Secrets To An Amazing Business Planning Retreat

by Leonie Dawson on April 2, 2012

Hola gorgeous ones!

Another long article again today – this time about how to organise business planning retreats, and the photos + deep sharings from my recent planning retreat with my American assistant!

Hope this is deeply useful to you!

 

One night, early in the days of this New Year, I got struck with an idea bomb.

I saw a vision of me & my long term assistant Marissa hanging out in an office room together, adorning the walls with post it paper, and drawing huge, coloured plans for the business. I had this feeling that I could bring through the right brained visions, and Marissa could help me nail it down into left brained systems. In this vision, I felt ilke something HUGE would happen.

And it was a gorgeous vision for sure, and it lit up my heart.

But I told myself “You know that’s not going to happen, Leonie.”

You see, despite having had Marissa work for me for the last 3 years, I still hadn’t met her yet.

I live in tropical paradise in northern Australia. She lives in the middle of America.

It felt like an impossible dream.

But the next words in my head were the words that changed the game.

“Yeah, but HOW can I make it happen? What if it was possible?”

As soon as I said those words to myself, the game changed.

I stayed awake for hours in the dark, lodged between my husband and my slumbering toddler. Stared at the ceiling, clicked over numbers and ideas in my head.

Worked out how to make it possible.

And I did.

*

In the early morning, I was too excited to stay asleep. I crept out at sunrise, wrote an email to Marissa begging her to let me bring her over here.

Later, once my hunky love was awake, I said

“Honey, I’ve had a wild and wonderful idea. And I don’t need you to say no to it, because I’ve already worked out a way for it to happen, and I’m absolutely certain it’s gonna come true.”

I watch his face. After almost 11 years of loving me, this man is used to my wild ideas and my way of making them happen.

He listens. I tell him my plans. He sits silently for a moment, eye lines creasing up.

“Okay dear. Can you at least give me a few months so I can renovate the bathroom before she comes?”

“I can give you two months. That’s when she’s coming. I’ve already asked her.”

He laughs.

“I knew you would have. Okay, two months it is then. We should really go to the hardware store today to get some bathroom renovation stuff.”

And just like that, it happened.

(Footnote: My husband is very used to the way I do things. He has a lot of faith in the way I do my business, and life. As a friend pointed out yesterday – he also lets me make my own mistakes so that I can grow. I don’t want to paint him as a saint – he is human just as I am. He just happens to be extraordinarily good looking (in my eyes, which are the only ones that matter) and a combination of sage, human and man that makes me moon over him most of the time, and drive me bonkerdoodles and butt heads with him 5% of the time. It used to be 10% of the time, but we are working on our average. Just keeping it real, peeps!)

*

Two months later, we waited at the airport.

Gone was the old Proserpine airport – the one that was a glorified shed.
Gone was the outdoor wire cage that served as a waiting room.
Gone was the tractor that pulled up outside with trailers of luggage for you to launch yourself upon.

Instead – there was this swish, air-conditioned palace with an inside waiting room and even a BAGGAGE CAROUSEL!

We thought

“This is AWESOME! Marissa will actually get to land in a real airport here!”

It was very exciting for these small town yokels, I tell you.

*

And then she walked through the (air-conditioned, automatic) doors into the (carpeted, indoors) waiting room.

And we hugged and we laughed and just like that, our planning adventure began.

 

 

HOW WE STRUCTURED OUR DAYS

For the next two weeks, we followed pretty much the same routine that I follow.

In the mornings, we went on adventures with Chris and Ostara.

Once Ostara went down for a nap in the afternoon, we headed off to an office I rented for our retreat.

Generally we would work for about 3-4 hours in the afternoon, then head home in the late afternoon for dinner.

Then we’d have dinner, play with Ostara, talk, do extra work that required internet, watch a lot of British comedy (we introduced Marissa to Gavin & Stacey, Miranda, The Peep Show & The IT Crowd. Needless to say, it was a roaring success, and she is just as addicted as we are now!)

Once Ostara was in bed, we’d end up talking more about everything – work, life, soul, dreams… It was a really nourishing experience to do that for me, Marissa & Chris.

I love knowing that my #1 business support is also someone who is a dear friend to both of us.

One night we even stayed up to MIDNIGHT talking! Gasp! To this early-to-bed-mama, that felt like the latest night EVER. That’s like nightclubbing o’clock! Adult o’clock!

And on most of the weekend days, we didn’t do any work. We’d just have more adventures, talk more and I read my usual stash of romance novels on the Kindle.

