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One Viable Way to “Unjob,” Turn Your Interests into Income, and Still Get a Steady Flow of Income



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 186 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

I'm all about finding ways to help people to "un-job." One obvious barrier to quitting the 9-to-5 grind to work on your own is the predictability that comes with a steady job.

Getting a regular paycheck is fabulous – that is if you love your job. But if your work is taking a toll on your health, your relationships, and your very soul, then that's a pretty high price to pay for predictability.

So what if there was a way to do something you really enjoy, be your own boss, and still get a predictable flow of income coming in at regular intervals?

Better yet, what if you actually were taking something you already know and care about – fly fishing or knitting or antique toys or selling on eBay - and were somehow able to create a business that brought in a relatively predictable amount of money every month. I'm not talking about a few dollars here and there. I mean anywhere from a several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars a month? Would you want to learn more?

Well, you may recall that around this same time last year I told you about membership programs – sometimes referred to as continuity or subscriber programs. Before I get into the incredible income potential that can come from running your own membership/continuity program, let's take the example of the online dating service Match.com. You may not think of this as a continuity program but I assure you their accountants do! Singles wishing to be listed or to contact singles listed on Match.com pay a monthly subscriber fee. Unless you cancel, your credit card is automatically billed every month.

Another example I've used before is Consumer Reports magazine. For $4.95 a month I get continued access to special reports and information not available on the free portion of their site. Unless I cancel, the subscription fee will automatically be billed to my credit card.

What makes a membership/subscriber/continuity program so popular comes down to this:


1)
Recurring Monthly Income: In both examples, the businesses automatically bill the consumer's credit card every month, resulting in a steady and relatively predictable stream of recurring income.

2) Access: Members or subscribers sign on because they are getting some kind of ongoing benefit dependent on accessing the content. With online dating services, it's the ability to communicate with and potentially meet the love of your life. With Consumer Reports its' access to a regular stream of desirable information.

3) Convenience: The consumer can sign up once without the hassle of check writing or otherwise having to remember to renew. As the business owner, you skip the hassle of sending out invoices because the money is automatically deposited into your bank account. (Sweet!)

4) Affordability: Far fewer people would shell out hundreds of dollars all at once. But if payments are small, then recurring billing makes what's being offered more affordable to the consumer, resulting in increased sales for the business.

Okay, now that the model is starting to make sense, you're probably thinking, "I'm not a big organization, I'm just one person – how can I possibly run my own membership site?" That's the beauty of the Internet and membership site enabling technology. Today, there are thousands of very profitable membership/continuity programs that are one-or-two person operations.

And before you start moaning about how you don't have anything to offer that anyone would want to buy – I met a guy who is making five figures a month running a member site all about crocheting – and he doesn't even crochet!

That's just the thing – whether you decide to go the membership route or just want to find a way to change course…

Turning Your Interests into Income is a Lot Easier Than You Think

The reality is, you don't even have to have personal knowledge of or experience in a particular field or subject area to start any kind of business, including a member program. I'll prove it.

Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting a guy named Todd Brown. Todd is the founder of MassageBusinessUniversity.com, a member site for massage therapists who want to grow their practice.

Before starting this particular member site (he runs several), Todd was in the fitness field. Here is the thing – he is not a massage therapist. Instead, Todd relies on a team of "faculty" with expertise in growing a massage practice to create value-added content for his members. Todd's expertise lies in knowing how to find out what members want and making sure they get it.

What Todd and other successful entrepreneurs get is that competence isn't about knowing how to do everything perfectly. Competence isn't doing everything yourself. Competence does not mean needing to know 150% before you consider yourself remotely qualified to wear the label: "expert." Competence means knowing how to identify the resources it takes to get the job done.

All It Takes is A Little Creativity

Continuity programs always revolve around the delivery of some kind information, instruction, or even entertainment. However, the type of information, and even the delivery itself, can vary widely. For example, I'm a member of master Internet marketer Yanik Silver's "Underground Secret Society." For $87.63 a month, I receive a big red envelope stuffed with marketing tips and templates and a CD with a new before-and-after Web site critique. If you want to get a better idea of how Yanik structured his member program, go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/secretsociety.

Yanik's program is unique in that he also puts on a big annual event on Internet marketing. In addition to saving on the registration fee, Secret Society members enjoy such perks as reserved seating and an upgraded break area and the chance to network with other members at exclusive cocktail and dinner functions.

At the event I attended, there were at least 200 other Secret Society members. That means from just these 200 members alone Yanik is raking in over $17,500 A MONTH! And these members represent just a small fraction of overall members.

