The most eye opening weekend of my business journey to date? You could say so. Here's why, and what I learned:
1) How to be myself.
My first retreat kicked off on my eldest daughter’s 7th birthday. We live in a world of seven year cycles, so to spend a few days being ‘me’ and not a mum on the day I’d been a parent for exactly seven years felt a bit profound. I leant into it in all the wellbeing sessions, focused my breathwork on my next chapter and felt myself begin my next phase with precision timing.
Ask yourself if there’s a timing aspect to a retreat you’re considering. How long have you been in business? How long has it been since you can say you truly focused on developing yourself in a concentrated period of time?
2) The power of community.
As a self-employed company of one, who works from home 99% of the time, I appreciate work days on my own. It was such a delightful contrast from my last job pre-self employment that I lapped up the hours at my desk, watching the sunset from my own home, before happily logging off for an evening also largely based around solitude (I have friends, I promise).
What this meant was that I never tapped into the power of being around like-minded individuals. Again, going back to my last job – shall we just say it wasn’t the most empowering role? There was more competition than community, so people lifting each other up for the purpose of business development was new to me, and it was SO powerful. Forget idea stealing, jealousy or tearing people down, this kind of community felt rare and true to what I needed for my business.
3) Feminine energy is really impactful.
Neatly following on from community, the specific feminine energy of this community created something that can only be described as magical. Everyone got on at a deep level. There was no masquerading. People used their time in the hotseat to be vulnerable, and ask questions they daren’t ask anywhere else.
During an inward-looking session I felt more emotion than I’d had space for in years. People felt real healing happen, and blocks broken down in order to move forward. This was around the time I realised that all the people that harp on about wellbeing and business being intertwined speak a profound truth. It really is a non-negotiable, but now I’ve experienced first-hand how and why.
4) The work/play balance was just right.
And that doesn’t mean it was 50/50. Days began between 6-7am and finished close to midnight once the last conversations died down, and I was exhausted. And I mean exhausted. By day three I had a twitch in my eye threatening to become something more sinister without some sleep (I’m a chronically bad sleeper when I’m not at home). But I relished in it. It was a tiredness completely different to the ongoing home routine of looking after kids, running a house and making money, and it felt somehow just as reinvigorating as it did exhausting. I was tired because I was pouring my time and energy into things that I was choosing, 100% of, and it felt really good!
Overall the days could be summed up as 1/6 wellbeing, 3/6 business sessions and 2/6 dining and socialising.
5) You can ask for what you need.
In fact, we had a session specifically for this. Speed networking was a chance to speak to every other member of the retreat and sum up what they could do for you and vice versa. I used a lot of the time to get feedback on my new offer and as a result I’m taking it out into the world with confidence and testimonials that would have taken me weeks on my own.
6) I ate really well.
This might be a little off-kilter for business but everything impacts us, right down to what we put in our digestive system. I can’t say I’ve had the healthiest diet after 8 years of working from home and being part of online communities that centre themselves around biscuit consumption, but after three days of homecooked soups, fresh fruit at breakfast every day (and a nutritionist at the table!), I went home really motivated to keep it up. I’m genuinely craving sugar far less. The private chef night was pretty great too.
7) The momentum lasts as long as you want it to.
Towards the end of the retreat, the leaders spoke of a post-retreat lull, and warned us it’s normal to feel a little low after a few days of such high energy. And yes, I did feel this, admittedly, but not immediately. For the first week my productivity was on fire. I willingly worked every evening just because I couldn’t get my ideas down fast enough and I didn’t want to waste this momentum.
8) It changed how I’ll position myself.
During my turn in the hotseat (a chance to ask questions and control the conversation of the group based around one main topic you’ve identified for a set amount of time), I told the group I want to be seen as a leader and not a supplier. There were lots of moments in which things clicked for me over the retreat, but this was a big one. In one swift moment I went from being a copywriter to a strategic content partner. There’s still work to do surrounding it, but I love how strongly this revelation came out in the group. It seemed genuinely effortless to see the other women’s ideas flow into the space around me and let me just absorb everything I wanted.
9) I realised I didn’t talk about my mentoring programme.
This was one of those things that felt beyond my own reasoning. It just kept…not coming up. I focused on copywriting and strategy delivery because that’s what I wanted to unmuddle, but I also didn’t mention it because it’s not my focus anymore – I know that. I’ll still be offering it for the foreseeable, but I won’t be actively marketing it. Just a side note to say I love mentoring – but marketing the service makes me feel like a version of me that’s not my most authentic, so for that reason, it’s taking a backseat.
10) It’s laid the path to a new future.
Now, everything else I’ve said might have been leading to this point anyway, but it’s almost like going to this retreat offered a glimpse into that future before I get there. I know I’ll go on more, and I know I’ll get serious about where my focus is. Without the retreat, I can’t say the same. It’s changed everything.
Want a glimpse into what this next stage means for how I work with you? Find out more here.