I’ve worked harder since launching my writing career than at any other time in my life. Not that my previous jobs and degree program weren’t challenging, but being a solopreneur is demanding in a different way. You are the one making all the decisions. There is no one else around to pick up the slack if you can’t do it all.
To say I was facing burnout by August of this year was an understatement. I’d been working hard for ten months but seeing little in the way of results. I knew that I needed to make a big surge in my productivity, but I had no idea where I would get the energy or focus to make it happen.
I needed to plan. To organize the next phase of my business. But all I wanted to do was rest.
Enter the personal retreat.
Is a personal retreat for you?
A personal retreat might be the answer for you if you are:
- Feeling burnt out
- At a crossroads or transition, or struggling with a big decision
- Feeling disconnected from yourself
- Looking to treat yourself
- Struggling with stress and overwhelm
- Coming off a particularly trying season (or caught in the middle of one)
Planning your personal retreat
To get the most out of a personal retreat, you’ll have to craft a plan that suits your situation. Ask yourself the following questions to get a picture of the type of retreat you need and how to fit it into your life:
How much time can you set aside for your retreat? Whether you have a long weekend like I did, one day, or even a few hours, knowing how much time you have to work with is the first step in planning a personal retreat.
What do you want to get out of the retreat? Are you solely looking to relax? Pamper yourself? Do you want to plan a large project or make a major life decision? Or do you need to do some serious, big-picture soul searching?
What is your budget? Will you plan an at-home, strictly DIY retreat, or will you be traveling, staying in a hotel or Airbnb, or splurging on a massage or spa treatment?
I decided that I would plan a personal retreat for Labor Day weekend. I wanted to take a full day to look back on the previous ten months: to review what had worked well, what hadn’t, and what needed to change going forward. Then, I’d have a full day of rest and relaxation to recharge. Finally, I’d take a full day to plan my next moves.
My personal retreat was the perfect blend of relaxation and strategy. It consisted of three phases: reflect, refresh, and regroup. You can mold your own personal retreat plan after mine, focus solely on one phase, or tweak the phases of your retreat to suit your needs.
Reflect over the last year (or whatever season you’ve decided to focus on). Unplug yourself from the outside world and turn your focus inward. Try journaling or meditating. If you’re looking for a hands-on craft, try creating a collage. If you’re struggling to shift into a relaxed, reflective mindset, try a long walk or yoga flow.
Consider how you’ve felt over the last year. What has gone well and what hasn’t? What has drained you and what has recharged you? Don’t try to think of “fixes” right now or make excuses for why things didn’t go a certain way. Just observe the thoughts and feelings as they come. Use your planner, calendar, or journal to refresh your memory about all that has happened over the last year.
Take time to truly, deeply relax. Lounging around watching Netflix & playing on your phone may sound relaxing, but for the purposes of a personal retreat, you should seek activities that allow deep, intentional relaxation.
Try a few of these:
- Take a nap
- Get a spa treatment or do one yourself
- Spend time in nature
- Listen to relaxing music or ambient sounds, like waves or soft rain
- Take a long bath or sit in a sauna to draw out toxins
- Use essential oils to deepen your relaxation
- Practice deep breathing
- Read – the Bible, a novel, or a personal development book – whatever brings you the greatest joy
- Move your body gently – try yoga, tai chi, or an easy walk or hike
- Drink lots of water and eat mostly plant-based meals
Once you have reached the deepest level of relaxation you can, it’s time to begin recharging. Your personal retreat can’t last forever, after all. Eventually, you will have to return to the outside world. Use this time to be ready when you do.
Make an intentional decision to stop doing the things that aren’t good for you, aren’t getting you results, or aren’t bringing you joy. Think back to how you felt before you came on the retreat – what was stressing you out? What can you let go of to make that part of your life easier? While some stressors, like work or family obligations, can’t be avoided, there are always ways to lessen their effect. Even if all you can do is go easier on yourself.
Envision what you want your life to look like in the future. Even if you only look ahead by a month or two, begin setting goals to help make that vision a reality. If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, try this dreamstorming exercise.
It isn’t enough to merely set goals. You need a plan to make them happen. Try this post and this one to learn how to set goals and actually follow through with them. Once you have a plan in place, you can leave your personal retreat secure in the knowledge that you are equipped with the means to live a calm, joyful, purpose driven life.
Hopefully, your personal retreat will leave you feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready to return to your life with a level of energy you didn’t have before. Remember to tailor your personal retreat plan to your lifestyle and personal needs. Consider making a personal retreat a regularly scheduled part of your self care.