retreat report: 2010

hope springs resort
the retreat “thinkspace”

what better time to reflect on a warm, sunny retreat than during a week-long los angeles deluge, right? if you can remember as far back as last week, we were having a little december heat wave, which was a great setting for my annual year-end brain storm.

hope springs resort
pinkies in the garden

i chose hope springs resort as i do every year because they offer the perfect setting: no kids, no pets, no tvs. only stereos with ipod hookups, robes & towels, and a fruit-forward continental breakfast every morning as the backdrop to 3 mineral pools ranging from hot to warm, surrounded by a succulent garden.

the resort cat visits our room
the resort cat visits our room

i followed my plan of wind-down the first night, write about the past year the 2nd day, and then plan the future the 3rd day, though i was so busy, i had to break some of my own rules. for one thing, i had to take work with me and keep in touch with clients, though i kept it to a minimum. of course, it’s not a retreat if you ignore the “rest” part of the deal. sometimes you need someone to show you what rest looks like. the resident resort cat visited us the second day we arrived, to test our chair. it worked.

annual planning on retreat
annual planning

in reviewing the previous year’s notes, it was apparent that i was optimistic, but not nearly as established as i am now, so my tone is hopeful but less confident than i remembered. this past year was pretty big for putting myself out into different circles and participating in a lot more than just my business, though still as a means of exploring what else i can do. i decided to format my reflections on the past as follow ups, addressing each one i wrote last year and explaining where those actions, thoughts or concerns have ended up now, and what i plan to do to make progress this year. once i finished the follow up, i added new things i started doing in 2010 and noted what i thought of each one, how i planned to flesh it out in 2011.

in 2010, i…
+ increased blogging from weekly to daily
+ started guest blogging for other blogs and organizations
+ consistently wrote a monthly newsletter all year
+ increased my client base & laid groundwork for more repeat & regular business
+ hosted 1-2 mixers per month through biznik
+ tried group co-working in a few different setups
+ chose and fostered relationships with inspirational mentors and friends
+ worked with educational institutions through the LA chamber
+ started working with the AIGA programming committee
+ stopped seeing other designers as competition
+ streamlined & refined my proposal, contract & work process
+ started offering more web design and content development services
+ opened an online store

i saved a bee
i saved a bee

then i took a swimming break and saved a drowning bee. she clung to me, but i eventually convinced her to join her friends among the rosemary blossoms.

tea and spa water at hope springs resort
floral tea & spa water = double hydration

the following day, i did more of a freeform brainstorm, with far more breaks for clearing my head. i’m at an interesting point where i’ve started a bunch of projects or gotten involved in a few organizations, and i’m ready to analyze how each is working and focus the balance of attention they get. i also have a bunch of projects i want to work on next year, so i wrote about ideas for each of them, and gave myself rough time periods to work on them. it’s surprising, while i was doing all this writing, some new things i hadn’t considered came up, so i talked them over with jason. next year is going to be an exercise in time management if i want to balance professional and personal work with all the extra-curriculars i want to do, but all i can say is that i’ll try it out and assess how it’s going along the way.

in 2011, i plan to…
+ strike a balance of writing for other blogs and orgs that work well for me
+ keep the blogging & newsletter going strong
+ continue to add regular & repeat clients so i can pick & choose the 1-offs
+ collaborate with a few orgs and individuals on programming meaningful design events
+ grow the store with revolving products through the year
+ make more industry-focused promotional pieces
+ revamp and reformat my web site [this has been on the back burner too long!]
+ participate in co-working at least 2 times per month, biznik once per month
+ write, design & self-publish a food projects book

pink spike cactus
this is what my brain felt like

in the end, i wrote 17 pages about what’s been going on, where it’s going, and where i’m directing it in the future. i’m excited and energized for next year, and thankful that we have a holiday season for a little slow down before the big work starts. i’m taking any downtime this week to enjoy where i’m at and get mentally prepared, and then taking downtime next week to do a little more date-charting so i can get a more realistic picture of plans & goals. once i can see it, i can stay aware of it and do it. bring on the new year!

3 thoughts on “retreat report: 2010

  1. hey heather,
    sounds like we did the same type of year-end assessment last month. yours sounds much more structured and productive though. i have yet to review my notes and map out the year (probably should’ve done it while i was away!)
    congrats on what looks like a good 2010 and an even better 2011!


    1. hey velvette,

      i remember you talking about doing a retreat, that’s great! mine is only structured on paper, it’s much more freeform once we’re there. i kind of give myself space to think and then write a stream-of-conscious brain-dump about everything so i can have it as an archive. and my year-mapping is a lot more like chunks of time that should go to this or that, not nearly plotted on a calendar. but hey, it helps to put it all out there and keep it top of mind, so at least when the times come, i can decide if my ideas will still work in reality.

      hope you’re kicking off 2011 in style too!


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