This year, my husband and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary!
That’s right, we’re celebrating — in a wide range of ways — for the entire year. Why? Because we know that only 1/3 of marriages in the U.S. make it to the 25 year milestone. We don’t take it for granted and we’ve invested a lot of time, energy and hard work to get here. So we both feel incredibly lucky, grateful, and blessed.
We’ll be taking a trip we’ve dreamed about for a long time (Australia/New Zealand), renewing our vows, and revisiting the place where we fell in love. But our favorite way to celebrate is to give.
So in the spirit of giving, we asked each other: what’s the best gift we could give other people to celebrate 25 years of love, partnership and growth?
For both of us, the answer was clear. The one thing that has had the greatest impact on our lives is our Annual Clarity Retreat. It’s a process we developed in 2006 and have been using ever since to get clear about what we want, what brings meaning to our lives, and what positive changes we want to make moving forward.
When we started this process, we were both workaholic perfectionists who were exhausted and careening towards midlife crises. From the outside, our lives looked like we were living the American Dream. We had good jobs, a beautiful home, lived in our ideal city, travelled the world, and had a wide circle of friends. But on the inside, we felt like hamsters on a wheel, running ourselves ragged every day, but still in a cage of expectation that was not of our own design.
We did everything we were supposed to do to be successful, go to school, study hard, get college degrees, get married, get good jobs, buy a house and 2 cars, save for our retirement, go to church every Sunday, volunteer, etc…. But instead of being happy we were working all the time, killing ourselves to advance other people’s agendas, and left wondering: is this it?
Then one year we snapped. We quit Christmas and ran away to Mexico to avoid the holidays. And we spent that December re-thinking how, why, and for whom we were living our lives. It wasn’t pretty, but we emerged with a radical sense of clarity, a plan for the new year, and a set of practices to keep us grounded. We call that process our Annual Clarity Retreat and we put ourselves through that process every December.
Since we started our Annual Clarity Retreat, we:
- moved back home to Michigan
- started, scaled and exited 2 companies
- traveled to 30 countries,
- fell deeper in love with each other
- supported progressive change with our time, talent and resources
- became Financially Independent and Retired Early (FIRE)
- unplugged from the Achievement Machine
- stopped chasing happiness and started discerning the true nature of joy
To be clear, our life isn’t perfect, our marriage isn’t perfect, and we aren’t perfect. But using this process, we’ve built a life that is delightful, meaningful, and successful (by our own definition).
While I’ve written about our annual planning process in the past, it’s hard to capture the depth of the process (and the internal work) in a single blog post. Ditto for the practices that support it in our daily lives. While I can describe the steps, it’s qualitatively different to do the work for yourself.
So the gift from us to you is this: instead of just briefly describing the steps of our annual retreat process, I will walk you through each step alongside us (sorry, but boo is camera-shy so you’re stuck with me!). And the great news is that you don’t have to go anywhere. I’ll teach it to you virtually, so you can do the work at your convenience.
Here’s how it will work:
- I created a Facebook Group for anyone who wants to do this process with us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/clarityretreat
- Each week in December (starting 12/1/19) I’ll share a video explaining the steps in the process, pitfalls to avoid, and some resources to support you in getting each step done.
- You can feel free to share any questions or insights you have in the group.
If you’re interested: join the Annual Clarity Retreat Facebook Group by December 1st.
This is truly a gift, so there’s no cost to you.
It’s not a sneaky on-ramp to some coaching or mastermind offer at the end.
And it’s not part of a marketing plan to get you on a mailing list.
We’re happily retired, so we’re free to give and share without needing anything in return. And it brings us both tremendous pleasure to do so!
If you’re looking for a process to build a more meaningful life — by your own definition — you are welcome to learn the process that has helped us transform ours.
If that process helps you, it will be the best gift we can possibly receive.