Just when I thought I was going on a solo mommy-getaway-relax-recharge-renew type of retreat, I found myself starting a new business.
When I arrived at the Ritz Carlton at Lake Oconee, GA in February 2014, that day and a half was originally supposed to be all about pampering, quiet, naps, massage, walks outside, a nice lunch and dinner, and of course, a much deserved glass of bubbly. Complete and utter me, me, me time. Sounds awesome and perhaps a bit selfish too…doesn’t it?
I’d like to say it was self-full, because instead, I brainstormed what would become the first version of Betsy Harvey Inc. Instead of diving into the hot tub (which sounds so nice), I dove right into an online business curriculum and this business went from an idea to a real concept.
Wait a second. Wasn’t this solo retreat supposed to be relaxing? What happened to completely unplugging?
All of that did happen, but it happened amidst one of the most cathartic and Spirit-guided solo retreats of my life. I sat down, pen to paper, and started articulating what I was good at doing. Then, I brainstormed whether or not people needed what I was able to do – and would they pay for it. After that, I started researching to see if other people did what I was beginning to envision.
What I found that day was that as a person passionate about developing people and helping them see their greatest gifts and put them into action, I was probably some type of coach or consultant that could help people get clear on their strengths.
That mommy-getaway-relax-recharge-renew retreat morphed into a discernment-goal-setting-light-my-life-on-fire renewal experience that put this business, Betsy Harvey Inc. into action.
I spent the first morning ignoring the world and completing every step of the curriculum and getting uncomfortable. When I say uncomfortable, I mean the good kind that forces you to step into your power and all of who you are – the beautiful, authentic, raw and real, productive person God creates you to be.
It was only at lunch that I finally came out of my cave, enjoyed a healthy lunch on the terrace, and decided that a little relaxation was now in order. I went to the spa, did the crazy Swedish bath concept (alternate between the hot tub and icy cold arctic tub) and took my time reading magazines on the chaise and sipping warm tea.
Ahhh. This was good. No one needed me. (Insert “Calgon take me away” jingle.)
I could take the time to be a little focused on myself and ultimately redesign how I spent time with my family and create a business that allowed me to always put them first.
This solo retreat became what I like to refer to as a Goal Setting Retreat. It has a combination of renewal and invigoration: it reminds us who we are at the core, but it isn’t sluggish. It’s filled with possibility, mind-expanding dreaming, and an evaluation of how you want to shift and grow.
Be careful what you ask for on these types of solo retreats! The next year was not easy as I started my business. I spent a lot of time battling voices of you-can’t-do-this or it’s-been-done-before. There were paralyzing days as I tried to take a step forward to try something new, but found solace in procrastination.
That’s when my husband and supportive friends reminded me this:
It may have been done before – even similarly by someone else – but not by YOU.
Our unique calling – our YES – is something that isn’t for anyone else.
It was created for each of us individually. The question is this: Can you hear it? Can you discern it? Do you know what your YES is?
This is why I’m such big fan of solo retreats. They work.
Goal setting retreats, well, they literally catapult you beyond any average expectation of yourself if you’re willing to work hard.
Betsy Harvey Inc. was born that day at the Ritz in one life-changing morning, but it has taken me nearly two years to truly give birth to this business. Talk about a long pregnancy!
The next significant solo goal setting retreat was last month after my husband-of-the-year sent me off to a quiet writing retreat and mommy-getaway in a quiet section (is that possible?) of South Beach, Miami.
The South Beach retreat that could have been a spa machine ended up being the retreat that has set the new generation of Betsy Harvey Inc. (BHI) into motion.
I worked to further refine my business for online purposes and set much bigger goals for my family and BHI by using Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect.
The funny thing about goal setting retreats is that I get a little too selfish and I want more time. I’m in the zone, I’m unstoppable, the writing flows, the ideas swarm, and the vision of what could be is in 4-D. I’m on fire. Can you see the flames??
Let’s be realistic though. I’m a wife, mother, daughter, friend, volunteer, coach, consultant, entrepreneur, janitor, baker, cook, laundress, and more – come on ladies – are there any roles I’ve missed? I know you know what I’m talking about.
I cannot always get away – far away. Sometimes not even five feet away as my little bees swarm me in the kitchen! Most of us can’t get away like this frequently, or we wouldn’t be parents, friends, children, employees, entrepreneurs, much less working.
We cannot always be away. We cannot always be on retreat. We will not always have quiet.
We are called to be present.
