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Getting back to flourishing

I’ve been reflecting a lot on this recently. I’ve been very aware that as a result of the pandemic and lockdown, I’ve been far from flourishing. What does it look like when I am flourishing and thriving? I caricature, but it’s having six ideas before I get up in the morning, wanting to attempt steeper hills when I’m out cycling. That hasn’t been happening lately.

What does flourishing look like for you? The big question at the moment is getting back to offices or not and having a business based in our home I know the attractions and disadvantages of working from home. But I know that a big part of getting back to flourishing for me is meeting and working with people face-to-face. The sheer convenience of Zoom means I’ll never go back to having all meetings face-to-face but there are some that really need to be.

We’re looking at launching a regular networking meeting in London, once a quarter. We’re planning it at the moment and just doing that is exciting me, making me feel that we can start to overcome feelings of isolation and being cut off from relaxed easy interaction with others.

Martin Seligman, founder of the positive psychology movement, defined flourishing as to find fulfilment in our lives, accomplishing meaningful and worthwhile tasks, and connecting with others at a deeper level—in essence, living the “good life”. If we can enable that for others, either through our retreats or meetings, I will feel deeply satisfied.

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How to choose the right retreat for you

There are so many different kinds of retreats out there which naturally we’re very pleased about. The more people see the value of taking time out for whatever reason, the better.  But how to choose? Detox, yoga, mindfulness, weight management, psychotherapy? A weekend or longer? Just down the road or somewhere more exotic?

It seems obvious to point this out, but it’s a question of what you most need. Having said that, sometimes we’re too close to what is happening in our lives to see what we most need. Is it our physical health or mental health that is the issue? Anything that provides us with some space and time to catch up with ourselves is going to be good.

People go on retreats for all kinds of reasons. What is your reason? What do you need time out to achieve and what kind of retreat or off the radar activity will help you achieve this?

We came across a very handy ‘sense check’ tool that might help you identify the reasons why a retreat might be a good investment for your mental health, wellbeing and career progression – take a look at ‘Being my best sense check

People come on a Next Chapter Retreat for all sorts of reasons which works because we don’t prescribe the right way forward to anyone, but help people find what makes sense for them. On our last retreat we had people who wanted to change career, address a workaholic lifestyle, become a better leader or plan the remainder of working life before retirement. We offer a framework of activities to raise questions and possibilities that haven’t been thought about.

Often there is a vague awareness of dissatisfaction or that all is not what it should be. Others are more aware that they are at something of a crossroads in their lives and don’t know what the next chapter looks like. Still, others may have had a difficult or traumatic experience which has left them feeling adrift from themselves and what they want from life.

We work with successful people who may have lost a sense of purpose and direction, have run out of steam and those who want to get back to being their best. Our clients know the power of investing in their personal growth and development, they are emotionally intelligent and self-aware. We nurture that awareness into action, leading to a more fulfilled life, bringing focus, renewed energy and impact.

Oh, and no, we don’t do detox or yoga. Where’s that nice bottle of red?

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What’s your next chapter?

As I write this I am looking forward with excitement to Monday and Tuesday of next week which is the second half of our five-day retreat which began in June. Since then, we have been meeting the participants at regular intervals on Zoom calls to find out how they’re getting on and to support them in making the changes they want in their lives.

The group which included three MDs and a partner in an accountancy firm came with different motivations: one to take their leadership to the next level, one to completely change careers, another to think about the last few years of their career and into retirement, and one with a lifestyle that was killing them. We used the Japanese concept of Ikigai to help them articulate their purpose and then write their next chapter – to be revealed on Tuesday!

We work with people’s stories of both success and failure. One of the key moments in the retreat is when we get people to tell stories about experiences that have been difficult, and which have held them back in some way. One of these stories is told in this blog https://thenextchapter.guru/time-for-a-retreat-i-dont-think-so/  Retelling these stories enables people to make some real shifts in their lives.

One thing we have noted in our Zoom calls between the two halves of the retreat is the extent to which people are making big changes not just in the externals of their lives but in their mindsets and attitudes and in developing new habits. As we all know, these changes are sometimes the hardest and then it’s good to have some people with you who’ve been through the process with you, understand what you’re trying to change and why and are your biggest cheerleaders.

Of course, these kinds of changes can be made in lots of different ways but the retreat acts like a reset button. It’s five quite intensive days spread over three months, but the changes happen more quickly than when you’re working on your own exerting all your self-discipline which is hard when you’ve got so much else on.

We’d love to talk to you about what you’re trying to achieve in your life and whether one of our retreats will give you a kick-start. The next one starts on 1st – 3rd November so you need to get in quickly.

