The self-improvement industry is huge. People want to change, and they will spend a whole day or week at a workshop or retreat with strangers to do it. However, sometimes this is all they do – and it’s not enough. They say you can’t change overnight – and that means you certainly can’t change in a half-day, no matter how good I am at coaching!
I’ve seen clients go straight back to their lives after a retreat as though all the work has been done; and they never get the change they paid for.
That’s because the secret to good change work is in your day-to-day life, not at a weekend away with a guru. This guide will help you understand your needs in the lead-up to a retreat, during it, and after it.
I’m often asked, “will it work?” “It doesn’t work,” I always say, “you do.”
The very first step on your change journey is understanding what you need from it. The question “what do you want to change?” is simple, but belies a long and often difficult path. A good coach will ask:
- What is standing in the way of this change?
- Do I need support?
- What key beliefs do I have, and how do these inform my change goals?
Answering these questions isn’t always cut-and-dry, but there is always help available.
At the bottom of the page you can sign up for my free e-guide. It contains a series of worksheets designed to help you realise what you want (or need) to change. This is the first step in creating better outcomes for yourself.
During the Retreat
“You can watch the movie, or you can be in it.” – Coach Nakul
Some clients struggle to change because they don’t commit to the change work. You need to let go of pretence and ego to truly involve yourself in a group retreat.
One of the main problems my clients have is being distracted by the social situation – and I understand! You’re in a new place with new people and it can be scary. You might not feel comfortable being your real self.
I want you to be assured that a good coach will take the time to introduce everyone, and play small games that ease the social tension. You don’t have to compare yourself to others – we are all in this together.
Get out of your own way. Learning is a creative process, and your inner critic can be a mind-block. During change work, the brain makes new connections and pathways; allow this to happen without judging whether it’s working or not.
Try and stay in a neutral place and just absorb the new information, do the demonstrations the way they’re suggested, and practise the new technique a few times. Do this without doubt or criticism, so that the pathways in your brain develop properly.
Doubting these processes while learning them will make it harder to use the techniques later on.
There is nothing wrong with wanting attention. However, demanding time and energy away from others at a retreat can actually stop you from absorbing information.
One way you might do this is by using the class as a therapy session. We all feel for you, but this is not the time nor place – people here are ready to move forward with change. The coach should be happy to help you find counselling at a more appropriate time.
Another attention-grabbing behaviour is being the “class saviour”. You may feel that the trainer hasn’t given all the information needed for everyone in the class to fully understand why this skill is useful, what it’s all about, how to do it, and so on. You might try and ask these questions to help the quiet, struggling students.
This is not helpful, because an experienced trainer will have picked up on who needs this extra help – they’ll handle it. It also drops the confidence level in the class because those who thought they were ready to try out this new skill are now worried by the questions you posed.
Post Retreat Change
If I’m a coach, think of yourself as the athlete: I can tell you what to aim for and how to get there, but you have to do the work.
After absorbing all the information a coach can offer, you’re responsible for enacting it. Forming new habits takes more than six hours at a retreat – most studies suggest it takes around 30 days to make changed behaviour stick.
The most straightforward advice I can offer is: do the exercises. Your coach will have taught you exercises during the retreat or workshop, and you should do them exactly as instructed.
Sometimes when you’re learning something new you’ll try customising it to your situation. This often means you won’t get the expected results, because you didn’t follow the basic rules. Once you have a grasp of these basics and some practice it’s easier to make subtle changes to suit your needs.
For example: when learning to ride a bicycle you first learn to balance and pedal, not to do a wheelie!
At my retreat this month, Relax, Restore, Grow, I’ll be giving tips on how to make your change work succeed. If you find that you’re struggling to change, don’t worry – this is common. Coaches know how to help. If you’re not attending my retreat this month you can get in contact here.