Two weeks ago, three women attended my Unplug to Recharge weekend retreat in Central Florida and helped me celebrate my 60th birthday.
Event planning experts will tell you it takes 6-9 months to plan and market a retreat. But I accomplished this feat in less than 3 months!
Inspired action and visualization.
I bought the “unplugtorecharge.us” domain name back in 2018 – thinking I’d host a retreat within a few months, but it didn’t happen.
Instead, I helped other clients promote their retreats, and I attended other people’s retreats, including one in North Carolina that took place the weekend of my 55th birthday.
On a Saturday afternoon last June, I was sitting in the living room of my apartment with my cat Fiona on my lap thinking about my upcoming 60th birthday and how I was going to celebrate it.
I remembered the North Carolina retreat and how much fun I had that weekend, bonding with the other women, and taking part in activities like sound healing.
The proverbial light bulb went off in my head, as I thought how great it would be to finally host my own retreat!
Ideas started coming to me about what we could do like yoga, soul collage, oracle card readings, and I could share light language. Once Fiona jumped off my lap, I headed to my computer to choose a date for the retreat. The weekend before my birthday turned out to be ideal since there would be a full moon on Saturday. I then wrote up a quick email and sent it to my list to see if anyone would be interested in attending.
Within an hour, I had some positive responses, so I decided to go for it! I created a landing page for the retreat, and then started searching for a location.
My preference was to find something close by my home so I could sleep in my own bed at night. But everything near me was already booked. Then, I remembered a conversation I’d had a week earlier with a woman who was renting out her home, which she calls Contemplation Castle, (located about an hour’s drive from me) for workshops and retreats! I called Jessica to see if the September weekend was available, and it was!
Remember when I said this retreat came about because of Inspired Action and Visualization?
This is what I mean:
As soon as the inspiration to host the retreat came to me, I acted – thinking up activities, finding a date, contacting my list to gauge interest, creating a landing page, and then securing a location.
I continued acting right up until the weekend of the event – posting about it on social media, promoting the event during my podcast, sending out emails to my list, and reaching out directly to people through texts, FB messages, and phone calls to invite them to the retreat.
Marketing is important… AND I believe the activity that made the retreat go from an idea to reality was my daily visualization practice.
For weeks, I would spend a few minutes each morning visualizing myself driving home from the retreat feeling so happy that the event turned out great, and everyone had a wonderful time. I’d also do the visualization before going to sleep at night.
As part of the visualization practice, I also journaled about the retreat, visualizing and expressing gratitude that the perfect people had attended the event and how well the event had turned out with the attendees loving the experience, and providing me with glowing testimonials afterwards.
Last Sunday, on the drive home from the retreat, I was smiling from ear to ear because I realized my vision had come true! The event was a success!
I don’t want you to think that this process was easy.
There were days when I thought I might have to reschedule the event because for weeks, I had only one person registered! But I kept posting about the event and reaching out to people. And I even decided to offer a day rate, after Jessica said she’d been receiving inquiries about one. I took her up on the suggestion and reached out to a friend of mine who had wanted to come, but couldn’t get away for the whole weekend. She loved the idea and registered right away!
Eventually, I had three registered for the full weekend, and a fourth for the day. While I had hoped for 8 to 10 people, I decided this small group would be fine, since I was striving for proof of concept, and hoping for positive testimonials that I could leverage at a future event.
Then… the day before the event, the woman who signed up first (after seeing me post about the retreat on Facebook) called to let me know she couldn’t come because of a family emergency.
I could have let that derail the event for me right there, but I decided that the perfect people were still attending the retreat. I spent the night before and morning of the event preparing food for our meals, since it made more sense to cook rather than order takeout. And to my delight, everyone enjoyed my cooking!
The ladies surprised me with a delicious cake on Saturday night to celebrate my milestone birthday – complete with tiara and sash!
And they each gave me glowing reviews of the retreat, including one that was published on a blog, which you can read here: Being Wholly Vibrant – Review: Unplug to Recharge Retreat
Here are a few lessons I learned from this process:
Never, ever, ever give up!
As I mentioned before, there were times when doubt started to creep in that this event would happen, even though I was blessed with an early registration from a woman I’d never met in person before! We’ve been connected on social media for a while; we attend a monthly energy healing circle; and we have spoken on the phone before about our spiritual experiences. Her faith in me by registering soon after I initially promoted the event helped sustain me, along with the feeling that since this event came together so easily, it had to be divinely inspired!
Promote right up until the last minute
We’re all so busy these days, that many people don’t make decisions about events until the last minute. If you’re an event organizer, you must keep promoting the event, and use every channel that’s available to you. I didn’t have a marketing budget for ads, so that meant taking advantage of free opportunities like Eventbrite, social media, my email list, speaking opportunities – my own and other people’s stages.
Go with the flow
I prepared a schedule of events before the retreat, and for the most part, we accomplished what I intended, such as a full moon releasement ceremony.
But there were things we didn’t have time for, and it was ok. The intent of the event was to “unplug to recharge” so I wanted everyone to feel relaxed and not pressured to do things that I had planned. That being said, before we left on Sunday, I gently insisted on performing a closing activity around gratitude because it was important to me that we end the retreat with that sentiment firmly in mind.
Provide incentives for registering
I’m grateful that I decided to offer a day-pass for the event, for those who were within driving distance of the venue, but couldn’t stay overnight. One thing I neglected to offer was an Early Bird discount to attract attendees. I know people love bargains – me included! Next time, I will do that. 😊