This month I have been managing so many moving pieces — training new team members, booking new speaking gigs and workshops, setting up new office systems and vetting new partnerships–that I have found it hard just to hear myself think. So this past Thursday, instead of continuing to plow through all the pressing to-do’s in my inbox, I rebelliously closed my computer, unplugged and took an entire day off to get quiet and go inward for guidance and direction.
One of the ways I do this for myself is by pausing regularly and taking what I call “personal planning retreats.”
I take personal retreats–usually 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 in the next two-three months?” (Whether that’s focusing on my marriage, working on a new business partnership or getting my financial house in order.)
More than ever, we’re feeling over-committed, over-scheduled and exhausted (not to mention the stress we’re feeling from all the political and societal shifts we’re experiencing). We’re trying to do too much. A personal planning retreat is a great way to pause, pull back and get clear on what matters most. You may want to spend this time getting clear 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 at home or a career or 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, journal, draw/paint or create a collage from magazine images that represents your vision for 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 “inner teacher” the opportunity to speak. Some tips to help you get the most from your retreat:
You may, like me, decide to take a personal retreat each quarter. These planned respites are a wonderful, nurturing way for you to invest in yourself and your future. My favorite personal mantra is from stillness comes discernment.
Written by Renee Peterson Trudeau for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.