My own member program, the Fast Track Your Dream Program, is set up a little differently. For one, the whole point is to speed up the process of going from having a boss to being your own boss. So the first thing members get is a "Fast Track Kit" full of books and CDs on a range of topics from finding your calling to how to create a step-by-step exit strategy. Members who are really in a hurry can go to a password-protected site to download much of the material immediately.

Fast Track members also get access to a live "Turning Interests into Income" Teleclass every month, three online resource guides, and daily "inspirational nudges." And, to help fight the isolation that Barbara Sher famously cites as THE dream killer, there's also a members-only discussion forum.

If you want to "see" what a member site might look, like you can take a short video "tour" of the Fast Track Community here: ChangingCourse.com/fasttracktour-20.html 

Learn From the Experts

You don't need to know how to set up and run a membership program – or any business for that matter. All you need to do is figure out who does and then learn from them.

Last summer I introduced you to Tim Kerber and Ryan Lee. Tim and Ryan have established themselves as "the" experts on how to set up and run a highly profitable membership business. Ryan's claim to fame is that he went from struggling to provide for his young family as a physical education teacher in the Bronx to earning over a million dollars a year running a dozen different membership sites on different aspects of fitness.

And Tim is the founder and president of a turnkey solution that handles all the technical aspects of a member program called MemberGate. Together Tim and Ryan run a very helpful program for membership site owners called MembershipSiteOwner.com, of which I am a member.

Last summer, Ryan and Tim created a Tele-training program which obviously hit a nerve because the program sold out in less than a week. Tim wrote to tell me that they're going to open the program again sometime in the next few weeks. But before they do, they've put together a short video to give people a better idea of what it's all about. You'll see in the video some actual revenue figures from folks who went through the training last summer. The numbers range from $4,500 to a month to a whopping $193,000 a month!

These numbers are impressive. But don't forget that starting a member site, or any reputable on- or off-line business, takes time and effort. And a member program certainly offers no fast, easy road to riches. But because of the recurring income that membership programs provide, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, it is entirely possible that by this time next year you could be earning enough from your member site to quit your job, or at the very least go part-time.

Learn more about how easy it is to start a membership site and to make it profitable by signing up to watch the first of a series of short videos from Tim and Ryan now:

ChangingCourse.com/recommends/membershipbootcamp

There are lots of ways to turn what you know into income. If you've already been thinking about writing a how-to book, designing and leading workshops, teaching Teleclasses or otherwise profiting from what you already know, you may want to consider adding a member program to the financial mix. No matter which path you choose, it all comes down to just taking that first small step!

P.S. Oh, and one other benefit to you as an entrepreneur is if you ever decide to sell your business, having a continuity program makes your business more desirable because prospective buyers can more easily project future sales.


No Time to Go After Your Dream? How to Turn Your Dreams Into Reality in Five Minutes a Day and Other Tips for Time-Stressed Dreamers



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 185 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

You’ve already made up your mind that there has to be more to life than careers, cubicles, and commuting. Yet, the prospect of making a major life change when you’re already feeling caught between a “clock and a hard place,” feels overwhelming.

Here are five simple steps even the busiest person seeking a major career change can take to get the process rolling:

1. Turn griping time into planning time.

How much time do you spend every week blowing off steam about your lousy job? Instead of wasting precious time complaining about what you DON’T want, use the time to create a clear mental picture of what you DO want. Then make a plan for getting from here to there. Five minutes a day spent working your plan will move you far closer to your goal than 15 minutes of griping.

2. Keep your goal front and center. 

Get out your calendar and set a target date for when you want your new life to begin. Besides being a great source of motivation, knowing how much time you have until "D-Day" lets you create a realistic plan for hitting it. Next, find creative ways to keep your dream, literally, in your face. As you come across images or quotes that reflect your dream, place them around your workspace, in your daily planner, on the refrigerator – any place you’re sure to regularly "see" your destination.

3. Buy with an eye to the future.

If your dream involves working from the comfort of home, you probably won’t need all those business suits overrunning your closet. Resolve now to make do with the work wardrobe you already have. When you do take the leap, you can donate your business attire to an organization like Dress for Success that assists men and women just entering the job market. Spend the money you’ve saved instead on things you’ll need for your new career or venture – like courses, buying or upgrading a home office computer, purchasing equipment, inventory, and so on.

4. Avoid the nay-seers. 

Erma Bombeck once said, “It takes a lot of courage to show someone else your dreams.” Erma knew that most people – especially those closest to you – tend to discourage change of any kind. Unfortunately, other people’s skepticism, like the flu, can be contagious. And, unless you’ve built up your immune system, these dream killers can knock you for a loop. Don’t look for support from pessimistic family or friends. Instead seek out people who can give your dream the support it deserves. 

