My annual reading and planning week.

The view from the deck.

The view that relaxes me.

Starting 9 years ago I have taken the last week of August off to head up to Whistler and do three things: plan for the year coming up, read some of the books that have been stacking up on my nightstand, and decompress. BBQing, motorcycle riding, watching all the movies Sabrina (my fiancé) isn’t interested in, and drinking lots of red wine are also on the program each year.

What Do I Do With My Time?
Wake up, eat, read or plan until I’m hungry, eat, go to the gym or take my dog for a walk or read/plan or ride my motorcycle, BBQ something to go with red wine (notice the order), watch movie, read until I fall asleep. Wake up and repeat.

Which Books?

1)    Personal Development/Spiritual – Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
2)    Fiction – World Without End by Ken Follett
3)    Business – Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham

What Planning?
1)    ViRTUS Focus Plan – a 2 sided 8 ½ x 11 template which blends my goals in three areas: managing self, focusing on career/business, developing relationships, and sharing resources
2)    Rockefeller One Page Strategic Plan – this 11 x 17 one page plan is how I keep track of the quarterly, annual, 3-5 years, and 10-30 year goals for ViRTUS
3)    Lifetick.com – I discovered this tool last year. It’s an online values-based goal planning software that has an iPhone page as well. I’ve learned through personal experience and study that goals planned in absence of an understanding of a connection to values can lead me to achieving everything I plan and still not having the life I want.

What About Business Priorities That Come Up?
Every year I’ve had some pressing business issue that caused me to consider cancelling the trip. Each year I go anyway and manage to sort out the business issue while away taking far less time and energy than I expected it would. I have never regretted going but I’m sure I’d regret not going.

Why the Last Week of August?
If you’re wondering why I choose the last week of August the answer is simple. Whenever we do emails to a large number of people for marketing purposes we get the largest number of out of office replies during that week. On top of that it’s the week right before the new business year starts in September for everyone and it’s heck of a lot easier to do this uninterrupted than it is at the end of December!

Many of my friends have started doing a similar retreat on an annual basis and others have asked about the details so I thought it would be a good idea to share this. Do you do something similar? If so, let me know by leaving a comment so others can share from your experience.

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5 responses to “My annual reading and planning week.

  1. Mike
    Interesting. I hadn’t thought about it this way but that is what I do the month of December each year. Not quite so formal and yet in many ways very similar. Lots of people gear down over that period so my consulting business slows down. Actually I have started writing my contracts to end the end of November and give my clients December “free”.
    I read lots more than normal, take better care of myself physically and drink way more wine! One last thing, I evaluate my 7 currencies and make sure they are in sync with next year.
    Thanks for reminding me!!

  2. Say more about the 7 currencies Vaughn. I haven’t heard that terminology before.

  3. Hi Mike
    I am writing a book on decision making called Life’s 7 Currencies. Actually it will be called “Dear Courtney” emails to my granddaughter as she tries to make some major life style and career decisions.
    I have found in life, money is not the only currency. In fact it isn’t even the most important. To me health and time are probably the most important currencies. After that, depending on who you are and your circumstances, money, family, community, sprituality and sexuality all play unique roles and have varying degrees of priority in all our decision making.
    I run workshops for clients on this from both personnel and organizational perspectives and the feedback has been great.
    All part of what I suspect you do when you go away but now some of what you have worked on will have different labels.

  4. That is a concept that I’m thoroughly inline with. I’d be happy to contribute to a chapter or some quotes if you’d like. I am passionate about sharing the approach of vision, values, goals, actions, intentions, and words, with students.

  5. Each chapter includes at least one story on how a currency dominated a decision. If you have any stories from your life or one of your readers lives that described this happening, I would be grateful for the additional insights.
    From your perspective, it might be personal but it could just as easily be how a client decision was influenced by something other than money.
    Thanks

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