Last month I told friends I was taking a few days off to go on a vision retreat, and I realized people had no clue what I was talking about.
"Is that a course you're taking?" someone asked. Good question.
Vision retreats are about charting our own course, for our life, our own way.
Most of us weren't taught to step back from the drone of our lives and reflect on whether or not we're happy. We're too busy living.
For many people, once the work day is done, bills paid, birthday party planned, legs shaved, and dinner made, we're too exhausted to even think about the next day, let alone envisioning a different future. We're just happy we made it through alive.
When we're super busy it can seem pointless -- even frivolous -- to go off dreaming about some future reality.
Ironically that's the time a vision retreat is most crucial.
When we're suffering from busy-sickness, time-poverty, career confusion, or lack of fulfillment, it's time to stop and look at the bigger picture. We don't need to wait until we get sick, make a careless error, or something falls apart to examine where we are and where we're going.
Whether you're retired, a single parent, student, school teacher, business owner, or managing a bustling family, a vision retreat can help you get clear about what's most important. It can help you find clarity to make the shifts you've been dreaming about.
Here are 10 thoughts on creating a personal vision retreat of your own.
1. Schedule It Now. Book it, or it won't happen. Schedule one day, a few days, or even a week, whatever feels right for you.
2. Don't try this at home. This is key. You might think you can vision in your house, but getting out of the familiarity of your surroundings allows your mind to think in expansive ways -- and you won't be tempted to do the laundry.
3. It doesn't have to be expensive. If a big trip isn't practical, pack a picnic and go to a quiet park with your journal for the day. Turn off your phone.
4. Go alone. Giving yourself space and quiet allows your heart to speak more clearly. You'll also be less distracted by conversations and other people's agendas. This doesn't apply if you're going on a vision retreat for your marriage, joint business, or co-created project. If the idea of going alone feels scary or selfish, more reason to do it and overcome fear. You are worth it.
5. Relax. The longer the retreat, the more breaks you'll need. I like to practice yoga, go for walks, use inspirational card decks for creative ideas and support, eat healthy delicious food, nap, dream, or journal.
6. Plan Your Agenda. Give yourself tasks to work through. Here are some ideas:
- List 10 things that feed your soul, personally and at work. Circle the ones that are most important to you.
- Write down the broad categories of how you spend most of your time, for example family, friends, work, nature, health, household, volunteering, hobbies, social media, etc. If you want to get fancy, make a pie graph of what your main tasks are on an average day.
- Go from the broad to the specific. If you wrote "family," what are you doing exactly? Are you hanging out, making meals, shopping, or driving kids to sports? If your vision retreat is focused on your career, write down your specific work activities.
- Circle the specific activities you would like to eliminate or do less of (see #7).
- Let your imagination go wild. Brainstorm how you can do more of the things you love, and less of what you dislike. Write down ways you could make small changes in your life now.
- Write out actionable steps you can take toward your goals, and put them into your day planner.
7. Honor Your Feelings. Don't talk yourself out of how you feel. If you hate cleaning, but you don't have a clue how you could eliminate it, just acknowledge your desire. Notice if you don't want to admit that you hate writing reports at work. If you can't even admit this to yourself, how can the Universe give you something different? Getting honest with ourselves is healing, and it's okay to ask for what you want.
8. Get Coaching. For longer retreats, bring along an inspirational audio-program, online mini-lecture, or meditation created by someone you admire. Or schedule a morning coaching call with your mentor each day to be guided through your vision process. Usually the first person that comes to mind is the right choice.
9. Stomp on the Box. Don't just think outside the box -- there is no box. Here are some questions to help you think big: A) If the world were to end next year, would you be happy about how you spent your time? B) Are you sharing your gifts and talents in the best way possible? C) Think ahead one year. If your life is exactly the same as it is now, will you be happy? D) What do you want people to say about you after you die? What's your legacy?
10. Let go. Remember this quote "The fastest way to make God laugh is declare your five-year plan." Planning gives us direction, clarity, and purpose, but ultimately we are co-creating with Spirit. Don't use this quote as an excuse to just go along with whatever comes, but do recognize that sometimes there is a better plan than the one we vision for ourselves. The point is to get clarity about our goals, and take action to achieve them.
Getting clear about what we want -- and don't want -- is an important first step in creating change.
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. When you're 103 in your rocking chair looking back on your life, what will make you smile out loud?