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What if you could design the life you want?

We’re hearing a great deal about The Great Resignation which might just be a media invention but may also be starting to niggle at the back of your brain. What if…?

Equally, with time to think during lockdown, there are lots of us who started to become aware of things we hadn’t noticed before and started to wonder…what if? What would the life you really want look like?

What are the questions you’re avoiding asking yourself about your life, what are the possibilities you hardly dare imagine? Life is not a linear process – it doesn’t have to carry on in the same direction forever.

Faced with possible change, people tend to respond in one of three ways:

  • Ignore it. Lie down with a cold towel over your head and hope that it goes away
  • Get stuck. You know you want your life to be different, but the prospect of change is too unnerving and you’re not sure where to start
  • Panic. Rush around trying one thing after another in an effort to find something different.

For most of us, it’s unrealistic to think of starting from scratch and completely reinventing ourselves. The self-help gurus make too much of the concept of transformation and not the practical steps. Very few people can make radical, life changes to their lives and often that’s not what’s actually required.

And yet, and yet…. On our retreats, our clients make big decisions about their lives, like complete career changes. We support them in planning the execution of change by helping them build on all they have achieved to date and finding a tipping point to their future success. Some clients make smaller changes, that equally, positively enable them to live the rewarding, fulfilling lives they’re looking for.

The first step is to get you to take a step back and take some time to really look at your life, past and present, what you want to change and what you want to hang on to. If any of this resonates with you get in touch.



I’ve just returned from a week’s retreat on the island of Iona, staying in the Abbey and living in community with other guests. There was a spiritual component to it, and I spent a lot of time looking out to sea, just being quiet. I felt I gained perspective on our business and the progress we have made, but the other thing I felt the need to make sense of was the effect that the pandemic and lockdown have had on me.  

I realised that when the pandemic struck, I went into something of a panic, especially about our business. Being in the business of running executive retreats we are primarily a face-to-face business and there was little face-to-face last year. The rush for many businesses was to pivot (how often did we hear that word?) online, which we tried, but had we stood back, probably common sense would have told us that it wouldn’t work, which is where we got to at the beginning of 2021 when we decided to sit tight and wait for restrictions to ease and face to face to commence once again.  

What I realised last week was that I hadn’t stopped panicking deep down and it had taken its toll. I was mentally exhausted and feeling waves of depression. I know I am not alone. It’s not as though we can see a way out of the difficulties and uncertainties of the pandemic. We thought vaccinations would liberate us and then along came another variant. Each stage brings with it another set of regulations to get used to, school children in bubbles, whether to get the staff back to the office or not.  

What we’re all recognising now is that this is burnout caused by endless uncertainty, pressure and lack of control. One of the feelings I had last week was that I didn’t have the right to have burnout: we were safe and healthy, we had food on the table, could talk to family and friends and had each other as companions. Many business owners report that their businesses are doing well, certainly better than expected and staff have stayed engaged.  

It’s hard to admit to burnout perhaps because there seem to be so many other people who are worse off, we think it’s not a real illness and probably possible to tough it out if ignored. But left untreated, burnout can cause people to become depressed, anxious, and distracted, which can impact not only our work relationships, but our personal interactions.  

What might your burnout be doing to your business, your family, or your friends? Wouldn’t it be great if you could find something that would help you over this and let you enjoy your life again?  

The good news is that once identified, burnout can be reversed through taking some time to work on yourself. Take a moment to regain some perspective, learning to say ‘no’ in a constructive way, taking breaks and managing expectations are all ways you can help yourself. Finding your own purpose and understanding your values are also core ways to gaining that perspective and focus.   

If you’d like the chance to renew and regenerate as I did on my retreat, we’d like to invite you to our next retreat from 13th – 15th September. If you’re not sure how they work, let’s have a chat.

Our next 5-day retreat starts on 13th September 2021 – click here to join.
Get a sense of your perspective, check out our ‘being your best’ scorecard – click here

Time For A Retreat?… I Don’t Think So

We have just concluded the first 3 days of our flagship retreat programme for a cohort of senior executives.  We wanted to share an article written by one of the group to give you a flavour of the life changing benefits to be experienced.

