

Say It Again, Sam

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Leo Babauta once wrote about being criticized by some of his readers for repeating himself. He said, “Repetition is often thought of as a bad thing — never repeat yourself! But actually, repetition is a powerful tool for making changes.”

I totally agree. Here are some things I repeat to myself all the time.

You are what you take time to become.

Passion: enthusiasm that must take action.

Inspiration expands our horizons.

What we call failure is often just running out of patience.

What you don’t know can be learned—or hired.

Do not take advice from uninformed sources.

Inspired entrepreneurs laugh a lot.

Stop looking for formulas. Start looking for [...] Continue Reading…

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