5. Do what you can – but DO SOMETHING. 

As one Chinese proverb reminds us, moving a mountain begins by lifting one stone. To keep from being overwhelmed – while still making headway – break your larger goal down into more manageable steps. Then, no matter how hectic your day, pledge to take at least one small step. Before you know it you’ll have turned your dreams into your life.


Breaking Into Print: How to Get Paid to be a Freelance Writer – Fiction or Non-Fiction



Valerie and her wonder dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 184 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

You’ve always been drawn to writing – and to the freedom and flexibility of a freelance writer …


Afraid to Take the Leap? Simple Ways to Face Down Your Fears

Valerie and her wonder dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 183 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

The so-called safe path is always “easier.” Just ask Ursula Clay. Ursula tried to take the secure career path her immigrant parents had chosen for her. In fact, she worked incredibly hard to achieve a level of financial success and security her parents, both high school dropouts, never had. Says Ursula:

“I worked very hard to get through law school at night, all the while working full time and struggling financially. When I finally achieved what I thought was the brass ring – i.e., good salary, fancy title, etc. – it was a thoroughly disappointing revelation that this was the end result of all the hard work. It felt very empty and meaningless, further made so by the birth of my two beautiful children. I just felt as though I could not possibly have been put on this earth to toil way for 12 hour days at a job that kept me away from my family, and which I dreaded going to every day.”

“Unless you walk out into the unknown,” says Tom Peters, “the odds of making a profound difference in your life are pretty low.” After two years of executing her escape plan which included many moments of fear and uncertainty, Ursula is embracing the unknown. “It’s like getting out of college again, and having a clean slate. I do not know where I am going to end up, or what might come my way. In fact, staying home with my kids right now may be the next calling, and after that, who knows!”

Laugh in the Face of Fear 

Anyone who has ever ventured out of their safe little world will tell you they had doubts. When it comes to making a major life change, not only is a certain amount of fear perfectly normal, it’s actually helpful. For example, it’s our healthy fears that keep us from jumping off cliffs. And the great thing about fear is that there are always ways to get around it. 

So try laughing in the face of fear. Am I kidding? No. Ridiculing your fears is actually a very effective technique for banishing them. Let me show you what I mean. 

If I told you the U.S. Senate had just voted to relocate the capital from Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas, your response would probably be something like, “No way!” That’s because the mind rejects that which it considers absurd. It’s the same with fear. The trick is to turn your fears into a ridiculous event in your mind. That way, you allow your natural human reaction to absurdity to take over and dismiss them. 

Try it yourself. Take your biggest fear and take it to extremes. Really exaggerate it. Let’s say you’re paralyzed by the fear of failure. Try picturing your entire family, all of your friends, your neighbors, everyone you went to high school with, even your boss, standing outside your cardboard-box home holding up signs that read: We Told You So!

Pretty ridiculous, right? When you realize that your worst-case fantasy is just that – a fantasy – what felt overwhelming will now feel much more manageable.

Change Is Easy – When You Take It One Step at a Time

Another way to manage the fear of venturing out on your own is to start small. If the thought of just up and quitting your day job frightens you, start building your freelance career on the side. Begin with low-risk steps and gradually work your way up to the harder stuff.

You never know what is going to move you to action. It can be a book, something you saw on television, a chance conversation, a workshop… I was flattered to learn that for Ursula that chance encounter happened when in 2003 she “stumbled upon” the Changing Course website. That was enough to move Ursula to start “formulating an escape plan.” She writes, “My plan consisted of figuring what I wanted to do after I quit my job, and putting myself in a financial position that would allow me to walk away from a well-paying, but unsatisfying career.”

Receiving a consistent message that change was possible says Ursula, “had the effect of pulling me back to my escape plan whenever I started fearing the unknown again, or just got lazy.” For Ursula that message came in the form of this newsletter. For you it might be a support group, a coach, or even a buddy who can check in to see how your plan is progressing.

Even though Ursula has taken the leap, she’s now working on the second part of her goal – coming up with ideas for multiple income streams. The good news is that having faced down her fears once means Ursula can approach her new goal from a far more desirable vantage point. “Now,” she says, “I can read the newsletter on my home computer in my sweatpants while my daughter naps, instead of on my Blackberry while riding the 8:02 pm train back to the suburbs from work.” And to just to underscore how excited she is to be embarking on this new chapter in her life, Ursula signed off with, “Regards from the other side.”

Remember, courage is not a matter of losing your fear so you can take action; courage comes from taking action. And that, in turn, helps you overcome your fear. When you can act despite your fears, you will be rewarded many times over. That’s because, as Anais Nin once observed, “Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage.” Once I found the courage to escape job jail my life expanded in ways I never imagined possible. Life really is better over here on the “other side.” I encourage you to take one small step today to join those of us are enjoying the view from the other side.


