Have you and your life-partner taken your annual business and personal retreat?
You may be thinking, “An annual retreat? Nah, that’s just for big organizations.”
Hear me out. If you choose to do a retreat, you’ll begin to see immediate benefits which can keep you both feeling charged and recharged all-year through. Yes!! This will work for you too (or two, or two too), whether you are in business together or not.
Carol and I just completed a 3-day annual retreat. This is dedicated and uninterrupted time for us to review and celebrate the past, envision and plan the future, and to commit to consciously live in the now.
Sound a bit incongruent? Let me explain.
Although we are business partners, our daily duties usually take us in different directions, doing different things, dealing with different people. It’s pretty simple: Carol does the work; I have the fun. Good deal – for me!
In the past, it seemed we were on different tracks, not knowing where the other person was going or what they were doing. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was on the track, let alone the right one.
We seemed to spend much time putting out fires rather than investing time moving forward. We were “just doin’ our thing” everyday, without any common purpose or vision. Communication, if you would call it that, was often notes on the kitchen table. It was stressful. And you can bet your booties it affected our love life too.
Whether you work together or have individual daily obligations, have you experienced similar stressful situations? I bet you have.
Not so anymore for us. Now, we feel purposeful, motivated, and productive throughout the year. We are accountable, intentional, and dedicated to our lives. We communicate effectively – most of the time. Our relationship continues to improve as we become more conscious about our purpose together. We are becoming better “human beings” in our interactions in our community and society. And the bottom line results? We’re growing in strength mentally, emotionally, and financially.
So if you’d like to ratchet your life forward, personally and professionally, I challenge you to schedule and hold your own retreat. Yup, your own. If you’d like some guidance for yours, we’d be happy to help. Here are some pointers that have worked well for us.
Retreat Location, Timing & Agenda
We’ve tried going to a hotel or cabin. It was fun, however we find staying at home works best for us – it eliminates travel time and costs, and any information or files we need are convenient. Besides that, we live in an amazingly peaceful and beautiful location.
Several months in advance, we agree to the retreat dates and renegotiate any prior commitments. With our business and personal schedules, a few days in the first part of January work well for us.
On our agenda, we include work time and play time. We believe it has to be fun to allow the creativity to flow freely.
We schedule 1/2 hour in the morning and again in the afternoon to respond to important phone messages and emails. Otherwise the phones and emails are off-limits.
Like any agenda, we determine what to discuss, and in what order. We are flexible to allow for spontaneous thoughts and discussions that are on purpose.
We’ve all heard about the importance of writing specific, measurable, and achievable goals. Yes, this is powerful.
For us, the goals we choose are a result of deeper, long-term, and holistic conversations. We invest ample time to determine and envision our wanted quality of life, as business partners, community members, best friends, and lovers. We discuss how we want our lives to be 10, 20, or 30 years from now in regard to how we work, play, treat ourselves and each other, and how we live in relation to our environment.
With that vision in mind, we developed a “Quality of Life Statement” that summarizes how we intend to live. We write this statement in highly visible places (planner, bulletin board in office, refrigerator door). This statement is somewhat like a mission statement because we use it to assist us in making decisions. If an option supports us to live by our Quality of Life statement, we do it. If it doesn’t support the statement, we don’t.
Keep in mind that stress happens when we don’t decide what to do. If we quickly and easily make decisions, there is no stress.
Based on our Quality of Life Statement, we choose goals and develop plans for achievement of those goals. We decide who is going to do what and by when. This gives us a time element to keep us accountable. These goals and plans are specific to our business ventures and to our personal, family, and community lives. This allows us to keep the important areas of our lives in a state of balance. We also talk about how we can support each other in the accomplishment of our plans.
We are both accountable for completion of our plans, achievement of our goals, and experiencing our Quality of Life – without blame. We know that all our results, the good, the bad, and everything in-between are totally determined by our choice of thoughts, words, and actions.
Do roadblocks and challenges arise? Absolutely. We accept these inconveniences as learning opportunities rather than scapegoats or B.S. excuses.
To keep us on-track and accountable for our results, we have a short weekly meeting to celebrate our accomplishments, discuss our upcoming commitments and ideas, and to communicate about how and where we can get support. We discuss our business ventures, as well as meal planning, housecleaning, grocery shopping, and our personal time together.
This retreat idea may sound stuffy and process-driven. My good friend, Wayne Cotton, once told me, “If you’ve got a problem, develop a process to handle it and it will never be a problem again.”
Although a retreat is work, this process allows you all kinds of room for creativity, spontaneity, and fun. It eliminates or greatly reduces stress, not just at the time, but for the long-term.
The fact is: your professional and your personal life are intricately woven together – you can’t separate one from the other. And it’s the same for your life-partner. So how are you both going to experience joy, love, happiness, and success, unless you commit to schedule uninterrupted time together to talk about it?
Why not book a one-day retreat for a start? If you’re committed to yourselves, you’ll do this. And like most things in life, the more you practice, the easier it gets, and the more value you’ll create.
As the old saying goes, “Why wait for spring? Do it now!”