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We've covered a lot of ground over the last few weeks.

We’ve talked about getting on your feet financially.

We’ve discussed embracing simplicity and setting priorities around the things that are most important to us.

And last week we reviewed how to make space in our lives to expand and create something brilliant.

Now it’s time for the final step in the series of getting paid to make a difference.

Making Time To Pursue Your Meaningful Ideas

Before I jump into this topic, I gotta make sure that you have cleared a specific time in your day to pursue your greatness. It’s so easy to allow life to get in the way of pursuing great ideas. I know this because I’ve been there.

I’ve made the mistake of opening email first thing in the morning and all of a sudden, half the day is gone! I’ve told myself that I will get to it after work, only to find myself too exhausted to do anything meaningful.

If you haven’t committed to setting aside time to pursue something meaningful, my advice is this.

Commit to waking up two hours earlier in the morning, and going straight to a quiet place with a cup of coffee or tea. Getting up one hour earlier isn’t going to cut it for most people. Try to sneak in two. I know the prospect of waking up that much earlier sucks, but isn’t the prospect of making money doing something you love, worth it?

I’ve tried everything and this is the best time for busy people to work, because the world hasn’t woken up yet and started placing their demands on you. This time is stress free, peaceful, and all for YOU.

STEP 4: Start a Meaningful Project

With time in your day you can now begin experimenting intensely with small projects that fill you with meaning, passion, and purpose outside of work. Anything from artistic endeavors to exploring that cool business idea to charity work.

What is a meaningful project?

First off, let's define a meaningful project. First and foremost, a meaningful project is something that you care deeply about. And, ideally, it's also something that provides value to others or solves a problem for someone else.

The whole idea behind starting a meaningful project is to move towards more meaning, purpose, adventure and excitement. This is a much better way to explore entrepreneurship than spending a ton of cash to start a business that you don't know will work out. This is where you take small risks toward making a difference in the world.

Many people are content to leave things here. They have a career that pays the bills and they also have time during their day or week to pursue meaningful ideas outside of work. There’s really not much downside to this path. It works. Worst case, you have a day job that pays the bills and you get to explore your interests on the side and probably earn a little extra cash.

For Those Who Want More

If your current field, industry, company, or organization does not reflect your deepest sense of purpose and meaning, then you’re going to need to take things a step further and begin aligning your money with your meaning on a higher level.

With new hours in your day/week gained from Steps 1, 2, and 3, it’s time to begin experimenting with things that might one day become both a source of meaning and a source of serious income outside of your current job.

This might mean starting a small business on the side, moonlighting in a second “start-up” career, or finding ways to earn money from your artistic and creative endeavors.

Whatever it may be, if you want to make a living from it and leave your current job, you’re going to have to dive deep into the area of expertise that interests you.

You’re going to have to wrap your own interests, talents, skills and purpose – the things you care most about and are best at – into a package that you can test and verify before spending a bunch of time and money.

So How Does This Work?

Get Curious – Begin by taking inventory of all the things in your life that you truly love. I show you how to do this here. Then get super clear about your skills, strengths and interests. I show you how to do this here.

Meaningful Idea Generation – Do you read about gluten-free cooking on a Saturday afternoons? Then maybe you should look at how you can help others who want to engage in a gluten-free lifestyle.

Do you love walking with your pet? What problems can you solve for either (1) other pet owners or (2) people who want their pets to have exercise?

Do you see what I’m getting at?

You’ll be surprised at how many seemingly ordinary activities can be converted into creative business ideas. I know many people that started out by taking regular things they were already doing and simply charging for it:

  • My wife Jill is a yoga teacher that has successfully formulated her style and built up her client base, so she mentors other yoga teachers how to do the same.
  • I started blogging and coaching others while still working at my corporate job, so now I teach people how they can start a meaningful project on the side while still working their 9-5 job.

Most people make this step way too complicated, usually because they’re looking for ideas that are clever and unique. If that’s your goal, that’s great, but it’s definitely not a prerequisite to creating income by doing work that matters.

Meaningful Idea Evaluation – Once you've brainstormed and come up with many ideas, it’s time to take a look at which ones will have the highest likelihood of paying off. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to spend 9 months pursuing a futile idea. That’s why it's smart to narrow down your best ideas and begin testing the most promising one.

To do this, I apply what I call the Meaningful Idea Evaluation approach. This is the process that I used to test my own ideas and create a business that is both aligned with my core genius and serves a sweet spot in the market.

I created the Meaningful Idea Evaluation process for aspiring independent entrepreneurs who don’t want to work for the man, but don’t want to build a traditional startup either.

It's all about building towards your own creative work instead of being an employee. It's about believing in your value and choosing to build something meaningful that reflects your unique genius.

Get Paid for Your Ideas – This is where you will experience the ultimate thrill – getting paid for implementing your meaningful ideas. And this is also just the beginning. Once you prove that people are willing to pay you for your winning idea, the work has just begun. The good news? This is (ideally) work that is a reflection of you and what you love to do! So it doesn't really feel like work.

Every single one of these steps is designed to minimize risk and and enhance your ability to thrive as an independent entrepreneur.

Finding Money and Meaning 

A major pitfall on this journey is that we are so conditioned to thinking of money and meaning as separate, that we overlook creative ways that we can bring them together. If you dig deep enough, you will find endless ways to combine your creative skills, passions, visions, and dreams with the already existing worlds of business and commerce.

I’m not going to say this will be an easy or risk-free adventure. However, once you begin researching and mingling with others that are living this way, you will have plenty of examples and inspiration to draw from.

Here are some of my favorite resources. These are some of the people that have inspired me to combine my skills, interests, talents, and dreams to create a business that allows me to do what I love. These people are also proof that we can make money by pursuing our deepest interests and creating something meaningful in the process.

Are you ready to start a meaningful project? If so, I believe that you are in the right place. There are many resources out there to help creative entrepreneurs get started and I am pouring my heart and soul into making The Startup Sessions one of the best!

I've got lot's of exciting guests planned for The Startup Sessions Show and I will also be releasing some cutting edge programs in 2014.

ad-biz-coachingI am also excited to formally announce my new Business Design coaching program. This is a step-by-step individualized coaching program designed to help you get those great ideas out of your head and out into the world.

My coaching is strictly limited to working with just a handful of people each month, who I love working with, and love working with me. If you're interested, email me here.

My greatest desire is to use my desire, knowledge and experience to help at least 1,000 corporate renegades to launch their own meaningful projects. I believe that one of the greatest and most fulfilling challenges is creating a career path that provides both a high likelihood of financial security and allows you to follow your dreams and make a difference in the world.

I hope you've found value in reading the 4 Steps to Getting Paid to Make a Difference. If you decide to embark on this daring journey, I hope you'll reach out and share your story along the way.

In Gratitude,

Michael

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