Have You Started a Blog Yet?

The reason I ask is that it’s estimated that over 175,000 NEW blogs are launched every day! For many people, blogs are an easier, more natural way to create a presence online as they don’t require a designer or HTML skills.

For some though, they just don’t know where to begin! Anik Singal and Rosalind Gardner have come up with the perfect solution for all of us “non-techies” out there.

Not only do they promise that you can have your blog installed in 10 minutes, they recently ran a COMPLETELY free pre-course that had over 1,000 comments on it from students who were amazed at how easily they were getting their business started on a blog. Now they’re releasing over 1000 videos and a 4 week Webinar coaching group to reveal every detail on how they run their blog business.

If you have a blog or are interested in creating one, check out the newly launched “Blog Classroom” at http://ChangingCourse.com/recommends/blogclassroom and have your blog be one of the many that over 1.5 million posts are made every day.  


If You Think You Can’t Change Course… You’re Right



Valerie and her wonder dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 182 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

You’ve heard the expression that some people see the glass as half full while others perceive the same glass to be half empty? I had the opportunity to see this difference in perception in action.

One summer, my father and I drove to the airport to pick up my some family members visiting from Florida. It was 100 degrees and muggy. "Knowing" there wouldn’t be any parking spaces close to the terminal, my father was inclined to head directly to the back lot where we’d be sure to find a space.

I, on the other hand, was inclined to start with the row closest to the terminal and work my way back. Since my father was literally in the driver’s seat, he reluctantly agreed to check out the last row in the front lot. If we didn’t find something there, he said, we’d proceed directly to the back lot. Not only did we find a spot, but as we were walking to the terminal we passed a primo front row space. His response? "It probably wouldn’t have been there when we were looking."

In other words, I prefer to think that things will work out. My dad presumes they will not. Not surprising, during his adult life, my father held two jobs. He was horribly exploited in his first job and left only at my mother’s constant urging. He stayed at his second job for over 30 years. In part, my father’s long job tenure has to do with that fact that he is a product of a time when there was a different set of rules regarding employer-employee loyalty. You got a good (or even a not so good) job and you stuck with it for life.

There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with staying in the same job or town or anything else for an extended period of time. My mother’s family has lived in this same area of Massachusetts since the 1600s. My father’s family came at the turn of the last century. I love it here in what is known as the Pioneer Valley, and despite feeling tremendous pressure after graduating from college to go somewhere new, I have never had any desire to move any place else on a permanent basis.

When staying in one job or place too long IS cause for concern though, is when it is not driven by a sense of contentment but by the belief that things will not work out anyway, so why bother. A lousy attitude will kill a dream faster than just about anything else.

If you find yourself automatically driving to the back lot of life, maybe it’s time to do an attitude check:

  • Do you see yourself as deserving of happiness?
     

  • Do you think things will probably work out for the best and, if they don’t, do you see that as an opportunity to try again?
     

  • Do you see yourself as the director of your life or as a bit player operating from someone else’s script?
     

  • Do you think that life generally has it out for you and therefore it is hopeless to even try to change your life? Or do you see life as Helen Keller once described it as being, "an exciting adventure or nothing at all"?

Pessimists THINK a lot about changing course; unfortunately those with a negative attitude rarely ever act on their dreams. If you are prone to pessimism but really DO want to go after your dream of a more meaningful work/life, you may need to first practice viewing things from a positive perspective.

Moving from a pessimistic, hopeless view to an optimistic, hopeful one will not happen over night. It is a goal that must be worked on one day at a time. Start by taking one situation each day and trying to reframe it from a glass half-full perspective. Fake it if you have to. After a while you will find yourself readily being able to not only see the glass of life as half full, but enjoying a long, quenching drink from it as well.

When it comes to successfully changing course, attitude really is every thing. That’s because as Henry Ford once put it, "If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right."


Profit From Your Art

Profit From Your Art

Who says you can’t make money from your art? You don’t have to be a “fine artist” to have your images appear on greeting cards, prints and posters, calendars, on collector plates, in books, animation, for record companies, on coffee mugs, coasters, clothing and fabric, gift bags, fabric, shower curtains – virtually any surface that has a design. This comprehensive course by art licensing guru Michael Woodward spells out step how to get paid for your artwork. He ought to know.

Over the past 30 years, Michael has licensed over $600 million in retail goods.

I personally know an artist who partnered with a manufacturer and earned a 10% licensing fee. The company sold over $800,000 in products netting her over $80,000 for her images.

Given that the artist earns a percentage of these sales, suffice it to say, Michael is not your stereotypical “starving artist.” By combining his personal “tricks of the trade” with a storehouse of information on the art licensing world, he’s compiled the most comprehensive course available today to guide artists and photographers through the licensing maze so they can start earning money from their art and beautifying the world in the process.

