Personal retreat days are pivotal for you to invest in yourself and your future. You give yourself the gift of solitude time to be able to practice the skill of reflection. I have been doing personal retreats for about 15 years, starting with once every few years, and now once per month. I feel like I drift from my vision and goals if I go too long without a retreat.
Personal retreats are best done (of course, alone!) away from your home or office, not that it cannot be done in those locations, but to retreat is to go away from your normal surroundings for a different perspective or vantage point. It just tends to get bumped if I stay at home–too many distractions! I have found that going into nature, or choosing a place (when the weather is less than ideal) that observes nature is the opportune location. I bring a laptop to type reflections and a legal pad for when brainstorming, and often a journal (or two) and a book (or two). That’s about it (besides water and a snack or two). “Chill” music or beach/forest sounds is often playing in the background to give me some dopamine.
My annual rhythm of retreats starts around December 31, with two full days of reflection. That is the “meatiest” retreat because it’s a Year-in-Review and a goal-setting time for the new year. I add taking a personal growth assessment or making a bucket list or some other more lengthy reflection during the annual retreat. Last year I wrote up 50 Things I Love for my 50th birthday.
From there, I allocate two hours in January, adding an hour each month to my retreat time as the year progresses. This keeps me current with myself and business, as things develop and I start implementing action items. This year I added a quarterly retreat in a local hotel with a view, around April 1, July 1, and October 1 to replace those typical monthly retreats with more of a 90-day deep dive.
What do I do for all that time, and why?
- To begin with the “big picture” end-in-mind, evaluate 1-year vision (with goals in every category: personal and business)
- To bring the vision down to the tarmac, evaluate thematic goal for the next month (lighting the burner hotter in an area)
- To make it happen, put action items on calendar to achieve those goals (not calendared, not gonna happen)
- For more inner peace, a spiritual activity
- For growth, professional reading or inspirational podcast
- To stoke creativity, make a top 10 list and evaluate a dozen ideas in Idea File (where I drop them throughout the year)
- To capture learnings from the past, cull some of an old journal (to see if/how much I’ve grown)
I return refreshed and ready to tackle the action items that will help me become the best version of myself, my relationships, and my business. It’s like I hit the “refresh” button on my computer.
Want to talk more about personal retreats? Initiate an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s communicate about other ideas, or you can ask me further questions. Until then, KGF: Keep Growing Forward!