Throughout the year my husband and I look forward to the winter weekend when we will get away and set goals for the coming year. While goal setting might not be at the top of most couples’ lists of activities to do while on a getaway, we find it to be incredibly meaningful.
Last week I explained why we find it beneficial to set goals as a couple. Now let’s consider how a goal planning retreat can help facilitate this process.
Why go on a retreat?
Goal setting certainly can occur at home while you go about routine activities. However, I’m not sure this is optimal. We’ve identified several benefits of getting away to set goals.
- There are fewer distractions when we are away. At home there are so many things vying for our attention: clothes that need to be folded, dishes that need to be washed, dinner that needs to be prepared, trash that needs to be taken out, etc. If you have kiddos in the house, they can require as much attention as all of these tasks combined! We can focus more easily when we’re away because these distractions aren’t present.
- New surroundings can help us see things from a new perspective. Our outlooks are often renewed when we find ourselves in novel settings. Something as simple as staying in a different room or taking a walk through a new neighborhood can jumpstart our brainstorming.
- Missing our routines can help us feel new enthusiasm for everyday tasks. There is much truth in the adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s hard to appreciate everyday activities when we’re in the midst of them. However, a break from routine can help us foster new vision and enthusiasm for our tasks. As this happens, we often find inspiration for goals.
Getting away can be tricky if you have little ones at home. Are there grandparents or aunts and uncles who live nearby who can watch the kids for a weekend? Perhaps you can enlist the help of friends? For example, they can watch your kids while you and your husband go away one weekend and you can watch their kids when they go away the next weekend. Consider making these plans early, especially if the arrangements take a little creative planning.
The cost of a retreat can also be a challenge. There are several things we do to manage the cost. First, we budget for the retreat all year. We know the retreat is important, so we set aside money for it throughout the year. Second, we stay at a hotel that offers free breakfast and provides a mini-fridge in our room. This means we don’t have to pay to eat out. We can eat breakfast at the hotel and pick up some affordable groceries to keep in the fridge for our lunches and dinners. Another option we’ve considered is staying at a vacation home. You can search the internet for “vacation rentals by owner” and find a number of very nice properties offered at low prices. Many are in picturesque, secluded areas. Finally, we compare lodging prices for various dates. It’s typically more affordable to stay in a hotel or similar property on an off-peak weekend or during weekdays. It’s helpful to check several sets of dates because the rates can vary significantly.
Tips for having an effective retreat
We’ve found a couple of strategies that help us make sure we accomplish our task of setting goals.
- Unplug from technology. Phone calls, text messages, social media, and emails can be very distracting. We’ve found it beneficial to silence our phones and log off our email accounts. If we need to make a call or check an email during our retreat, we set a specific time for this and then unplug once done.
- Take fun breaks. A hotel room can begin feeling stuffy if you sit in it all day, so it’s refreshing to get out and get some air. Going on a hike through a nearby park or visiting a local museum are nice options. You can also take board games with you. Playing these at your place of lodging is a fun option that doesn’t cost money. I don’t know about you, but I think my creative juices flow more freely when I’m active!
- Be intimate. Though we’re focused on planning goals, my husband and I don’t want to lose view of the fact that we’re on a retreat together. Think about it. While on a retreat neither of you have to get up early for work. You don’t have to worry about waking up or being interrupted by your kiddos. You’re not tired from cleaning the house all day. This is a perfect opportunity to spend some extra time focused on the physical side of marriage. Will this help with your goal setting? I don’t know, but it will likely benefit your marriage. Given that my husband and I always try to set at least one marriage-focused goal, this seems appropriate!
Have you ever gone on a retreat to plan goals? If you have, was it beneficial? Will you and your husband be planning goals for the upcoming year?