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 growth. #LivingForward 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.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

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

I'm joining my friends @blestbutstrest and @caregiver mom for an #inspirational link up. Check out the great stories! Click To Tweet

So, go ahead! Take the plunge and share your most inspiring post with us!

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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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