During the work years, it is not uncommon to attend retreats to reflect on leadership, strategic choices, sustainability and new ventures. Time away from the office in a retreat setting provides time to focus on organizational renewal and opportunities to deliver tangible returns.
During my career I was privileged to attend many retreats — some focused on women in leadership, some focused on organizational strategy, some focused on translating core beliefs and values into the workplace.
Some retreats focused on living — how to live your life on your own terms.
Each of these experiences provided a relaxed place for rejuvenation. New ideas percolated. The return to work was enthusiastic.
Retreats also provided time for self-renewal.
There was often time for reflection on personal values, motivations and experiences. The self-renewal strengthened my leadership capacity providing energy and focus to face relentless career demands.
Finding renewal during retirement
The need for self-renewal continues past the working years. Emotional, spiritual, physical and mental development don’t stop after retirement.
But most retired people don’t continue to attend retreats. Perhaps because of the assumption that retired people have solved all the problems of living and don’t need self-renewal. Hopefully not because of an assumption that they no longer can grow or change.
Many retirees use vacations and travel as a method of renewal. While travel offers many rewards, the self-renewal from a time away from daily routines — a time for contemplation — is not usually part of the typical vacation or travel itinerary.
Are retirement retreats available that can offer the benefit of a renewed sense of purpose?
A number of retirement lifestyle coaches offer retreats that focus on pre-retirement planning. Almost all religious institutions offer retreats that focus on spiritual growth. There are options for silent retreats, detox retreats, fasting retreats, meditation retreats, yoga retreats and weight loss retreats — often offered in exotic locations. There are also opportunities for spa retreats.
These retreats involve time away from home and potentially a prohibitive cost.
My online searching found few, if any, retreats that focus on post-retirement issues. No retirement retreats were advertised in Toronto or the surrounding area where I live.
Creating a mini-retirement retreat
If finding a retirement retreat that offers opportunity for uninterrupted time is impossible, creating a ‘mini-retreat’ that focuses on self-renewal can provide similar benefits.
A mini-retreat needs less time and is less costly while still offering time for reflection.
Developing a personal mini-retreat involves finding a setting with some degree of isolation as you will want to set aside distractions.
This could be in a natural setting — perhaps an afternoon alone in your garden or in a conservatory or long hike in a park. It could happen in a ‘thinking’ spot — perhaps a quiet corner at a library or in a gallery or in your favourite chair — anywhere that offers a place free from distractions.
While the synergy that comes from interaction with others during a traditional retreat won’t be available on a personal mini-retreat, this time can be used to consider the retirement issues pertinent to your life.
You can evaluate how you spend your time, whether you are fulfilling aspirations and goals, how you are feeling about yourself, your family and your relationships. The agenda is your own.
The mini-retreat is a time to review and re-work your retirement story and your current life narrative. By re-connecting with retirement dreams, a day of reflection provides an antidote to feelings of isolation or retirement boredom.
A mini-retreat also allows time to identify tensions. Your current retirement realities may be conflicting with your core values. Changes in lifestyle may be needed.
The mini-retreat can also be a time to count your blessings. Identifying the strengths of your retirement lifestyle by reviewing and adding to your gratitude list can result in a more positive perspective.
My own experiences with mini-retreats involve time that I spend alone at our cottage — walking on the beach, sitting and listening to the sounds of the tree canopy that covers the back deck, and thinking about how I am living my life. I use the time to assess progress I am making on aspirations and goals. Writing my thoughts can help with clarity when focus is difficult.
Find your way to self-renewal
Mini-retreats are a great strategy for self-renewal. Renewal can come in other ways: a conversation, helping actions, travel, courses, the arts.
We renew ourselves when we step away from our daily routines, from our habitual thoughts and habits, and take time to focus how we are living our lives.
Self-renewal provides affirmation and a renewed sense of purpose. The result is a renewed commitment to get on with a goal or to stop using precious retirement time for activities that are not bringing expected returns.
Life during retirement continues to offer opportunities for growth and change. Using the strategy of a personal mini-retreat for self-renewal brings the reward of a more positive attitude and offers a method of tapping into the storehouse of energy that makes living purposeful.
Thanks for reading this post. If you like my blog, please send your comments and consider subscribing to receive copies of future posts by email.