Any Parks & Rec fans out there? Yeah, we thought so.
Hard-core fans will certainly remember Tommy and Donna’s annual “Treat Yo’self” day. This was a day to spoil themselves rotten – mani-pedis at a swanky spa followed by power shopping and topped off with dinner at the best restaurant in town.
Not too shabby, right? But what we’re proposing is a little different, but just as useful.
We’re talking about a personal business retreat – time away from work and family to focus on just you and your business.
And while a retreat could theoretically include some retail therapy and cocktails, what we’re suggesting is a time of reflection.
You’ll benefit by gaining clarity that typically only comes from slowing down and taking a step back. If you feel like your business has hit a plateau or you can’t seem to make time for the business-building strategies and tasks you’ve been wanting to tackle, making time for a retreat can be especially beneficial.
Taking time to for the hyperfocus of a retreat could even net you with your next great idea.
What’s in a retreat?
First off, you’re probably wondering what the time commitment for something like this is. Some people spend just a day on this practice, others a full workweek. If you can spare at least two days you’ll have time to really unwind and get the perspective that only comes with a calm mind.
Once you set your time frame, you can structure your days however you’d like, but the idea is to have some kind of structure.
You may choose to do the following steps in any order, but we think these five elements are a must no matter how many days you devote to your retreat..
Reflect – Reflection is key to any retreat. Whether you choose to journal or quietly reflect in your mind's eye, taking the time to look back at how things are going both the good and the not-so-good, will help you in the later planning stage of your retreat. Reflection often leads to a-ha moments that you wouldn't otherwise have, so don't shortchange yourself on this agenda item.
Read – Some business owners bring a stack of books with them on their retreat. Over the course of a week they may glean the best ideas from several authors. Even if you only have a day, what book or collection of magazine articles have you been meaning to read but haven't gotten around to? This is your chance.
Move – Just as important as taking the time to be still to journal and read, making the time to move – be it some gentle yoga stretches, a round of golf or your favorite five-mile run – will give you another kind of clarity that will not only inform your work but also energize you for the next step, planning.
Plan – After taking time to read and reflect it's now time to synthesize you're thinking into a solid plan. What’s the big picture and what are your next steps to get to that place? Take the time to make a master list that encompasses both business and personal goals or tasks. This may be a great time to plug items into your calendar so that you finally make that eye appointment or investigate the new vendors you have been considering.
Indulge – Now that you have a plan in place it's time to truly treat yourself. This could be a massage, time with a friend or even that great pair of pants you’ve been eyeing but couldn’t quite justify. After all your hard work, you deserve to celebrate and remind yourself that what you just did will pay dividends long after the retreat is over.
A word on technology
One of the biggest questions around this kind of retreat is “To unplug or not to unplug?"
We advocate for unplugging as much as possible. It’s surprising how much you can get done when you’re not checking your phone every five minutes and switch tasking. It may be practical to bring your laptop for the planning phase of your retreat to facilitate your work, but consider working offline, or at least installing a Facebook blocker so you’re not tempted to stray from the tasks at hand.
We know there are benefits from taking a technology break, including greater creativity (perfect for problem solving), living in the present moment, and simply unwinding, which is really what a retreat is all about.
Make an appointment with yourself
The best time to take a retreat? As soon as possible. Why not block out a day – or two– right now? Even if it takes a month to clear your calendar and get a sitter for the kids or the dog, doing it now means only having to wait a month and not much, much longer.
Photo by Cara Fuller on Unsplash