Recently I found myself managing so many moving pieces — setting up a new technical system, training team members, booking speaking engagements and workshops, vetting new partnerships–that I found it hard to hear myself think. I knew this was a sign it was time to take a personal retreat. From stillness comes discernment.
There are many reasons we take retreats (read 5 Reasons to Take Retreats) but one of the main purposes is so we can hear and see what we most need to know about our next steps.
One of the ways I do this for myself and my business, is to pause regularly and take what I call a “personal planning retreat.”
I take personal retreats–typically every 90 days–to sit with the questions, “What is uniquely mine to do?” and “What is the best use of my energy and talents over the next three months?” (Whether that’s focusing on my marriage, working on a new business partnership or getting my financial house in order.)
We’re all over-committed, over-scheduled and exhausted (not to mention the added stress we’re feeling from all the political, cultural and environmental shifts right now). We’re trying to do too much. A personal planning retreat is a great way to pause, pull back and up, and get clear on what matters most. You may want to spend this time reflecting on what in your personal or professional life is calling for your attention, and thinking about how you want to allocate your time, energy and resources in the next 90 days (I find this much less overwhelming than looking at an entire year).
A good place to start is by making a list of what activities in your life currently fuel you (which ones give you energy, nurture you, make you come alive) and what activities drain you (create a physical tightness or discomfort in your back, belly or neck every time they cross your consciousness). Often these drains are things like a financial issue that must be handled, a tough conversation that has been postponed, a disorganized space at work or home, or a career/ job issue that needs to be addressed.
I like to approach these drains with a housecleaning mindset, giving myself three options for handling these energy zaps:
1. I can “just do it” and set a deadline for when I’ll complete the project.
2. I can delegate it and ask for help if needed or outsource the task.
3. I can dump it and walk away from this task or decide it isn’t going to happen (at least not this year!)
During your personal retreat, you can revisit old goals or dreams, enlist books for inspiration (see my life balance books The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal or Nurturing the Soul of Your Family for great exercises), draw from our sister company Career Strategists’ Inspiration Café, journal (check out my 2020 visioning questions), draw/paint or create a vision board from magazine images that represents a snapshot of how you want to experience the next three months.
Design a day or weekend that inspires you and helps you gain clarity and focus, but trust your intuition; this isn’t a race and you won’t be graded! A primary goal of this retreat is to give your analytical thinking a rest and give your creativity and your “Wise Self” the opportunity to speak. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your retreat:
•Set aside a day or a weekend void of all distractions (a minimum of eight hours is ideal, but even four hours is great).
•Have a solo date on your personal retreat or you may decide to attend a guided group retreat; it depends on your current needs and life stage. I do both. Some of my favorite retreat centers are Kripalu, Omega, Esalen and 1440.
•Choose a location that is inspiring and conducive to contemplation—a quiet park or natural setting; a friend’s vacant house; a retreat, yoga or spa center or even a quiet coffeehouse are good places to go (but get out of your own house!).
•Unplug, reflect and ditch your agenda. Dream and be open to new possibilities and new ways of being. Ask with compassion and kindness, “What would be the best use of my energy and focus in the next 90–or even 30–days?”
•Do less, have fun and make this your own. One of our clients sat and watched a bird’s nest being constructed over the course of several hours and experienced some big ah-has. When relaxed and playful, our brains can yield amazing creative solutions.
•Get the time on your calendar NOW! Otherwise it won’t happen. Think this sounds impossible? Well, if not now, then when?
I take a personal retreat each quarter. Perhaps you might, too? These planned respites are a wonderful, nurturing way for you to invest in yourself and your future.
HOW CAN I SUPPORT YOU? HERE ARE THREE OPPORTUNITIES:
- Help your team or employees find work/life alignment in 2020 so they can be more creative, focused and productive! Schedule me to facilitate a custom workshop or retreat on work-life harmony, resiliency or self-renewal. Learn more and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your next event.
- Ready to embrace new ways of being in 2020? Come replenish and recharge with like-minded women at my New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat: Jan. 24-26 at Kripalu in the MA Berkshire Mountains (highly recommended!). Almost sold out-don’t delay!
- My Jan. 31 one-day TX retreat is full, but the response was so overwhelming, I’m considering adding a Feb. Restructuring: A Meditation & Visioning Retreat if I can swing it. Email us to get a pre-invite.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 400 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups and women’s retreats based on her work. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 17-year-old son. More on Renee here.