Someone said to me ‘you should go on a retreat’, ‘a retreat? have you seen my diary, I barely have time for lunch each day let alone 5 days out on a retreat’. ‘No way. I’m fine as I am thanks’.

(Getting up at 5am, working until 7pm and regularly working at the weekends too. Heart regularly beating beyond the pace it should, snapping at the children in the brief 30 minutes I saw them before bedtime and so exhausted missing dinner as I didn’t have time and going to bed at 9pm before a restless night’s sleep and ground hog day starting again).

No I’m fine thanks – I don’t have time for a retreat.

Meanwhile friends raising their concern with me that I’m always working and ‘are you ok’ ‘you must remember to look after yourself’, the occasional gut-wrenching comments from the children that ‘you’re always working mummy’ ‘we never see you’ ‘please can you stop looking at your laptop and help me with my reading?’. Family members raising constant concern that ‘you can’t keep going at this rate’ you’ll burn yourself out’.

Time for a retreat…? No thanks I’m fine. Honestly, I’m fine.

Clients sending me messages of concern, distant contacts from the past noting their concern on social posts, family pleading me to take some time out.  Anxiety in my chest, shallow sharp breathing, never taking a deep full breath, sleep getting harder and harder due to a constant busy mind. Restless legs. Drinking a glass or two of wine every night knowing it’s a quick way to get to sleep (despite never staying asleep for long). Changing my diet to try to shift a few pounds but having no luck. Exercising more but feeling more depleted. Running harder and faster on the tread mill but getting nowhere. More meetings, more actions, more calls, ok let’s try getting up at 4am instead then and gaining another hour for work – I’m not sleeping so why not.

I’m no wife, I’m no mother, I’m no business owner, I’m no daughter, I’m no friend. I’m doing none of those things successfully. But then I was told as a young girl, struggling with studies and dyslexia, ‘you’ll never achieve academically so just accept that. Just accept you won’t get high grades you’re not clever enough’.

Time for a retreat…? No thanks I’m fine.

I’m not fine. I’m far from fine but I don’t have time to take out for myself.

Is that what I want written on my gravestone? Is that what I want my legacy to be. Is that the view I want my children to have of a successful role model and mother?


I met Hilary and Peter through a business group called BoB (Business of Brand) and I helped them shape the strategy and marketing activation for their Retreat business, a new venture they had taken after years of experience coaching and mentoring senior executives and dealing with their fair few personal turning points in life. They were inspiring, they talked about the power and intensity of self-discovery their retreats created and we shared stories from previous retreaters for the website and social.


I’ve just returned from the first 3 days of their flagship 5 day Executive Retreat (split into 3 days with a 10 week period of reflection before the final 2 days) and here is what I’ve learnt.

  • I am worth it.
  • I can break the ground hog day and I will.
  • I can be successful without jeopardising my family and friends.
  • I am good at what I do. And people appreciate me and see strengths and skills I me I never knew I had.
  • I’ve got a strong purpose and I’m value driven, I just never realised those values and how I play them out in day to day life in decisions and relationships.
  • I’m not the little girl standing in her head teachers office being told to accept second best.
  • I’m not a failed mother.
  • I’m someone who is powerful and strong and I now know exactly what I need to do to get the balance I need in life. I need to let the fun back in. I need regular time out, for me, to make me the best version of myself I can be.
  • I’m three days in but world’s apart from the women that arrived on that sunny Sunday afternoon.

Set in the beautiful Countryside in the Cotswold, surrounded by two ultimate professionals who know exactly what they are doing and the journey they are taking people on – I discovered I have passion, kindness and determination racing through my veins. I’m better equipped now to channel this and I’m on a journey with like minded professionals.

Our next 5 day retreat starts on 13th September 2021 – click here to join.

