Can You Make a Living Without a Job?

I just finished reading very useful and informative book by Barbara J. Winter entitled How to Make a Living Without a Job.

The Authors Background

She describes how she went from a flustered English Lit teacher to founding her own training and publication firm. Moving to California in the mid-seventies and immersing herself in the Human Potential Movement resulted in her observation that no matter what program her fellow students studied, if their self-esteem was raised they wanted to be self employed.

Why Become Joyfully Jobless?

A brief history of self-employment in America points out the how the Industrial Revolution changed the ratio of 9 in 10 Americans working for themselves to 9 in 10 today working for someone else. Many of us commit a third of our time to doing something we don’t care about. Being self employed is about how to make a life, not just a living. She calls it being “Joyfully Jobless.”

During her workshops she found many common reasons people wanted to be self employed included wanting more control over their lives, their work was no longer challenging, wanting to pursue their dreams, and wanting to find something beyond just making money doing a job they dislike. She states most people just stumble into the work they do and eventually become unhappy with what they do for a living. Sound familiar? She relates staying in a job you hate to victims of spousal abuse that refuse to leave the abuser. She calls being in a job you dislike dysfunctional behavior and “a hideous form of self-sabotage.”

How to Begin

She starts with the foundation to becoming self employed; working on your self esteem. “Self employment is the child of self-discovery and self-esteem.” She offers multiple questions to ask yourself and checklists concerning the health of your self esteem. Some of these can be eye opening.

Figuring out your goals is another early priority, along with assessing your skills. She points out some of the biggest obstacles to becoming self employed can be the people around you, who don’t have any experience with it and are fearful.

One entire chapter is devoted to Multiple Profit Centers, explaining how the concept works. She gives many examples of personal service businesses that have been successful for others.

The One Hundred Dollar Test

My favorite idea she presents is the $100 test, which she borrowed from Phil Lant. It goes like this: consider your money making idea and ask yourself if you will stick with it until you receive $100 from it. After your first $100, decide if you want to continue with it. If it took too long to earn it and you can’t figure out how to speed it up, or you got bored, that is your signal to move on to your next idea.

Is It Worth The Read?

While the book has a copyright date of 1993 I did not notice any glaring information that dated it. At a few points I found myself skimming because I had already done what she was writing about. She gives so many examples of other peoples success stories that I finally gave up reading every single one of them because I was anxious to get on to her next idea. If you find yourself dreaming about becoming self employed one of the first things to do is wake up and find a copy of this book.


  1. I started my own business selling handcrafted pendants made from recycled Scrabble tiles on Etsy and I love it!

  2. Barbara Winter just released an updated version of her book. It is available through her website

    I have both copies. Great book!

  3. THANKs for you advice. i appreciate it.

  4. Thanks for sharing this great post! I've had the updated version for a while but haven't started reading it yet. I will do so this weekend. I'm looking forward to a change in my situation. Thanks again!


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