It’s 7am on Sunday morning here at Chautauqua Park, in Boulder, Colorado. I’m on my fourth and final day of my personal retreat; an annual pilgrimage I take for myself (and by myself) each year. Needless to say, this retreat has been an incredible time of insight, reflection, challenge, and inspiration for me, and I’d like to share some of the key ingredients below as to why.
As many of you know, I’m a big proponent of these personal retreats and believe we all can benefit from taking time for ourselves each year to reflect about our lives in a meaningful way. For me, it’s the gift to myself that keeps on giving because I always come back refreshed, reinvigorated, and ready to serve others with a renewed sense of clarity and passion for who I am and who I want to be.
Chautauqua Park is a historic and very charming neighborhood, made up of privately owned and rental camp-style cottages, nestled alongside the beautiful Flatiron Mountains.
My little efficiency cabin consists of a fairly large screened-in front porch, a combined bedroom/sitting room (no TV), a good size bathroom, a small kitchen, and a screened-in back porch. The view from the front porch looks over rows of cottages to the left and to the right while the back porch looks directly up into the mountain. Either way you can’t go wrong.
I always split up my retreats into two areas: work and personal. The work part of the retreat is initially a little more formal and resembles a strategic planning session where I review the past six months of financials, clients, projects, and compare them to stats from previous years. I also review this year’s results in relation to my 2013 goals and make whatever adjustments are needed. You get the idea…
But all of that is simply data and I don’t need a retreat to go over data.
The real reason for the retreat is to do some serious reflection. In order to do that, I write out (oftentimes before the retreat) a bunch of open-ended, thought-provoking questions, designed to both challenge and stimulate my thought-process about my work, my career, my aspirations, and my professional legacy.
Here are a few of the work-related questions I addressed on this retreat:
·What were my top five successes from this past six months and what did I learn about myself and/or my business as a result?
·What were my top five struggles/challenges/disappointments from this past six months and what did I learn about myself and/or my business as a result?
·Knowing what I now know, would it be a better use of my time during the next six months to write a leadership book or to create a new business model that will generate new profit centers? Why or why not? What do I need to know to make this decision?
The idea behind these and other thought-provoking questions is to expand my thinking and generate more out-of-the-box possibilities.
The personal side of the retreat primarily involves answering a number of thought-provoking questions as well. Given that I had a rather challenging six months from a personal standpoint, I had a lot of work to do.
Some of my personal questions I addressed this time around were:
·Am I really ready for a serious relationship or is there still some pushback? How will I know if I’m ready?
·My energy has been a little “down” as of late. What’s that about and what do I need to do to get back into form?
·What have I done to create and have fun the first six months of this year? Do I feel fulfilled or could I do more? If so, what?
But all work and no play makes Geese a dull boy
That’s why I incorporate a couple long hikes up the Flatirons, a couple long walks into downtown Boulder for a beer or two and an occasional jaunt over to the Chautauqua Music Hall on any given evening to watch one of their many live musical performances, be it a singer, an orchestra, or a play.
Knowing that last year’s retreat generated over $70,000 in profit, thanks in part to a business idea I came up with while sitting on the back porch, I expected nothing short of miraculous results from this retreat…and I’m not disappointed.
Here’s my top work and personal insight from this week. Both will be a primary focus for the next six months:
·From a work perspective, I’ve decided to completely revamp my business model (thanks to the advice of business coach Mark Malatesta), and shortly I’ll be introducing a coaching program unlike no other.
·From a personal perspective, I feel ready to step up and pursue a significant-other relationship again. It’s time to stop thinking about it and time to start making it happen.
I could go on and on about all the other insights I gained during these four days but they won’t mean as much to you. I think the biggest message for me right now comes from the following quote that I saw imprinted on one of the downtown buildings in Boulder:
I’ll be making a number of changes in both my business and personal life when I get home tomorrow that will push me beyond my comfort zone. But that’s who I am and I have these annual retreats to thank for keeping me focused.
Catch me every Monday from 3-4pm MST on www.milehiradio.com