If we’ve learned anything from living through a pandemic, it’s that we are resilient. We have what it takes to adapt and grow, even if the process is uncomfortable. For working professionals, this pandemic has brought on countless challenges. We’ve had to learn how to work from home while also managing our families. We’ve missed out on networking events and happy hours with our coworkers. We’ve had to figure out how to attract and retain clients during a time when everyone’s livelihood seems uncertain.
The good news is, we’re still here. And if you haven’t used the past few months to take charge of your professional growth, now is the time to do it! There’s no time like the present to bone up on business skills, reach out to your network, and find a coach or accountability partner. So let’s get started!
- Bone up on your business skills – One of the perks of living in this day and age is having the ability to access a ton of educational resources! If you have a question, someone has an answer. If you don’t know how to do something, you can easily find tutorials to walk you through the process. Even the most skilled professional can benefit from learning something new. How well do you navigate technology such as Microsoft Suite or G Suite, Mailchimp, Hubspot, etc? When was the last time you practiced public speaking? Do you know how to best attract clients to your website? Have you tried any new methods of brainstorming or developing ideas? Websites such as Skillshare, Lynda, Career Contessa, and LinkedIn are great resources for professional growth.
- Reach out to your network – You likely haven’t been to a networking event in months. Thankfully, you can reach out to people from the safety of your own home! Don’t fret about the many people you haven’t had the opportunity to meet and network with, and instead focus on the people who are already in your network. Shoot an e-mail (or go the extra mile and send a written note) letting your friends and colleagues know that you’re thinking of them and would love to offer your services. Include a line about how much you’d appreciate if they’d pass your name along to others. Check out this article for things to keep in mind when reaching out to your network.
- Find a coach or accountability partner – If you want to really prioritize your professional growth, don’t try to go at it alone! Instead, invest in a business coach. A business coach offers an unbiased opinion, accountability, and clarity. Your coaching will be tailored specifically to your needs. Are you looking for advice on how to balance your new side gig with your full-time job? Are you stuck in your career and unsure how to move forward? Are you experiencing imposter syndrome or burnout? A business coach will provide a listening ear and helpful input.
If your budget can’t include a coach right now, reach out to someone you admire and ask if he or she would like to have an accountability partnership.
You’re ready to gain new skills or hone your craft in a group setting. The question is, should you sign up for a workshop or a retreat? While they both involve an element of learning, workshops and retreats are quite different types of events. Let’s take a look at what each event type involves, who they benefit, and how to decide between the two.
What is a Workshop?
A workshop is designed for a small group of people to hone specific skills in a relatively short amount of time. They can be held virtually or in-person. The skills learned often relate to a particular field or craft, such as marketing, writing, or personal finances. Since workshops are designed for teacher to student learning, there is often little time for socialization. Lastly, while they can range from a few hours to a weekend commitment, workshops are one-time events.
The Benefits of Attending a Workshop
You can think of a workshop as a quick crash course taught by an expert. If you desire to increase your knowledge on a subject, but you don’t have the time or money to spend on a lengthy course, a workshop is a great option for you. You’ll be challenged to think outside the box and leave with practical action steps.
What is a Retreat?
According to Merriam-Webster, a retreat is “a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director.” Retreats are in-person events and last for at least one day, but can be as long as a weekend or even one to two weeks! Most retreats offer some form of instruction, while also including free time for reflection, socializing, or practicing a craft (i.e. writing, knitting, or yoga).
The Benefits of Attending a Retreat
Stepping away from your daily life to reconnect with yourself and/or nature provides a boost to your mental health. Retreat settings tend to be conducive to creativity and reflection. You also have the benefit of growing alongside your fellow participants and are given the opportunity to deepen relationships with others.
Should I Attend a Workshop or a Retreat?
The main difference between the two types of events is that workshops are focused on learning or honing a specific skill, and retreats tend to focus on spiritual or personal growth. If you’re looking to fill a notebook with helpful suggestions and action steps, check out a workshop. Remember, workshops aren’t designed for networking or peer interaction. If you long for the time and space to focus on creative pursuits or unplug from the grind, look for a retreat to attend! You’ll enjoy learning from a facilitator or coach while also having plenty of time to connect with others and yourself.
Join the Wholistic Women community on a retreat to Sedona, AZ!
Life looks a bit different these days, doesn’t it? Our calendars, once full of happy hours and networking events, now list Zoom call meeting reminders. Social groups are turning to virtual meet-ups — from business masterminds, book clubs, and trivia teams… even Wholistic Woman Retreats!
