Rethinking Your Life and Career
in an Exciting New Way
Barbara Brabec revisits a book she first read and reviewed in the late eighties, one still so timely it could prompt today’s readers to seriously rethink their whole life and career/job/business ambitions.
“Every thread of experience you draw through the fabric of your life adds to its texture.” – Dr. Anna Miller-Tiedeman
THIS ARTICLE will be of particular interest to anyone who needs some life direction or is unhappy in their present job, unemployed, anticipating a job layoff or contemplating a job change, retired or planning to retire soon. Some who read this article will come away feeling thankful that they followed the beat of a different drummer while others will be prompted to take a sharper look at where they’re going in life, and whether they are truly on the path they want to be on.
When I started my second home-business venture in 1981 with a product line consisting of one $9.95 book (Creative Cash) and a $12/year subscription newsletter called Sharing Barbara’s Mail, all I knew for sure was that I could successfully sell the one published book I had at that point. And, I figured the lessons learned from my earlier and financially unsuccessful stint in 1971-1976 as a crafts magazine publisher might enable me to do things right the second time around.
“The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.” – Walt West
I was 44 years old at that time, but I felt like twenty because I knew I was on to something good. I knew who I was and where I wanted to go even if I didn’t have a clue about how to get from HERE to THERE. All I knew for sure was that I had to BEGIN, or I would never learn where the road might lead.
New Perspective from an Old Book Review
MANY YEARS LATER when I was looking through past issues of my quarterly National Home Business Report (published between 1984-1993), I found some good stuff from a 1987 issue worth bringing to light again. In that issue I’d reviewed a book I was reading at that time by Anna Miller-Tiedeman, Ph.D. Titled How to NOT Make It . . . and Succeed, it made me see myself and my life and work in an entirely new and exciting light. I liked the author’s explanation about life being self-organizing, in our careers as well as in our body cells:
“When you believe that Life-is-career,” she wrote, “you begin to place greater trust in LIFE. As you do, you find yourself ‘attracting’ good fortune. Temporary downturns become easier to accept when you realize that life is balanced.”
What I found surprising was that the words in that book that made such an impact on me in 1987 still resonate with me today:
“Life-as-career is: moving forward, doing something right, then doing something left (often referred to incorrectly as ‘wrong’). We then correct, adjust, learn, improve, and move on again.”
That certainly sums up my entire life as a self-employed individual and writer-publisher—especially since I’ve finally launched this website, so long in progress. With each new step I’ve taken, whether right or left (but never wrong), I’ve grown a little, learned a little, gained new perspective and moved forward, often in a surprising new direction. But everything was connected. One step always led to another, and to get someplace new, I just had to take another new step.
So many times in the past as I struggled to build a successful writing and publishing business and establish myself as a leader in my field, I found myself presented with a challenge that left me weak in the knees. But in the end, I found myself trusting in life and everything that had gone before. I’d often tell myself, “Well, I got this far. I was able to do that. And if I managed THAT . . . I can manage THIS. And sure enough, I did. Just as I bet you’ve done through the years.
And here I am now, after a lifetime of self-employment, still taking new steps both right and left, still learning, still growing, still trying to find out how to get from HERE to THERE in a world that is totally different from the world I knew when I began my first home business in 1971. I never could have imagined then what I would be doing today, and I’ll bet many of you, looking back, are also astonished by the road you’ve traveled and how much you’ve learned and accomplished to date in your job, career, or business.
Finding the Pattern, Weaving Your Life
“Every thread of experience you draw through the fabric of your life adds to its texture,” writes Dr. Miller-Tiedeman. “If you can see each thing you do as a single thread of life—if you can see the pattern of your life-fabric forming as a result of them—then you can be the weaver of your life.”
How to NOT Make It . . . and Succeed makes a strong case for each individual to find his or her note and sound it, with utter trust that life not only knows what it’s doing, but is also self-organizing, even though it doesn’t always organize the way we want it to. In fact, declares this author, you don’t have to “make it” on society’s terms or anyone else’s to achieve success and fulfillment.
The reason, according to the powerful life perspective unveiled in this book, is that your life and career are one. And LIFE—not job or profession—is your real career, says the author. “To go forward in your life-career, you need only rely on your intuition, experience, and intelligence. Success then results not from doing what others think you should, but by doing what feels right to you.”
After I graduated from high school, I turned down the scholarship I was offered to follow my dream of a job in the big city of Chicago as an avocation as a musical entertainer. Years later, when reading Miller-Tiedeman’s book, I certainly related to her comments about a college education not being necessary for success. College would have done nothing for me as a musical entertainer, or as a writer and self-publisher working from home.
I’m certain that my life as a self-employed individual has been far more interesting, exciting, and fulfilling than it ever could have been as someone’s employee. “As you pursue what seems right for your life, you will find it more enjoyable and fulfilling,” Miller-Tiedeman confirms, “and you may also find yourself being more open to new directions, and earning more money as well.”
This author was right on the money in 1987 when she talked about the de-industrialization then underway in our nation’s economy and the new career pattern it was creating. She called it “piecing together income.” If ever a phrase hit the home-business industry on the head, that one did, and still does today, because this is precisely how many small businesses are surviving now—through diversification and the combination of several related activities.
I was delighted to find this author on the web, and this book is just one of four she still offers in her “New Careering” series. “You should know that I didn’t plan to create the New Careering.” she says. “It created itself in my life as I went along.” In the history of her life-is-career journey on her website, she writes about moving on from a traditional career, the life-as-process surfboard, and her many years of dedication to “quantum surfing the life process.” (She has documented the history of her journey on her website.)
Anna Miller-Tiedeman’s book, though published years ago, is a book that still speaks to today’s readers—those who are career-minded working people, the unemployed, those anticipating job layoffs or contemplating job changes; young people wondering what to do with their lives, retired persons and those soon to retire, and all others who simply need assistance in life direction. It offers a powerful philosophy that works, even when things look their worst.
If ever there was a book for today’s times, this is it. I hope you will soon make it a point to get acquainted with this inspiring writer.
Other Nuggets Gleaned from My Newsletter
Thoughts on Success, from a 1987 issue of Printer’s Ink newsletter, published by Thompson-Shore, Inc.:
“There is no business entity, or individual for that matter, that ‘has it made.’ There is no business so successful and secure that there isn’t the chance of a big surprise just around the corner. Success is a thing of the past, not the future, because you can never be sure what’s coming. About all you can predict is that things will change and there will be surprises. Your own individual efforts can help make those changes positive ones, but if you relax in those efforts, you can stumble.”
Good Advice from Dr. Gary North (taken from Barbara’s notes at a Howard Ruff Conference in 1987 where she was a speaker):
♦ “What can you do with the assets you’ve got? You do what you’re called to do: leave the world a little better.”
♦ “We assume that we always have more time to do something, but a long-term compound sense of time must be accepted. You must understand the constraints time puts on you when you want to be successful.”
♦ “You can’t stop planning for an instant . . . and the longer-range your plans, the better.”
♦ “Accept your limits. Don’t work yourself to death, but work throughout your life.”
How to be a Fearless Dreamer and Reinvent Your Life at Any Age. Barbara’s thoughts and research about the importance of dreaming and changing your life if it’s not all you want it to be.
The Book that Changed the Direction of My Writing Life. An example of how taking just one step in a new direction can be life-changing.
How to Be All You Can Be. How do you prefer to live? Being pushed and pressed by others, or being pulled and stretched as you reach for your dream? Here’s perspective on this topic from someone with a lifetime of experience as a self-employed individual.