Dixie Darr

Archive for October, 2006|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2006 at 7:01 am
Skating Through

Last night I found some figure skating on television and watched the whole competition. The combination of beauty and athletic skill fascinates me and makes this my favorite sport to watch. It has a number of similarities to self-employment. Here are a few:

1. When you start out, you’re not very good. It takes practice, years and years of practice, before you get really good.

2. Having a coach or mentor helps.

3. Find a community of like-minded people.

4. Getting good requires sacrifices.

5. Sometimes you fall down, but you can’t stay down. You have to get back up and get on with the program.

6. You will probably not be able to do everything you need to do to become successful unless you love what you’re doing.

©2006 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved.

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2006 at 6:27 am
Unstuck in Time

I’m feeling a little disoriented today, a situation that is likely to continue for several days until I get acclimated to the time change. This morning, my cat Radley woke me up before 4. It is very annoying, but it isn’t his fault because he thought it was 5 o’clock, when I normally get up. He doesn’t understand daylight savings time and, frankly, neither do I. Now I hear that next year, they are extending it from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. Why? In fact, why can’t they just leave it alone so we don’t have to deal with this lost in time feeling twice a year?

It was nice to have an extra hour yesterday morning so I could take a good long walk before church. I was amused Saturday night to hear the TV newscasters warning people to be sure to set their clocks back or they would be late to everything in the morning. Wrong. If they didn’t set their clocks back, they’d be early to everything.

So for the next several days, I am doomed to waking up at 4 and going to bed at 8. This is another reason to be happy that I work at home on my own schedule. If I want to do my work at 4 in the morning, I can.

©2006 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved.

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2006 at 6:11 am

Live and Learn part III

Last year I reconnected with an old friend I hadn’t seen in almost thirty years. Barb is a poet who works full-time for a nonprofit. Now in her mid-fifties, she uses a cane because of an early stroke and suffers from a loss of hearing. She is also charming, funny and confident. When I told her that I would be teaching classes in self-employment, she said she knew several people she could send to my workshops, but she wasn’t interested herself.

She called the other day to schedule a lunch, almost a year after we last got together. She still works for the nonprofit, but sees that funding is getting harder to come by. So, since I last saw her, she has trained as a hypnotherapist and set up an office with a partner. “I’m good at it,” she said, and is thrilled with the fees she can charge. She is building her business on weekends until she can afford to leave the full-time job. She paid for the training by cashing in some of her retirement. “This is my retirement,” she declared. “This is something I can do until I’m 90, as long as my hearing holds out.”

A couple of lessons come from this story.

1. Never say never. Even if you are not interested in self-employment right now, the chances are better than even that you will be interested at some time in your life. Recent studies indicate that 56% of all Americans dream of being their own boss.

2. Baby boomers are increasingly interested in starting their own businesses as so-called retirement careers. As we grow older we want different things from work. Mostly we want more control over when, where and what we do, including how many hours we work and whom we work with. Self-employed people get to make these decisions and design a work style that exactly suits them.

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2006 at 6:28 am
Live and Learn Part II

“What is it you want to do?” a friend asked. “Write or teach?”

“Both,” I answered without hesitation. I like the dual career of writing and teaching. For one thing, I get both information and story ideas from my students. When left to my own devices, I tend to be a hermit. My students, on the other hand, have families and work in big corporations. They give me glimpses into their world.

The one who wants to be Oprah’s best friend told me that he plans to continue in school to get his master’s degree because, “I want to do what you do.” He is the youngest student in the class and transferred to our accelerated evening program from a state university because they couldn’t work around his full-time work schedule.

“I learn so much from the other students in class,” he said, “and you get to do that with different groups of students every night.” He would do this in addition to his full-time job.

That’s today’s lesson: you don’t have to do just one thing. Another student works full-time in the financial industry and has a weekend business doing home remodeling with her husband, laying tile and building decks. She likes the balance of head work and manual work, although she is exhausted from working seven days a week. Maybe, I suggested, she could arrange to reduce her job to less than full-time. That way, she could maintain the balance she enjoys, but also get some downtime she desperately needs.

Who says you have to have one full-time job? Many people start their own businesses part-time while continuing to work their day jobs, with the idea that they will eventually work full-time in their own business. Maybe you’d be happier doing two (or even three or four) things. Jennifer Lopez doesn’t just act. She also sings and has a clothing line and a perfume. As I write this, she is probably developing even more interests.

Me, too.

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2006 at 7:33 am

Wisdom tells us that you teach what you need to learn. I learned that lesson again a couple of weeks ago when I had my students, who are all working adults completing their bachelor’s degrees, do a series of values clarification exercises.

They had to name their dream job and three reasons why this job appealed to them. Then, they named their real job goal and three reasons why they wanted that job. The next stop was to compare the two. Do they have any of the same qualities?

Why had they rejected their dream jobs?

Okay, one guy listed Oprah’s best friend as his dream job because he wanted to help spend her money. That’s not going to happen. But most of the dream jobs were attainable.

One woman dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. She owns horses and loves to watch the veterinarians working on them. Her face lit up when she was talking about it. Why couldn’t she be a veterinarian, we asked. She had heard that the nearby veterinary school didn’t accept people over 40. Where did she hear that? From her neighbor. Did she check it out? No. (It isn’t true, by the way.) She makes a very good living with her current job as a manager in the oil and gas industry and is being groomed for higher level positions when she completes her degree, so there was also a financial component to her decision.

Another student mentioned that people are now doing animal massage. She might be able to get some training in that and do it part-time in addition to her day job.

I looked around in amazement because the classroom had turned into one of Barbara Sher’s idea parties. Everyone wanted to offer information and encouragement to help the others reach their dreams.

Then they turned to me. What’s your dream job, Dixie? I had written down that I wanted to be Anne LaMott, my favorite author, because she writes wise, funny and very personal essays and she does it fulltime So, why, I wonder, am I focusing my energies right now on getting an adult education program off the ground? Because I have accepted the conventional wisdom that you can’t make any money writing.

Of course, I know that there are plenty of people who make fortunes by writing and many many more who make a living writing fulltime, so why am I so quick to back down from my dreams? What makes some people keep striving to achieve their dreams while others just give up? I’ll be exploring that question in the coming days.