Meet, Plan, Go! September 14th in thirteen cities.  Be there.  Seriously.

Meet, Plan, Go! September 14th in thirteen cities.  Be there. Seriously.

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Listen up.  This is important.  We want to tell you about an outstanding event that will be taking place on Sept. 14th in thirteen cities across the US and Canada called Meet, Plan, Go! Its entire purpose is to provide you with inspiration, contacts and resources to “plan the trip of a lifetime” – and then go.  You’re probably wondering how much something this awesome would cost.  Well, I hope you’re sitting down: this event is free.  If you live anywhere near one of these cities, we think you should go.  To be honest, we’re pretty bummed that the fact that we’re already traveling prevents us from going.  Please go and tell us about it so that we can live vicariously through YOU (seriously, it’s the least you could do).  :)

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, read on…

If you’ve followed this blog at all in the past, then you know a little bit about our story–we were management consultants with intense jobs for a long time, now we’re hanging out in South America applying our high-intensity, driven personalities to enjoying life rather than making PowerPoint slides.  We won’t be doing this forever, and we wouldn’t want to.  Even if we had the finances to enable doing it forever (which we most decidedly do not), we’d eventually need to go back to doing something that felt like it gave us a purpose.  Going on a long-term trip like this doesn’t mean abandoning your career or even your current job, it just means taking a break.  That’s why we like the term “Career Break”, which we keep coming across more and more during our adventure.

The more we reflect on our experience and the more we learn about what others get out of taking Career Breaks (whether they last 2 months or 12), the more enthusiastic we are about suggesting them to others–everyone really.  I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t benefit from taking a step back for a little while.  It brings perspective.  It allows you to see more clearly what it is that you want.  It may lead to you returning to your previous job/career with a renewed vigor and sense of purpose, or it may lead you to new epiphanies about who you are and what you really want to be doing.  Regardless of where it leads you, by the end you’ll know yourself better, be more excited about life and probably have some great photos and crazy stories that you can use to make your friends jealous.

If you read our recent post on career option-value and identified with anything in it, you’ll agree that one of the very best ways to remove the stress from your life is to embrace and enjoy failure rather than running from it.  There is no better way to feel like a failure on a daily basis than to immerse yourself in a foreign culture–trust me, it’s pretty fascinating to go from being a senior client advisor to only having the ability to communicate at the level of a 5th grader!  Not only will you be humbled on a daily basis, but you’ll be away from the constant influence of your friends and colleagues who, in an attempt to be supportive, tend to reinforce the idea that you should stay on the path you’re on.  They may be right, but it’s more important what you think–and it’s almost impossible to get real perspective without getting away from it all every so often.  Long-term travel is the best way I know to do it.

Still not convinced?  We’ve got reinforcements…

I could go on and on (and you’ve seen me do it!), but instead I’d like to turn it over to one of the founders of Meet, Plan, Go! who also happens to be the host of the event in San Francisco to tell you more.  Her name is Tara Russell and she is someone you should get to know.  Here’s a quick snippet of her bio from the Meet, Plan, Go website:

TARA RUSSELL is a “Life Sabbatical & Long-term Travel Coach” – a Certified Life and Career Coach with a passion for working with clients who dream of taking time off to travel, live, work, study or volunteer abroad. As the Founder and President of Three Month Visa Coaching and Consulting, her mission is to empower her clients to change their lives (and ultimately the world at large), through meaningful international travel experiences.

Let’s talk about this Meet, Plan Go! thing…

Tara, tell us more about the origins of Meet, Plan, Go!… How did it get started and why does it exist?

The seed for Meet, Plan, Go! was planted back in January of 2010 when Michaela Potter and Sherry Ott who founded Briefcase to Backpack were in town and we met up for coffee.  We realized that there were so many cool ways that we might work together that what was meant to be a half-hour meeting turned into a 5-hour brainstorming session!  Our goal working together has been to take this conversation about Americans and career breaks and start building some critical mass behind it – get it out from the underground and take it national.  One thing that came up was the success of a group I have been running for a few years now in SF – SF Travel Book Club and Lectures Series – and we started to wonder what it would look like if we could take the strength of that in-person group dynamic and expand it nationwide by doing a day of coordinated events across the US.  From there, Michaela and Sherry were able to leverage the strength of their online network to recruit hosts and panelists from across the US and that’s how Meet, Plan, Go! came to be!

Why do you think that taking a Career Break and traveling is beneficial for people?

I would go beyond even saying “beneficial” – I think career breaks are absolutely essential for people…perhaps now more so than ever.  Consider that our office desks are no longer stationary items that we can leave behind after 5pm…with the introduction of cell phones and PDAs, many of us are forever wired and always accessible from the moment we wake up in the morning to the time we go to bed at night. In an age when we are hearing more and more about work /life balance, it seems increasingly difficult to truly “unplug.”

Career breaks and travel give us that opportunity to unplug…to really take a step back, get perspective and regain balance in a way that we just can’t do while we are caught up in the pace of our hectic 9-5.  (Or – let’s be honest – given the crazy hours many of us work, our 5-9.)