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Why do business leaders find it hard to invest in their own wellness?

Recently a number of companies, Nike, LinkedIn and Bumble have announced that they are closing for a week to give their staff time to recover from the burnout caused by the pandemic, lockdowns and the negative effects of working from home. All well and good and the right thing to do, but what about you, the leader and owner of the business? There’s a lot to feel anxious about – hybrid working chaos, supply chains, staff shortages, inflation, OK let’s not depress ourselves too much! As a business owner myself, I know it is very hard to switch off from thinking and possibly worrying about the business and the future.

What would it feel like if you felt really rested and energised? What are the chances of that at the moment? Some of us have had holidays, but I was talking to someone the other day who had just come back from a holiday with the family (including granny and mother-in-law!) and he didn’t look and sound at all rested. You may have had a week in a tent in the indifferent weather we’re pleased to call summer in the UK. Not exactly the break you were hoping for.

Now the autumn’s here, how are you feeling? Ready for the upturn in the economy or anything the pandemic still has to throw at us? If there’s one thing that we’ve learned over the last year or so, it’s the extent to which the constant uncertainty and lack of control eat away at our resilience. Your holidays may have provided a change of scene and activity but may not have given you what you need to really renew and regenerate.

Why do business leaders find it so hard to invest in themselves and their health, mental or otherwise?

• They feel ashamed about asking for help especially as workplaces don’t support slowing down
• They often equate stress or burnout with a physical illness like a cold and think that a weekend away will sort it
• Investing in addressing burnout is a sign of weakness and that it’s best dealt with by working harder.

Left untreated, burnout can cause people to become depressed, anxious, and distracted, which can impact not only their work relationships but their personal interactions, too. 

Time to do something about it?

One of the best ways of dealing with it is to take ourselves out of the situation altogether.

It’s hard to admit that we need help perhaps because there seem to be so many other people who are worse off, and that we’re being self-indulgent. How many people depend on your being at your best?

Take time to regain some perspective, take a proper break. An ideal way of doing this is coming on our next retreat which starts on 1st – 3rd November. Finding your focus and direction and reconnecting with your purpose and values are core ways to restore mental balance and improve your resilience. Your business, family and friends will thank you.

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Time is of the essence….

Is it just me or am I picking up that people are really struggling with managing time at the moment? I know that since the summer break I’ve been flat out. I’m also reading articles in the media about people doing 60 hour weeks, not taking breaks, checking emails late at night. What goes with that is an intense interest in productivity hacks such as getting up at 4am, not doing emails until 5pm, swallowing frogs….But wait – isn’t that just getting on to a productivity treadmill, to make you fitter for the other work treadmill to achieve what? What are you really trying to accomplish? Isn’t getting on that treadmill going to lead to burnout?

The problem with all the health and productivity hacks is that they look like shortcuts and could be silver bullets that have worked for other people. Even something valuable like mindfulness (which I’m not good at) can be a sticking plaster. With all of this, we’re merely snatching time for ourselves. 

What does your work require and what conditions enable you to be at your best? I would put money on it needing creativity, especially in these uncertain times, leadership as other people look to you for direction, and at the very least, your good mental health. For all of that, you’ve got to 
• give yourself time 
• allow yourself to step back 
• have time to think, go inside yourself to draw on your intuition 
• find confidence that actually you do know the answers or can work out where to find them
• that you can draw on all your valuable experience and knowledge. 

This is not something I find easy at all. I like fast-paced working environments, getting things done, ticking things off on my to-do list. However, I also know that to be creative, for example, to design a new retreat, I need to step away from my desk, which is what happened yesterday. As I relaxed, I had inspiration for something I had been thinking about and it started to fall into place. We have become conditioned to think that efficiency is the answer to being effective.

We need to become much more thoughtful about what kind of time we need to give to different parts of our jobs. Of course, much of it requires information gathering, analysis, intelligence and impatience, but to be creative, we have to be comfortable with a different approach to time, one which is characterised by patience, holding ourselves back and tapping into our intuition.

Don’t get back on the treadmill.

Keen to regain your time? Let us help you.

Places for our November retreat are limited so book now and allow yourself the freedom of thought and creativity.

Blog

Back To The Grindstone

Hopefully, you’ve had a holiday or at least a break which has left you feeling more restored. The kids are back at school and the old routine is kicking in. Or is it, as you vowed you weren’t going back to your old (unhealthy) habits? You might have been feeling a bit burnt out before the holiday but are feeling much better now. Over the break, you’ve had a chance to think about the months ahead with mixed feelings.