To learn more about or order The Art Licensing Course, go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/art

Read my complete review of Michael Woodward’s Art Licensing Course at ChangingCourse.com/artlicensing.htm


Dreams Can Come True

The 8 Key Lessons to Turning Dreams Into Reality



Valerie and her wonder dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

Early on in his career, college football coaching legend Lou Holtz made a list of 107 things he wanted to accomplish in his life. Among them were to go white water rafting, see the pyramids, meet the Pope, have dinner at the White House with a sitting president and be on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. It took Holtz and his wife 25 years but together they’ve accomplished 99 of those original goals.

My own dreams list includes attending a national political convention (okay I’m weird), witnessing the opening ceremony at the Olympics, spending at least a month on every continent, studying with a master antique book restorer, learning to water paint, taking swimming lessons, taking a year-long sabbatical and routinely having summers off.

A big dream that’s been on the front burner for well over three years now has been finding a house with a view. I work at home so where I live is really important to me. I have this thing about wanting to live in the country. Not in the woods though. I need space. Rolling hills, fields, maybe some cows in the background (I love cows!). Think pastoral, bucolic, peaceful, private.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of reflecting on the evolution of this dream and what I’ve learned in the process. What I’ve discovered is that there are eight key lessons to realizing a dream.

Lesson #1: Listen to Your Inner Voices

My obsession with a view began five years ago when I started vacationing on a small peaceful lake in central New Hampshire. There’s nothing much to do there but sit out on the deck and gaze on the reflection of the mountains reflected in the lake and listen for the enchantingly eerie call of the loons.

Despite carting up dozens of books, I found I rarely picked them up because it would mean taking my eyes off the view. I found it utterly mesmerizing. This little voice inside kept whispering, "Pay attention Valerie, pay attention." Like most people, I ignored these inner callings.

As the voice grew louder, it became clear that while everyone enjoys a view, I craved one. I needed the experience of having a view not for just one week out of the year but every day. I didn’t know quite how I was going to pull it off but I knew I had to listen.

Lesson #2: Put Your Dreams Out There

Few people reach their dreams alone. You never know who might help you get where you want to be. It could be a casual acquaintance, your dentist, a neighbor, a coworker… But one thing is for sure, if you keep your dreams to yourself, you’ll never find out.

Throughout the last presidential election, I shared my dream of one day attending a national political convention with anyone who would listen. One such person was a seminar attendee who happened to be very high up at NBC news. Realizing an opportunity when I saw one, I pitched myself as an over-qualified but very eager intern willing to do whatever needed to be done… from making coffee, to making copies to doing van runs to the airport. He handed me his business card and told me he’d see what he could do.

Despite my champion’s best efforts, he wasn’t able to get me in. While witnessing the democratic process in action didn’t pan out, deliberately putting my dream out there got me closer than ever before. And, hey there’s always this year!

Lesson #3: Be Selective About Who You Talk to About Your Dream

While making your dreams known is the key to finding champions, teachers, and other supporters, you also need to mindful of where NOT to look.

Take my friend Carol. She’s a great person, but she’s a bit of a cynic. When I told Carol that I wanted a house with a view, her response was, "Wouldn’t we all?" While walking my dog along a roaring stream, I realized how healing I find the sound of moving water. So I added a bubbling brook to my wish list, to which Carol replied, "Well, you can’t always get what you want."

Carol is right of course. You can’t always get what you want. But does the risk of not reaching a goal mean you just throw up your hands in defeat? As opera diva Beverly Sills reminds us, "You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try."

Lesson #4: Believe You Can

Henry Ford once said, "If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you’re right." As trite as this last lesson may sound, believing your dream is attainable is fundamental to its success.

I need to be inspired as much as the next person. One place both Barbara Winter and I both go to when we need a boost of inspiration are the
Making Dreams Happen CDs of which we are both a part. Listening once again to one of Barbara Sher’s presentations reminded me of the powerful link between passion and belief.

Barbara was telling the group how deep down inside we all know what we want. "When someone says they don’t know what they want," she says, "what they really mean is they don’t think that what they want is possible." In other words, the reason most people never even attempt to go after their dream is because they don’t think they can.

I knew getting my dream house with a view wouldn’t be easy. First I’d have to do all the painting, repairing, and landscaping required to get my current house in shape to sell. Then I’d have to put the house on the market, which, since I planned to sell it myself meant taking photos, placing ads for open houses, and learning about all the legal hoops involved in selling real estate. I’d also need to spend countless hours scouring real estate listings, going to open houses and doing drive bys. I got so desperate at one point that I wrote to homeowners to see if they’d like to sell.

