Planning Staycation? What and How?

Welcome back to my Staycation / Career Planning Series

Last week, I talked about what I’m going to do and the preplanning that I felt needed to take place for me to feel like I’ve been successful.

If you’re wondering why in the world I’m doing this, its pretty simple and some other types like myself may agree.

In school, no one every tells you about goal setting. That bothered me so in the early days of my speaking to groups, I often first spoke to youth groups and I continue to do Vision Boarding workshops for adults. But I would speak to youth about breaking down what they wanted to do in their futures and in life in general, and help them understand the breakdown of a goal, end result and creating a path toward that. Young people need more of that and many of them told me as much.

Secondly, whatever career you are in and you decide you wanna stay and move up the latter, some of the small increases in your grade (government), your level/competency (e.g. toastmasters) and as an author (whether or not you’ll eventually make a prominent best-seller status or not, is often contingent upon various planning. I remember filling something out for a program I wanted to enter. I became stumped by this one question:

Please tell us about your career arc?

What? What is that?

I Googled it, I looked and asked other prominent people. They had no idea either. I was like surely you’ve done this, you’re on the NYT and the USAT lists.

And you know, I still don’t know what it is. There probably isn’t an example, the people asking this question may have meant to stump applicants, or they may have thought everyone already knew or perhaps as writers, we could easily make it up. It was really annoying that no one could help me figure this out. It’s annoying that the only real career planning instruction happens at industry conferences. So in many ways, doing this blog series is partly to help others (and myself) come up with that and if not the full plan for your career, because that sounds and should be, fluid, but at least some means for taking time out to focus and think about it. Like your own retreat if that helps you understand it better.

So, in the last post, you should know all the why’s of a staycation and preplanning involved helping you make the best pathways to your end result and the goals, whatever those are.

Today, I’m talking HOW and WHAT

The final two questions to answer, are:
How (where) to gather ideas or best practices before your Staycation- Planning Event?
And, what to take wherever you’re planning to go (if you’re planning to go off site from your home base)?
Gathering Ideas, Information and Instruction From Other Sources
Often before I do anything, I see what Youtube, a Google search and various other popular bloggers have to offer on the subject. I loved looking at and reading some of the informative things people had to say about various retreats and I also searched Google for “Staycation” because what I was doing was partly a type of staycation too.
Here are five resources for some inspiration 
The Humbled Homemaker – Erin Odom has a great ebook called Your Retreat: A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day. It has some great tips and printable lists at the end.
When I looked for “career planning” videos on Youtube, I found little, except for this one I liked: How to Map Out Your Career as a Best-selling Author – *a word of caution, sometimes the meat isn’t there and be ware of vids that are part sales tool, e.g. they give you a little free but good information, just to get you to “work with me”. There are a few more so go look, use search words such as, “career planning for authors,” “planning your writing career” and “staycation.”
The Write Life Blog also has a post about planning a Staycation for Writing
The Writer’s Guide to Achieving Success by Theresa V. Wilson who I met at a conference and got the book there and she has a Masters in Education, and lastly,
I have not dived much into a book I’ve purchased twice now, both the 2017 edition and the The 2018 Author’s Journal: Your comprehensive guide to a wildly successful year of authorship,  by Audrey Ann Hughey, (Comprehensive Planners for Creatives and Entrepreneurs) (Volume 1), this is an awesome book, I just wish like Ms. Wilson’s book above, it was spiral bound or available in PDF so one could write better in it. The margins are tight and it’s a thick book that’s a bit cumbersome (and heavy) to carry around. Also, be ware, there are about 5 -6 different (although pretty) covers for what is essentially the same book content on the inside.
Just a couple more things to think about and check, in the preparation phase for the actual days.
Check the Weather Forecast – I wanted some of the time to be able to sit outside, as I mentioned, but that wasn’t going to be possible if the weather was bad and for several weeks, we have had the unusual torrential rain, and thunderstorms these last few weeks in Virginia. If you won’t be outdoors, the weather does not matter. And if it did plan to rain for the three days straight of my plan, it would be easy enough to go into work and move my days, but at least the details of the plan were in place.
Print outs – I have lots of handouts from various workshops on career planning (they kind of pile up and are forgotten), creating a vision, and even these free worksheets from Heart Breathings that offers some ideas on her 90 day planning system. (90 days is just  quarterly planning so don’t get too excited.) For the ways in which you’ll plan, the handouts/instruction and etc., go for electronic documents as you don’t have to lug a lot of items with you. I just took a few. One I got from the Romance Writer’s America and another I got from a different writers conference. For the reflection/planning part, I would use these worksheets and spend some time answering questions about where I was going and I wanted these prompts.
I actually have, (ready?), last count, nine book ideas in various stages in Word and seven completed book covers (so far) to go with them.  I know what order they will be published in, but I wanted to list them out and see where I was going/ or planning to go – and see if I were to release one book a year, versus two books a year, or one book every 18 months, and really get an idea of what year would that take me into?
For the career planning, as a cut and paste/creative project – everyone needs a little cut and paste in their life- I printed these book covers on label paper, cut them out and stuck them on a sort of timeline that was really just a sheet of 11 x 17 paper and wrote down some thoughts about the story, a theme, and other ideas so the stories would be in the back of my mind, and penciled in tentative release dates.
I put a pic of it on Instagram, here – be sure to check it out. Remember, these must NOT be set in stone, this is tentative planning remember, not the headache inducement of deadlines and piling up projects you may or may not realize in the time frame you’ve set and then getting frustrated with your lack of accomplishment. Doing this was fun, a way to do a visual map of possibilities and hopefuls, but remember, as such, maps have detours, roadblocks and hurdles and part of that is living life and enjoying the journey, both however long it takes and wherever it may take you – sometimes off the main thoroughfare that you’d intended
Other things I took with me:
  • Markers/Pens/Extra Paper or notebook
  • Future years’ calendars
  • Laptop computer (I actually didn’t take this – but I thought about)
  • Phone / Charger
  • Camera – (or use phone camera) – to get some shots for the blog
  • Snacks/Drink/Water
  • Headphones
One of the reasons I left some things behind such as my laptop was that in many instances, we forget the importance of pen to paper and the aesthetic impact it can have, especially for creative types. I already spend a lot, A LOT of time on my computer and some of the best ideas come from NOT having that, and really writing it out.
Finally, here’s just a couple more tips.
Tips
  • Relax and have fun – this is supposed to be exciting and to help you
  • Don’t block out your time so stringently, have a plan but be flexible
  • What if you end up doing absolutely nothing? I have resolved that even that (sometimes) was meant to be. You obviously required a few days just for that. So, as a result of that, do nothing time, think about the next time perhaps you can plan for some, a day of procrastination first before you dive into your objectives/goals could be considered a prep day – give yourself that
  • Don’t just get down to business, observe look up and around, pay attention and explore your world
  • Think about what other fun things you could do
  • Lastly, please be careful. With a lot of different factors depending on where you live, and especially if you’re planning to go to a place you don’t usually, such as a park or on a hike, tell someone where you’re going and ensure you pack the things you need in the event of an emergency

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