Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Do What you Love and Serve the Greater Good

by Sandy Penny, WritingMuse

If you have a passion for something, you will always be able to do a better sales job. I love to write, and I love to share with others, so my profession as a freelance writer and marketing consultant is the perfect combination for me. I get to do what I love, and my enthusiasm stays high while I do it. When I help others do what they love, I serve the greater good. When people are happy with their work, they tend to treat others better, and the benefit just keeps on rippling out.

I heard a staggering stat on Oprah the other day: 85% of the workforce is unhappy with their jobs. Wow, that's big. No wonder we have so many social problems with 85% of the people spending a third of their lives doing something they hate to do.

If you are trying to create a business that offers a product or service that you don't love, it's going to be more difficult to be successful. Take a look around and see if there's something you can do that you like better. Choose joy in your life and work.

Businesses always have aspects of the work that you may not like, for instance, deadlines, taxes, accounting. If you concentrate on doing what you love to do and tell other people about it, you can become successful enough to hire other people to do the jobs you hate that they may love.

What do you like to do? How can you incorporate more of that into making a living?


Back in the 70s when I was managing a secretarial service for someone else, I decided that I wanted to start my own business. Although I had experience managing a secretarial service, and I was good at it, I had no interested in that being the business I started. The problem was that I had no idea what I really wanted to do, so I started what I call my personal "program" to find out.

I wrote down all the things I love to do: Writing was top of the list, spiritual exploration was next, personal growth followed, spending time with my son, graphic design (also experienced), having enough money to pay my house note, car note, insurance, monthly expenses and some left over for spontaneous fun.

Hmm, that really didn't equal any business that I could think of, but I wrote it down and concentrated on it. I repeated it to myself and told others about it as often as I could (a technique from Think and Grow Rich). I even set a deadline for when I wanted it to happen, the end of November (only two months away). Some people might think that's a tall order, but I was new to the whole positive thinking movement, and as a Leo, I just thought I could do anything. At least I was willing to give it a shot.

In the middle of November, I was attending a spiritual/holistic event. Attendance seemed low, and I was wondering why. It was a great event. Several people came up to me and said basically the same thing, "We need a newspaper where we can advertise these events so we can get more attendance." After about the fifth person said the same thing, a lightbulb went on in my head, and I thought, "I could do that." I started going down my list, writing and spiritual exploration, I could attend events and write about them. Spending time with my son, I could work from home and be able to pick him up from school, and I could save the daycare costs. So far, so good.

The only thing was, I didn't have any money to invest in startup. I was making a good living, but not too much to spare beyond my bills. I knew there used to be a newspaper similar to what I had in mind, but it only had events listings, no articles and no resources. It had closed recently, and I wondered why, so I found an old issue and called the number on it. I reached the answering service and a woman who would become a mentor and encourager in this venture. She gave me the list of all the previous advertisers. I called them up and invited them to a party. At the party, I introduced the concept for my newspaper, The Rising Sun, and asked for input on what they would like to see in the paper, what it should look like and feel like, and what would serve them best. I presented a prototype I had designed and one article I had written. I sold enough ads that day to launch the paper. I just kept taking the steps as they came to me. I didn't question it. When people told me I couldn't support myself with a free paper, I ignored them and surrounded myself with those who encouraged me.

From the first issue forward, I supported myself doing what I loved. Everything on my list at the time was included in that paper, and I loved doing it. It was hard work, and some of it was challenging, like delivering 3000 bundles every month, but I even solved part of that problem. I had an advertiser party every month so advertisers could take bundles to their own businesses. The party was fun and built a solid community of advertisers who loved and supported the paper and who felt like their input was valuable. It was a huge success, and eventually I sold it when it was time to do something else, and when it stopped being fun for me.

Remember to keep evaluating what you love about your work or business, and keep adding more of what you love and find ways to hand off what you don't love to others who do love it. The more you engage your passion, the more successful you will be, and you will live a life of joy. After all, it's all about the lifestyle, isn't it?

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