I knew the most daunting task by far though would be packing. You see I come from a long line of pack rats which meant confronting the monumental task of sorting through and packing 12 years of accumulated stuff, only to begin the unpacking all over again on the other end.

Between my travel schedule and my work commitments, I knew that achieving my dream would not be easy… but I always new it was possible. As Louisa May Alcott once wrote, "We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving… And we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing."

Lesson #5: Take the Long View

Every so often I get a call for a career consultation from someone who is having one of those "job from hell" days. The desire for immediate relief is understandable. After all when your job is toxic job, you just want o-u-t, NOW!

Like these clients, you probably don’t want to hear this, but, deep down, you already know that making any real change takes time. At the same time, you have to start somewhere. And the fact of the matter is that the next two years or five years or ten years are going to come and go as quickly as the last ones did – whether you do anything about your dream or not.

So where would you rather be when that time arrives – in the same place you are now or where you want to be? Yes, change takes time but it’s the small steps that will get you to that better future. Which leads us to our next lesson…

Lesson #6: Start Where You Are

The key to achieving any goal is to simply start. Start somewhere… anywhere. If you’re up to your ears in debt, then start by making a plan to become debt free. If your life is so busy that you haven’t taken the time to even know what your dreams are, take some time this very week to find a quiet space and tune into your inner callings. If you need information about becoming an equine massage therapist, or bringing your product idea to market, or getting paid for your home design finesse – then get busy finding and then learning from those who have already done it. The bottom line here – do what you can, but do something!

If you’re having trouble getting started, click here for six tips that can help

ChangingCourse.com/articles/getstarted.htm

Lesson #7: Live in the Now

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Helen Hunt talked about how she got the career she always wanted. Although she wasn’t offering it as a tip, Hunt’s own experience of being grateful for what she had is informative. You see, for Hunt the four Emmys, the five Golden Globes, the Oscar and all of the rest were but icing on an already rich cake. Reflecting on her years as part of the "Mad About You" television show’s creative team, Hunt told Rose, "If none of these other things had happened and I’d had only that, I would have been a very, very lucky actress." (To read all of Helen Hunt’s success tips go to

ChangingCourse.com/articles/helenhunt.htm
)

It would have been easy to focus on what I didn’t like about the house I already had – it was a busy street, the houses were too close together, one of my neighbors drove me up the wall. And yet, despite aggressively pursing my dream house, I never lost sight of what I already had.

On the most basic level, I had more than millions of people around the world – a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, heat, safety. It was also a warm, inviting, and aesthetically pleasing home. If I’d lived in that home for the rest of my life, I would have still been very lucky indeed.

The lesson here is to not focus so much on what lies ahead that you fail to appreciate past and present blessings. Taking stock of how rich your life is right now will make any future success all the sweeter.

A Room With a View

It took three years, but here I sit in my fabulous new home in the country. Perched on a hill, the house offers views on all four sides… cows in the east pasture, grand sunsets over the hills to the west, woods outside my office window to the north, and I was happy to report to Carol, a bubbling brook to my south.

Valerie's View"Well that’s nice for her," you may be thinking, "but I don’t have that kind of money." I understand what it’s like to be strapped. When I left my high paying corporate job, my income dipped nearly in half. There have been times I’ve wondered how I’d pay the bills. Over time I’ve managed to build my income up to more than my previous salary. Still, I didn’t buy a "starter mansion" and I’m not a wealthy person.

Money, or the lack of money, is not necessarily a prerequisite to realizing a dream. True, if I hadn’t had the good fortune to have had a starter home to sell I could not have afforded the house I got. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have found another way to get my view.

For example, I could have found a lower priced fixer upper. Or, I could have rented. Even better, I probably could have lived rent free as a property caretaker.

My new dream? I am obsessed with the idea of introducing young people, and especially disadvantaged youth, to self-employment as an alternative to dead end minimum wage jobs. This is all very much in the seed planting stage. If these particular seeds sprout the way I think they will, I hope to make this happen on a massive scale. Oh, and also I want to work three days a week!

Lesson #8: Trust Your Gut

How often has your first impulse been "Yes!" only to have fear yank you back to the safety of non-action? Janet Riben has learned a lot about what can happen when you trust your gut. She writes:

"I have always been impulsive and that is a way to make a lot of mistakes but also a way to find out a lot about yourself, about others and about the feasibility of ideas. At 59 I took off to Prague for a month course on teaching English as a foreign language (TELF).

From there I easily got offers on jobs for teaching English around the globe. Gates were opening and at my ripe age!"

