Personal development is something that benefits every human being, even if we don’t recognize our need for it. Here is why. Personal development gives you a sense of purpose, drives your motivation and goals, and reminds you that others care about more than your achievements in life. They care about you as a whole human.

When our personal development skills lag behind what we need, it can show up in odd ways. Think about the movie “Groundhog Day” when Bill Murray’s character wakes up at the same time each day, has little variation in his routine, and goes to bed at night with the exact same plan scheduled for the following day.

Misdiagnosing your problems

In a nutshell, life without personal development can be boring and stale, leaving us dissatisfied or frustrated with life. We might recognize it with statements or thoughts that make us uncomfortable or that surprise us, like:

“I may need to get a divorce. My marriage is just not working anymore.”

It might be that your marriage could use some relationship help. However, in reality, it could also mean you lack personal development goals that is causing friction in your marriage. Perhaps you lack a drive forward as an individual that would spur your personal transformation, growth, and inspiration. Therefore, it may mean your spouse feels like you aren’t contributing to a committed, healthy marital relationship.

The truth may well be that you don’t need a new spouse or a different marriage; it may mean that as you and your spouse both pursue personal development individually, you grow closer and are inspired by one another.

“Since I never made it to the six-figure club in my career, I guess that’s it. I just have to stay in this dead-end corporate hamster wheel forever.”

This kind of statement may mean you passed up promotions to be with your family more. Understanding that your lack of perceived achievement was a choice to better your family life is cause for celebration. You know your priorities and stick to them.

Perhaps you enjoyed your career in the beginning stages, but as time passed, your industry changed, or you changed, you no longer enjoy your work. Maybe your job isn’t enjoyable anymore. Admitting that is okay.

“I’m bored. I have no interests or hobbies, and I have become a dull conversationalist because of it. I may as well just stay home and watch TV.”

Believing that you are not worthy of social pursuits is a slippery slope that many adults find themselves sliding down later in life. Whether it’s family commitments, such as children’s sports or transitions in life that make maintaining friendships difficult, adulthood is a tough for mining new friends and staying in touch with old ones.

Admitting that friendship is difficult can lead you to recognize a few goals related to social and relational wellness. If you find that you are bored, feel overlooked, or you just need something in your life to change, a personal development retreat may be just what you need  –  and you don’t need to spend exorbitantly to get it.

Four steps to planning your own personal development retreat

1. Select your dates

Ask your spouse about an agreeable time to be away from family responsibilities. If needed, schedule time off at work. Perhaps take a weekend to spend by yourself. If you can’t get an entire weekend, a Saturday is also a good option.

Taking time off isn’t for doing household chores, taking a vacation with your family, or working remotely. In order to DIY this retreat, you truly need to have uninterrupted time by yourself.

You’ll need time to explore four areas of your life: mental and emotional health, physical health, spiritual health, and social health. These may seem like overwhelming topics for a Saturday, but getting away is the first step.

2. Segment your time away into four quadrants

If you have taken four days off, you can focus on one type of health each day. If you only have a Saturday, allot two hours for each area of exploration.

You might segment your day into a schedule like this: 8-10 a.m. is spiritual wellness and reflection; then, take a half-hour break to walk around, eat a meal, or do something you enjoy. We don’t recommend using your half-hour break to check in at the office or at home. The distractions of family or work life may make it difficult for you to stay in retreat mode.

The next segment of your day could be 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. where your focus is on physical health. Again, taking a half-hour to one-hour break is a must-do. You can also break your two-hour time slots into one hour each with a 15 to 30-minute break in between.

Your goal isn’t to sit for two straight hours and think about an area of your life. It is simply to be organized in how you set aside time for your retreat.

3. Make a list of resources for each area

Start making a list of people you admire, books you’ve heard about, or podcasts you subscribe to that may help you with setting personal development goals in each area.

While many podcasts focus on a variety of personal development focal points, you can simply list them as places to look for titles that catch your eye. You may see a leadership podcast that focuses on taking care of your physical body.

You may remember a book in your virtual shopping cart about journaling reflectively about what you’re learning in the Bible.

Listing people you admire is helpful because  –  whether you know them in real life or not — it can cause you to reflect on what it is you admire. It can shape how your personal development goals could be impacted by their influence.

Once you’ve made the list of your resources, set a budget for what you’d like to spend for your DIY personal development retreat. To cut costs, maybe you can check some of the books out at the local library or borrow a friend’s copy of a book to get started. Make sure to include the costs of your meals and any lodging requirements if you have an extended amount of time off.

Your budget will drive what resources you take with you but aim for at least one resource in each area of development. You can also search the Internet for coaches who publish free reflection journal prompts or spiritual directors who recommend breathing exercises to stay present with how your body as you focus on your relationships.

4. Make the DIY retreat your own

Once you know the date you’ll be away and you’ve gathered your resources, decide ahead of time what you want to walk away from the retreat with. If you are accustomed to personal development in any way, it may be easy for you to set goals in each area.

For example, “I would like to come back with one idea for helping my spiritual growth over the next eight weeks.” It may be that you aim to ask yourself three questions about your social and family life to help you process where you might be stuck, struggling, and thriving relationally.

While it may be tempting to set goals, so you know you’re achieving them upon your return, try to make sure each area gets attention without having to “measure up.” You may be new to personal development. Look at your inner life and ask yourself what areas are holding you back and where you are doing well but want to continue to grow.

Sometimes simply setting aside time to read books, listen to podcasts, and think about how you’re feeling is enough. You do not need to accomplish anything specific in order for a DIY personal development retreat to be healthy.

A valuable exercise

Any time we focus on our mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and physical wellness, we join with our Creator to recognize that our life is valuable, worthy of love, and full of purpose. When a person is stuck or bored in life, it often is a result of missing one of these key truths:

  • They don’t feel valuable.
  • They don’t feel the love of God or others that they’d like.
  • They aren’t able to show love the way they’d like.
  • They are not clear on their purpose, or they doubt their purpose.

A final recommendation for your personal development retreat is to share your plans with a trusted person before you go. It may be a spouse, close friend, or your counselor.

Sometimes during personal reflection, we recognize that we need help unpacking long-held hurt, limitations, or patterns of behavior. Others just realize they would like to talk with a person trained in untangling the ways of the mind and heart. Finding someone you can talk to about areas of life is a worthy endeavor that a trained counselor can help you navigate.

A counselor can help you identify some areas of focus for your mental, emotional, physical, or social well-being. If you feel you are ready for that step or you are looking for a counselor, reach out to our office today and we will match you with someone from our directory. They will gladly help you on your journey to a better you.

“Woman in the Mirror”, Courtesy of Pavel Danilyuk,, CC0 License; “Workout”, Courtesy of Alesia Kozik,, CC0 License; “Open Bible”, Courtesy of Kelly,, CC0 License; “Friends”. Courtesy of Sharefaith,, CC0 License


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