How to plan a personal retreat for self-discovery: the ultimate guide!


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Last updated on August 30th, 2023.

Feeling lost in life, stressed-out or inspired? Planning a personal retreat for self discovery is a fantastic way to reconnect with yourself, recharge and set your life in a new direction.

I absolutely love personal retreats, they have been one of my best tools to get things back on track and find myself when I needed a fresh start.

Now, you don’t need to wait until you get lost to plan a self-discovery retreat. They are also extremely useful for periodic check-ins as they allow you to reconnect with yourself and revisit your goals.

Personal retreats give you space to rejuvenate, recharge, recollect yourself. They also allow you to reflect, gain new insights, brainstorm innovative solutions to whatever setback you may be facing.

They feel good on your mind, your body and your soul.

What is there not to like about personal retreats?

While you may need no more convincing that personal retreats are powerful, you may be still be wondering where to get started and looking for some guidelines on how to plan your own personal retreat for self discovery.

Well, keep reading! I am going to share with you some of my best tips to plan a luscious personal retreat to find yourself.

Whether you’re looking to DIY a rejuvenating self-care personal retreat or to create a personal planning retreat to take your life to the next level, I think you’re going to love this post.

The ultimate guide to planning a perfect personal retreat to reconnect with yourself. Click To Tweet

Planning a personal retreat for self discovery: woman swimming in a pool.

How to plan a personal retreat for self-discovery: 3 essential phases.

First, I like to think of the retreat in 3 phases:

  • The Foundations.
  • The Transformative Practices.
  • The closing Practices.

The foundations deal with planning your retreat and easing in relaxation mode. They help you set the right mood and amp up your well-being.

Every retreat aims to create a transformation. The transformative practices are those retreat practices aimed at creating a shift either in your physical state, your mood, your perspective…

The closing practices allow you to gently transition back into your regular life and integrate the wins of your retreat into your life routine.

These steps build on top of each other therefore this order of important.

Transformative work doesn’t work so well when you’re stressed out, a poorly planned retreat will prevent you from relaxing and having no plan to go back to normal life will make you waste the benefits of your retreat.

Now that this is out of the way, let’s look at how to design your personal retreat.

A perfect personal retreat should includes these 3 phases. Click To Tweet

I. Laying the foundations for your perfect self-discovery personal retreat.

As previously mentioned, these foundation steps help you gently slip into the mood of your retreat and leave the chaos of the world at the door.

1. Plan your self-discovery retreat!

Truth be told, I actually just winged my first personal retreat.

I went away for a few days off and soon realized I really didn’t want to go back. I was in the extremely fortunate position to be really flexible time-wise, so I ended up changing my plans to stick around longer.

And, I created my retreat spontaneously right there and then out whatever activity felt good and inspiring at the time.

I do realize that this is a highly unusual situation and that most people don’t have the luxury to take off for weeks at a time on a whim, but they still need a retreat.

Therefore the best way to make the most of whatever amount of time that you can set aside is to plan ahead. This will also help buffer yourself from stress during your retreat.

Set time aside.

How much time can you set aside?

You might be extremely time-starved and only manage one afternoon. Ideally you’d want to start with at least an entire day. A week-end is ideal. A whole week is luxury.

Set aside what you can and schedule your retreat. Then, clear up your calendar, let people know you won’t be available.

And, put systems in place so you won’t be disturbed.

For example:

  • Get a baby-sitter or drop the little ones at their grand-mother’s if  you need to.
  • Hire a VA.
  • Get someone to cover for you if you’re on call at work.
Upgrade your life personal space
Find the perfect location.

Of course, you can travel to a fancy holiday destination if you can spare the time and have the budget for it, but that’s not necessary.

What’s most critical is to find a relaxing and inspiring place.

You could certainly have your retreat at home, check into a nice hotel (you can even use a day stay if you only have a few hours) or take advantage of one of your summer breaks to hide away at your grandma’s farm.

  • If you’re staying home:

Tidy up your space or even better: hire someone to clean up your home. That’ll free up time and get you in a more relaxed mood.

Then find a way to work with what you have to make things fresh and uplifting without too much effort: move into your guest bedroom, cozy up in your home office, quickly spruce up your bedroom, glamp in your backyard, …

  • If you’re going away (even if only for a staycation at the boutique hotel 2 blocks down the street !):

Choose an inspiring and quiet space where you can really let go and relax. Make sure it has all the amenities for the activities you’d like to indulge in during your retreat (think spa, sauna, swimming-pool, beautician, …)

As I mentioned before, you can now book rooms in fancy hotel for a day stay.
This is really affordable and if your home is teeming with hyperactive little people, this is a great way to find some peace for a few hours.