When Janet said gates opened she wasn’t kidding. "I found a job teaching business English in Italy which then led to learning Italian which then led to being the representative of an Italian company in Scandinavia which will soon lead to owning a home in Italy. Before I am 64 I will have my dream house there. All because I followed my impulses. I didn’t listen to naysayers – they weren’t fast enough to stop me – to frighten me out of my dream’s path."

I’ve never met Janet, but her story is a wonderful reminder of what can happen when you listen to that inner voice. As any successful self-bosser will tell you, once you walk through that first scary door and invest in yourself and your dreams some truly incredible things start to happen. To learn more about some amazing international opportunities to learn and then teach TEFL go to
TEFL
.com


Update 6: Find Your Calling By Helping Others Find Theirs

Join Me for Five Extraordinary Days and
Leave With Everything You Need to
Start Your Own Business as an
"Outside the Job Box" Career Consultant

2008 Business Training Summit

Northampton, Massachusetts
May 4-8, 2008

What could be more fun than sitting at home (or anywhere in the world really) and brainstorming with people over the telephone about creative ways they could make a living without a job − and actually getting paid to do it! Or running workshops on how to turn interests into income? Or earning passive income with eBooks and other information products?

If you are someone who is forever thinking up potential business ideas… or turning other people onto resources and alternatives they never knew existed… the kind of person who gets a high from helping others?

If you want to get paid to do what comes naturally, then in a few short months, you could be running your own business as an "Outside the Job Box Career Consultant." I’ll show you how.

Everything You Need to Be Making Money in Less Than a Month

I’m going help you get started faster and with more forward energy and confidence than you ever imagined. That way you can launch a real business in less than a week… and be making money in less than a month.

  • Learn how, step-by-step, to parlay your creative instincts and your curiosity into work you enjoy… and gain not just pleasure, but profits too…

  • "Power-Start" your new business with hand-holding from experts who really know their stuff. So you can avoid those rookie mistakes and be up-and-running fast… and in the right direction…

  • Forget "selling." Learn simple, low-cost and no-cost marketing techniques proven to attract a steady flow of paying clients…

  • Get the "Silver Platter Treatment"… everything you need to start making money in as little as three weeks from your own web site to a professional headshot to six months of marketing mentoring from a leading expert…


I can’t recommend this program enough. It was both the beginning of an exciting journey for me and the realization of a long held desire to help people figure out what they want to do by thinking outside the box… Valerie offers not only the inspiration to help you realize your own calling and jumpstart your own "created career" by becoming a creative career consultant, but she hands you the keys to the kingdom – all the practical tools to get your consultancy up and running, handing down her invaluable expertise and tried and true methods along the way. She trains you to see what others may not, helping to guide your clients to life changing a-ha moments. Don’t miss this opportunity – I’ll always be grateful I didn’t! ~ Susan
 

Early Bird Pricing Discount Extended – 5 Seats Left

After a slew of emails from people waiting for tax refunds or needing more time to make vacation plans, I extended the $1800 Early Bird Discount until Wednesday, April 9th.

There are other ways to save too. Like the $1200 "Pay for your own stay" discount option. And, for those who want to get all of the web and marketing essentials but don’t need the more extensive elements, you may take advantage of an additional $1000 savings.

I’m not trying to pressure you by screaming ACT NOW! The people who are most interested in this unique training and business opportunity don’t really need any reminders gentle or otherwise. They already know that the last two Tele-training programs both sold out.

The new live program in May is going to be more personalized, more intense, and more immediately productive than anything else I’ve ever offered. Because I will be working so closely with the people who do attend, I have decided to severely restrict the number of training slots. Because of my big book deal with Crown, it is also the only training I will run in 2008.


I have recently invested in the "out of the box" career consultant certification program, and I am SO EXCITED!! I say invested because that’s what it is for me, and I’m sure many of you, an investment. It’s an investment in me and my family’s happiness and prosperity. It is the total package! I wake up excited about the additional tools I have at my disposal for starting my new businesses. I am also less anxious about how stressful my current position is because I know that it is just a temporary inconvenience. Nature is change…which means that it is natural to seek change and I am certainly ready for it. Many thank you’s to Valerie and her associates. ~ Rosalyn
 

To learn more about whether the enriching life of an Outside the Job Box Career Consultant or this Certification Summit is right for you go to ChangingCourse.com/livecertification.htm

ONLY 5 SEATS LEFT!

And, if you still have questions, in invite you to join four graduates from the "Class of 2006" for a live – and I guarantee – a very lively Q&A and conversation session on Thursday, April 3 from 10:00-11:00 a.m. You’ll find out where these consultants are (some of their answers will definitely surprise you) and where they’re going… Barbara Winter will be on hand too to offer her first-hand impressions of the people she’s met who’ve come through the program.

