What is a retreat?

Nowadays when we talk about retreats, we mean a period of time (usually from a long weekend to two weeks) spent in a specific place with a group of other people, with the intention of recharging, learning new things, and making stronger bonds with the new people around you. Prices vary and can cost anything from €300-3,000, depending on many variables. Often you can get a cheaper deal by being quick to commit and buying an earlybird ticket, or sharing a room with more people rather than staying in a single room.

Increasing popularity

The idea of going on a retreat is something that has really boomed in the last few years. The increase of digital nomads and remote workers may form part of the explanation behind this. Many of us are very used to working from our laptops, and the expectation is that we can go anywhere and do anything we want to. We’re surrounded by famous digital nomads who show off their amazing lives floating from beautiful place to beautiful place. While we can assume that none has a life so perfect and glamorous all of the time, it has normalized travel and nomadness and a way of life.

Digital nomad

Twenty years ago, saying “retreat” conjured up an image of wellness, like a yoga retreat or a silent Buddhist retreat. It was very spiritual and very holistic. You could also go on a language learning retreat, but these experiences are often more similar to study abroad programs than true retreats.

Then, thanks to the digital revolution, new retreats aimed at freelancers and entrepreneurs came onto the scene. The idea was that remote workers who lived alone and traveled from place to place, could meet in the same place to meet new people, network, and learn new skills from each other. It wasn’t just about human connections, but about work. In this way, it wasn’t so different from normal digital nomad life – but you got to do it with other people instead of alone. It also meant that you could justify your travel because you were doing it for your business.

In the last one or two years, another quiet revolution took place: the self-care revolution. Modern, forward-thinking businesses know that employee care and mental health are in fact a cornerstone of good business. Entrepreneurs and freelancers are starting to turn away from the “hustle life” and we all stopped reading the articles that told us about the CEO who wakes up at 3 am every morning to read a novel and row across a lake. We come first, and we have finally learned this. This is evident in the plethora of mindfulness content, changes in employment norms, and more open discussions around mental health.

The New Retreat

This mix of self-care and work has created a brand new kind of retreat, one which marries the two together perfectly. The perfect retreat is one which is still an investment for your business but doesn’t involve you still sitting in front of your screen for several hours a day. A digital detox, allowing you to think more freely about your goals. With time away often comes clarity. You never know what kind of realizations you may come to when you give yourself the space to think clearly.

Measure your worth

Often the idea of “treating ourselves” to a retreat feels far too luxurious. This is because we don’t realize how much we are worth. Think about how valuable you are as a person, double it, and maybe you’ll come slightly close to the true answer.

Relaxing at a retreat

Some considerations before choosing your first retreat

1. The location

Don’t be put off by a place you’ve never heard of or a place which isn’t on your bucket list. The most important part of a retreat is what you’ll get out of it, the things you’ll do and the people you’ll meet. Often the location is a bonus, and a great way to get your attention, but it can be secondary to the retreat itself. If it’s a brand new place to you, do a little research and see if it catches your attention.

2. The cost

Yes, sometimes the price of a weekend retreat is the same amount of money you’d spend if you went away for a whole week by yourself. But thinking about retreats in this way is a mistake. You’re not just paying for the trip, you’re usually also paying for a full schedule of activities and the opportunity to learn new things. Many retreats come with mastermind sessions and workshops, which can sometimes be expensive on their own. If the retreat is in your budget, think not of the money you’re putting into it, but what you will get out of it.

That being said, if your gut tells you that a certain retreat is out of your budget, listen to it. Not every retreat costs $3,000

3. Target audience

Most retreats are very good at detailing who the intended participants are. If there is a vegan yoga retreat to Bali, and you have always wanted to go to Bali but are neither vegan nor into yoga…maybe this is not the retreat for you. It’s easy to fall into the trap of reading the list of “who is this retreat for” and try to make ourselves fit because the location is so attractive. But then you will find yourself not among like-minded people, and doing things which you don’t enjoy.

4. Keeping an open mind

That being said, it’s good to keep an open mind! Especially if there are one or two things on the agenda which you’re not sure will appeal to you, but the rest of the schedule looks fantastic. You can always excuse yourself from those activities when the time comes, but once you’re in the swing of things, maybe you’ll find yourself enjoying them!

Why are we talking about retreats?

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A fountain in La Granja