Introduction

Since Making a Living Without a Job was first published, I have had the pleasure of meeting many of my readers. They have contacted me by writing letters and emails, and some have attended my seminars and other speaking engagements. My favorite fans are the ones who show up at one of my seminars carrying a worn and much-used copy of the book. One woman arrived clutching her copy, which had dozens of Post-it tabs on all three sides. “How do you remember what you want to look up again?” I asked. She laughed and assured me that there was something on almost every page.

Even though new readers kept finding my book, it seemed to me that the time had come for a bit of renovation. For starters, much has changed in the past fifteen years. I suspect you don’t need me or Bob Dylan to point that out. These changes have been dramatic—and sometimes startling—in my own business.

Fifteen years isn’t a terribly long time span, but my business now looks quite different from the way it once did. One of the ways it has changed is in the tools I use. This book was originally written on a typewriter. It went through four complete revisions and reams of paper. Reluctantly, I got my first computer shortly before the book appeared in print. At the time, I wasn’t sure why I’d want to replace a perfectly good typewriter with a machine that intimidated me. Fifteen years ago, only a few people I knew used email, and there wasn’t much to see on the Internet. When I started to hear about small businesses investing thousands of dollars for a website, I thought they had taken leave of their senses.

It’s not that I was a stranger to changing times. I’d been through that in the first decade of my own joyfully jobless life. I recall that when I started my first business, I went to great lengths to conceal the fact that my office was a corner of my family room. It was years before anyone began talking about homebased businesses. Information on how to create a one-person operation was nonexistent. How did I manage, I wonder, without Google, Skype, Twitter, and a website?

Happily, I have made peace with technology and the new possibilities it has offered for running and growing my business. Although I still spend plenty of time on airplanes, flying to seminar engagements, I’ve expanded the teaching part of my business through teleclasses taught from the comfort of my home. Participants from across the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe, in the comfort of their homes, can learn how to build a better business by dialing in on their telephone or Skype. If they can’t attend in person, they can get an audio download of the class. That’s something I never envisioned fifteen years ago.

As amazing as technological changes are, nothing offers more opportunity than changing times. Sweeping cultural factors and problems demand innovative solutions. Fifteen years ago, not many of us contemplated designing a green business, for example. Fifteen years ago, we were unaware that the Boomer Generation was about to redefine what it means to be a senior in our culture. And fifteen years ago, few people imagined a time when there would be a major job shortage.

Despite the fact that change is often unsettling, these are exciting times, for those who are paying attention. The new possibilities are enormous and without precedent. Imagine running an international art gallery from your home on a tiny island off the Canadian coast. Or setting out in a motor home with your laptop to keep your business running. City dwellers do, of course, run small businesses, but those who prefer a quieter setting can have the best of both worlds—a lively business in a bucolic setting, serving customers and clients from around the world. It’s thrilling to realize that we are the first people in the history of the world for whom geography is not a limitation to self-employment. As geographical barriers go down, entrepreneurial imagination goes up.

All this activity has another consequence: As more of us go down this path and share what we’ve learned, it gets easier for the next round of self-bossers to step onto the trail we’ve been busily blazing. Magazines, books, and websites offer more information than one person can possibly absorb. Best of all, much of this information is created by people who have run their own businesses and are passing along real-life experience and advice, not dry business theory.

With every person who chooses this path, it gets a little bit easier for all of us. As more of us strike out on our own, we find that we have to defend our choices far less often. The warnings of dream-bashers and naysayers are growing faint as we silently recall the Chinese proverb that says, “Person who says it cannot be done must not interrupt person already doing it.”

Comedian Jon Stewart said, “The big break for me was when I decided this is my life.” This new epidemic of self-employment is being driven by an increasing awareness that we can all create our own big break. In an economic climate that teeters on uncertainty, thoughtful people are seeking fresh options—options that honor their creativity, add meaning and purpose to their lives, and allow them to go as far as their imaginations will permit.

While the Internet and other technologies have opened the door to self-employment for many, the basics of being joyfully jobless haven’t changed at all. Nevertheless, this updated edition will show you how to integrate the basics with new tools and resources.

If you are ready to stretch your mind to the idea of making a living without a job, you’ll find plenty of encouragement and practical information here. Designing a lifestyle for yourself that nurtures and supports who you are and what you value won’t happen instantaneously, but this book will certainly make the process simpler and easier. Becoming joyfully jobless begins with a commitment to self-discovery, a curiosity about your potential, and a willingness to acquire the information and skills that will enhance your work. Your way will be unlike anyone else’s, although you will share a deep camaraderie with others on this path. Being your own boss is both heady and humbling, but it’s seldom boring.

The joyfully jobless who make a living without a job defy easy descriptions and pigeonholing. Ours is a lifestyle that’s full of paradoxes. We have gone beyond being employees, but we’re not conventional entrepreneurs. Our bottom line is measured by our character as much as by our profits. The joyfully jobless often pursue lines of work that make a difference to the rest of the world, that are more than just a way to earn food to eat and a roof over our heads. We see our business as a natural extension of who we are and what we love to do. We have spent time and energy exploring and understanding ourselves so that we could find ways to earn a living by being ourselves. Some of us think of ourselves as working artists of life, although our work may not fit traditional concepts of artistic endeavor.

You’re going to meet some wonderful people on these pages. Keep in mind that wherever you are in your journey, these folks have already been there. They’ve made it over the wall and they’re eager to have you get over too. There’s a party going on on this side, and you’re invited!

No matter why you’ve decided to consider making a living without a job, you’ll find enthusiastic support in the pages ahead. I’d like to suggest that you read this book with pencil or highlighter in hand. (You do own this copy, don’t you?) Jot down ideas as you go. Notice, too, that you’ll find exercises at the end of each chapter that you can work on when you get to them or come back to after you’ve finished the book.

I’m delighted to have you along.

Contents