I’ve been attending Wholistic Woman events in-person for the past 3.5 years, but I hesitated to join in when their events went virtual. I wondered how the meeting would translate online. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by my first virtual evening retreat experience, and thought I’d share some key things I noticed along the way:
- You won’t feel out of the loop if you’re new – I think I would be especially hesitant to join in on a virtual retreat if I had never attended a Wholistic Woman event in the past. I assumed the call would start with a few “hellos” and then move right into the materials, but instead the coaches took time to introduce themselves. I was happy to note that the coaches’ warm and friendly nature (a big part of why I enjoy their events) came through despite the lack of in-person connection. Then, one coach shared the mission of the Wholistic Coaching Coalition. Though I’m very familiar with the group, starting out the call this way helped ground the evening in purpose. Then, at the end of the meeting, they briefly discussed their next event — Know Your Money Story with coach Jane Helm. I was relieved to know that if I were to invite a friend, she wouldn’t feel out of the loop as they made everyone feel included and in-the-know no matter how many events they’ve attended.
- You’ll receive quality teaching and helpful resources – I attended “Radical Love” with coach Kat Middleton, and was curious if listening to one speaker on Zoom would become tedious after a while. While Kat did teach during the majority of our 90-minute call, she used slides to illustrate her message, requested that attendees use the chat tool to answer questions, and lead everyone in a group activity. She also shared several resources that attendees could look more into on their own, should they want to further their knowledge of self-love. If you want to be able to focus and learn during a virtual meeting, I suggest turning on the “active speaker” setting on Zoom. This will allow you to give your full attention to the speaker. You can easily switch to the “gallery” layout during the portion of the meeting that involves the entire group. Do your part to help the other attendees focus, too! Keep yourself muted (unless told otherwise) and turn your camera off if you need to do anything that could potentially distract the rest of the group.
- You’ll have the opportunity to connect in small groups – If you’ve attended an in-person event with Wholistic Women, you know it’s typical to be split into groups or asked to turn to someone next to you in order to discuss the materials presented. My most-pressing question going into the virtual call was, “How will we have quality conversation about what we’re learning?” Thankfully, Zoom has a feature I wasn’t aware of — separate chat rooms! After being given instructions on what to discuss, the call monitor split up the group and suddenly I went from looking at a grid of 28 people to only two other women. We all turned off our microphones and had a vulnerable conversation about the distorted thought processes we often find ourselves in. Then, we offered one another practical suggestions on how to love ourselves through those thoughts. This relatively short activity was incredibly impactful, and truthfully just as valuable as the in-person conversations I’ve had at previous events.
Needless to say, it was a great event and I’m glad I attended! While I hope it won’t be too long before we can start meeting in-person again, I hope you’ll join us for our next virtual event, Know Your Money Story. Click here to register for this event, happening on June 24.
Whether you’re part of a religious group, wellness club, parenting co-op, or business cohort, you and your peers likely want to work together to meet mutual goals. Perhaps you want to raise money for a cause, learn how to communicate better, or bring in new members. One of the best ways your group can reach those goals is by attending a group retreat.
A group retreat can be as low-key as attending a workshop in a nearby town, or can be as intensive as a weekend getaway. The most effective group retreats will offer hands-on activities, group coaching, and flex or free time for free-flowing conversation. There are several benefits of group retreats. These include:
Group Retreats Improves Morale
When was the last time your group bonded over a shared experience? Offering your group a morale-booster, such as going on a hike, playing a new game, or cooking a meal together, will help everyone feel more relaxed around one another. This is especially beneficial for groups that have a clear leader or “boss,” because it evens out the playing field. Who wouldn’t love to see their pastor try ziplining for the first time, or listen to their wellness coach share a personal story?
Group Retreats Create Cohesion
One of the best aspects of a group retreat is that it gets everyone out of their comfort zone. This might intimidate some people at first, but it won’t take long to break the ice. If you’ve never attended a group retreat before, commit to being open to new experiences. Make a point to engage with everyone in your group. You never know, you might find that your coworker you’ve hardly spoken to shares your favorite hobby, or that the younger woman in your wellness group is looking for accountability from a more seasoned person such as yourself.
Even if everyone in your group already knows one another, a group retreat will encourage deeper personal connections. Through workshops and team-building activities, your group will grow closer and learn how to work more effectively together.
Group Retreats Promote Personal Growth
Group retreats don’t simply benefit the group as whole — they also impact each individual. A person can learn a lot about themselves when they’re with a group of people. One person might find it uncomfortable to try new things, while another person might blossom from being put in a strange environment. Ideally, the person heading up the group retreat will ask everyone ahead of time what they aim to get out of the experience. You might find yourself learning something new, making friends, or teaching others about your areas of expertise.
Is your group ready to try something new? Maximize the full potential of your team by booking a group retreat!