I’ve added a new blog to my list of favorites – MeetPlanGo.
Now, you might think that I’ve chosen it because the authors, Michaela Potter, Sherry Ott, and Michael Bontempi, recently published a feature article about me. Indeed, my initial introduction to it occurred when Michaela contacted me about an interview. But from the moment I began surfing around it, I was hooked.
The concept for MeetPlanGo evolved as a result of Michaela and Sherry’s career breaks. Having worked for many years in the corporate world, Michaela needed a change. She left her job, strapped on a backpack, and hit the road for nine weeks. At the time, Sherry was well into her 16-month backpacking trip around the world. She, too, had grown tired of her corporate career and a fast-paced life in New York and hit the road. Then, fate intervened. During her travels, Sherry taught English for a month in India through the volunteer organization, Cross-Cultural Solutions. As a Program Manager at CCS, Michaela was made aware of Sherry’s trip and followed along on her travel blog.
Although their individual trips were different in many ways, they came away with similar realizations. They met people from a wide variety of countries and backgrounds, but very few Americans. In turn, most people were surprised that as Americans they were traveling so far and for so long, since long term career breaks are not common in America. The second revelation was more personal; both knew that they could not possibly return to the corporate rat-race that had previously defined their lives. Michaela subsequently decided to pursue a freelance career, while Sherry got her ESL certificate in order to keep traveling and teaching English. Their well-deserved career breaks were not only educational and stress-reducing, they were also life-changing. The two soon realized that, although headed down different paths, they both wished to “inspire others to take a cultural career break and gain insightful lessons on life.” Thus was MeetPlanGo born.
The blog is chock full of information necessary to plan a career break, including subjects such as where to go, what to do, letting go, culture shock, how to stay in touch from the road, and even an area devoted to re-entry once the trip is complete. They site also features interviews with Americans who have thrown caution (and their careers) to the wind to follow their dream of extended travel (like me).
In my opinion, Michaela, Sherry, and Michael are definitely on the right track. Not only did my six-month around-the-world trip allow me to realize a lifetime dream, it pointed me toward my true purpose in life. If career breaks were an accepted part of the American cultural landscape – as they are in Europe and Australia – I believe everyone would benefit. Travelers would return from their journeys full of vigor and fresh, creative ideas. Corporate America would reap the benefits of this new paradigm. I wish MeetPlanGo the best of luck in its efforts to bring about this change in our American mentality. I will definitely be following their progress.