Gabrielle Treanor is the overthinkers’ coach, and you can find out more about her amazing work at GabrielleTreanor.com. She’s an ambassador for happiness, a stationery lover, and a lovely client. In this post, she describes her experience of my Small Creative Business Retreat in 2015.
There are a number of words that spring to mind when I think back to the Creative Business Retreat in March: space, connection, realisation, learning, reflection, laughter, relaxation, inspiration, comfort, insight.
The Retreat gave me something I didn’t know I needed – time to think, to step back from the business of daily life and look at my work and my life from a slight distance. When you’re in the thick of things, beavering away at your business and getting on with everyday life, it feels normal and right. To take a break from it, to step away from work (yikes, what will happen to the business if I’m not there!) feels risky, indulgent, unnecessary even.
Taking myself off to the Peak District for three nights felt really self-indulgent and I felt quite guilty about ‘abandoning’ my business and deserting my husband and dog. Spending a long weekend with a group of women talking about our businesses but also spending time relaxing (Jenny was quite clear on that point) seemed like a luxury that was hard to justify to myself.
But, as it turns out, that long weekend was exactly what I needed, for me and for my business.
The workshops Jenny held were a chance to really step back and look at your business as a whole. Thinking about your purpose, what do you want to communicate to your customers, brand, marketing, photography – all so important to your business but not something that we necessarily give enough time, space and thought to. When we’re working to deadlines, getting out orders, designing new products, managing staff, paying tax bills and the other 87 jobs we juggle, it’s hard to make time for the stuff that we know is important but isn’t so easy to tick off a list.
I knew a couple of the other women at the retreat, I’d spoken with a few on social media but there were several women that I’d had no contact with before that weekend. All of them, without exception, were friendly, interesting, running their businesses in their own way, doing amazing things and, not realising just how brilliant they are.
Through the workshops and in informal chats we learned about each other’s businesses. Everyone ran their business in different ways, some on their own in the house, others with staff in premises but we all had similar worries and fears, and we all learned from each other. Running your own business can be a lonely affair so having time to chat with other creative business owners, in a relaxed environment, felt so good. The knowledge that your worries aren’t unique, and picking up ideas and ways to deal with issues was invaluable.
As time went on and we got to know each other a little better, we opened up more to each other and shared our dreams for our futures. Just as everyone is different everyone’s hopes for their businesses and their lives were different, and so inspiring. Sharing and learning in this way is only really possible, I think, in this sort of retreat setting, where you’re spending several days, not just hours, together.
One of the biggest treats (and benefits) of the retreat was not having to do anything! Jenny had thought of everything and her lovely team meant that we didn’t wash up so much as one mug the entire weekend. I think I may have managed to make myself one cup of tea but that was unusual as there was a constant supply of tea, coffee, cold drinks, and snacks. Plus there was a choice of what to have for breakfast, as well as filling lunches and dinners. There was no chance you could go hungry on the retreat!
While it felt a little wrong to do so little to help around mealtimes and clearing up, the effect it had was quite remarkable. With no need to spend thought, time or energy deciding on what to eat, making it, washing up afterwards, we were free to spend more time chatting, laughing, relaxing and reflecting on our businesses. That brain space was so important in how beneficial the weekend was.
Out of all the words I listed at the top of this post I think space is probably the one that sticks out for me. At the retreat I had space to relax, to make friends, to learn, to reflect on my life and my business, to feel inspired and motivated, to savour my life as it is and how I want it to be.
The support and encouragement we all gave to each other felt so good, and continues now. Goals I was just dreaming about in the Spring of this year have been achieved, in part, due to my time at the Retreat.
My life and business is undoubtedly better for having experienced Jenny’s Creative Business Retreat. I’m already excited about what will come of the Retreat in 2016.
Find out more about retreats here.