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

Cost or Contribute?

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Life often seems like an endless series of decisions to be made. Chai latte or decaf Americano? Take a walk or sit at the computer? Plant roses or zinnias? Start a business now or wait until you get fired?

Given the fact that we are called upon to make decision after decision everyday, it would seem reasonable to assume that most of us would have given thought to how we make decisions. We’d have our own decision-making tools that we could employ when needed.

If we l lack such tools, too many decisions are simply based on habit. (Chai latte yesterday, chai latte today, chai latte tomorrow.) That’s not the road to living a creative and inspired life.

Self-doubt—simply not trusting ourselves—is behind much of the indecision we encounter. The sheer abundance of options can make it even more difficult, but living decisively is necessary if we’re to have the richest experience possible.

It may also contribute to our health. According to George Crane, “It is uncertainty or indecision that wears people down and promotes peptic ulcers, high blood pressure and nervous breakdowns.”

Since the decisions we make determine the kind of life that we have, how can we improve our ability to make wise decisions? It may be easier than you think.

My starting point is based on this observation from Stewart Emery: “Nothing in the universe is neutral. It either costs or it contributes.”

That bit of wisdom has simplified decision-making for me ever since I heard it. However, it’s fairly useless without a sense of priority. You need to be clear about what matters most to you and be determined to set up your life to support that.

If being physically healthy is a high priority, every food choice either costs or it contributes. If finishing your book in the next 90 days is a priority, every time choice you make either costs or it contributes. It all comes down to bringing your activities and actions into alignment with your personal goals.

Some decisions require gathering information in advance, of course. Wise leaders in all walks of life have sounding boards, people whose opinions they trust. The trick for us, whether we’re the leader of the free world or not, is to exercise wisdom in choosing the voices we listen to.

Often that means getting advice from strangers, not from those nearest and dearest to us. Then thoughtfully weighing that advice while keeping in mind your ideal outcome, can make the process smoother.

The more familiar you are with your own intuitive voice, the easier it will be to rely on it when it’s time to make a decision—especially a big important one. Even if that’s not your usual method of deciding, here’s an exercise that can be helpful providing you pay attention while you’re doing it.

How can you tell if you really want to do something? Toss a coin. Literally. It works—not because it settles the question for you, but, as the Danish poet and mathematician Piet Hein said, “While the coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you’re hoping for.”

Success, prosperity, all the good things in life only come to us after we’ve decided to let them in. Minute by minute and hour by hour, decide in favor of your dreams.

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 [...] Continue Reading…

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…

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