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When breaking up the routine leads to positive lasting change

I just returned from my spring break trip, which I was really looking forward to. It was nice to be in a warmer climate to thaw out, and have some adventures with my family.

At the same time, I struggled with losing my routines. On this trip I endured some horrible headaches due to a neck injury flaring up. Without my usual go to support available, I suffered for days as the pain grew worse. All the stretches I knew weren't working. The pain forced me to research other options.

To my delight, I found a stretch I've never done before that completely eliminated the pain I was in. I likely wouldn't have discovered this had I stayed home following my usual routines. And it's a simple stretch. I now practice it multiple times throughout the day, which not only offers me continued relief but is more effective than anything else I've done on my own before. This discovery will save me time, money and pain.

My Physical Therapist gave me this advice last summer. "Break up your routine, so you keep your muscles guessing." She was talking about switching up the order I did my exercises in.

Yet, I find her advice relevant not only for building strength and increasing flexibility physically. It's also pertinent for cultivating valuable skills for thriving individually and collectively.

Just like my trip offered me a chance to interrupt my routines in positive ways, so do team retreats. Getting people out of their day-to-day and into a different setting shakes things up.

When done well, a retreat gives folks a chance to experiment with new tools and practices they might not otherwise try out. As a result, professionals go back to the office with a valuable skill they are empowered to use routinely.

Exceptional retreats connect skill building opportunities to specific needs while also fitting into the culture of the organization. Just like on my trip, I learned a new technique that addressed a literal pain I was experiencing and fit into my current practices. If I wasn't one for stretching already, this solution wouldn't be so easy to incorporate into my day. But building upon an existing habit ensures the new practice sticks.

Often times, retreat facilitators will bring in off the shelf solutions through pre-existing programs. Unfortunately, if the solution doesn't fit the culture, it won't stick. This results in retreats fulfilling a common fear - that it'll be a waste of time and money.

Bringing people together, away from their day-to-day is costly. The investment has to be worth it. The best way to ensure the investment is worthwhile is to meaningfully engage diverse perspectives in preparations.

When I'm planning a retreat for a team, I'll often hear different needs depending on whom I talk with. The perspective of HR tends to be different than executives, which aren't the same as managers and so on.

Having just one perspective plan a retreat will miss the deeper needs. Effectively addressing a pressing need results in positive lasting change.

I learned a new stretch while on vacation that I've incorporated into my day-to-day back home because I had a literal pain I needed to address.

I've also had other experiences while traveling that I enjoy but don't replicate at home because it doesn't address a pressing need. Last fall I visited a friend in the North West and we made delicious crepes together. I've wanted to make them again but haven't because the effort feels greater than my needs.

This same premise rings true for creating a retreat experience that results in lasting, positive change. It is easy to bring people through exercises that they'll enjoy at a retreat but not carry forward afterwards. It takes intentional, collaborative preparation to craft a retreat that addresses a pressing need experienced on a collective level in a constructive way. And it starts with having the right people involved from the get go.

Are you planning a retreat and want to ensure that it results in positive lasting change? Schedule a 30 minute call with Ariana to gain clarity on how to identify a shared pressing need.

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