Get a sense of your perspective, check out our ‘being your best’ scorecard – click here


Being My Best Scorecard Launch

We’re excited to announce the launch of our newly developed scorecard.  Your FREE personal MOT, service and valet.  Find out how you’re REALLY doing in terms of Your Purpose in Life, the Impact you have, how Happy you are and how good your Mental Fitness is.  And there’s more!  We’re offering all participants the opportunity for a free 30-minute call to discuss their results and our “5 Steps” free download (5 Practical steps to reconnect your purpose and power).

Click here to complete the ‘Being My Best’ scorecard

Next Chapter Retreats help successful people play their best music, fulfill their potential, and perform at the top of their game.

Our retreats use the stories we tell about our lives to uncover what we love, what we’re good at, what holds us back and what really matters to us in order to create a clear pathway for our next chapter. Each retreat is specially designed for people who want to invest in themselves and to be their best, they nurture you to be the best version of yourself for your business, your family and yourself.


We are delighted to announce that we have developed our retreat offering with a new two-day retreat “Planning for Peak Performance” in addition to our flagship 5-day retreat!  

We have been busy!


Looking Ahead

We had some friends round for dinner last weekend, the first time since the end of lockdown and it made me realise what I’ve missed. Telling stories about our holiday disasters, belly laughs, actually having adventures. What have you missed?

Many of us are planning holidays at the moment which we hope will plug many of the missing gaps– sunshine, going out for a drink with friends, lasting memories for stories at that next dinner party. Holidays fix our tired bodies, but what about a tired mind?

Sometimes our journey needs to be outwards, to get the experiences that will reenergise and excite us, and sometimes the journey needs to be inwards, to give ourselves some time to check in on ourselves, nurture our minds and psyches. I intend to practice what I preach. At the end of June, I’m going on a pilgrimage/retreat to the island of Iona for a week. It’s been tough running a face-to-face business in lockdown, but the autumn looks busy, and I want to be at my best.

What do you need now? What’s your autumn looking like and how do you need to prepare? Feeling jaded, run out of steam, gone off the boil? Our retreats are designed to help you get back to your normal success and achievement and keep you at the top of your game. Something for you – or maybe to recommend to some people you know? Our next retreat is 12th – 14th July and 4th and 5th October.


Why outplacement may not be good for you

I’ve taken voluntary redundancy twice in my career and both times it was a shock even though I chose it. A real wrench in both cases so I can only imagine what it must be like if it’s forced on you, worse still, you don’t see it coming.

The second time, I was offered outplacement coaching which I leapt at like a drowning person grabs a plank of wood in the water. However, it was a mixed experience and it taught me some useful lessons. The way it works is that if it is offered, the company letting you go have a contract with an outplacement company whose job it is to pick you up, shake you down, help you find a new job and get you on your way again, thus assuaging the guilt of the company you’ve just left. You’ll get help with your CV, lessons in how to network and interview techniques and you throw yourself at the mercy of the headhunters.

All good if you’re at a T-junction. In other words, if this direction hasn’t worked out, just try something similar going in another direction. Same kind of role, same level of seniority, same or related industry, nothing too different. However, what I discovered you don’t get with outplacement coaching is the answer to dilemmas like, ‘I don’t know what to do next’, ‘there are too many options floating around in my head’, or ‘I want to try something completely different’. It might feel like being at a spaghetti junction.

A lot of these kind of questions can be second half of life questions. You’ve ticked all the boxes. You’ve chosen a career, you have a life partner, you might even have been able to afford your own home and you might have some children. Tick, tick, tick. Now what? There’s a niggle. It’s all lovely but. Is that it? There’s got to be something more but you can’t think what.

What if you had some time out of the rat race just to think and answer some of these questions? What if you had that instead of outplacement? What might that open up in your life?


When you get that diagnosis

It was the last thing I expected even though I had been called back after having a mammogram. I’m extremely health conscious, eating and exercising as I should. Nothing in my family. But there it was: breast cancer. A huge shock.

I was very lucky in that my local NHS hospital, a fairly standard hospital in a provincial town, was one of six in the country to be able to offer a revolutionary treatment whereby radiotherapy is given at the same time as surgery (IORT, intraoperative radiotherapy), and nothing more is required. Also lucky that I could be given hormone treatment and didn’t require chemotherapy, so I was in for surgery and radiotherapy on Thursday afternoon and back at work on Monday. In those circumstances, it’s hard to take it in, for it to make a dent on your consciousness.

