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Give Yourself a Personal Retreat this December. You Deserve it!

By Elizabeth Dunkel December 22, 2022 Mindset

December is not my favorite month. I call it the lost month. Why? Everyone is busy putting everything off until “after the holidays.” You saw the irony in that sentence, right? “Busy putting things off.”

Everyone is shopping, wrapping, cleaning, cooking, baking, cleaning, partying. Cleaning, decorating and cleaning some more. And if you’re not doing that you might be fretting about being alone, about not being invited, about what you are going to do on one day only. Yes my friends, we spend a month planning, anticipating and agonizing about one day.

Which is why it’s the perfect month for your personal retreat. Every December, when people are putting their lives on hold – “Let’s get together after the holidays.” “Call me in the new year.” – I hold a retreat for myself – and any close friends who care to join in. But alone is just as good.

Make an Appointment with Yourself Once a Year

Don’t you deserve your own personal, undivided attention? Think of it like a business meeting with yourself. Just because we are retired and/or finished raising a family, our lives don’t just stop and freeze in place.

In fact, our years are filled with delightful urgencies. Personal goals for fulfillment and pleasure. Desires to contribute to society. Plans to start a business or pursue artistic avenues.

Think of Your Life as Your Business

A business doesn’t sit around and wait for things to happen. A business makes things happen. So, make your life your business. You want to review the past year, look at accomplishments and setbacks. You want to look back at what worked (and what didn’t) and look ahead at where you want to be and go. Setting your goals makes things happen.

I got the idea about a December retreat from my business coach, Marie Forleo. She has a virtual company; her employees are all around the U.S., working online. Each December, she brings her employees together for a calm weekend in Napa. They bond, they review the year, they set their goals for the next year. A sane, serene weekend in the midst of the holiday crush. Me likey!

Create a Road Map for the Next Year

If you plan, things happen. Devoting a few hours to really thinking about what you want, what you want to get out of life, what you want to contribute, how you want to volunteer – addressing your desires – gives you a road map for a productive, satisfying year. When January rolls around, you aren’t sitting around thinking… Okay, now what?

Where’s the Retreat?

You can do this inexpensively in your home… Just turn off the phone, disconnect the internet, cancel your appointments. Set up a spa schedule for yourself. This is your personal staycation for your heart, mind, soul and body.

You can also invite friends to do this with you. Either in your home or theirs. If finances permit, you might go away to a local hotel or spa. Early December is off season and you might find some highly attractive rates.

Agenda for My Personal Retreat

Creamy hot cafe au lait and pain au chocolat.

Meditation. To calm the mind. To leave the world and enter the moment.

Gratitude exercise. Being grateful sets the juices flowing. Makes you feel abundant. Brainstorming lists of gratitude. Makes you feel real goood! Yoga stretches to energize. Sparkling water and strawberries to refresh.

Review of the previous year by category: Finance. Heart. Soul. Health. Travel. Personal. Family. Community. Home. Work. In order to see where you want to go, you’ve got to see where you’ve been. What worked and what didn’t work. Make a list for each category and see how it clarifies – and quantifies – your accomplishments for the past year. Wow, you’re amazing! Look at all you did!

Lunch. Nap. A walk. Authentic conversation.

Afternoon tea.

The “Wild Wish List.” This also comes from Marie Forleo. She invented the “Wouldn’t it be nice to…” exercise. You just say, “Wouldn’t it be nice to…” and finish the sentence. Go for it. Fantasy land. Don’t think of your possibilities or abilities, just finish the sentence as many times as you can.

You’re free to be wild and dreamy. Most important: You will be AMAZED what you will come up with and where those seemingly outrageous thoughts will take you. Focus on “outcomes” rather than a “to do” list.

Scheduling your goals for the next year. Quarterly. Monthly. Using your performance results for the previous year, take yourself to where you’d like to be, what you’d like to do/accomplish in the next year. Pencil in travel. Meetings. Family visits. Work objectives.

Champagne cocktails and nibbles.

Gratitude dinner.

If you have the budget, you can do this over two days. Schedule in a massage, facial, mani or pedi. This weekend is about you. You give all year long. Now it’s your turn to refresh, reorganize, and move forward with confidence and pleasure.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you ready for a Personal Retreat? I’m planning my special weekend right now! I hope you will too. Please join the conversation and tell us all about your personal retreat in the comments below.

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Thank you Margaret, you are my special retreat! Thank You, Marlene


This was a great article with such great ideas! I’m going try it!

Letitia Suk

Your headline grabbed me as I have been taking personal retreats since 1977 and now offer them to small groups of women in the Chicago area. Mine are spiritually focused and called Getaway with God. Transforming!

The Author

Elizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who recently moved back to the U.S. after living in Merida, Mexico for 25 years. Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. As a Cambridge CELTA certified teacher of ESL, she considers herself not just a teacher but a dream maker. “Teaching English empowers people to reach their dreams.”

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