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Executive Retreats


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.


Here we go again?

‘Oh no, here we go again,’ I’ve caught myself thinking this last week in response to the news about another variant. But are we in the same place? No, we’ve got vaccines and we’ve got learning about how we’ve already handled the virus, but it still injects another wave of uncertainty into our lives. What about Christmas? We’ve made the decision not to travel after mid-December to give the Christmas we didn’t have last year the best chance.

So we’re making some concessions to Omicron and being sensible, but I can’t deny a degree of anxiety about all the retreats we’ve got planned next year. That’s got me thinking, what do I bring to this stage of the pandemic adventure to get me through? I wrote last week about the need to look back, to recognise our achievements and successes and that’s certainly a good place to start.

Then there are all those old-fashioned virtues that are not always prominent on Instagram – determination, perseverance, patience, perspective, not giving up. I sometimes torture myself by asking myself if we shouldn’t be building our business faster. Maybe it’s just not possible in the current climate.

But maybe as you start to look inside yourself to find what you bring and what you have to offer to all the people who depend on you – staff, clients, suppliers, family, friends, you find you’re running on empty and the possibility of getting away for a break is rapidly fading. We know that one of our retreats would be ideal to help you recharge the batteries and find the resources to keep going.

It’s our intention to keep running in-person retreats as far as possible, so please keep in touch and watch this space for what’s coming up. Our ‘From Burnout to Flourishing’ retreat in February could be just what you need.


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?


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  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.


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.

In Stories we Exist – Two day retreat, West Coast of Ireland – July 2022

What does the next stage of your life consist of?

Are you clear on the story you want to play out?

This is for anyone who wants to start writing and living the next stage of their life – whatever it might be.

Located in the breathtaking beautiful West Coast of Ireland in County Kerry, these two days provide so much more than simply two days away from the busyness and pressure.

After a reception and welcome meal, the first full day starts with a morning visiting local sites, where a local storyteller brings to life local folklore stories before free time to think, walk, and explore.

In the afternoon, the spotlight shifts onto our own stories, those we tell to others about our life, our work, our past, the special moments and celebrations, along with the opportunity to write a short piece.

Then in the evening, over drinks and supper, Irish authors share their insights into stories and the place they occupy in all our lives.

The next day is devoted to examining the previous afternoon’s stories and the impact they’ve had on us and those around us. What does this tell us about when we’re at our best, full of energy and joy – knowing we’re on track.  And how do we get from here to there – with practical steps to stay there?

Next Chapter Retreats give you the time, space and attention to write your next chapter.


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.


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.


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.

Your Next Chapter Executive Retreats – July UK

Our flagship retreat lasting 3 days (2nd – 5th July 2024), takes you from confusion to clarity. Starting with the stories we tell about ourselves and our past, we look at them to spot the trends and themes that will create our Next Chapter, that shows us at our best and most fulfilled. After some Preparation work, part 1 looks at what happens if we retell our stories from a different perspective and what that shows about our values and priorities when we’re at our best.

These help create your LifeStoryCanvas, with the strands for your NextChapter. After some weeks for further thinking and planning, part 2 helps you write that Next Chapter and an action plan to help you live it.

You will:

  • Clarify your purpose, direction, what really matters and what comes next for you, your business and your family
  • Reignite your ambition – successful executives who know who they are as leaders have an enormous impact on their businesses
  • Reengage with growth plans
  • Become the best version of yourself

Read our Frequently Asked Questions here

To find out more or book your place please contact

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