Travel gives us fresh and new perspectives, expands our horizons, strengthens our sense of adventure, pushes us to challenge ourselves, feeds an appreciation of our own strengths and abilities and provides us with space and time to examine who we are and what we truly want out of life.  I’m passionate about helping my clients find that and taking that message national is what MPG is all about!

Who is this event for?

Well, it’s pretty simple, really.  Here’s a quick and easy exercise to help readers determine if MPG is right for them…

Close your eyes and imagine taking time for yourself to do exactly what you have always wanted.  Do you see:
* Surfing lessons in Costa Rica?

* Taking classes at a local university?

* Hiking the Himalayan Annapurna Circuit in Nepal?

* Renovating your house into the home you dream of?

* Volunteering at an orphanage in Brazil?

* Japanese lessons in Kyoto?

If you came up with anything other than “I’d like to be right here where I am…in my beige cubicle.”, then Meet, Plan, Go! is definitely for you.

This event is for anyone who has ever had a travel dream and wondered how to make it a reality.  Anyone who has ever thought “Oh, I would so love to do something like that, but…  Anyone who is currently reading this from their tiny little corner of cubicleland and thinking “Man, I wish I was lounging on the beach in Fiji right now.”

You get the picture…if you close your eyes and dream of being somewhere other than where you are, this is the event for you.

What exactly will happen at the event?

We have put together a stellar panel of travel experts – travel writers, photographers, podcasters and bloggers as well as me wearing the hat of Travel Coach.  We will be presenting on the big Whys and Hows of career breaks and long-term travel and helping participants get an idea of resources that they turn to when they can start planning and go for support as they move forward.

What do you expect that people will get out of it?  Why is it worth their time?

I would say this really breaks down into the “big three” of what you need to make your plans for a career break a success – inspiration, resources, and community.  People who attend will be inspired by a panel of speakers / travel industry experts, they will be connected with some of the resources they need to start making their travel dreams a reality and they will be surrounded by a dynamic, supportive community of people who “get it”.  Each element of that formula is really key for us.

Ok, let’s talk about the San Francisco event for a minute…

What are the logistics (e.g., when, where, how long, how do people sign up, etc.)?

The SF event is being held on Tuesday, September 14th from 7-9pm at NextSpace in downtown San Francisco.  The event is free but participants do need to reserve their space and print and bring their ticket with them.  RSVPs can be made at:

Switching gears a bit, let’s talk about you…

How and why did you personally get involved in this?

When I met Sherry and Michaela back in January, there was such a cool synergy there when we combined our skill sets.  Given their professional and personal backgrounds and their experience running Briefcase to Backpack and also blogs of their own, they are incredibly savvy about the internet, blogging, online networks and marketing, etc.  What I brought to the table was years of experience running in-person travel-related events and also working with one-on-one coaching clients as they prepared for career breaks of their own.  From that, (coupled with my own experiences planning and realizing a year-long career break of my own,) I had a keen understanding of the self-imposed limitations and perceived obstacles that often deter people from taking the sabbaticals that they really want.  When we put our heads together, in short, I saw the opportunity to work with really cool people on a project I was extremely passionate about – how could I say no?

What do you do with your time when you’re not working on Meet, Plan, Go?

I am thrilled that I get to spend a great deal of my time working with one-on-one travel coaching clients, helping them work through the logistical and emotional preparations that go into making a career break possible.  In addition, I’ve been able to do quite a bit of speaking in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond on topics revolving around career breaks, life sabbaticals and long-term travel.  Loving my work makes it something I am pleased to dedicate a lot of time to.

When I’m not coaching, reading travel books or arranging events for SF Travel Lit & Lectures or working on MPG, I do my best to get out in this gorgeous city with friends to enjoy all the great sights, music, food and museums that SF has to offer.  I also dedicate as much time as possible to my passion for photography and some of my work can be seen at

And (of course,) whenever I can, I travel!

A few things to summarize…

This event sounds awesome.  It is unbelievably inspiring to me/us that a few people got in a room together and conceived a plan to put something like this together for the sole purpose of inspiring others to get out there and pursue their travel-related passions and that now, in a few weeks, it’s going to happen simultaneously in thirteen cities.  We are at the same time impressed by the ambition and execution of the coordinators, inspired by the concept and, perhaps more than anything, jealous that you get to go and we don’t.  Don’t miss it-we’ll be angry with you.

Check out the Meet, Plan, Go! website for more info

Please leave a comment, it will make us feel special!

  • Michaela Potter August 17, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks for the great interview with Tara! We are blown away how our little idea conceived over coffee has been so widely embraced and become much bigger than we ever anticipated. The exciting part is getting people to come out of the “career break closet” to find a community that will support their dreams.

    Let us know when you are back in the States and perhaps you can help with Meet, Plan, Go – 2011!

    • ryan August 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm

      You guys are awesome! People need this. Thank YOU for creating it.

      Would love to be involved with MPG 2011!

  • Sherry Ott August 17, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    We’ve got a spot reserved for you in 2011! Thanks for the great article!

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