It’s literally my two favourite days of the year – and it’s just around the corner!
No, it’s not Christmas. No, not American Thanksgiving. No, not some of the more notable fall industry events.
My two favourite days of the year are my Annual Business Plan Retreat. Going on 10+ years now, I take two days out of my November/December schedule to hide out and plan out my goals, projects, and objectives for the upcoming year.
In the past, I’ve done my business retreat at the local public library, in hotel club lounges, in my hometown, and across the country. I’ve done my retreat in Kelowna, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Toronto. Last year, due to scheduling conflicts, I did my retreat on my son’s hockey bus! It was eight hours in each direction, with tons of windows to serve as my whiteboards! It wasn’t conventional, but it was effective and productive (and it sure made eight hours of road travel fly by!)
My retreats start off just as that, a retreat where I examine what happened this past calendar year, and then dive into what I want to accomplish in the year ahead. I cover everything and anything! It gives space for you to reflect on all that happened this past year – the successes, the challenges, the (gasp) failure events, the unexpected, the incomplete, the surprises, etc. It also gives me space to take what happened this past year and put it towards learnings for the upcoming year.
I also practice a ton of gratitude and I celebrate all that happened. My retreat is about closing the book on the past year and renews my energy for the year ahead. Whether I had a successful, or a challenging year, the celebration is acknowledging that this year taught me so many things – about business, about people, about myself.
My retreat continues by focusing on my mission statement, my “why.” Why do I love the work that I do, why am I doing it to begin with, and why do I want to see it grow?
And then the fun stuff begins – my intentional look ahead to the upcoming year. It’s not merely about goal-setting though, it’s also about intentionally designing how I’m going to reach my goals. I brainstorm the ideas and projects that will help me meet my goals and then break it down into weekly goals. I consider collaborators and supporters, and volunteer opportunities that can assist me in learning new skills, or introduce me to new people.
The retreat is wholistic, which means I also examine all my other life domains. I set intentions around spending time with family and friends, and carving out my introverted “alone” time as well. It’s when I brainstorm all the bucket list places I want to visit, and the events I want to participate in. I create a massive list of books I’d like to read, I set my health and fitness goals, volunteer opportunities, memberships, and the courses I want to take or skills I want to learn. In the same way I “walk back” how I’m going to achieve my professional goals, I walk back how I’m going to achieve my personal goals.
These two days provide me with a road map for the upcoming year. No, not everything is perfect and change always happens, but waking up on January 3rd and knowing exactly what needs to get done is very liberating for me. I can’t imagine going without my business plan retreat, it gives me the purpose and direction I long for as a Type-A achiever.
Whether you’re able to carve out two days or two hours, consider taking stock of your past year, and setting some intentions for the next. And for you introverts out there, consider your retreat as the best Christmas gift you can give yourself.
To your health, and to your retreat,
PS. The next time I write, it may be about what I learned at this year’s retreat, and about the direction of this column for 2023 – your feedback and suggestions are greatly appreciated!
Leanne Calderwood, CMP, is a branding and LinkedIn trainer for the meetings, events, and hospitality industry. She believes our industry is built on experiences, and that experience should start with our professionals.
She serves hospitality professionals and teams through her online courses and consulting services to help guide #eventprofs out of the shadows and into the spotlight using their branding strengths and stories.
You can learn more about Leanne over on her blog at www.leannecalderwood.com