Life has a way of wearing us down. Even when things are going great, the day-to-day takes a toll. And for many of us, daily life includes extra challenges like loved ones with physical or emotional struggles, financial problems, health issues, strong-willed kiddos, and other difficulties.
Amidst our own drama and noise, it can be next to impossible to find time for stillness, much less reflection and dreaming big. That’s where planning a personal retreat come in.
Several years ago, life circumstances pushed me to my limits. I was beyond frayed, frazzled, and frustrated. I knew that I needed to step away and regroup…but how? I’d read about high-powered execs and other leaders making personal retreats an annual habit. But how was I, working mom of three dealing with some major struggles in my family, supposed to get away by myself and reset? It felt impossible.
But I did it anyway.
I didn’t have the finances or time to go on a grand getaway. But I holed up at a cute, little bed and breakfast near my house for a night away. I didn’t know it at the time, but this decision would be a game-changer. Not only did I find the rest and reset I needed, but I found a practice that would rejuvenate, inspire, and grow me in the most wonderful of ways for years to come.
I’ve gone on a solo personal retreat every single year since then. It’s become a non-negotiable practice in the rhythm of my life, and something amazing to look forward to each year. And I want the same for you.
Everyone needs something different out of their time away, depending on life stage and personal circumstances. But there are a few intentions that are helpful to most everyone on a personal retreat.
Rest & recover
It’s hard to realize just how wound and overwhelmed you might be until you settle into a time of stillness. That’s why I always spend the first part of my personal retreat in quiet contemplation and prayer. For you, this might be a time of yoga, journaling, meditation, or connecting to a higher power. Or perhaps simply playing some quiet music and sitting with your eyes closed.
And for me, a great retreat includes getting great sleep. On my first retreat, I took a four-hour nap to kick it off. (Can I get an amen?) You’ll be amazed at the decompression and even inspiration that happens when you cut out the noise and distractions and allow yourself some rest and recovery.
There’s so much to learn by just looking back over our lives, but we rarely take time to do this. It’s easy to miss all the amazing things that have happened when we’re up to our eyeballs in responsibilities. Taking time on a retreat to really examine and celebrate the previous 12 months can be powerful, enlightening, and a way to practice gratitude.
Whether you’re a busy stay-at-home mom, a corporate exec, side hustler, or empty nester, it’s super easy for life to just grind on, until one day you look in the mirror and barely recognize who you see. We often lose sight of our own gifts, talents, and passions as the years pass.
Personal retreats are marvelous for exploring and rediscovering our own identities, goals, and dreams. It’s a time for asking questions like:
- What am I passionate about?
- Where do I feel stuck or frustrated in my life?
- What relationships need attention (or perhaps let go)?
- What kind of future do I envision for myself and my family?
- What daily actions and goals will get me there?
Warning: Once you take a personal retreat, you’ll want to do it again and again! Making this an annual practice will change you and your life from the inside-out. And not only will you be better for it—your family and those around you will be, too.
I know that going on a solo retreat might feel indulgent or selfish, but I can promise you it’s not. A refreshed, focused, and fulfilled human is better equipped to love and serve those around them.
Now I can hear your objections already: It would be impossible for me to get away! I have too much on my plate. Or, there’s just no money for something like this right now. Trust me: I get it. I took my first personal retreat in the middle of a family crisis, and there certainly wasn’t budget for it. So what’s the answer here?
Start where you are with what you have.
For you, that might mean sneaking away alone to a local coffee shop or library for a few hours. Or settling into a cozy corner at a nearby hotel lobby or state park lodge for a Saturday. You might also see if a friend or family member has a vacant home or vacation property you could use for free for a few days. The most important thing is to just commit to getting away by yourself—whatever that may look like for you—and do it. Weary friend, you’ll be so glad you did.
Not sure where to start in planning your own personal retreat? I’ve got you covered. Download my handy free Personal Retreat Toolkit. You’ll find a sample agenda, packing list, reflection guide, FAQs, and more.
Once you start wading through the toolkit and making plans, feel free to hit me up with questions. You can find me on Instagram or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to help you make the most of your time away. Happy retreat planning, my friend!