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And what do you want for Christmas?

I bet a lot of us get asked this at this time of the year and sometimes my heart sinks. What do I want that’s within the budget? It’s prompted the thought that there can be significant times in our lives when we don’t know what we want. The hardest people to buy presents for are those who have everything they need or want, but increasingly I’m coming across people who do have some idea what they want but feel hampered in getting it. Needless to say, it’s not another Christmas present!

Quite often, this occurs in the run-up to ‘retirement’ whatever that means for the individual. If they’re stepping back from full-time paid work, what this inevitably brings into focus is their relationship with their partner who may well have got their own life very well organised and doesn’t want it disrupted – the ‘I married you for better or for worse, but not for lunch’ phenomenon.

I speak to many people at this stage in their lives who recognise that change is coming, have some ideas about what the next stage of their lives might bring, but it’s vague and not well thought through. Because it’s ‘retirement’ many don’t feel they can make an investment in themselves at this point – it’s just not worth it, they think. But life expectancy being what it is, if you retire at sixty, you might have another thirty years ahead of you, thirty years of what? Trailing around in the supermarket?  Not only that, but you’ve built up a considerable bank of skills, knowledge and experience – all to go to waste?

But what if you do invest in finding what you want for this next chapter of your life? And what if it’s different from what your partner envisaged? The management writer Charles Handy made the point that relationships need to be renegotiated at different stages of our lives. It makes sense when you think about it – how you need to be as a couple with small children is very different from when the children have upped and gone to university. There’s no doubt about it, it’s a risk. What if you find some quite big gaps opening up between you?

But if you don’t know what you want, you don’t have a starting point for negotiation and then it’s very easy to fall in with someone else’s wishes, to opt for a quiet life, not rocking the boat. But don’t forget about those thirty years. Not knowing what you want is not a recipe for happiness. This week we’ll be doing a virtual retreat with an engaged couple in the US working out what they want for themselves and together.

If you do want to invest in those thirty years, how about coming on one of our retreats? We give you space and time to start knocking those half-formed ideas into some kind of shape. Give yourself something to look forward to.

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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.

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.

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