A retreat is often thought of in the context of a spiritual
journey but it can also be a powerful tool to rekindle passion, commitment and
energy in your business. In a busy schedule it’s a guaranteed way to slow down
and reflect. A client of mine made it a
habit to schedule a three day retreat every quarter. What an inspired thing to

In thinking about a retreat for myself, I pulled out one of
my favorite books; Synchronicity, The Inner Path of Leadership by Joseph Jaworski.
He recounts his story of creating the American Leadership Forum. He describes
the ease and synchronicity that happened when he was in the flow and connected
to his passion, what happened when he fell out of sync and then his journey
back. He describes two forms of commitment
necessary for success; the ground of action – as entrepreneurs we are very good
at this one, we know how to make things happen – and the ground of being. The
ground of being is about being a part of an “unfolding, generative process” –
deeply connected, aware on many levels and following your bliss as Joseph Campbell would say.

One of the traps that can get us disconnected from the
ground of being is the trap of overdoing. Like many entrepreneurs, I’d been doing
a lot of over-doing and my ground of being was getting ground down. I was
over-ripe for some down time and decided to give myself four days to slow down,
re-connect and renew.  I didn’t go to a
fancy retreat center (although that’s a wonderful option) – I created the
experience in my home and you can too.

In many ways my retreat experience surprised me.  Part of me wanted to “do” the retreat. I had a
whole list of things that required re-evaluation, decisions and direction. I originally envisioned doing values work,
brainstorming and mapping out the goals for the year ahead. It isn’t that those
things aren’t perfect for a retreat but they wouldn’t give me what I was most
hungry for. The simple guidelines that follow helped me get what I truly needed
– a reconnection to the ground of being.


Set clear boundaries

Boundaries are critical for an at home retreat. You need the
cooperation of family and you need a special place in the home that gives you
privacy. Decide what you will allow into your space and to what degree daily
life and routines will be followed. For example, will you check email? Will you
go grocery shopping? If you do choose to do some tasky  things – find a way to do them from an
intentional, conscious retreat centered place. Life happens, even when you are
on retreat. One of the things that I knew I would be doing on day two of my
retreat was attending a memorial service for a dear colleague. I created around this and my focus for day
two was exploring what matters. The memorial service was beautiful and it
helped me simplify and deepen my personal exploration.  

Another aspect of boundaries is to create the container for
the experience. When will it start each day, when will it end. What ritual will
you use to enter fully into retreat mode. Will it all take place at home or will you incorporate other places. My
retreat included a walk in nature each day with my husband. Once you decide,
hold it lightly and trust what shows up within the retreat itself. Listen to
what your soul needs and honor it. 

Declare your intention

Your retreat in many ways begins in the design phase. Clarifying
what you want from it is really important. It took some sifting and reflection for
me to get clear about my intention. I think in the early planning stages I
wanted too many things from it and I needed to drill down to the core. I used
daily journaling the week before the retreat to get clear. Questions that
served me were; What do I want? What am I hungry for? What am I craving?

My intention didn’t fully crystallize until the evening
before my retreat was to begin. Once you know your intention – it is important to
declare it out loud. That evening my husband and I built a fire outside. It was
just after thanksgiving so we offered some prayers. In the context of that I
declared my intention to the universe and asked for guidance. For me, it boiled
down to a very simple clear intention; to listen and to find my fire. The
intention gave me a frame work to stay focused, especially when I felt the pull
to “do” the retreat.

Create a sense of spaciousness

This means be judicious about the structures you impose on
yourself. Structures (tools, exercises,
activities etc) are wonderful and remember to let your intention dictate your
choices. Give yourself plenty of time for processing and reflection. I’m
fortunate to have lots of cool coaching toys and tools on hand. The number one
rule I gave myself was to listen and to follow urges. Rather than structure
every minute I allowed myself to be guided. This was the single most important
decision I made. It opened the door for surprises, synchronicity and ultimately
success. There was so much rich learning in just noticing what I was drawn to
in each moment. The spaciousness allowed grace, wisdom and spiritual guidance
to enter and work their magic.

Make It Your Own

I invite you to create a retreat that has your stamp on it.
Let your intuition guide you. There is no wrong way to do this. You know what
kind of space and practices that hold meaning for you. Trust yourself. In so much as
it may serve as a catalyst for your own creative process I created a
PDF of how I structured my retreat. You can download it here. Be sure and keep
notes for yourself on what worked for future retreats. Consider adding retreats
into your annual business planning. It is all about sustaining motivation,
focus and energy in service of the big vision.