Personal Retreats Revisited

Joel Lazer, CPA, CA, CIRPBlog, Consulting, HR, Leadership

I was recently asked by some friends to outline my personal retreat.  I have completed my 16th annual retreat and here is what I wrote to them.

The personal retreat agenda is as follows:

  1. Write on a piece of paper all those things you would like to do before you die.  If you would like to do it, it goes on the paper.  Do not give any consideration to whether or not you have the ability, the means, the time or resources.  If you want to do it, write it down.
  2. Write on a piece of paper all those things you would like to do in the next 5 years. This is prioritizing some of Number 1 and puts those items in a position to happen sooner rather than later.
  3. If you knew you were going to die in 6 months, what would you do?  You will be healthy for 180 days and die on the 181st day.  Example:  make amends with estranged family or friends; tidy up your will.  My first retreat, September 2000, I spent hours on work related items.  When I got to this section I quit work in the first minute.  Then I had to figure out what was most important to me and what I would do.
  4. Prepare a net worth statement.  TEC speaker Walt Sutton who introduced us to personal retreats said the net worth statement should reflect current realizable values.  He said forget the goodwill. What would you get for your assets today?

After 16 retreats, I have added as the first step a review of the previous year’s retreat, a monthly expense budget, and a count of days out of the office.

I cannot sufficiently stress the importance of writing as opposed to using an electronic device.  There is a connection for the brain when we hand-write on paper which we don’t get when we type.  I do scan my notes after the retreat so they’re available for easy reference.

Walt also suggested remote venues for the retreat.  I go to Montreal.  I go with others, not alone, and I work in the mornings and mid-afternoons.  Do what works for you.

Number 1 is the hardest step.  I find myself wanting to get up and do something else.  It’s a discipline to resolve to stay in the chair and write.  Once that’s done, the rest tends to flow easier.

Good luck if you attempt this.  Let me know if I can help.