What We Really Long for in a Retreat from Work (& a chance to do so)

Image: Cover from Stefan Sagmeister’s book via www.sagmeister.com

Every seven years, Stefan Sagmeister and his entire New York City-based design firm take the year off from work. They don’t vacate. They incubate, experiment, and play with ideas they otherwise would never give themselves time and space for.

Most of the people I work and talk with – designers, entrepreneurs, coaches, authors, artists – also long for such time away, but most of them feel fortunate if they can take off 24 or 48 hours let alone 365 days. Still, Sagmeister’s experience can teach us some things about retreating.

First, not all retreats and sabbaticals are equal. Sagmeister’s first retreat was “disastrous.” He learned two things that work for him.

1. Go to a place you don’t live. After the first one spent in New York City with a modicum of gratification, he traveled to Bali and started “working” instantly. The street dogs that attacked him almost every morning inspired a series of t-shirt designs and a chair design. When you visit another place, you almost instantly light up your wonder eyes because of the geographical and cultural newness.

Unfamiliar lands light up unfamiliar parts of your creative mind.

You don’t have to go far. It doesn’t have to be an expensive resort (better that it’s not). It just has to be different and a place to support your exploring your heart’s work.

2. Shape time. During the first sabbatical, with no structured time, Sagmeister left himself vulnerable to any random request and whim. For the second sabbatical, he sketched his own daily schedule in his notebook and was profoundly more productive and creative.

Sagmeister didn’t use the Mind Rooms Guide, but he very well could have.  Why?

Shaping time gives your imagination soft focus and safe space to play.

So what happened on his successful retreats?

He seeded ideas that drove almost everything the firm designed for the next seven years. The firm’s design quality improved, so they could charge more.

But one benefit stood out as the most important to Sagmeister.

In his TED Talk on the subject, Sagmeister cites social psychologist Jonathan Haidt of The University of Virginia – author of The Happiness Hypothesis and one of the few psychologists once on the trail of wonder, I might add.

Haidt distinguishes a job, career, and a calling.

Job: done for money, 9:00-5:00 p

Career: advancement and promotion

Calling: intrinsically motivating

He renewed his job as a calling.

Isn’t that what we long for? We long to have a longing.

To feel as if we’re on a quest.

To pulse with aliveness in both what we do and how we do it.

Callings are hard to hear. We’re bound to resist and rationalize our way out of not pursuing them. It can be dangerous to hear our deepest yearning.

Well-designed time, space, and even a guide with methods you can take home with you – those are key elements to a gratifying retreat.

Our 2013 Creative Momentum Journey actually shapes time for you – and teaches you how to do so yourself – plus it gives you experiences, methods, and inspired information you will not find elsewhere to

  • hear and create into your calling
  • finesse fear into focus on what matters
  • create day-in, day-out
  • gain profound momentum on your burning project

Two inspiring places. Three extraordinary experiences. Reasonable rates. Invaluable.


Check out the special offer on an already reasonably priced proposal.

I hope to meet you in Paradise. Paradise Island, that is.



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