Confused, cluttered, exhausted, worn out, on edge; these words described me at a point in my life when nothing was working, efforts were failing and time was accelerating. There was too much on my plate, not enough in my tank and no margin in my daily calendar. A coach of mine suggested that I take some time for a personal retreat to get away and rest, renew and refocus. My response was that I did not have the time. But as soon as I said that, I knew that it was not so much that I didn’t have the time, but that I was not taking the time. So I did. I took time for me.
According to the American Institute of Stress, health care and sick time related to workplace stress cost employers more than $300 billion each year. Stress contributes to a variety of conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes; weakens the immune system, compromising our body’s ability to protect us from illness; and can be a factor in addiction, suicide and obesity.
The truth is that we are stressed, in part, because we are not taking time for ourselves. But rest has been an important part of development and growth for thousands of years. Ovid, who lived way back around the first century, has been credited as saying “What is without periods of rest will not endure.” I would add that who is without periods of rest will not endure.
Lin Yutang, a twentieth century writer, said, “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.” We must learn to unplug from our busy life periodically in order to reenergize, and a personal retreat is a wonderful way to do this.
Personal retreats rest the body. Life, with its constant demands on all of us to work harder, produce more and engage in more and more activity, can be hard on us physically. Personal retreats give us the opportunity to recharge our batteries.
Personal retreats also enlighten the mind. An amazing thing happens when we pause and become still: Solutions present themselves. The complex becomes simple. Captain J. A. Hadfield said it like this: “This art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of energy in our great men.” The power of rest is that it feeds and supplies the mind.
By resting our body and enlightening our mind, personal retreats nourish the soul. Like a tender plant, our soul needs to be continually nourished and cultivated. A nourished soul gives us the motivation, strength and capacity to help others. Once again, Captain J. A. Hadfield speaks: “Acquire inner peace and a multitude will find their salvation near you.” Being available to strengthen and support others is surely a part of our collective destiny. Personal retreats help us here.
Personal retreats heal our wounds. Life, work, business and relationships can hurt at times, so we need to pull away and heal. Perhaps our society has so much visible dysfunction in relationships precisely because we don’t take time to heal. We often unknowingly project onto others the insecurity, fear, ego and even anger others project onto us, simply because we don’t reflect, renew and heal.
Personal retreats refresh our spirit. When our spirit is refreshed, we encourage ourselves more, bounce back more quickly and are more available to others for mentoring and accountability. We also live with a greater degree of gratitude and a smaller sense of entitlement. We become a source of refreshment and replenishment to others.
Lastly, personal retreats clarify our vision. So many times, what was at one time clear to us becomes clouded and obscure. A mirror once found a home in my garage. Inevitably it became dusty, so that the image it reflected was not clear. Personal retreats are an incredible opportunity to withdraw from the hustle and bustle of daily life, wipe the dust away and regain clear vision.
We always lose our potential and capacity when we do not rest. Ovid said this: “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” You and I were born to yield a bountiful crop! Take time to rest and renew. Happy retreating!
Abe Brown is the “coach’s coach,” the founder of Momentum Coaching (www.momentumcoaching.ca) and the president of the Certified Coaches Federation (www.certifiedcoachesfederation.com). The CCF has trained and certified over 9,500 life and executive coaches. Reach Abe at firstname.lastname@example.org.