If you can’t make the call, post your questions there:
ChangingCourse.com/blogg

I’ll make sure your question gets answered. The call will also be recorded. So if you can’t make the live call, sign up anyway and I’ll send you the recording as soon as it’s available. And by the way, this is definitely NOT a sales call.

Click here to register for the Live Q&A with the Outside the Job Box Career Consultants: http://tinyurl.com/2q4yka

P.S. If you’ve been following my blog, then you already know this is the costliest program I’ve ever offered. Between offering to cover everyone’s lodging and meals and the added expense of hiring a well-known marketing consultant to provide you with six months worth of individual and small group support — my per person costs are well into the thousands.

I’m not a university so I don’t have any kind of scholarship fund that I can draw from. BUT anyone who has ever worked with me knows that when it comes to money, I always strive to be as fair and flexible as possible.

So if you need to, for example, put down a smaller initial down payment… or maybe to wrap the down payment into the monthly installments… or you need to set up some other payment option all together, let me know and while I can’t make any promises, I will try my hardest to work something out.


Who Says You Can’t Live Your Dreams?

Valerie Young and her wonder dog, By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 180 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Dreamers beware: for every dream there are 10 naysayers just waiting to dash it. It almost happened to Beverly Goodman Park. Park was close to 60 when her marriage ended. At an age when most people are contemplating retirement, Park decided to pursue a long-held dream of becoming an attorney. A lot of people told her she was too old. Undaunted, Park went to law school while working full-time, passed the bar exam, and at 61, landed a job at a law firm. Of her critics she says, “I thought this age stuff was baloney.”

Walter Anderson, author of The Greatest Risk of All, says by the time we are in our 20s, we will have heard 25,000 “can’ts.” Don’t expect a lot of support for your “foolish dreams.” Instead, be prepared to reach deep within to turn “can’t” into “can.” Here are two motivation-boosting tips to get you started:

Become the Future You

Dreams, by their very nature, are about the future. With so many present-day demands your dream can start to feel distant. The more far-off the goal, the less likely it is you will act on it.

How can you make sure your dream doesn’t fall prey to the out-of-sight, out-of-mind syndrome? By bringing it into the present. To do this you must become the future “you.” Here’s how: The next time someone asks what you do for a living, try answering, not in terms of the present, but as if you were actively engaged in pursing your dream right this minute. In other words, squelch your pat “I’m an accountant/in sales/a social worker/a homemaker” response and instead try saying something like: “I’m an aspiring mystery writer,” or “I’m looking into returning to school to become an oceanographer,” or “I’m in the process of changing careers to pursue my love of gourmet cooking.”

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t written a single page of your future bestseller, sent away for one college catalog, or lifted a finger to pursue your passion for cooking. What does matter is that the dream that once felt elusive will suddenly begin to feel real. And when that happens, you will be amazed at how much sooner you’ll get the change ball rolling. Before you know it, you will actually BE the future you!

Get Inspired

Someone who knows a lot about the power of “acting as if” is Steven Spielberg. Hoping to fulfill his filmmaking dreams, Spielberg explains that he snuck onto the lot of Universal Studios and became a “squatter” in an empty office. He even bought plastic letters to mount his name in the building directory. Security guards and exec’s alike thought the guy belonged there. His high jinks paid off. Spielberg’s first directorial break came when the studio bigwigs finally saw his first film and liked what they saw.

This and other success stories can be found in Mischief Marketing: How the Rich, Famous, & Successful Really Got Their Careers and Businesses Going. Author Ray Simon reveals how famous people as diverse as Mother Teresa, Duke Ellington, Andy Kaufman, rap artist Big Pun, and Benjamin Franklin really got started in life and how you can use their mischievous techniques to do the same.

As encouraging as success stories can be, learning about another’s failure can be just as inspiring. Did you know that Bob Dylan was booed off the stage at his high school talent show? Or that Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job for “lacking ideas?” Or that Thomas Edison failed to perfect the light bulb until his ten-thousandth try? How many “can’ts” do you think these dreamers had to endure?

And when faced with a dream-buster, these “failure stories” can make great comebacks, too. Would Parks’ critics have been so quick to discourage had she pointed out that Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was 80 years-old and that, of her over 1,500 paintings, 25 percent were produced when she was past 100?

“Persistence,” said Robert Half, “is what makes the impossible possible, the possible likely, and the likely definite.” As anyone who has ever chased a dream will tell you, disappointment, self-doubt, and failure go with the territory. The trick is to recognize these setbacks for what they really are – bumps in the road, not the end of the road.

Publisher Katherine Graham said it well: “To love what you do and feel that it matters – how could anything be more fun?” This is your life we’re talking about here. So what are you waiting for? Catch a dream, have some fun and start turning can’t into can!


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