2. Personal retreat essentials.

Think things that feel good, things that inspire you, things to take notes!

  • Comfy stylish clothes.

The idea is to feel comfortable while lounging around. 

Now, beware the sweat pants slob look is not great at making anyone feel fab. So, you may want to consider dressing it up a little: think tailored pants with elastic waist, plain tees with nice jewelry.

Go for something that’s easy to wear and makes you feel good about yourself.

  • Mood boosters.

Here you can pack an essential oil mood roll-ons, an uplifting pillow spray, some affirmation cards, your favorite message mug, an inspiring book to read, some uplifting music (classic, smooth jazz, spiritual,…) or meditations.

Think: little things that makes you say ‘YES!’ inside all day!

Planning a personal retreat for self discovery: woman's hands holding an empty journal

  • Inspiring stationary.

Taking breaks from our  daily routine has a way of creating shifts in our minds whether we intend it or not. Even if you’re only planning a self-care or fitness retreat, you’re probably going to get some insights that you will want to record for later.

Therefore, bring your planner, a fancy notebook, some blank cards (they are useful to write affirmations, prompts or reminders), a pen you enjoy writing with, some pencils and highlighters.

Anything that helps you take notes in a pleasing way!

When soul-searching, I recommend staying away from tech as it doesn’t work as well as a pen and paper. For some reasons writing with a pen seems to help you connect much deeper with your brain. So, use this to your advantage.

You can still bring your tablet or your laptop. If you’re planning on making a vision board that could come in handy. They’re also useful to watch inspiring resources such a workshop or to listen to some relaxing music.

However, do plan to take notes by hand!


quote: spending time alone can help overcome most challenges

3. Detach from the world.

The point of a personal retreat is to recharge and reconnect with yourself, not to answer work emails (they can manage for once) or keep a to the minute score of the latest celebrity PR stunt or of your friends’ drama.

Therefore, leave your phone on plane mode and stay away from social media for the duration of your retreat. Your feeds can certainly wait for a day or 2. And, you will certainly benefit from a social media detox.

If you really need to stay connected for work, you could delegate some tasks, ask someone to cover for you, get a VA or use a scheduler for your social media posts for instance.
In a last recourse, you can make quick incursion online as long as you strictly limit your time online.

4. Make it fun!

For your personal retreat to serve its restorative purpose, it’s important to keep things fun and inspiring.

Having fun has many health benefits and playing can still enhance our lives as adults in many ways. Make good use of this knowledge and indulge in guilt-free fun during your retreat.
It’s good for your health, it’s good for your mood, it’s good for your soul!

Now, be mindful of what you consider to be “fun”: keep the fun healthy, positive and constructive.

This is not a invitation to revel in your favorite brand of self-indulgence.

This is an invitation to lift yourself up.

personal retreat detox juice

5. Be good to your body.

The health and the fitness of your body will help you on your journey to access insights from your soul.
You probably know how hard it is to think straight when you’re wired and exhausted. That’s why part of your personal retreat should focus on restoring some balance in your life.

  • Clean eating rules!

Is there a cleanse you have been tempted to attempt for some time? A juice cleanse for instance…? Your personal retreat is the perfect time to try.

As an alternative, you could also eat a healthy detox diet full of hearty, healthy, nourishing and cleansing food.

  • Save time!

Making food can be a huge time-sucker. To make the most of your personal retreat time-budget, it really makes sense to arrange for healthy deliveries, hire a private chef or check into a reputable hotel that offers a great variety of healthy food options.

After all, you’re not here to prep food, you’re there to relax!

Only exception to that of course is if you’re a foodie for whom prepping delicious food is like therapy. Then, that’s a whole other story…

  • Get (or give yourself) facials or massages.
    Use healthy, organic body and room scents, like perfumed body oils, relaxing pillow sprays.
  • Exercise is important too!

It’s a retreat, you’re not training for a marathon, gentle exercise is more than enough (long walks in nature, stretching, Pilates…).

  • And for the rest periods: feel free to take naps often or stay in bed late!

Planning a personal retreat for self discovery: woman reading on a bed

6. Mix & Match & Make it work for you!

Now, depending on how much time you can find for yourself all of this may not fit into your retreat plan, so select the key elements you’d like to add.

