If you like to do many things, but cringe at the thought of choosing a single activity for your daily business, consider building an Option Bank filled with profit centers that let you exercise different parts of your mind, body and spirit.
That's precisely what Jan Dean did when she got up from her desk and the writing that occupied much of her time and led tour groups of other mystery lovers through England. Not only was this annual diversion a change of scenery, it generated a stream of ideas to use in her writing once she was back home.
Like Dean, many self-employed folks log in countless hours at the computer. Creating another online emporium might be logical, but lacks the stimulation of a totally different kind of activity.
If you're ready to mix things up a bit, here are some ways to enlist the help of your imagination.
1. Honor your diversity.
"There are so many selves in each of us," said James Dickey, "and to explore and exploit just one is wrong, dead wrong, for the creative process."
This can be a challenge to those of us brought up with the notion of the single lifetime occupation. Challenge that notion if it creeps in.
Nicole Navratil spends time in her kitchen whipping up meatless meals and developing recipes which she shares. You might also find her teaching voice and piano to students of all ages or singing with the band Sonic Love or leading a yoga class.
When folks complain to Barbara Sher about having too many interests to decide what to do, she replied, "Which one of her children are you going to feed? You've got to feed all of your interests, too." That doesn't mean they all get equal time, however.
2. Identify your slow times.
You may welcome the quieter times in your business as an opportunity for some personal renewal. Perhaps you can combine a bit of vacation with a bit of earning.
For example, you could scout out housesitting opportunities in another part of the country. Or even your hometown. Some positions come with a minimum of chores and responsibilities, but allow you to enjoy a fresh abode for a week or two.
3. Salvage rusty skills or neglected hobbies.
So you might not want to spend your days turning out hand knit sweaters, but you could pick up your knitting needles in the evening or afternoon and build inventory for the Christmas Craft Fair.
Your once in awhile operation might deserve its' own day of the week or month every year when it become the major focus of your time and attention.
4. Dive into the opposite.
If you spend the bulk of your time quietly working alone, plunge into a project that has you interacting with lots of people. Or vice versa.
That might mean exercising both sides of the brain through activities that give each a workout.
Or it might entail identifying the essence of your main business and asking yourself what the opposite kind of activity would be. Writing a novel could be interspersed with painting houses, for instance.
5. Share the celebration.
Many seasonal businesses are designed to take advantage of special events or holidays. Pumpkin growers and Christmas tree farmers already have this one down.
You probably would design soothing on a smaller scale, but if you're crazy about Valentine's Day, Halloween or Easter, you might enjoy it even more if you were enhancing the celebration for others with your products or services.
6. Give your opinion.
Thanks to Georgia Makitalo, I discovered the opportunities to get paid for participation in market research groups. If you live in a large urban area, this could be a fine (but unpredictable) once in a while profit center. Companies hire market research firms to collect feedback for them.
Start by contacting market research firms in your area to get listed in their database. You probably won't qualify for every study you are called about, but these can be a lot of fun.
While this was an occasional activity for me, I'll never forget the evening I went to share my opinion with the folks from Icelandair who were about to enter the market in Minnesota. At the end of the discussion, we were given the choice of the $75 we'd been told was payment OR a roundtrip ticket to any of their European stops. A road weary corporate traveler was the only member of our group who opted for the money.
A change of pace, change of scenery, change of activity are all good for your creative spirit. So go ahead and amaze yourself with a portfolio of new possibilities.