A Life Plan Retreat on a Budget

Life Plan Retreat

My Living Forward Life Plan Retreat

It seems appropriate that I spent yesterday and today—Easter Sunday—away on my Life Plan Retreat. I started my adventure yesterday afternoon by learning how to hitch up our trailer by myself and backing it up the hill and around the corner in order to exit the easy way. For those of you who know how much I dislike backing trailers up, you’ll understand my sense of accomplishment and success.

Next, I drove thirty miles away to a county park that has free camping next to a ‘lake’ (aka wide spot in the river with a small man-made dam). I leveled the trailer all by myself, but since only one other camper vied for the 20 spaces, I didn’t bother to unhitch it. I know, it’s sort of the cheater’s way to camp, but I didn’t want to waste time unhitching and re-hitching—I needed to get to work!

By four-thirty, I had my copy of Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, along with my downloaded Action Plan Guide, my Bible, Holley Gerth’s You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide and Lisa Murray’s Peace for a Lifetime along with a bunch of colored pens spread out on the table.

My 'retreat center'm aka, our trailer.

My ‘retreat center’  aka, our trailer.

I spent about an hour processing some of the baggage from the previous week and praying about the process before I could actually start working on my Life Plan. The Action Plan Guide (found on the book’s website) really helped me to quickly review the main points of the book and the purpose for even writing a Life Plan.

The first order of business was to write my legacy statements—how do I want my family and friends to remember me? By thinking about the end, I actually gained a lot of clarity about how I need to act in the present. Whilst reading Living Forward, I stressed quite a bit about this task—but I didn’t find it difficult at all. I think, deep down, we all have a general idea of how we want to be remembered. And honestly, we all want people to remember us for positive things—who wants to be remembered as ‘that jerk from church or work”?

At six I popped a big bowl of popcorn and baked a few cookies (I had prepared the dough earlier, so all I had to do was pop them in the oven) for my supper, and settled in to reread parts of Living Forward that would help me focus on choosing my Life Accounts (the areas of my life that I want to purposefully invest in).

After supper I went for a quick walk to enjoy the sunset color and listen to the jungle-like sounds of Great-tailed Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds settling into the marsh for the evening.

When I finished my walk, I started in on my Life Accounts. I didn’t get creative with them, but stuck to a simple nine suggested by the book (after all, this document isn’t intended to be written in stone, and I can always go back and tweak them as I go). When the clock struck eight, I decided I’d had enough introspection for the day so I went to bed.

I awoke at 5:30, eager to finish my Life Plan—after all, I needed to be home by about 12:30 in order to keep an appointment with the bike club (Pedro and I try to take students out mountain biking at least two or three times a month when the weather permits).

Using the Life Plan Action guide and referring to the book, I made my way through evaluating my Life Accounts and prioritizing them. Once I finished these steps, I moved on to using the Life Plan Template for writing up my actual Life Plan.

This section of the retreat drained me because after writing a purpose for each Life Account, I needed to honestly write down the current state of affairs for each one. I’ve neglected some of these accounts quite a bit over the years, and it stung to see my shortcomings on paper. I didn’t let my deficits defeat me, though, because the next step involves writing down actionable plans for improving them. Once again, I found it easier than I expected.

Don't let your deficets defeat you when writing your #LifePlan. They are opportunities for… Click To Tweet

By 10:16, when I wrote my last action step for the last priority on my Life Accounts, I felt renewed and yes, even a little reborn.

The next step will involve reading my Life Plan every morning for the next 90 days. As I read over it and pray about it, I will discover ways to complete my actionable steps and internalize the values that I want to commit to. After all, writing a Life Plan and never looking at it again would be like forgetting that Jesus rose again to change our lives once the Easter dinner dishes have been stacked in the cupboard.

I haven’t been on line since yesterday morning, nor have I been on the phone or read any emails. I did text Pedro to let him know I’d arrived and everything worked fine, and I did respond to texts from our girls (after all, family makes up some of my top Life Accounts).

I found it much easier to concentrate and actually get work done when I didn’t have any of the usual distractions around me and no responsibilities other than preparing myself a few meals. I expected the process to take much longer, but the time constraints helped keep me on task.

If you don’t have the luxury of being able to take an entire 20 hours away, you could shorten the process by doing all of the pre-work ahead of time. Use the Action Plan Guide to review what you’ll be doing and decide on your Life Accounts in the week leading up to your retreat. Find a coffee shop or a quiet corner of a library and settle in for three to six hours and write out your Life Plan.

The key elements of the Life Plan Retreat include writing a Life Plan and committing to reading the finished product for the next 90 days. I’ll let you know by the end of June how the constant re-reading has helped me as I strive to become all that God wants to become.

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week (just ONE, please).

2. Vist TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

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Please link back to this week’s post or add the button to your post so that we can spread the inspirational cheer :).

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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Wow Anita. I am so impressed with your dedication, not to mention your time management! I look forward to hearing how this process helps you over time! Prayers for your continued success!

