Your Solo Retreat

David Graham March 2, 2021

Monthly Newsletter

Dashing out the door with cross country skis under one arm and a briefcase over the other, I must have looked a little odd as I loaded up the car. I could feel the excitement welling up inside of me, like a kid getting ready for summer camp. But this was trip more about business than recreation; I was off on a solo retreat.

When I started the business back in 2012, I made a commitment to spend 3 days each year to revisit my business plan and focus on the year ahead. It proved to be effective for planning and big picture thinking, allowing me to get out of the weeds and consider the broader perspective.

And then, a few years ago, I stopped.

The business had grown and I had a myriad of reasons why I couldn’t go. Clients were relying on me and I couldn’t justify the time or the expense of 3 days away. What I’ve learned at the beginning of 2021 is that I can’t afford NOT to go. These intentional breaks have been creatively restorative, intellectually stimulating, and sometimes even transformational for the business.

If you’re curious and considering a retreat for numero uno, here are 5 handy tips from my “How-to Guide” to make the most of your days away:
Pack & Prep: Load up the car with outdoor gear, creative supplies, and your favourite music. Also, bring research materials that will tell your story from the previous year:

  • Pictures: What brought me joy? What drained me?
  • Journals: What occupied my time? What was my state of mind?
  • Financials: What was profitable and what wasn’t?

Get Outta Town! Leave your regular day to day routine. When you visit new locations, you will quite naturally “think differently.” Do you prefer a hotel, a resort, or a cabin in the woods?

Have a plan! This is different than a vacation, so use your time wisely. Here’s how you may want to structure your time:

  • Day 1: Reflection – What were your insights from last year?
  • Day 2: Visioning – What do you want the coming year to look like?
  • Day 3: Action Planning – How will you make it happen?

Outdoor Adventure. Bring your hiking boots and make time to explore. The prefrontal cortex of our brain, known as our executive brain, gets very busy when we are working. When we are outside it gets very quiet and clear, allowing for new insights to occur.

Fully Disconnect: Clear the way by letting the team know that you will be unreachable. And that goes with family and friends too! As much as they love you, they can distract you from finding your flow.

If you’re feeling prickly at the thought of taking 3 whole days away, then you probably need it even more… For a leader, clarity is everything! Stepping away allows us to come back wholeheartedly with intention and purpose. Besides, our motivation is a valuable resource that deserves to be nurtured and protected.

Want to learn more?

Get my “Planning your Solo Retreat” package along with self-guided coaching exercises and work sheets. I’m excited to share it with you at no cost. Simply drop me an email or let’s set up a call to discuss.


David Graham

Dave coaches good leaders who want to be great leaders and he works with leaders to build high performing, super-focused teams. For transformational experiences, he takes teams out of the boardroom and into nature.