I have been struggling with self-care for most of my working life. I have tended to only prioritize the work side of life, believing for a long time that this is “just the way it is. You have to make sacrifices with your health, your family, your friends in order to be successful.” Sounds a little silly when I say this out loud, but I let that belief drive my behaviour for a long, long time. Five years ago, when I left the corporate world to start my own business, I was confident that this would be the time in my life that I’d finally achieve that elusive balance I’d previously been unable to find. I’d lose weight, get fit, read more, develop mastery in my work, have more fun, invest more in my relationships, be a better wife/friend/sister/daughter/aunt, all while building a successful business. Doesn’t that sound great?!
Now, before you jump to any conclusions, I need to tell you that this isn’t a post about me having discovered the secret to achieving balance and self-care! Looking back over the last 5 years, I can proudly say that I’ve made great progress in a lot of these areas. And, yet, I still continue to struggle with self-care. I still struggle making choices that put me first. I’m just starting to learn to listen to my body more, rather than always being driven by what my mind tells me I ought to do. Prioritizing rest and relaxation over, well, almost anything, still feels indulgent for me. In the last few years, I’ve come to understand in a really tangible way that my energy isn’t unlimited. That I can’t always be on. And, that when I “overdo it”, i.e. try to be on all the time, that what really happens is that I’m unproductive and perform poorly in all areas of my life.
One of the things I’ve been experimenting with is the practice of giving myself breaks in order to recharge my energy. What I’m discovering is that breaks need to come in all kinds of formats (quiet reflection, playful activity, physical movement, connecting with others) and in a wide variety of frequencies (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual etc.).
Last October I discovered a new kind of break, in the form of a 4-day retreat with a small group of women entrepreneurs. The retreat completely re-energized me and provided me with the most significant personal development I’d had in over a year. Here’s what struck me about my experience:
- Stepping out of my life and out of my business is essential for me to recharge and to gain clarity on my future goals and perspective on where I am today.
- Nature helped me instantly turn off and turn in. Staring out on the ocean for hours each day, walking amongst the trees and wildlife, and star gazing each night kept me grounded in the present moment and, at the same time, allowed me to dream.
- Naming both my intentions and my needs for the retreat at the beginning of the experience ensured that I achieved exactly what I desired.
- A few thought-provoking questions and conversations was all the impetus I needed to reflect deeply and to create profusely.
- Witnessing other women bravely face their biggest obstacles and declare their dreams was an incredibly rich learning experience for me. Turns out that their lessons and struggles are powerful lessons for me too.
- It doesn’t take long. The stunning location, along with a smart design, strong facilitation and a group of committed people is a magical combination. Poems were written in 5 minutes, detailed launch plans in 30 minutes and deep insights garnered by the asking of one simple question.
I was so struck by my experience of a retreat that I knew I had to create a retreat for the women leaders I work with. I know that I’m not alone in struggling with self-care; many women leaders have similar struggles. And, I also know, through repeated direct experience, how incredibly effective women are as leaders. I am driven to help as many women as I can achieve their leadership potential, simply because we need each of you to change our organizations and to change our world for the better.
So, I partnered with the absolute best in the business, Jac McNeil, an executive coach who has dedicated the last 10 years of her career working exclusively with women leaders and entrepreneurs. Together we created Tidesong Leadership Retreat, scheduled for the week of October 17, 2016. We would love to have you join us for a week of soul-satisfying self-care and transformative conversation. Please check out our website at www.tidesongretreat.com (hint – best viewed on your laptop or desktop) and call/email me directly with any questions.
As always, I’d love to hear what you are struggling with and learning, about self-care and about leadership. Please connect. I’d love to have a conversation and to learn from you.
With love and gratitude,