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wellbeing retreat

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Adjusting to the next normal

What was that about the ‘new normal’ we thought or hoped we might be moving towards? It was just the end of COVID we were hoping for, wasn’t it? On the back of 2020, we were all sure that 2021 was going to be a new start, then when that didn’t work out, perhaps 2022 was going to be the year. Funny how that worked out.

It feels like the world as we knew it has gone for a long time. COVID hasn’t gone away. It might not be as a serious disease as it was, but a lot of us are still getting it and it’s making us feel under par for a while. The cost of living, taxes, energy and fuel prices are shooting up with no end in sight and then, of course, there’s the war in Ukraine with all the massive uncertainties that introduces.

Throw in a couple of personal worries, the friend with a cancer diagnosis and the offspring being less settled in their lives than they were and…..

I have been reflecting and wondering, how to be in all of this. Acceptance feels like the first thing – there’s only so much I can do to change anything. Someone has pointed out that stress = expectations – reality so I’m going to lower my expectations of how much certainty I can find and how easy life will be over the next couple of years. This is going to be the new normal. Perhaps our joys and the things we appreciate will come in small ways, that sunset, the arrival of spring, trying a new recipe, making contact with an old friend, taking in a refugee.

We need to recognise the effect all this has on us as well though. The latest issue of Raconteur (14th March) had an article suggesting that more people are looking to take a sabbatical on the back of a hard two years, stress, burnout and the need to switch off, recharge and get work and life back into balance. If you don’t have time, or won’t get the support from work for a full sabbatical, why not think about coming on one of our five-day retreats (over three months)? They are an ideal opportunity to take some time for yourself and focus on what’s really important.

For more information please get in touch https://thenextchapter.guru/get-in-touch/

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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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Looking back

I find it very easy to be constantly looking to the future and either being excited about the possibilities or anxious about how much still needs to be done. What I don’t do nearly enough is look back and reflect on all that’s gone well and been successful. We all need to do that after the last two years that have been tough on us all one way or another.

We’ve seen so many certainties swept away, whether of being able to plan holidays, seeing people who’re important to us, pressures on our families, our businesses either tanking or flying and now not knowing what on earth to do about our staff who seem to have developed minds of their own during lockdown!

When I look back, I’m amused at the confidence and optimism with which we started a business running retreats a few months before a pandemic. At the beginning of 2020, I blithely proclaimed on LinkedIn that I wanted to live boldly and courageously and to have adventures, big and small. Be careful what you wish for, you’re probably thinking.

Perhaps I was more prescient than I knew. It was an adventure all right, a big one. I remember being inspired by something I saw on social media encouraging us to come out of lockdown better than we went in. Well, that was the first lockdown – if only we knew there would be a second and a third or more, depending what part of the country you live in. The enthusiasm for Joe Wicks wore off and we probably just got fatter!

I certainly needed courage. Like so many other businesses we tried to pivot (that much-overused word of 2020!) online, but how do you replicate a fabulous hotel, time, space, relaxation, switching off on a webinar with the kids running in and out in the background and the cat walking over the keyboard? We realised it was a non-starter.

However, there was plenty we could do. Build our brand, community, marketing assets and team, which all paid off once we could start in-person retreats. Now we’re beginning to see the fruits of our labours – people are coming to us wanting to partner with us, interview us on their podcasts and even an approach from someone in the US wanting us to run a retreat for them – before Christmas! Yes, I think I can and should feel proud.

But before you get into all the busyness and froth of Christmas and gearing up for 2022, what about you? How are you feeling about it all and where has it left you? What are you grateful for? What have been the successes? How about a little celebration, or at the least, a modest patting yourself on the back?

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