Galvin and Associates

How to Structure Your Next Personal Retreat



I wanted to schedule a day for a personal and business planning retreat this summer and I never got around to it. Things got busy and I failed to make it happen. It’s not like I lacked motivation. I was craving some solitude to plan.

Perhaps you also have good intentions about scheduling a personal retreat but you are finding it difficult to make it happen. Or maybe tend to feel a bit guilty about taking time away to plan. Here are some points that might help.

Sharpen your focus
Clarify what kind of planning you want to do. Is it work/life planning? Coordinating calendars with your spouse? A time for spiritual renewal? Generative thinking about an issue? Or, setting annual goals? Don’t settle for having a vague hope of doing some long-range planning.

Determine your time frame
Determine how far into the future you are looking. Is this seasonal planning (3 to 5 months ahead), annual planning (12-15 months ahead), or thinking about your next chapter in life? What kind of preparation do you need? Read a challenging book? Secure the soccer schedule for your kids? Look up future conference dates? What tools will you want to bring along? Don’t arrive underprepared.

Get others involved
Though your goal may be solitude with large chunks of time to think and plan, you can get others involved. You can bring along your spouse with the understanding that you will be alone during the day and together for dinner and evenings. You can invite one or two peers to the personal retreat. Each can read a book ahead of time to stimulate discussion and report on insights over meals as you plan individually. If you want to be truly alone, schedule a call with a friend so you can report on your personal retreat to build in some accountability. Use the positive peer pressure at your disposal.

Take yourself off site
You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a personal retreat day. You can find a quiet place in your local library or borrow a space at a different office or a different church. You can also stay at a moderately priced hotel or visit a camp with off-season rates. Your personal retreat can be a half day in length and still be productive. It can be a full day, overnight, or a long weekend. Don’t attempt a retreat at home or at your office unless you can secure a secret location there secure from interruptions.

Make it fun
Why not add some recreational opportunities to your retreat? Fresh ideas often hit while you exercise. You can take a long walk in the morning and another long walk in the afternoon. You can buy groceries and make all your meals where you are staying or eat out at fun restaurants. Build in positive reinforcements and meaningful rewards.

If you could design the ideal personal retreat for you for in the next few months, what would it look like?

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