Recently I was asked about the most important day on my calendar. It was a great question and many executives would struggle with their answer. However, It did not take me long to answer the question.
I have four days on my calendar that are the most important days of my calendar year. These four days help me to maintain balance and energy. Simply put, they help me to be a better leader. These four days impact all the other days on my calendar in a significant way.
Question: What is the most important day on your calendar?
The four most important days on my calendar are my retreat days. These are the days I break away from routine and reset my behaviors. These days are the gas to my engine and accelerate me for breakthroughs and significance. Here’s a look at the four types of one-day sabbaticals I look forward to every year.
Sight day sabbatical
This is a day at the beginning of the year where I set my vision and goals the calendar year. It is a full day completely away from the noise of life where I can hear my inner spirit. I listen to my passions and desires. I ask myself several questions and review my personal mission statement and values.
This is a day for me to determine my priorities and set goals. This is a day that is essential to my success as a leader.
Spiritual growth and development sabbatical
My second sabbatical day is used to nourish and replenish my spirit. I usually take this retreat in the month of May. This is a day where I reflect on the deepest parts of who I am. I am a Christian, so this day often includes deep study in the Bible to think about what I have been created for and where I should focus my attention.
It is a time to ask if I am living up to my core values. Often this day involves prayer, repentance, journaling, and action items on how to become a better person and to live up to what I was created to accomplish. This is a day that is essential to my success as a leader and day that I could not do without on my calendar.
Study and self-improvement sabbatical
The study and personal development sabbatical takes place in August. This is a day where I attend a conference or improve my skills. Some years this retreat is focused on a specific area of self-improvement. Other years this day is more general in nature.
This is a good day to work with a coach or a peer group to discover blind spots. This day also helps me see business problems in a new and fresh way.
Silent day sabbatical
For many years I only scheduled the first three retreats. I discovered that I needed something more. I finally discovered the power of silence. I recall the life of a monk—a solitary life of prayer, work, contemplation, fasting, and silence. They seem to live such content lives and I recognized that I needed more silence in my life.
I needed a day to shut out the noise in my life. I needed a day of silence. I take a day in October to intentionally quiet my soul. I find a beautiful place in which I can listen to the sounds of nature. It is only when I quiet my soul that I can hear my thoughts. I look forward to this day the most.
Regroup and recharge with one-day sabbaticals
Many executives hesitate to take time off from the office. However, study after study has shown that leaders are more effective when they take sabbaticals. Author Rebecca Ruiz reinforces the power of this approach in Forbes: “Even without a vacation day, executives often find that retreats are prime opportunities to regroup and recharge.”
I’ve shared this model in many different group settings with executives. For example, I presented this concept to a group of women executives and they informed me that I overlooked a very important retreat; and one I needed to add to my list – a spa retreat. They may be right. But I do know I need at least these four retreats on my calendar every year.
Ken Gosnell is the CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience). He serves leaders by helping them to have great experiences that both transform them and their organizations that enable to go further faster. He has worked with hundreds of CEOs and leadership teams to enhance strategic, operational and people accomplishments. He is an author, coach, and strategic partner with CEOs. Ken is the creator and facilitator of the Christian CEO Linkedin Group and creator of the CEO Experience Impact Assessment. He is married to Shonda, and they have four children. Connect with @ken_gosnell on Twitter.