Today’s blog is for the many of us “in between”.  We’re not rich but we’re not poor.

I  just keep thinking of those of you who have some savings, investments and/or home equity — but you may have just been laid off or you’re really worried about getting laid off or a loved one getting laid off.  You’re not a millionaire but you’re a skilled laborer or a mid-level manager and you have, maybe, $100,000 of savings and/or  investments, give or take, in addition to some home equity in your house or condo.  You’re not filthy rich but you’re not joining the soup line anytime soon.  You’re in between.

I keep hearing the following over and over again from folks like you:  “I can’t afford to take some time to get away and think things through about what I really want to do with my life.”

I disagree.

In fact, I would argue that you should take a very small amount of time and money to do some due diligence and plan your career future.  You can’t afford NOT to do it.  Now is the time to be more focused than ever before.  Those of you with a focused PLAN will get the jobs and opportunities out there in this challenging economy or will be innovative and create you own via doing consulting work and/or opening your own business.  But creating a plan doesn’t just happen.

So….here’s what I think you might want to consider:

1.  Get out of town!  It clears the air — and the head.  Now, I’m not talking about a 3-week Euro vacation, here, folks.  It could be a weekend get-away.  It’ll be a working weekend…but take time to also go on a hike….have dinner w/your partner or a good friend (if you want to go with someone — nothing wrong with wanting/needing to go solo!)….or simply do some reading.  You deserve it.  You’ve worked hard.  You DESERVE some time off even though you have been laid off or are fearing it.  Grant yourself the permission!  Clear your head a bit.  The small time and money investment will have huge return on investment for you.

2.  But it’s not all play.  Take your journal.  Write.   Take your favorite magazines and newspapers to create a collage of your interests to help you plan ahead — a vision board, as it were.  Put it all into a backpack or a small suitcase and off you go.  It’s your dream bag!  When you get home, lay-out your favorite pictures, quotes, etc into your vision board (For a great book on creating your vision board, see Joyce Schwartz’s The Vision Board ).

Ladies, I know you get this.  I don’t want to come off being sexist but women just do.  Us guys?  Well, many of us think such things may come off looking silly…or, God forbid, a bit sissy.  Bull#!)*, I say.  There’s nothing wrong with planning your future by keeping a journal and/or creating a vision board.  Get over yourselves, guys.  Let’s join the ladies on this one.  Hey, Oprah ain’t no fool and she has done pretty OK.  She’s a big “journaler” to this day.

3.  Get a change of venue no matter what.  Do you feel uncomfortable spending money flying to another city or state?  I understand.  Then, drive (gas prices are down!) or take the train to a city, town or the countryside that’s even within an hour or two of your home.  You’ll be shocked by what you find.  You’ll feel rejuvenated by meeting interesting people with vastly different backgrounds who may have a completely different perspective on this economic downturn than what you have.

The farmer in Yamhill, Oregon is going to think differently than the Nike exec from Portland who might be getting laid off in their just-announced lay-offs (expected to occur in June).  Or, the  diner owner in the Catskills will think differently than the recently laid-off media maven from Manhattan.  And the school teacher in South Haven, MI (on Lake Michigan) will have a different perspective than the laid-off automaker from Detroit.  Meeting people from other areas…from other occupations….from other income brackets will help you change perspectives.  Trust me.

Do you have any plans this weekend?  Do you or your your loved one(s) have off on Monday for the holiday?  It’s not too late.  Go online and find yourself a cheap get-away.  Call your favorite B&B that you’d like to revisit.  Go to Priceline and put in some ridiculously low price for a 4-star hotel in a city near you — you never know what you’ll get — it’ll be fun!  Check-out the water park you’ve always talked about going to with the kids.  If you’re in an area that’s warm enough, go camping!  Go cheap.  Just go.  Get away.  Grant yourself the permission.  You DO deserve it.  If not this weekend, then next.

Me?  I’m practicing what I preach.  Wade and I are heading to one of our favorite little cities, Astoria, Oregon (where the Columbia River flows into the Pacific Ocean — the river is as wide and beautiful as a Norwegian fjord!) for the Fisher Poets Gathering on Feb 27-28.  Should we spend the money?  On paper, and according to the media, probably not.  But we’re not going to break the bank doing it, either.  In fact, rather than staying at our favorite boutique hotel, we’re staying at a chain motel this time around.  But it’s going to give us both a wonderful perspective – a change of perspective.  I expect to meet and chat with a lot of folks about what they’re doing to survive in this economy.  I can’t wait to meet commercial fishermen, bartenders, freelance writers, attorneys, not-for-profit directors as well as those unemployed.  They’ll ALL be there.  I am anxious to hear what they say about what they’re doing to change perspectives during this economic downturn.  I’m taking my journal.

So….stop reading and join me in GETTING OUT OF TOWN!

Cheers! Brian