Five Huge Wins From Cancelling My Weekend Retreat

Berghotel Rudolfshütte (Image courtesy of Berghotel Rudolfshütte)

If you’ve been following me on social media or reading my newsletter for a while, it can’t have escaped your notice that I have been organising a weekend retreat. 

Even when you don’t read Dutch the calls to action on different social media as well as on the bottom of recent newsletters must have (or at least hopefully) caught your attention.

Today I had to decide to cancel the retreat! Though lots of people thought it a wonderful idea they also had valid reasons why they wouldn’t or couldn’t attend this time around. In the end it meant I didn’t get the minimum required amount of particpants.

Now I could chalk all the effort I put into creating and promoting this weekend up as a big loss! But I won’t, because for me going through the whole process has been a huge win!! And I mean HUGE!!

Qualified and experienced

First, I realised that as a coach, guide and mountain seeker extraordinaire I am more than qualified and experienced enough to organise a retreat/workshop to help people discover what is really important to them and help them on their way to living their own lives

Scary step

Second, I took the scary step of actually booking accommodations for the weekend retreat. Making that booking made it all feel real and irreversible.

Huge anxiety

Third,  I moved through a huge amount of anxiety around contacting people in my network (some of whom I hadn’t spoken to in over a decade). I decided on contacting them with a personalised email in which I included an invitation to the retreat. I also decided to send that email from my personal account so they would know who the sender of the email was and in doing so hopefully increase the chances of them opening the email because they would recognise the name of the sender. (In retrospect I’m wondering if in doing so, I presented myself not coming from my professional self but rather from my social self and therefore limiting my chances as coming across as a professional coach who can really help people discover what is important to them)

Wary of (self)promoting

FourthI dropped my wariness of promoting the retreat (and myself) because I realised if I didn’t, how were people going to know or be reminded of this wonderful event?!

Beyond my boundaries

Fifth, I finally abandoned all fear (okay, maybe not all of it) and stretched myself beyond my usual boundaries to contact people by phone (even if I hadn’t spoken to them in years!) and talk to them about the possibility of attending the weekend.

Looking back

Looking back on the whole process I realise the steps that made me feel most anxious and afraid were the ones having to do with personally contacting people.

When I started thinking about who in my network I could send an email I ran into …

  • What would they think when they suddenly and pretty much out of the blue received an email from me?
  • Would the email reach them in the first place or never get passed their spam filter?
  • What if they wouldn’t remember me?
  • What if they thought me annoying, strange or worse ‘sales-y’?
  • What if they immediately deleted my email?
  • What if nobody even responded?

It took me a while to realise I couldn’t control the outcome to any of these.

Instead I decided to focus on what I could control and contact anybody of whom I would love to know how they are doing as well as still knew quite a lot about (like when did we last talk/meet, did they marry, did they have kids, what were they now doing, etc.).

I send a personalised email to each of them and a lovely thing started happening. Lots of people took the time to write (or call) me updating me on their lives and careers. It was great hearing from them even if they didn’t end up signing up for the retreat.

Coming closer to the deadline where I had to decide whether or not to cancel the retreat and after talking with my own coach, I looked at the list of people who had not yet responded to my email and picked around 20 people who I would try and get on the phone to see if I couldn’t get the minimum number of participants that way.

I’m sure you can imagine if I have anxiety around just sending people an email, what my anxiety level is like when I have to call people whom I haven’t spoken to in years!

I could only abandon my fear when I flipped the first question around: “What would I think when I suddenly would get a call from someone I hadn’t spoken to in years?” Answer: I would probably love it! It was enough to start calling people and again establish some nice reconnections.

All of these wonderful wins don’t mean I will never experience fear or anxiety again. As a matter of fact I will probably feel the same way I did this time around. However, I dare say moving past those feelings will be a little bit easier knowing I’ve done it before.

Share your thoughts below and let me know what you think. Be as specific as you can when you share your thoughts. Other people, Trailblazers like you, will be inspired by your ideas and actions.

Thank you for reading and adding your voice to the conversation.

As always…

Go dare greatly!