That’s why creating retreat and quiet can actually happen amidst the noise. It boils down to this one simple, but time management concept:
Having goals and planning them is essential to meet our dreams where they are envisioned.
Goals keep us out of the lost category and make us found.
It enables us to revisit our top priorities on a daily basis, check-in at night, and uncover opportunities to be better tomorrow than we were today – and to figure out why in the world that load of laundry didn’t get run or that email wasn’t sent (or of course, other much more important things like calling our parents, scheduling medical appointments, or having untimed floor play with our children).
Each day is like a mini-retreat, if we allow it to be. When I get up at 5:30AM, the first thing I do before my feet hit the floor is to thank God for another new, fresh day. I think him for my blessings and pray any special intentions for that day. Sometimes I’m so sleepy that I’m God knows what’s written on my heart even when my pre-coffee brain cannot think or say them, but I still do this daily no matter how tired I am.
Then, it’s downstairs in my slippers with messy hair, glasses, and my iPhone. I flip on my devotional app, make a little breakfast and get cozy in my chair for an hour. This is where each day starts with my Bible, journal, and quiet reflection followed by goal review and setting.
Since I started doing an at-home mini-retreat each morning, everything has changed. I’ve been doing this sporadically for years, but a women’s retreat last year + goal setting has made each day more purposeful and accomplished.
By starting out my day quietly and focused, I’m able to give up any concerns at the beginning of my day so that they’re note weighing me down and I’m able to stay on track.
Truth: I am a recovered perfectionist, so I am grateful when this actually happens consistently, as it feels like the ultimate expression of PROGRESS.
After my devotions, I do a CEO check-in and see what’s on tap for the day and the rest of the week. FYI – CEO for me means Chief Enthusiasm Officer – what can I do to make my family’s experience great (meals, play, quality time, tidying, parenting, being a wife), my work (serving and really helping my clients, designing affordable courseware, getting these thoughts written down for my book), and ultimately, what can I do today better than yesterday for others and myself?
I need tons of help and grace to do this, so without a daily retreat that involves goal-setting and devotions, I will tell you that those days are off-form in the most extreme ways.
If you can relate to this, I hope that this will help. Here are some steps you can take to create your Solo Retreat for goal setting– here or at a swank destination.
Try these steps and tweak it to work for you.
Tips for Creating a Goal Setting Retreat (Destination or Daily Mini)
1. Know your time. Consider setting a timer or alarm so you’ll know how to plan your time with the end in mind. Whether you function best in 20 min. increments or 2 hour increments, set a timer based on what your time frame is and what you need to stay in the zone. Knowing your time will help you feel more accomplished and it can be frustrating when you run out of time. Also, know that if that timer goes off – YOU have the choice to set it again and keep going or discern whether it’s a good stopping point.
2. Start with prayer and meditation. The best way to get into a place of solitude and clarity around what goals need to be set is to ask God to help guide you. The Holy Spirit is completely awesome in this process, if you’ll let Him help. It’s the difference between setting goals that we think we need to make and setting goals that we need to and are being asked to make.
3. Let-er-rip. Do whatever you have planned in small, achievable chunks. If you’re like I was with The Compound Effect, I read the book, highlighted it and annotated it (think graffiti), and then completed each exercise in alignment with where I was with the book. Be creative. Have post-its, colored pens and highlighters, a brainstorming journal, calendar, white paper, and your PC or phone for searching, videos, podcasts, research, inspiration, etc.
4. Know when to pause. If you get stuck, chances are you’re being asked to pause. Honor that. Listen to what your body is telling you. Check in. Do you need a break? A walk? A meal? A different activity? Know when to say when. This will help you set better goals.
5. Know when to call it a day and CELEBRATE. It takes big courage to start something new and especially goal setting for yourself. It can be emotionally and mentally exhausting – in a good way – and deserves some celebration. I have been known to book my massage at 6PM, order room service, or take a long walk on the beach. If not on a destination, this is when I sip my morning coffee, thank God for the many blessings in my life, ask for help where needed, and simply stop to be present. That is celebration too.
6. Put it into action. The most important step of all is to take what you’ve discerned and put it into action. There’s no point to all of this hard work if you’re not going to do anything with it, right?
7. Review your goals daily, monthly, quarterly, and annually. Put an appointment on your calendar so that you can “check in”. Your goals are YOURS. Only you can be held accountable to them. Remember, God put these on your heart for a reason, so get out there and make it happen!
Solo or not, remember that any time we set goals and stick to them, we’re getting closer to our YES.