  • Oh cool, Anita! What a fabulous way to cap off this holiest of weeks. Just fabulous!
    Linda Stoll recently posted…On Being Intimate ~ and the $40 Giveaway!My Profile

  • Thanks so much for sharing the whole process. I’m a few years away from being able to seclude myself like that, but I can see how it would be possible for me to do the planning in chunks during quiet afternoons. I applaud your commitment to using that time as you did rather than for some endless writing project or blog maintenance!!
    Michele Morin recently posted…It’s Not About Trying HarderMy Profile

    • You could absolutely do it in chunks with maybe four hours of alone time on a ‘retreat’ day! I think the time constraint of needing to get back to go on the bike ride really helped me keep myself focused.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…National Nutrition Month Recipe RoundupMy Profile

  • I loved reading this Anita, for several reasons. I give you such credit for getting away like this by yourself – camping. May our God lead & direct you in His ways as you get away alone with Him. Blessings!
    Joanne Viola recently posted…To Be Near HimMy Profile

  • I’ve been following the release of Michael Hyatt’s latest book, and am definitely considering it. I’ve done Donald Millar’s (who refers to Michael Hyatt quite often and vice versa) Life Plan and just the process of writing it down makes a difference I believe. I look forward to hearing how the rest of your journey unfolds!
    Lynn J Simpson recently posted…Processing lifeMy Profile

  • Love that you did this. But the most awesome thing? You backed the camper up by yourself. I still can’t do such a thing. #way2go
    Susan Shipe recently posted…dear teens who used to hang out at our houseMy Profile

  • I just completed my Life Plan this last Tuesday. I did it at my local library and had lunch at a great little place across the street. It definitely took the full day as he suggested. Thanks for sharing your story and hosting the link up!

    • My local library is never open for a full eight hours :/. But that’s a great idea! I think the gas stations and grocery store are the only places in town open long enough–and those aren’t very conducive to a retreat!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…National Nutrition Month Recipe RoundupMy Profile

  • I love this idea! I usually do this kind of thing at the beginning of the year but it’s great to do any time! Great words! Thanks!
    Rachel recently posted…Even through death God brings lifeMy Profile

    • That’s cool that you’re already in the habit of doing it, Rachel! I’m going to do a quarterly evaluation, too (more excuses to get away from the busy of life and feed my introverted nature).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…National Nutrition Month Recipe RoundupMy Profile

  • Oh man… this sounds so amazing! I love the quiet retreat part because, well -introvert! It’s the coming up with a Life Plan part that makes me feel tired! LOL! I can’t wait to here more about this plan and experience!
    ~Karrilee~ recently posted…Celebrating TEN YEARS of Blogging with a GiveawayMy Profile

    • Yeah. The introvert in me just LOVED the alone time! I need to go back to that little park–it’s beautiful but I didn’t have time to enjoy it because I was planning this time!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…National Nutrition Month Recipe RoundupMy Profile

  • This is awesome Anita! I would love to do this. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m going to look into it.

  • Poppy Don

    Loved the trailer accomplishment!
    Loved the retreat idea!
    Loved the time alone in nature with nature’s God!
    But, loved the idea of planning your life the way you’d like to see it fulfilled? Not too sure about that one.
    Not once, but twice the writer of Proverbs used these words, it would seem, about mankind making his own plans for life on this earth. (Prov. 14:12, Prov 16:25)
    “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”
    The summary of Prov. 16 (MSG) “Make your motions and cast your votes, but God has the final say.”
    For me, it seems better to start every day (not just the next 90 days) with, “Father, into your hands I commend my life. Send me those today that I need to make my life closer to you. Send those to me who need your love. Give me the strength to open your life to them.”
    If we plan our lives down to the intimates, where do we leave room for the Holy Spirit to direct our lives into the parts unknown by all but Him?
    For me, it is this unknown, unplanned, God-directed part of our lives that is so frustrating, educational, and yet so inspirational when looked upon after-the-fact. The parts of my life that have been such a drudge to those around me and so annoying to me were actually God’s chiseling away at the parts of me that He doesn’t want to take into heaven.
    How would I like to be remembered after I’m gone? What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind? Why should I be concerned about such trivial things?
    What good has it done if I leave the legacy of an Einstein (fat chance!) or the following of a Billy Graham, if I have done everything “right” in my own eyes and lost my way to heaven and eternal life?
    I applaud your efforts, but leave room in your life for the still small voice that sometimes seems to urge your down an unfamiliar path. He may have something for you to learn or something to teach.

    • Just to ease your mind, the first ‘legacy statement’ on my list is how I want God to see me–was I a good and faithful servant? And for me, this is the most important thing. Above all, I want to be open to the Holy Spirt. In addition, the Life Plan is more of an honest accounting activity. Am I using the talents God gave me to the best of my ability, or have I buried some of them because I’m afraid to use them? If so, what can I do become a better steward? It’s a fine balance between over-planning and drifting along not getting much done. It’s all fine and dandy to say each morning that you want God to put people in your life that you can help, but if you stay in the house all day and don’t communicate with anyone, you’re basically telling God, “Yeah, about helping people. I didn’t really mean that!” For introverts like me, I need to make a conscious effort to get out and love and help. That’s how the Life Plan helps me–it keeps me on task for each day and focused on doing what God wants me to do, not what’s comfortable for me.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…How to Mentor Even if You’re an IntrovertMy Profile

  • That is wonderful. What an amazing process. I work with women to create a life purpose statement, so I know how vulnerable and powerful of a process that is! Blessings to you as you move forward!
    Christine Leeb recently posted…10 Things I Don’t Wish I’d Done Differently As a Mom (the last 5) by Elizabeth SpencerMy Profile

  • Wow, Anita – I’m inspired! I’m reading “If” by Mark Batterson and he talks about the importance of a life plan. I believe he hired a life plan coach to help him through one. You did it on your own! Well, God was there, too. Congratulations, I think I’ll get started ; )
    Nancy Gladwin recently posted…If You Want to Feel Taken Care OfMy Profile

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  • I love this! Way to go out in the trailer for almost a full day. 😀 What fun! I’m really enjoying the book so far and can’t wait to write my life plan and hear how yours is working for you.

  • You did such a great job of sharing your life planning experience! Way to go! Now the fun part of daily reviews and living forward!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Daniel! I’ve faithfully read my plan every day since I wrote it :). It’s amazing how I find myself asking ‘Is this part of the Plan?’ when I have decisions to make 🙂

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