What can you do if you want a retreat but can’t quite swing
getting away from your daily routines for three or four days?
I’ve often read about personal growth retreats. You know, those that offer a chance to reconnect with or discover one’s soul and life-purpose. Purposes of such mind-body retreats generally include strategies to empty the mind, detox the body, stimulate mindfulness, establish an exercise regimen, practice meditation, and/or to simply rest.
I have participated in professional retreats. These are the kinds that typically have a goal such as team building, creativity, strategic planning or problem solving.
As I write this week’s blog post, I am sitting in Cedar Key, Florida conducting my own personal/solo retreat. This trip developed not so much for me to find myself as it was to devote uninterrupted time to a special and long-delayed project.
Short back story: Fourteen years ago I completed a draft for what would have been my first novel. I had sent it to a professional critique service. And then I got distracted by other professional obligations. The draft has been on the shelf since then. Until this week.
My wife and I mapped out a time when I could steal away by myself and dig back into the manuscript. The result was four days in this sleeping little fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico. A quiet room hanging out over the water was the perfect place to create my retreat.
It turned out to be a wonderfully exciting, energizing and productive experience. If you ever consider such an investment in yourself, consider these thoughts/strategies/lessons. A retreat can allow you to:
- Detox from the daily distractions of social media, email and household chores/routine. It can be really easy to let something around the house (the lawn, a project in the garage, a household chore, other people, a walk to the beach) to distract attention. While I worked on the manuscript, I turned off the email, phone, and news. I took control of my environment.
- Empty your mind and move to a single-minded focus on whatever project (in this case, my writing) you choose to embrace.
- Stay mindful about what you want to accomplish with your days away.
- Establish a new routine of working. Prior to the retreat (in a few books) I had been reading about “ultradian rhythms” and playing with the concept at home. The retreat allowed me to further experiment with it. Think of a 90-minute work sprint followed by anywhere from a 30 to 60-minute break. Followed by another work session sprint; and another break; followed by one or two more (at most) sessions. I accomplished a great deal in about 4.5 to 6 hours per day of work. It was not a grind of 24/7 exhaustion.
Video recommendation for the week:
I am fully aware that not everyone has this opportunity to go away for a few days. So what can you do if you want a retreat but can’t quite swing getting away from your daily routines for three or four days?
Well, I’m reminded of people who take “stay-cations”. My wife and I have done these. Even though you are not “officially” away from home, you still create the atmosphere of being away.
Instead of RE-treat, why not think “STAY-Treat”? How might you be able to restructure a retreat within your home environment? Start small and build. For instance:
- Clearly establish a goal. Whether away or at home you can still do this. What do you want to accomplish by the end of your Stay-Treat? Write it down.
- Adjust your usual routine. Consider the ultradian rhythm mentioned above. If you can’t do four “sprints” in one day, start with one.
- Turn off the phone, TV and emails. Focus on your one task. The Facebook posts will still be there waiting for you.
- Do something different when it comes to meals. Nothing big; nothing expensive. But consider something out of your usual routine.
- Where will you conduct the Stay-Treat? Your home office? The back patio? Choose an area and make it your “office.”
It will take planning. You and your project/goal deserve it.
Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.
Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.
(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.