Here are some ideas of how you could structure your personal retreat:

  • If you’re exhausted and need space to think:

Grab a relaxing pillow spray, check into a nice hotel with deluxe bedding for a few hours and treat yourself to a luxurious morning nap, room service lunch in bed, followed by a meditation and an afternoon of journaling with some fancy tea.

  • If you’re in need a inspiration and only have a few hours:

Grab some food and juices at a healthy local spot, a comfy blanket, take off to a park with a journal, a list of soul-searching prompts and recharge all day in the sun.

  • If you have more time and the budget to splurge:

Get on a plane, pick a location that inspires you, gorge on healthy food and massages, and connect with your coach for personally-tailored soul-searching sessions. (I offer virtual private reinvention retreats)

Don’t let circumstances hold you back! No matter where you are in life, find a way to work with what you have.

Planning a personal retreat for self discovery: woman taking long walk on the beach

7. Begin your self-discovery personal retreat.

On the day of your retreat, start with a meditation to clear your mind and set an intention.

The goal is to release parasitic negative thoughts, tune in to your inner guidance and focus on whatever aim you want to reach with your retreat. This could be finding clarity on your relationship, finding your center, what to do with your career, how to grow your business or anything else that is the center of your attention now.

It’s your retreat, you know what it needs to accomplish.

To get your body relaxed, start with a good stretch, a good nap or a massage.
Spray your scents in the space, take your time getting ready and send love and appreciation to yourself.

Be present in your body.
Express gratitude.
Use affirmations.

Basically, do whatever you need to do to take your level of stress and tension down a few notches.

A successful personal retreat should always begin with a clear intention. Click To Tweet

Creative brainstorm with Paper on desk

II. The transformative practices.

This is the core of your personal retreat. These are the practices that will allow you to reach the insights that support the intention of your retreat.

Don’t force anything, be easy.

You don’t have to get all the answers during your retreat, the point of your personal retreat is to re-engage the process of self-enquiry and restart the connection with yourself.

Let the intention of your retreat guide you:

Choose material to support where you want to experience a transformation:

  • Bring some worksheets with insightful prompts or a couple of blog articles for guidance.
  • Pick up a personal development book you’d like to work with.
  • Take an online workshop with some prompts to guide your transformation.
  • Connect with a coach for a few hours of guided soul-searching.
  • Use a journal to collect your insights.
    It’s a good practice to start and finish the day writing in your journal. This way you can record the transformation.

  • Keep it fun and playful.
    You could also bring some adult coloring books. They are a great way to release stress and free your mind. You could also make a vision-board which is a great way to get clarity and get unstuck in any situation in a creative way.

For this transformational phase it really makes sense to start with some guidance.

There’s no point in wasting all the time you’ve set aside for your retreat struggling to come up with insightful questions or useful exercises. Your only job should be to dedicate the time to answering those questions and being involved in your practice.
Therefore make sure to choose and collect your supporting material ahead of time according to your objectives.

Also note that the transformative process should be light and easy.

I really recommend alternating the transformative periods with the relaxation periods.  Relaxation is your friend in this process.

During your personal retreat make sure to alternate between relaxing phases and transformative phases. Click To Tweet

Personal planning retreat: closing ritual with book facing the ocean

III. The closing practices

A personal retreat is not a hit-and-run affair.

For a personal retreat to truly be successful it should continue to have repercussions into your life long after the actually retreat is over.

To make sure you reap the most benefits from your personal retreat, here are a few steps that I recommend you follow.


quote: learn to appreciate the gifts you give to yourself

1. Thank yourself

I know it sounds woo but gratitude is a key aspects in any personal development process.

In these day and age, finding the time for a personal retreat is not a given, there are some many ways you could find excuses to go along with life, with the stress, with whatever is broken in your life.
All those things your personal retreat allowed you to address.

You should recognize this and honor yourself for this proof of self-love.

Nobody likes their gifts to be ignored.
And that probably means that the part of yourself that made the effort to pull this personal retreat off could need a show of gratitude.

You gave this gift to yourself you deserve to be thanked for it.

Take a moment to appreciate yourself and see if you can come up with a symbolic present to yourself to commemorate your retreat, something that helps anchor your new turn of mind.

2. Gather your insights

This should be an on-going process during your retreat.

You should always have a journal at hand to write your thoughts.

At the end of your retreat take a moment to review everything and capture the essence of the transformation you have achieved.

3. Make a commitment and plan for change

After gathering your thoughts, establish an action plan to make transformation last.

