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Personal Retreat: Part 1 of Your Personal / Professional Success Plan

By Phyllis Mufson

Personal Retreat? A retreat is a time you take for reflection and life planning, that you can do by yourself – or with friends. Taking an afternoon – or a day – for a thoughtful look at where your personal life and career is now, and how you want to develop them in the future, will help you plan, set goals you can achieve, and feel focused and self-confident as you begin the next phase of your career.

The holidays (or other changes of season) are a great time to take stock, celebrate your accomplishments, and identify the areas where you want to make changes.

When you are involved in a job search or other transition, it is really common to focus on the details - the next letter, the interview that didn’t go well, when will you get a call - and lose track of what is going on in the rest of your life. So, it’s particularly important to take the time now to look at your life through a wide-angle lens and gain a broader perspective.

How to have your own personal retreat:

What you will need:

  • A quiet location where you won’t be disturbed
  • Three of more hours to reflect and write
  • Pen and paper for journaling

I suggest beginning your retreat day with a calming activity: a brief meditation, a walk, listening to music – or just taking some deep breaths – whatever you enjoy that helps you unwind from the holiday bustle.

8 Questions to Ask Yourself

Then, begin to answer the following questions, taking time to contemplate your career satisfaction, your job search, and also your level of satisfaction with the different areas of your personal life: your health, your relationships, finances, personal and spiritual growth, fun and recreation, etc. They are all connected. Write the answers as they come to you. Grammar and spelling don’t count!

1. What were your finest moments over the past year?

What did you accomplish? Think about when you were proud of yourself, when you made a change, did something well, had a positive impact on someone else’s life, or solved a problem.

2. What were your biggest disappointments?

Remember when you disappointed yourself, or were disappointed by others; when your expectations weren’t met, when you met rejection, when your dreams weren’t fulfilled.

Or perhaps there are dreams you had for yourself earlier in life that weren’t fulfilled. What are you regretting?

3. What did you learn?

Looking at your answers to the first two questions, ask yourself what worked, and what would you like to do differently.

What would you like to do differently?

4. How are you getting in your own way?

One of the biggest obstacles to success are negative thoughts and feelings you may hold about your ability to succeed and your worthiness in getting what you want.

At this stage of life it’s particularly important to look at negative assumptions you may hold about change and aging.  To get clearer about how you do that, answer these questions.

How do you limit yourself?

What do you say to yourself to explain these limitations?

Negative self talk is the voice of your fear and not the truth about you. Pick one of your toughest limiting beliefs and ask yourself – is that true? Really, really, 100% true?

You’ll find that even if there’s some truth – it still isn’t a reason for not getting what you want. Over time, you can make huge strides in changing your negative beliefs. Start with one of the toughest ones, and see the difference.

5. What are your personal values?

Make a list. If your values aren’t clear to you, it can be helpful to think about how you’d like to be remembered. What would you like to be admired for – or who do you admire – and for what?

How well are you living your values?

6. What do you want your legacy to be? What impact do you want to make in the rest of your life?

What would you like to be remembered for? Who do you admire – and for what? These questions contain clues that will help you begin to think about this important question.

7. Which area(s) of your life will be your major focus?

If you could put one problem behind you, what would it be? Where do you want a breakthrough? What would make the biggest difference in your life?

8. What’s next?

Whether or not you answered every question in detail, allowing yourself time to reflect is a rejuvenating process that will help you have a deeper sense of who you are and your purpose. From that place of clarity, you will find it much easier to create a future that is uniquely rewarding for you.

Most people know the steps to take to succeed at common challenges. If you want to lose weight, you know you need to eat less and focus on nutritionally dense fools, and exercise. Or to find a new job: get clear on what you want, and present yourself to employers as willing and able to solve their problems. This site is full of articles that explain, in detail, how to conduct an effective job search.

For most people the problem isn’t in knowing what to do, but in doing it. Where people get stuck is in knowing how to customize general advice to your needs, make doable plans, overcome inner obstacles, and accept and learn to work with your own style for implementing change.

Therefore, the next articles in this series will focus on how to take the direction you’ve identified for yourself in your retreat, craft it into goals, and identify what will actually work to help you achieve them. Goal Setting is the next article, Part 2 in this series.

Your Personal Professional Success Plan:

About the author...

Phyllis Mufson is a career / business consultant and a certified life coach with over 25 years of experience. She has helped hundreds of clients successfully navigate career transitions. You can learn more about Phyllis and her practice at PhyllisMufson and follow Phyllis on Twitter @PhyllisMufson and Google+.

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