Quarterly Personal Retreat: What exactly is it?

If you read last week’s blog post, you probably picked up on my excitement about something I call a “Quarterly Personal Retreat”. These are officially my favorite days of the year and I am so excited to fill you in on what these retreats are all about. This week will be "Part One" focused on defining what a Quarterly Personal Retreat is.

Side Note: I wish I could take credit for coming up with this concept. I first learned about it on the podcast “The Chalene Johnson Show” episode called “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”. Author Greg McKeown (he wrote the book Essentialism - I recommend it) shares his concept of “Personal Quarterly Off-sites”. Since listening to the podcast last fall, I have taken his concept and made it my own. That is what I am sharing with you today!

Who - YOU.

This day is just for YOU! The *ideal* Quarterly Personal Retreat involves complete solitude - no other people, no phones, and don’t tell Pico (that’s my dog), I said this, but no dogs or pets either! You need space to regroup with yourself and be able to hear your own thoughts. I don’t know about you, but when I’m with other people (or my dog, I’ll admit it), I feel like I need to be somewhat paying attention to what they are doing which takes away from my focus. Also, if there are other parties involved, you could be in the middle of an awesome breakthrough and then there’s an interruption and the momentum is lost.

What - Reflection & Future.

A Quarterly Personal Retreat is an entire day dedicated to you, your progress and your future. It is time spent reflecting upon the last 90 days and preparing and goal setting for the next 90 days. This day focuses on your entire life. I have used the “7 F’s” a concept in the book “What Really Works” by Paul Batz and Tim Schmidt. Every retreat that I have, I reflect and set new goals for my: Faith, Family, Friends, Finances, Fun, Fitness and Future.

It’s a good model to follow so that I don’t get stuck in any one area. I believe that unless we work on our whole selves, we’re like one of those cars stuck in the mud - revving our engines, spraying ourselves with mud and getting absolutely nowhere.

When - Every 90 days for a minimum of 4-6 hours per retreat.

Frequency: Like Greg McKeown recommends, they should occur every 90 days. However, the best part of a Quarterly Personal Retreat is that you can define the timeframe. Maybe you work best month to month, or year to year. As you get going with this process, you’ll know what works best for you.

Length: I recommend dedicating at least 4-6 hours to start.. But here’s an idea of what my dream Quarterly Personal Retreat day would look like. It would last at least 24 hours. I’d wake up, pour a cup of Starbucks dark roast, watch the sunrise and ease into the day. I’d spend at least a couple hours really vetting through my themes (haven’t talked about this yet but it’s coming up later in this post), and a lot of time on each of the “7 F’s” to really identify where I want to be in the next 90 days. There would also be time for walking outdoors, practicing gratitude, crafting, eating really delicious food, drinking wine and napping. You get the picture.

Where: Great Outdoors


Ideally, you should be in the great outdoors for your Quarterly Personal Retreat. You can easily find a park, lake or river to sit by and work at for 4-6 hours...but I don’t recommend this in the winter. When it’s too cold to sit outside, or if sitting outside for the 4-6 hours isn’t ideal for you, try the comfort of your own home, a conference room at a local library, or a coffee shop. There are no hard and fast rule on where your retreat should happen. The only rule is hold and honor the day religiously!


How: Start with a list.

Now you are all alone, with no phone, out in nature (is that a bear?? Just kidding) so…...now what? It would be funny if I just left you hanging but I’m not that kind of coach!

Next week’s blog post will focus on what happens on the day of the Quarterly Personal Retreat but for right now we are just going to focus on the pre-work. You’re going to need about 30 minutes ALONE with a pen and paper to complete this.

Before your big day you need two things. First, a mega-list of all the things that you have to do, should do, want to do, have to do, un-met goals, future goals, and answers to the following questions:  What’s going well? What’s not going well? What’s important NOW?

Second, from that list, start to identify some themes. When I first completed this exercise, my themes were: struggling to complete minor tasks, trying to identify my career path, poor time management and a lack of personal development. By identifying these themes, you are giving yourself something to work with when you start your retreat. The day of the retreat you’ll spend time expounding on these themes and identifying what you can do about them.

Why: Because you are important.

Your time is important. Your FUTURE is important. Making time for yourself in this way should be non-negotiable. Out of my very first Quarterly Person Retreat, just last October aka less than a year ago, I had set a goal to focus on my personal/career development over the next 90 days. Halfway through my first 90 days, I decided to head down the life coaching path and by the end of the 90 days I was beginning business planning. One day, make that a few hours on one day, set aside for me, has changed the entire path my life was on. I really wish I could articulate for you how full of excitement, purpose and deep gratitude I feel...but I can’t find the English words to describe it. Make the decision to invest in yourself and never look back.