Retreat Recap: The Comfort in CommunityDec 05, 2022
This is a pretty special post, my friends. You’re not just going to be hearing from me today—you’re going to be hearing from a handful of truly incredible women, fellow bookkeepers all, who took a leap with me and signed up for a retreat I arranged recently.
There’s an entirely unique bond that forms between people with common goals and interests, even when they’re technically strangers. While I’m not going to get into everything here (you can listen to the full story of the retreat on Episode 109 of the Profits + Prosecco podcast!), I want to give a quick debrief of what happened in the retreat and share what this experience was like for us.
One of the questions I asked all of the attendees was whether they’d ever been to anything like this before, and I was thrilled to hear a unanimous no. Everyone there was experiencing something new, and I loved being able to facilitate that!
Without further ado, let me tell you what exactly this retreat consisted of…
If you’ve been following me on Instagram or on the podcast, you might know that there was a retreat. But if you don’t know anything about it, news flash: there was a retreat!
I promoted it mostly on Instagram. It was open to anybody—and I do mean anybody. It wasn’t exclusive to bookkeepers; however, to my surprise, the people that joined were all bookkeepers. Even though the greatest following that I have is bookkeepers, I somehow expected there to be somebody else, and I was a little surprised that there wasn't. It ended up being cool, because we got to get into some specifics about bookkeeping, but the retreat wasn't really about bookkeeping. It could have applied to absolutely anything at absolutely any stage. The main theme of the retreat was pausing your to-do list in order to reconnect to yourself. It's awesome to connect to other people who are on that path to reconnecting, and that's really all we were doing.
I had the vision for this retreat pretty clearly for at least a year before executing it. Last October I began putting out feelers to see if anyone would be interested if I did do a retreat; I wanted to make sure that people would be interested before I did anything concrete, like booking a crazy expensive Airbnb!
I had to make sure that it would sell, so I started the market research a year ago, but I feel like the seed has been there at least since I attended my first business retreat. I remember thinking that it would be so cool to facilitate that experience for other people.
I can't remember what I was really even seeking there, but I do remember thinking that I needed to pause the to-dos so that I could focus on the business. That was my idea: I needed to pause the to-dos so that I could meet with this coach that was hosting the retreat in person, absorb as much as I could in a weekend, and go back. After all, a weekend is a lot more than the forty-five-minute intervals that we normally get with our coaches; if those periods are so impactful, what would a whole two days look like?
However, what I thought I needed was very different than what I came out with. I thought I needed strategy. I thought I needed goals. But when I got there, I realized I needed a lot of things I didn't know that I needed. Now, we did do much more goal-setting and strategy throughout that event than we did in the one that I hosted, probably because of my realization that I didn't need the strategy.
Here’s the thing: the strategy is abundant. It’s all over the place, and literally everything works. So instead, if you need a change, what you need to do is understand who you are and what you're doing this for. So for me, it's about pausing that to-do list to come back to yourself, to hear yourself, to get the inspiration, to do the thing that you already either know how to do or that you can absolutely figure out how to do.
So that's what I did. We gathered a group of us up for a weekend down here in South Florida. It was three nights and four days, which is really just two full days, and I intentionally tried to create a lot of white space while also having some activities that I knew would be simple, but also deep enough that you would need time to process what just happened.
I left that space because during the first experience I had with a business retreat, you couldn't do a lot of that. And after my second experience with business retreats, I knew that white space was essential to decompressing and actually hearing yourself think. If I’d filled every space, the attendees wouldn't have had the realizations that they had. They wouldn't have gotten what they needed because they would’ve been overwhelmed by all the activities we had arranged.
We did things like yoga and breath work and other deeply personal activities, and I think it really helped us all to connect to ourselves and what we needed to get out of this weekend.
So that’s what happened, but what did everyone think of it? Let’s ask the attendees!
The Craziness of Committing—And the Comfort of Community
Katie: I've done this twice before, and the first time that I was an attendee, I remember stopping a few days into it and going, “Wait. I just met people that I've never met in real life. I just hopped on a plane and left my small children and showed up to a house and trusted that it was all going to be okay.” It’s a crazy thing, and it hits you afterwards or maybe on your way, but every time I’ve done it, it’s been incredible. When we all arrived for this retreat, we all felt so connected and like we knew each other, and we did thanks to Zoom, but it was nice to really put that to test in person. To deepen that connection that we have was amazing. But my opinion isn’t the only one that matters—let’s hear from three of my wonderful attendees, Lisa, Barbara, and Kim!
Lisa: I remember thinking sometime during the last morning, when I was getting ready, that I don’t think I've ever been this comfortable around a group of people, not even people that I've known since high school, let alone people that I just met in person. I could walk around in just my bare feet and cozy up on the couch, and I wasn’t worried about what other people were thinking about me. It just felt so welcoming and comfortable.
Barbara: These retreats, they don't work if you can't feel comfortable. And I feel that we were all given the space to feel comfortable. If we wanted to lay back, we could. If we wanted to cry, we could. If we needed to eat or nap or whatever, we could. No one was judging anyone for being barefoot. I didn't shave my legs. We felt a hundred percent comfortable, and it was amazing being in such a truly a no-judgment zone. That was what made this so special.Kim: I actually joined the retreat to push myself out of my comfort zone. I have three siblings, so I'm typically doing things like this with someone else. I've never traveled alone, so this was my first time traveling alone. It was scary. There's a lot of anxiety involved, but getting to the house and being there was, as the others said, super comfortable.
The Reasons Behind the Retreat
Ultimately, for me, the choice to host the retreat was about trusted surrender. I've never trusted the signs, the feelings, and the pull more.
It was not easy. There were a lot of logistics that came into play, A lot of headspace I had to create and stuff like that. I think I pulled it off really well, but I've never hosted anything like that before. I've never even been in charge of a bachelorette party. I didn't have a wedding. I'm not usually a party thrower of any kind. Even when I have my kids’ parties, I do the bare minimum with them because people are here to celebrate the kid. I'll do the cake if I feel like making the cake, but I don't go overboard with the decorations or the gift bags or anything like that to try to make it the world's most Pinterest-worthy experience. I'm just trying to celebrate the kid. So this was definitely the biggest thing that I have ever thrown.
But in the end, I really enjoyed it. And even though I can't remember the grand story of how I knew that I needed to host a retreat, I really felt like it was where I belonged. And for somebody who's built an entire business, I knew I didn't need to do this. But I really wanted to do this. I really desired to do this, and I knew that it would be great.
I was so glad to hear that everyone experienced that level of comfort and community with each other, because experiencing all the intrinsic value beyond it being a profitable hourly exchange type of thing, that was really what I set out to do. I wanted to create long-lasting impact. I’m so grateful that these women chose to show up to the retreat, to trust me, and to show up for each other and for themselves. It was truly an amazing experience. Like I mentioned at the beginning, if you want to hear the full story (and believe me, you do!), you can listen to Episode 109 of the Profits + Prosecco podcast, where I interview eight of the nine lovely attendees and ask them all about their anxieties coming into this, their reasons for joining anyway, their favorite parts, and more!
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