HOW WORKING LESS HOURS MAKES YOU MORE SUCCESSFUL

I absolutely believe that the less hours you work, the more productive you are, and the more strategic you are with your tasks.

I think people are often shocked to find out that I’ve built a six figure business in only working a few hours a day (instead of workaholic hours, or even 9-5 hours). Being a mama to a young child has put a definite schedule over how many hours I can work, but I absolutely believe I am more productive and successful and fresh-minded from it.

If I had 9 hours a day to complete what needed to be done, I would take that amount of time.

But instead I work in short bursts of 2-3 hours, and never run out of energy.

I’m glad and grateful we took the same mentality into the Planning Retreat. I don’t believe that our brain functions well after 2-3 hours of deep thinking, and it’s better to have a balanced lifestyle in order to encourage clearer thinking and more strategic action.

It also makes for a better life, and a happier family. So win-win-win!

WHERE TO HAVE A PLANNING RETREAT

We rented out a one-room office at the back of our favourite cafe.

It had french doors that let in the light, and was furnished really simply with a huge architect’s desk and a couch.

It was important for us to have a space we could really fill out with our stuff, and settle in.

It was also important for us to have it away from the house, so we didn’t get stuck in old mindsets, and we didn’t get distracted by cute baby.

It was really nice clean, clear incubation space.

I’ve read a number of times that for big picture planning, it’s important to get out of the house and go to a place that is really designated for brainstorming and planning.

I definitely found that to be true.

 

 

WHAT TO DO ON A PLANNING RETREAT

In preparation, I created a planning retreat document for us to fill out together.

It included topics like:
• What our accomplishments were over the previous year
• What we could have done a lot better/what our big lessons were
• How we could improve communication
• What our goals were for the next year
• What changes we needed to make to reach our goals
• What business qualities we wanted to embody
• How we want to work
• Defining our job descriptions and tasks
• Scheduling in time off over the next year (it’s SO important for businesses to do this!)

WHAT ALSO HAPPENED:

THE BUSINESS ATTUNEMENT + WHY ENERGY WORK CAN SHAPE THE SUCCESS OF YOUR BUSINESS

It felt like a real business attunement in so many ways.

What do I mean by “attunement”?

When you learn a hands-on-healing practice like reiki, you go through “attunements”.

From a hippy level, it means your energy vibration moves up, gets clearer.

It feels like your soul is evolving at a rapidly increased rate.

As part of that attunement, you can feel things like:

– utter elation
– ungrounded and unstable
– high as a kite (I remember when I did Reiki Level One, I was wandering around giggling at the sky, and said “I’m pretty sure this must be what it’s like to be high!” FYI: I haven’t tried marijuana before – I think my brain chemistry is already pretty wild!)
– like you are a NEW, optimised version of yourself
– you receive new visions of your purpose and how the world works.

So yus, super hippy AND super amazing to experience.

I’ve discovered over the last few years that I undergo “business attunements” – not just energy attunements.

During this time, it feels like the spirit of my business is trying to show me how it needs to evolve next. The old container for it becomes too small, and we need to grow a vision of a new, larger container.

When I’m undergoing a business attunement, it feels like my brain is very open to new ideas and I’m able to take in a whole new level of business, marketing and soul purpose information.

I get shown what I need to do next, how things need to shift, what profit the business wants to earn over the next year, how many people it needs to help, how I need to change in order to be a better guardian and holder of the spirit of the business.

It was an amazing experience to do this while Marissa was here.

In the past, I’ve gone through business attunements on my own, sitting in a park somewhere and racing home to talk Chris’ ear off about everything that is coming through. And he’s wonderful at listening, and is interested in where I’m going, but his energy and purpose is not in my business. He supports me by being there for Ostara while I’m working, and his purpose is doing his Psychology degree.

It was a different experience doing it with Marissa as she is intimately involved with my business and was able to be totally present during the experience. She could see the business attunement unfolding and was touched and affected by it too.

During the attunement process, I came up against so many of my fears and limitations around abundance, my self, my Family of Origin’s patterns. And as part of that, I needed to sort through the tremendous life changes and challenges I’ve had over the last two years (i.e. Post Natal Depression, Saturn Return, family-of-origin issues and a bumpy landing when we moved across the country from city to small hometown). (Note: I use the words “Family of Origin” to define the family you were born to, and “Family of Creation” when I’m talking about the new family you create when you are an adult.)

I was also supported in this process with energetic intuitive healing work with master healer Hiro Boga.