There are lots of opportunities, the business is looking good and you could find yourself being busy. With an eye to all of that, you’ve spent some time planning a fitness regime, getting more wearable tech and reading up about some productivity hacks. Getting up at 4am, leaving your emails until 5pm, swallowing frogs, here we come! But wait… isn’t that just getting on to a productivity treadmill, to make you fitter for the other work treadmill – to achieve what? What are you really trying to accomplish? Isn’t that going to get you back into burnout?

One of the things I realised after I had had my retreat week away on a Scottish island which got me over my burnout, is that I had to do things differently. One of them was lowering my expectations of myself, not trying to live up to other people’s expectations, for example, building a million-dollar business! The problem with all the health and productivity hacks is that they look like shortcuts and could be silver bullets that have worked for other people. Even something valuable like mindfulness (which I’m not good at) can be a sticking plaster. With all of this, we’re merely snatching time for ourselves.

What does your work require and what conditions enable you to be at your best? I would put money on it needing creativity, especially in these uncertain times, leadership as other people look to you for direction, and at the very least, your good mental health. For all of that, you’ve got to

  • give yourself time
  • allow yourself to step back
  • have time to think, go inside yourself to draw on your intuition
  • find confidence that actually you do know the answers
  • that you can draw on all your valuable experience and knowledge.

You don’t have to get back on the treadmill.

You might also be interested to read an article one participant published for us:  Click Here 

Our next 5 day retreat starts on 31st October 2021 – click here to join.  By booking a place you will start to feel better, have something to look forward to and a sense of taking control of your next chapter.

Blog

While The Cat’s Away, The Mice Will Play…

With our founders and leaders away – enjoying a very well-deserved break somewhere sunny. We thought we’d take a moment to reflect on Hilary and Peter and Next Chapter Retreats over the last 18 months.

When we asked Hilary and Peter why they started Next Chapter Retreats they said…

Two things:

“Someone once said to us, ‘Many people die with their best music unplayed’ and we think that’s a tragedy.  We’ve been running retreats for CEOs of SMEs in peer learning groups for some years and were struck by the extent to which they were valued. New people joining the groups were told ‘Listen up, you mustn’t miss this. This is the highlight of the year’. One person even changed the dates of his wife’s surgery because it clashed with the dates of the next retreat.”

“We thought to ourselves, ‘We’ve got something really important here and it’s too valuable to be restricted only to people who have signed up to a peer learning group.’ We wanted to take them to a wider audience.”

Both Hilary and Peter have suffered their fair share of crossroad moments in their lives, including cancer diagnosis, divorce and redundancy. They didn’t want their best music to go unplayed so they embarked on Next Chapter Retreats in 2019.

How have the last 18 months been?
Next Chapter Retreats are designed as residential breaks, so when the pandemic hit in our 2nd year of trading, it railroaded our growth plans. We had to switch to virtual delivery almost overnight and it took its toll on us. We’re people people and not being in front of our audiences was very difficult. But we were not defeated. We focused on business planning, growing and engaging with our audience, business development, and personal brand growth.  We signed up for and participated in many webinars, speaking about the importance of self-development and looking after yourself mentally and physically during the pandemic.

In August 2020 we saw a glimmer of hope and the possibility of retreats returning in Q3 but that was quickly dampened by lockdown #2!

In the Autumn of 2020, we designed and implemented our first App. The ‘being your best’ sense checker – have a go if you haven’t already: Click Here

We developed our brand and vision video. Watch Here

We spent a long time testing our concept, reiterating, preparing new content, stress testing it and refining what we do.

We didn’t embrace virtual because that’s not the nature of our retreats, we were strong enough to know our product and our audience and survived the pandemic by being true to ourselves and using it as time on the business to get everything business ready.

We formed long-lasting partnerships with like-minded businesses, and we wrote and wrote and wrote, posted and posted on social and added value to people through our wealth of life experience when they needed us most.

We embarked on an entrepreneurial programme to become key people of influence.

We implemented our brand pillars Uncover / Create / Change.

Returning to our first live event in July 2021, we ran a very successful retreat for a small group, in the wonderful setting of Cowley Manor. The feedback we received from participants was excellent and their response demonstrated that we had succeeded in pioneering a different approach to personal development. No one else is running retreats like these. They are not wellness retreats as such, we don’t offer yoga and detox, but they can make a significant contribution to mental health and wellness. What may take a life coach a year to achieve, we do in 3 months.

Our next 5-day retreat starts on 31st October 2021 – click here to join.  By booking a place you will start to feel better, have something to look forward to and a sense of taking control of your next chapter.

