This is the perfect time of year for what I like to call a Ramp-Up and Renewal Retreat.
I highly recommend regular renewal retreats for all mediators who are or want to be in a thriving private practice. It's one of the best action you can take right now to ramp up your business: Take a time out and reflect deeply on the work you are and want to be doing.
What's a Ramp-up and Renewal Retreat? In How Much Time Should You Spend on Marketing? I described it this way:
For 10 years I’ve scheduled quarterly “thinking retreats” of one to two days and they have become such a treat that I look forward to them with great anticipation. They’re not days when I do any marketing activities. They’re days when I sit back and think about the bigger questions of my work: How am I doing? Is this direction working? What’s not working? What do I want to do more/less of? Am I feeling stretched in a good way? I recommend choosing days when you won’t be disturbed or tempted by other activities. I’ve even, on occasion, booked myself a room at a quiet inn in the mountains or on the coast…someplace I find inspiring and which feeds my soul.
I've done personal business retreats solo and occasionally with a treasured colleague. For several years I met my friend and fellow mediator Erika in the inviting, pastoral home she shares with her husband in the mountains of central Vermont, and we'd set aside two days of warm woodstove fires, hot tea, flipcharts and lap cats to help each other think through our business goals and plans. They were some of the best business planning days I've ever experienced.
What do you need to conduct the perfect personal business retreat? The answer depends in part on your personality and specific needs. Here's what works for me:
- Completely undisturbed time…at least one day and ideally two.
- Getting away from all the usual trappings of phone, email, household responsibilities.
- A space I find inspirational. For me, that usually involves being on the coast or in the mountains.
- No other work needing to be done. I plan for my quarterly retreats so that no projects are looming during my one- to two-day retreat.
- A few excellent readings or recordings to jumpstart my inspiration and thinking. As I run across good candidates in the months leading to my next retreat, I set them aside. Then, as the time draws nearer, I choose a couple to take along. The object here isn't to fill my retreat time with reading, but to have a few items that will help me settle into the work I most want to do.
The days leading up to and immediately following New Year's are often excellent personal business retreat time for mediators because client loads tend to be light and all the busy-ness of the holiday season is winding down.