So often the planning and dreaming retreat felt like a deep soul therapy session between me and Marissa. We had all these visions of where we were being called to head, and we also needed to recognise and bear witness when our buttons were pressed, when there were stories that needed to be heard in order for a healing to occur. We needed to confront our fears, our pains and our stories, and find a healing within them in order to step into the new vision that we were being called to.

Our growth as entrepreneurs is intimately entwined in our soul’s journey. Whatever is happening on the inside of you is affecting the outside of your business as well.

You can push all you like, but the inner work needs doing as well.

COMPONENTS OF A DIVINE PLANNING RETREAT

Outside of our planning and business attunements, there was a whole lot of more goodness happening.

Our two weeks went far more quickly than any of us expected.

Ostara fell in instant love with Marissa. They are only born 4 days apart, so there was some serious Arian-twin-sister energy happening there. Ostara spent hours in Marissa’s room on her bed, telling her loud, long, involved, giggle-infested stories in baby language. And Marissa would listen and laugh at the appropriate moments, and they told each other secrets about living in the world as Arian goddesses. Then Marissa would call her parents on FaceTime, and Ostara would talk to them in baby-language, and show them her dogs, and laugh at their dogs on the screen. It was all Very Important Work.

(Marissa also wrote this beautiful post about what she learned from Ostara on her birthday.)

We spent many hours hanging out on our couches, talking about every part of our lives. On a business level, the joy of having her RIGHT HERE was that whenever either of us had a brilliant moment of insight, we’d turn to each other and talk it out. We learned SO much during that time. It was like a Concentration of Brilliance and Visionary Possibilities. We felt like we were attending Business Biggification University together, and we were study partners.

And we also had some incredible times.

We took her to Cedar Creek Falls, a beautiful waterfall that is a healing centre (and also happens to be the Healing Lake that appears in the Chakra Healing Goddess Meditation Kit) and we experienced many butterfly miracles and signs from the universe there.

We took a boat over to Daydream Island for a day, and it was the most exquisite time I’ve experienced since moving back here. As we were flying across the water, I felt like I was in a mermaid dream. I felt like there were mermaids just beneath the surface of the water, and I had this huge heart-longing to dive in and go back home to them. (I might have pixie hair now, but my soul has always been mermaid.)

I think I’ll always remember our Daydream Island daydream… it was ridunkulously amazing and beautiful. There was a living reef you could walk over! With sting rays! And sharks! And clown fish! And there were mermaid statues in the ocean! And we decided to go on a leisurely stroll over a mountain (!) which ended up turning into a vision quest of epic proportions.

We were surrounded most days by the beach and islands and ridunkulously bright turquoise skies.

And the afternoon we spent making art in the backyard. And the hawks that circled, and the hawk that swooped into our backyard. All of it: sacred. Sublime.

We all felt like we were living a holidaying dream.

It was total soul restoration and healing miracles.

And such a catalyst for to bring even bigger insights into the business vision that is unfolding…

 

WHERE TO NEXT?

We have a huge planning document that I’ve made into a really gorgeous PDF for us to look over regularly.

We are converting all the ideas we had into actionable items in our schedule, and are working out what our priorities are.

I feel like I’ve got a really clear picture of what we need to do over the next year.

The detailed vision of exactly what products and services I’ll create over the next year has still yet to come.

What I know right now is all the other “stuff” around my business – the systems I need to build, the support I need to have, and the essence of what I want to create:

“I want to create deeply powerful, transformative products and live events. I want to help over a million people.”

The business will double in profit over the next year, and may even triple.

I was feeling quite certain about it tripling, but a new change has come onto our horizon. We’ve been called to move again – further north into even more rain forests and tropical paradise – to Cairns. I know the move will take quite a bit of energy for me to uphold, so we will see how it pans out in conjunction with my business expansion!

It feels very much like the perfect place for my family to be for our next evolution. I’m really excited + feel strongly in my heart that this is the right direction for us.

WAS IT WORTH IT?

I see really clearly that I am an earth angel here to experience, express and disseminate joy to the masses. And I want to help other earth angels share their messages in a deep, powerful, transformative way to as many people as possible as well. I’ve learned so deeply about this whole wild business and marketing gig, and I know just what an amazing vessel it can be to change the world and our own lives.

So yes:

Planning retreat?

Above and beyond, YES.

And yes, it will definitely happen again – I’m hopefully in about nine months time, we’ll be doing it again!

Hope this is helpful information for all of you.

love,

 

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