Not long afterwards, someone asked me, ‘What did you learn from your experience?’ and I looked at him blankly. Despite being very keen on learning, it hadn’t occurred to me that this was an opportunity to learn anything. However, the question stayed with me and some weeks later, I realised that having got the diagnosis, it didn’t make me question what I was doing with my life as what I was doing and how I was living was exactly what I wanted. It didn’t make me question or want to change anything.

Having spoken to others in the same position, I’m aware that not everyone has this reaction. For many people, it’s a wake-up call, perhaps to live more healthily or even more, to question whether they are really living the life they love, doing what matters and is significant. For them, it’s an opportunity to consider how to write the next chapter of their lives.

What if you got a wake-up call like this?


When the door closes

A phone call. An accident. An unwanted medical diagnosis. A ruinous investment. Failure. It all comes crashing down. Any of these can act as a huge shock. We struggle to make sense, adjust, make amends or try to correct and then we come to the realisation that something has changed. Life isn’t going to be the same. It can leave us feeling marginalised and isolated – the rest of the world seems to be getting on with their lives in the same way, but we’re on the outside. This was a feeling I had in a busy shopping centre one Christmas when I was unemployed in the last recession, having had a successful career up to that point. It’s very painful.

It can be that the answer is simple. You just need to find another job. However it can be that what we’re experiencing as a disaster is a door closing on a chapter of our lives, perhaps a way of life. Then what? It feels as though it is calling into question all that we have ever hoped for or believed of ourselves and the universe.

What if the door is closing on something that wasn’t right for us? What if something is trying to tell us that there is a better way? That there might be something of real significance round the corner?


What’s the script of your life?

Have you ever caught yourself thinking, ‘why does that keep happening to me?’ or ’why do I keep doing that?’ Do you see patterns in your life or even notice that the patterns are similar to those of your parents? If so, what you have stumbled on is the concept of life scripts, the idea that from a very young age, encouraged or shaped by our parents, we make up a story about our lives and how they are going to be. They help us to make sense of our lives and shape it.

Because they are formed at such a young age, we are not aware of them and keep acting them out. Archetypically we see such patterns in the woman who keeps forming relationships with men who abuse her for example, or more positively that we have to save the world. My parents were missionaries so perhaps that forms something of my script – the temptation to try and save the world!

What were the catch phrases in your home growing up? What were the constant ‘don’ts’? Don’t be selfish, don’t show off, don’t show feelings, don’t have needs? Just some of mine.
What title would you give to your life story; your script? What type of story is it; happy, a tragedy or a rom com? Who are you in the story, a victim or a hero?

Because we made the decision in the first place, we have the power to change it. Once our script is brought into our awareness, there is hope that we will be able to do things differently.

The greatest power that understanding life scripts gives us is the ability to change them. Listen to yourself. What are the stories you are telling yourself about your life. When do you say ‘that’s not me’ or ‘I couldn’t do that’? What are the patterns you seek and avoid? What excuses do you make for not doing things?

What’s stopping you is your current life script. What if you knew what it is? What if you could change it? What if you had another view of your past life? And how is it going to end? What if you could write a different end to the story?


The road less travelled

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This poem by Robert Frost has always fascinated me and I’m sure many others. How many of us look back on our lives and wonder about the road we might have taken and what difference that might have made to our lives? Going to one university rather than another? Marrying this person rather than that person? Taking a particular job?

And now perhaps, we’re at a point in our lives where the roads diverge and we wonder which one to take. Is there a choice or are we bound by all the previous decisions we’ve ever made? After a life which seems to be one where we’ve always done the right thing, conformed, met the expectations of our families, perhaps we are longing to kick out and try the road less travelled. We’ve had a dream of something we have longed to try, to make that great idea into a new business, to make our lives count on the bigger stage of life, to live our own lives as opposed to the life  which has lived up to others’ expectations. What would it cost to try something different? What if we took the risk?

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