Retreat- How To Create A Vacuum


One of the aspects of business content I despise is the purporting that life exists in silos. Every aspect of your life bleeds into and affects each other. So, I find it useless when someone gives me advice that doesn’t take into account the fullness of being a human. 

“Be willing to outwork everyone in the room”. OK…. where’s the rest of the statement? Are you going to tell me how to maintain physical health while outworking everyone? If my health suffers, my mental capacity declines, and now I’m upset that my most valuable asset is ruined. Plus, I can’t even muster the brain power to work at pace with everyone in the room. 

I’ll do a newsletter on holistic productivity later, but for this week I wanted a challenge. I’m starting a mini series where I take tropes in business content I despise and make it make sense. Today’s trope is that your life exists in highly compartmentalized silos. 

How can you create a vacuum to focus solely on 1-2 aspects of your life? Retreats and residencies! 

For 1-2 weeks at a time creators put themselves in an idyllic countryside and drown out everything other than their work. A residency is pretty good, but how much can really get done in 2 weeks? You could probably get some good thinking done and set up your systems. But, the execution would have to happen (consistently) outside of your precious fortress. 

How could you sustainably (let’s say a 3-6 months) create a productivity vacuum? 

You can move to another country for a season. Granted this requires an immense amount of privilege, you’ll need a source of income that is remote (or a work visa). You’ll need to go somewhere with a language you speak or are willing to learn a bit of. There’s a lot of logistic work that goes into moving abroad, but once you figure that out you can be. 

Now that I say it, you could also move to a different part of your country too!

Micaela Coel went to Italy to write her most recent masterwork, I May Destroy You. She spent months in various cabins, putting her ‘regular’ life on hold. Queen made Bohemian Rhapsody while confined to a shack in Surrey England. 

A months-long retreat can put your social life on hiatus and remove you from all your typical conditions enough to spark creativity. Potentially the solitude will produce that coveted psychotic break that generates incredible innovation. 

Here are some lingering questions I have: How long can a retreat be (1 year, 5 years) before you’ve just changed your lifestyle? Does a COVID-esque at home lockdown achieve the same effect? 

 If you were to move away for a retreat, what does the scenery look like?

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