  • Your afternoon seeking inspiration in the park should lead to a concrete plan to implement those ideas that came to you.
  • Your rejuvenating hotel day stay to catch up on much needed rest should lead to a plan on how to stop your chronic exhaustion.
  • A personal growth getaway to reinvent your life, should lead to a concrete action plan to make a real change. (In my life reinvention workshop, I provide you with a planner to help you break down your transformation and keep yourself accountable for a whole year. That’s because big transformations require solid plans.)

In any case, whatever the specific objectives of your personal retreat were, you owe it to yourself to commit to taking concrete steps to make the transformation last.

 personal retreat returning to your routine

4. Gently slide back into your routine

Once the retreat is over, slowly return your life.

I like to wrap up a personal retreat with a meditation, some intentions for life after the retreat and take it easy for a few days afterwards.

No need to dive right back into the social media drama or open your email right away.

Instead get acquainted to your space first and let the contrast between your retreat and your home inform you.

Sometimes there’s a bit of a back-to-life, back-to-work blues.
There’s a message in there too. Make sure to take that in as well. It’s also part of the power of a personal retreat.

Collect your thoughts in your journal first. Then do what needs to be done in the ‘real’ world.

5. Have a check-in system in place

Check with yourself a week after your retreat to see how you are doing.

  • Are you still on-track?
  • Are you getting overwhelmed by life?
  • Have you identified any new short-comings you need to address?
  • Do you need support to implement your insights?

If you don’t take the time to check in, you can be sure that’ll be back to square very soon.
This is a non- negotiable element for the success of your retreat.

pink watch on a pink journal with coffee cup

6. Wash-rinse-repeat

Life is an on-going process.
We grow, we changes, there are challenges.

Therefore a personal retreat shouldn’t be a one-time event, it should be a foundational tool in your success toolbox.

  • Summer/ Mid-year personal Retreats

I love summer check-ins.

Since we’re half-way across the year, it’s the perfect time to re-assess yearly objectives. Also, there are always impromptu events, new opportunities: basically things that side-track you or unplanned things you’d like to integrate into  your year plan. A mid-year personal planning retreat is the perfect time to address that.

A personal planning retreat is also very easy to schedule at this time of the year.
Everything slows down, life is quieter and the sun is shining.
It’s easy to improvise an impromptu mini-retreat in a park on a sunny day.

  • End-of-the-year planning personal retreats

Towards the end of the year (late October or early November, before end of the year madness) is a perfect time for a personal planning retreat to assess the year, put the turbo on a few crucial projects that need to be completed by the end of the year and re-schedule projects that can wait until the following calendar year.

That’s also when I like to plan the next calendar year so my action plan is ready by January 1st.

  • Spring cleaning retreats

During the spring, you may discover aspects of your life that you’re no longer so enamored with.

That’s the perfect time for a spring-cleaning personal retreat to shed the dead weight and give your life a boost.

  • Personal growth retreats when you’re feeling stuck

And of course, things happen in life every day.

A personal growth retreat can help you process any crisis, figure out if a big life-changing opportunity is for you (such as should you move to another country where you have never been to accept your dream job) or if you need to sever connections (quit your job, end any kind of relationships), get insights when you feel lost, stuck, demotivated, overwhelmed.

Basically, a personal growth retreat is an invaluable tool to weather the storms of life.

A personal growth retreat is an invaluable tool to weather the storms in life. Click To Tweet

Support during your self-discovery retreat

Soul-searching can feel overwhelming especially if you have limited time to plan and enjoy your retreat.

As mentioned earlier, I have winged retreats in the past, but I had weeks at my disposal. I could spend hours pondering questions and researching soul-searching prompts, it didn’t matter.

Now, if you are on a tight time schedule, that’s a whole other story!

If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, planning your self-discovery retreat shouldn’t become a project onto itself. You want to that part covered.

You want a few easy-to-follow, time-tested tools to guide you.

Here are a few resources that can help you.

  • Looking for an easy-to-follow self-discovery retreat planning guide?

    With its 7 themed retreat and tons of inspiration, this weekend retreat bundle will take the overwhelm out of DIYing your retreat.

  • Looking for prompts and guidance for your retreat?

    These workshops and challenges address commun issues career women may face.

  • Looking for personalized guidance and a bespoke retreat experience?

    You can also work with me 1-on-1 during your personal retreat wherever you are in the world.

Enjoy your retreat!

Planning a self-discovery personal retreat shouldn't become a project onto itself. Make sure to get support to reap the maximum benefits without stress . Click To Tweet

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I am Dominique! I help unfulfilled career ladies who've followed the wrong success blueprint manifest soulful lives. Curious about how I can help you? Learn more here.

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