Sunday, November 13, 2011

Meet, Plan, Go! (or...What Do You Want Out of Life?)


A few weeks ago we joined a small group for one of the national Meet, Plan, Go! events in Orlando, while others were being held throughout North America. Meet, Plan, Go is essentially a movement to encourage North Americans to take part in career break travel. As the name entails, the idea is to meet at the events and via web channels with others who have fulfilled such travel dreams or are in various stages of planning, to then be inspired to begin one's own planning and then to go!

For us, it was a bit backwards since we have already done career break travel (or in my case, digital nomad travel), however it was still great to hear stories, learn about some additional resources and ideas, and be surrounded by like-minded people. When you're passionate about something, you can sometimes be a bit hard to take for others who don't share that passion (thought bubble above the head of any person talking to me, "Enough already with the travel stories!"). Getting together with those who share your passion is energizing (and is the next best outlet to blogging for telling all your stories and hearing about places you dream of going:-).

What impressed me most about the panelists we heard was the variety of lifestyles, situations and motivations they started from to reach the common denominator of extended travel. I hear a lot of different comments from people when we're sharing our story, along the lines of "You're lucky to be able to do that" (yes, I agree:-) and "You can do it because...(you don't have kids, your job allows it, fill in the blank here)" or "How??" (which often relates to money). For us, it is true, some of the challenges were easier because of our jobs, lifestyles, etc. However, the panelists proved that people in a variety of circumstances were able to overcome obstacles they faced.

This isn't just about travel though, because that may not be something that matters to you. But if it is a priority and you think you can't do it, there's a lot of people out there who can tell you otherwise. For example, on the Orlando panel, there was a couple with three high-school aged children who traveled around the world for a year (after a slight detour in planning when their original savings plans were derailed by the housing market crash) and a solo woman traveler who is also a "digital nomad" and is now venturing out with her young niece for a year! I've read a number of blogs and articles about every type of traveler you can imagine: from older women who travel amongst youth backpackers to families with all ages of children and people from wide-ranging career and financial situations.

I guess my biggest take away is that these lessons can be applied to life whether travel is important to you or not. It's about what you want in life and the feeling many people have that they are stuck without choices. As a conservative worrier, believe me when I say, I know it isn't easy to face the unknown or make big changes. I am someone who generally sees the glass half-full and sometimes can get all too comfortable with the status quo because of this. I'm always pretty pleased with where I live, who I am with and what I do for a living or fun. I can easily get into a rut (and often do). But, I guess I've also always had a certain restlessness (I'll put the positive spin on it and call it intellectual curiosity) that doesn't allow me to settle in to my rut for too long.

What do you want to change in your life? What little steps can you take to start making that happen today? Do you try to prioritize the things you are passionate about daily?

If you're curious about the logistics of how some of these career break travelers made it happen (how did they save the money?, school the kids?, what did it cos?t, how did they handle medical insurance?, etc.), check out the Meet, Plan, Go! website and some of the blogs and social media sites of the various panelists or other round-the-world, career break travelers or digital nomads.

I would also recommend The Passion Test, a book and methodical system of identifying your passions and putting them first in your life (whether those passions are a hobby you want to improve, a business you want to grow, your children and family, friends, a better relationship with your partner or travel...).

Does this inspire you or tick you off? Do you think my view is unrealistic, idealistic, unsympathetic? Have you or someone you know changed courses in a big way and lived to tell about it?

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