During my brief stint as an employment counselor, I spent all day every day talking to people about jobs. It wasn’t usually a cheerful conversation.

Not only did most of these folks arrive at the Employment Service in a state of frustration, they seldom had any idea about what kind of job they wanted. “I’ll take anything,” is the career plan of the desperate.

Like so many of us, these folks considered work a necessary evil. In this perspective, a job was the price you paid to get the money you needed to buy the stuff you wanted. And it lasted a lifetime.

This sad notion about work is still wildly prevalent. A new book, Dying for a Paycheck, explores the hazards caused by the peril facing job holders today.

What a contrast that is to this observation from Frances Mayes about her life after leaving her college teaching job and becoming a writer who shares her passion for living in Italy. In Every Day in Tuscany she writes, “I rifle through my four project boxes, dreaming of several books I will write…Work like this feels like play.

“From living in Italy and seeing how people live and love, I saw that play is something you don’t always know you’ve lost in daily life. So much energy poured into my job.

“Leftover time seemed full of a lesser reward: enjoyment. But not play, the exuberant rush of fun that comes naturally to Italians. At home, many of the activities I planned for fun seemed like summer reruns.

“Learning from another culture is one of those mysterious movements of the psyche. I think you learn what you need to unlearn.”

I think unlearning is a huge part of the joyfully jobless journey. We don’t even realize how much of our employee mindset we’re still carrying around. Unlearning was certainly on my agenda.

As Frances Mayes discovered, “Writing is play. You choose a subject and set out to learn and think as much s you can about it. Then you get to let your imagination loose in the arena.”

Sounds to me like the perfect way to build a business, too. That’s precisely what we’ll be doing in my upcoming Small, Sassy & Successful seminars

If you’d like to collaborate and bring this fun learning adventure to your part of the world, I still have time available later this year. Feel free to let me know you’re interested and we’ll explore the possibilities. Email me at barbara@joyfullyjobless.com.

When I was digging around in my office this morning, I came across an old scrapbook that I hadn’t viewed in years. It was filled with memories of places I’d been and people I’d spent time with about twenty years ago.

One of my favorite discoveries was a letter I’d written to the editor of Minnesota Monthly magazine. I’ll let it speak for itself. I wrote:

As a one-person business and self-employment advocate, I was delighted to see the cover story on “Making It Small” in your July issue. Like the people spotlighted in your article, I am ferociously devoted to […] Continue Reading…

In Living Out Loud,  Keri Smith’s a fun book of creative exercises, she writes, “In recent years lifestyle stores have become the rage selling products related to all aspects of living, eating, decorating, bathing, sleeping and dressing.

“If you were to open your own lifestyle store, what would you sell?”

Here’s how I answered that question.

The first thing you notice when you walk up the stone path to the sprawling English cottage that houses Cottage Industry is that the front yard is a luscious garden where flowers and vegetables grow side by side.

Pass under the rose-covered archway and you’ll enter a […] Continue Reading…

As I was reclining at the end of my recent blood donation, a young nurse came to tidy things up. We began chatting and she asked me a few questions about myself.

I told her that I was self-employed, did seminars and (almost as an after thought) said, “Oh, and I wrote a book called Making a Living Without a Job.”

The moment I said that, she got tears in her eyes. “You were sent to me,” she said softly. She regained her composure and told me how she dreamed of quitting her job and traveling.

I grabbed one of my cards […] Continue Reading…

If you arrived at the end of the holidays last year saying, “Thank goodness that’s over,” you might decide to take a different approach this year. Although the holiday season is supposed to be a time of celebration, many of us find it the most stressful, even depressing, time of the year.

Since the holidays will go on with or without your participation, why not make them the happiest, warmest time possible? 

Begin by giving yourself a gift or two.

Here are some ideas for extra special gift-giving that will eliminate the hassle and expand the pleasure in the busy weeks […] Continue Reading…

Recently a Facebook friend inquired about self-help books and wondered if others found them helpful. There were comments on both sides of the answer.

It got me thinking about this short piece I wrote some time ago.
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When I first discovered the literature of personal growth and development there weren’t many titles to choose from. I read The Power of Positive Thinking, Think and Grow Rich, The Power of Positive Thinking over and over.
That’s all changed, of course, and today there are thousands of self-help titles. I always have a title or two in my current reading pile since there’s so […] Continue Reading…

When I was growing up, my incessant questions were often dismissed with a reminder that curiosity killed the cat. The message, intended or not, was that shrinking was preferable to exploring. This repeated warning has an impact that goes far beyond the deceased cat.

The death of curiosity is the beginning of a lackluster life. Without curiosity we avoid challenges, growth and new experiences. Our world gets smaller and smaller as our fears grow bigger and bigger.

According to researchers, curiosity is more important than intelligence. In fact, there’s nothing silly about it. Here are some easy ways to keep feeding yours.

° […] Continue Reading…

Every year more than a million Americans—and thousands of people in other countries—embark on the entrepreneur’s journey. Yet this renaissance of self-employment remains a Quiet Revolution. It’s time to start making some noise.

Banners and bumperstickers will have to wait. This revolution needs to begin with getting informed. Get the big picture. Load up on facts. Make it your hobby to learn about as many entrepreneurs as you can.

Here’s a question I’ve been stumping my friends with lately: “What percentage of all businesses in the United States qualify as micro-businesses with 1-5 people working in them?” The answer surprises everyone—including […] Continue Reading…

I have had a lifelong love affair with the post office although it’s been sorely tested recently.

The fallout began late last summer when another USPS branch was evicted from their space and all their boxes suddenly took over the space next to the built-in boxes in my post office.

Of course, all those new postal patrons also drove cars so parking was also part of the chaos.

The service was also impaired. Days would pass with no mail in the boxes and then a week’s worth would be crammed in.

When regular patrons grumbled they were told it was a temporary measure and […] Continue Reading…

Several times a week, I grab a copy of  Seminar in a Sentence, a little book I published a few years ago that contains some of my favorite quotes. When I was tracking down a half-remembered bit of wisdom today, I reread the introduction to the book and decided to share it here.
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Although I don’t know when I began collecting quotes, I do know that I learned about the power of words early in life. As a student at Trinity Lutheran School, I began memorizing Bible passages as so as I entered first grade.

As I got older, I discovered […] Continue Reading…