When is the last time you took a personal retreat?

I’ll be off to Boulder, Colorado in a couple days to take a much anticipated personal retreat. This bi-annual ritual has become instrumental in helping me flow through life with purpose, passion, and integrity. It’s helped me stay focused on what’s important to me and continues to provide a check-and-balance of how I’m doing in both my personal and professional life.

If you’ve ever attended one of my Leading From Within programs, you know how significant a personal retreat can be. After all, that’s what LFW essentially is…personal time to reflect on your life, your relationships, and your future direction. But why is such reflection important, you ask? It’s important because such a process reacquaints you with the essence of who you are, who you want to be, and how to bridge those two together so that what people see on the inside is a reflection of who you are on the outside.

What follows is:

1) The benefits of a personal retreat;

2) Important logistics and ground rules; and

3) A simple format to follow.


Benefits of a personal retreat

  • You get to spend uninterrupted quality time on yourself.
  • You get to assess what’s working in your life and what’s not.
  • You get time to think, to feel, and to dream.
  • You get to assess if your purpose, passions, and core values still represent who you are.
  • You get time to tweak, correct, or change anything in your life that needs altering.
  • You get to take a breather in life and refocus on the things that are most important to you.


Logistics / Ground Rules

  • Go somewhere where you can get 1-to-2 days of uninterrupted time. I typically take two days and two nights at a nice hotel or retreat site within driving distance from my home in Denver. One year I actually  flew down to San Diego.
  • Don’t feel guilty for spending time or money for these personal retreats. You not only need it and deserve it, but it will positively impact all the people you touch in your life, be it directly or indirectly. This is not just about you!
  • Go alone. Do not try to combine this with a family vacation. Don’t bring your spouse. The time by yourself is an essential part of this process.
  • Plan out your personal retreats ahead of time each year, blocking out the dates and making sure the important people in your life honor this ritual.
  • Refrain from texting, emailing, and checking phone messages during your retreat. If you absolutely have to, block out an hour each day for such correspondence and stick to it. Otherwise, you will have great difficulty obtaining any momentum whatsoever.
  • I highly recommend two personal retreats per year. Once per year is too long a time to go without this check & balance process.

Suggested Format

  • Create 10-15 thought-provoking questions to address during your personal retreat. These questions should cover a wide spectrum of areas important to you, like family, physical health/exercise, financial, friendships and spirituality, as an example.
  • Make a list of any information you may want to bring along with you on your retreat. For example, I bring my previous notes from the last personal retreat, my latest list of personal and professional goals, and the latest P&L statement for my business.
  • You may want to read/take The Passion Test by Janet & Chris Attwood prior to or during your retreat. Identifying your top passions is extremely helpful for personal retreats.
  • You may want to also bring a copy of my book, Creating Authenticity: Meaningful Questions for Meaningful Moments to help stimulate reflective thinking about your life.
  • Plan time for a hike or walk during your retreat. I also like to hang out in coffee shops as part of my routine. It just mixes things up a bit and gives me
    different energy and different perspectives on things.
  • Don’t forget to incorporate some playtime as well. I’ll treat myself to a nice dinner out one night and/or go listen to music.
  • Take notes. Yep, document your responses to your questions, your revised goals, your thoughts and your insights. This will not only provide you with a written record of your efforts but it will serve as a starting point for your next retreat.
  • Lastly, if all of this seems too much, then sign up for the Sept. 14-16, 2011 Leading From Within program and let me handle the logistics so you can enjoy the ultimate personal retreat.

I’ll share some of my retreat experience and insights on next Monday’s radio show, August 8th at 3pm. Go to www.greggiesen.com for more details.


  1. Hi Greg – you are right: I do like this post! We are definitely on the same wavelength these days. My most recent blog post is about sabbatical, the concept of taking time out for reflection and renewal. See it here: http://RebeccaReynoldsConsulting.com/BLOG My post reclaims the ancient concept of sabbatical for modern times; yours gives eminently practical advice for how to do it! Enjoy your retreat. – Rebecca

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