Blog

Who We Are – Next Chapter Retreats

We work with successful people who may have lost a sense of purpose and direction, have run out of steam, gone off the boil and those who want to get back to their best. Our clients know the power of investing in their own personal growth and development, they are emotionally intelligent and self-aware. We help nurture that awareness into action, leading to a more fulfilled life. Bringing focus, renewed energy and impact. 

Our Founders Peter Hyson & Hilary Rowland

What led us to start Next Chapter Retreats? Two things:

  • Someone once said, ‘Many people die with their best music unplayed’ and we think that’s a tragedy.
  • We’ve been running retreats for CEOs of SMEs in peer learning groups for some years and we were struck about the extent to which they were valued. New people joining the groups were told, ‘Listen up, you mustn’t miss this. This is the highlight of the year’. One person even changed the dates of his wife’s surgery because it clashed with the dates of the next retreat.

We thought to ourselves, ‘We’ve got something really important here and it’s too valuable to be restricted only to people who have signed up to a peer learning group.’ We wanted to take them to a wider audience.

One of the things we believe about retreats is that they should provide lots of time for thinking and planning, so we give people lots of free time, strongly encouraging them not to do emails or phone calls, but to go for a walk, swim, have a sauna. When we first did this, we thought there would be major objections from busy CEOs, but no, people really valued being given permission to step back from the business and think.

What we’ve learned is that retreats work in all kinds of situations: planning for the business, thinking about the family and a relationship with a partner, working out how to be a better leader, confronting a dysfunctional lifestyle, contemplating a career change, or just the next stage of a career.

Our next 5-day retreat starts on 31st October 2021 – click here to join. Only a few places remaining. By booking a place you will start to feel better, have something to look forward to, and have a sense of taking control of the situation.

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What Are Retreats?

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘retreat’? I found this piece by Madisyn Taylor, author of DailyOM which sums it up beautifully.

‘Occasionally we need to pause – and step away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. One way to do this is to go on retreat. Far more than a holiday, a retreat offers us time to ourselves to rest, heal, reflect and renew our spirit. It is a time to cocoon so that we may emerge renewed refreshed and ready to return to everyday life with a new perspective. A retreat gives us time for uninterrupted meditation so that we may go deep within and spend time with ourselves.

A retreat may offer quiet solitude and sometimes even silence. Our senses may be reawakened to the beauty, sights and sounds of nature. When we spend days in contemplation, we can more easily hear our heart when it speaks to us. We are also able to really listen when a bird sings, breathe in the smell of flowers, grass, and earth. When we go on retreat we have time to take a long reflective walk through the woods where we give each step our full attention.

Without the pull of deadlines, relationships, the internet, or other media, we give ourselves time to go deep into our own solitude where we can fully reflect on our joys, sorrows and fears, owning them and releasing them as needed. We may even come to know and understand our life path more deeply. Hopefully, when we return home, we can take a little bit of this time alone back with us. We also may come back to our life more renewed and ready to take on the world.  

The beauty of going on retreat is that no matter where you go or how long you are away you will always meet yourself when you get there.’

Our retreats offer all of this. We provide guided reflective activities that stimulate your thinking in very carefully chosen, completely confidential small groups which enable you to explore the stories of your life more deeply to discover what you are like at your best and what holds you back. We help you retell those stories so that you can craft the next chapter of your life, whatever that needs to be for you. Our retreats will make a big difference to your mental health but are not primarily wellness retreats in that we don’t offer yoga or detox, though we stay in a lovely hotel where there’s a very good spa if you want a massage!

We work with successful people who may have lost a sense of purpose and direction, have run out of steam, gone off the boil and those who want to get back to their best. Our clients know the power of investing in their own personal growth and development, they are intelligent and self-aware. We help nurture that awareness into action, leading to a more fulfilled life. Bringing focus, renewed energy and impact. Contact us for a conversation

Blog

Invest in your family

What are you most proud of?

When we ask our clients that they nearly always mention that they’re most proud of their children. I know I am. This is a time when we have more time to spend with our families and yet, we may feel we are at the end of our tether ourselves and don’t have much to give them. Sometimes we think that money will fill the gap, but it’s us they really value.

How do you want to invest in your family?

At this time of the year, we have more time to spend with them and that may highlight how little time we normally have with them with all the feelings of guilt that go with that. It often feels like an either/or. Either we put a lot into our work and career, or we take our foot off the pedal to be with the family.

What if there was a both?

We know that people who come on our retreats leave with more to give back to their partners and their families. Watch Belinda Collins who came on one of our retreats reflect on the difference it made to her and her relationship with her family, link below

Invest in yourself, invest in the business, invest in the family, come on a retreat. We still have one or two places on our next retreat in September.

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