In May this year, after years of being tempted, I finally went on my first ever retreat. It was a Kundalini Yoga and meditation retreat with the amazing Kathryn McCusker on the beautiful Greek island of Amorgos. Tucked away in the Aegean Sea, this idyllic location provided the perfect escape from the daily duties and distractions which can so often keep us from connecting with our True Self and with the Universal intelligence surrounding us. Except, in reality (thanks to technology), many of those duties and distractions can now come with us.
In this article, I want to share with you what I did (also for the first time) to help me properly disconnect and how that helped me reconnect within my work.
Why I chose to disconnect
Strictly speaking, this isn’t the first time I have disconnected from my work. When I worked in the corporate world, I had a firm boundary in place whenever I was going on holiday. I used to say to my team, “now you remember the drill, even if Boots burns down, I don’t want to hear about it”. A little extreme I know, but hopefully you get my drift.
It turns out that when you work for yourself (and you really love what you do) it can be much harder to disconnect. It is very easy (often subconsciously) to operate a policy of needing to be ‘always on’ for clients. I have, for a while, feared that if I didn’t respond to messages within at least 48 hours, it would somehow make me a bad coach. And that something urgent was going to arise which I would need to deal with immediately otherwise my business might collapse.
This trip was different though. Perhaps because the purpose of it was more explicitly about escape, I felt an urge to show up in a new way. Not only that, but I also realised that there was actually an opportunity here to empower and maybe even inspire my clients to set firmer boundaries themselves by demonstrating my own (a topic we often work on together).
How I disconnected
So, two weeks before my trip, I explained to my clients that I was going on a retreat and that I needed to switch off for a while, so they wouldn’t be hearing from me for 10 days. And guess what…not one of them complained or questioned it! Rather, each one of them offered support and understanding and a few of them were even inspired to look into going on a retreat themselves.
When I arrived at Heathrow to fly out to Amorgos, I put my out-of-office message on and I turned my work email off. I didn’t check it again until I got back into my office on my first official day back. I let go and immersed myself in the experience.
It really was as simple as that.
The challenge, I realised, was purely a mindset one. I needed to overcome my fears, reframe my limiting beliefs and trust in my clients and myself to handle anything which might have arisen whilst I was away.
It was truly liberating. And is now something I plan to do a lot more often.
The benefits of disconnecting
These are some of the benefits I experienced within my work as a result of disconnecting:
- Creating headspace for fresh clarity to emerge (more about that in my next blog)
- Being more present and immersing myself in the experience
- Allowing my energy to recalibrate and move into a higher vibration
- Empowering and inspiring others to set boundaries
- Feeling recharged and better able to serve my clients
I do want to acknowledge that in some jobs there may be other factors at play which make it more challenging to switch off entirely for 10 days in the way which I did. I encourage you to be honest with yourself about whether there is a genuine need to stay connected or whether (like with myself) it is coming more from a place of fear. You may choose to start by disconnecting for just a day and to build it up from there.
However long you choose to disconnect for, I do hope that you give it a go and that you experience even just one of the benefits I mentioned. What’s the alternative?
6 Simple Steps to Disconnect
Here are 6 steps I recommend to help you disconnect from your work if you are about to go on a trip:
1. Acknowledge what really holds you back from disconnecting (and ask yourself if it is coming from a place of fear)
2. Recognise the benefits of disconnecting – both for yourself and for others
3. Communicate with colleagues/clients how you plan to disconnect and why it is important to you (and maybe to them)
4. Set up your out-of-office message
5. Turn off your work email and/or messaging function for a certain period
6. Let go and TRUST in yourself and in your colleagues/clients
Next time I’ll be sharing with you what I learnt from my first yoga retreat (which might just help you decide whether to go on one yourself!)
Hello, I'm Rebecca
Career Coach for people on a spiritual path
I support mid-career professionals who are ready to make a career change, launch into a more purpose-led career or business or simply enjoy a more fulfilling or balanced working life.
I believe that we all have a purpose here on earth and that life is too short to be stressed, unfulfilled and playing small.