Each year, staff members at PRA with more than 6 months of service get to partake in a Day of Reflection—a day set aside from the regular busyness of work to reflect on your professional and personal goals and life-work integration. I have long envied my colleague Ashley’s Day of Reflection in remote cabins (see her 2021, 2020, and 2019 blogs for more) and Briela’s structure of integrating restorative work with contemplative work. I decided to mix their form and structure for my Day of Reflection this year. I booked an overnight stay at the Wiawaka Center for Women in Lake George, New York, in late June. Besides its history of catering to factory working women in the Capital Region when it was built in 1903 and hosting Georgia O’Keefe for a summer art retreat in 1908, it was the site of my wedding in 2017, making it an extra special place to visit.
I somehow booked my stay for a night when no other guest was on the property. Sixty acres on a private slice of Lake George were all mine for 20 hours. I even had the benefit of a “private” chef, as home-cooked meals are provided to overnight guests! I could not believe my luck.
I am usually overly ambitious and outward focusing with my Day of Reflection plans (Create a strategic plan for the Communications Team! Develop a skill chart! Make plans to increase inbounds to the PRA website!). This year, I took a more measured, self-oriented approach, focusing primarily on my goals and how to make room for myself. My to-do list was long, but the top-tier tasks were the following:
- Complete a 10-minute meditation in the evening and the morning
- Do a 30-minute session of yoga in the evening and the morning
- Complete a mid-year check-in using a worksheet that my fellow plan-loving colleague Melissa shared with me to reflect on what I had written in my Ultimate Annual Review this past December
- Think about how I can shift my schedule to use my time outside of work to “pay” myself first and integrate meditation, movement, and self-reflection into my routines
- Outline the goals I would like to set for my annual review this September
- Read How Will You Measure Your Life at the recommendation of my colleague, Nicole, to get initial thoughts on the purpose and long-term meaning of my life (if you’d like an abridged version, check out the Harvard Business Review summary)
It was so refreshing to take the time wholly for myself. I loved deciding what I wanted to do and then doing it! No coordination of schedules, just time alone with my thoughts. The opportunity to step away from the daily churn was amazing, and I loved being able to pick up my journals (I travel with three) as the mood struck me. I figured out that the best way for me to integrate meditation into my day was doing it at nighttime as part of my 1-year-old’s bedtime routine and that I needed to set a calendar appointment with myself every Thursday for some journaling and reflection time. I’ve got a few ideas about increasing inbounds at work, and will discuss those at my annual review this fall.
After 10 years and a lot of inspiration and guidance from other colleagues, I have finally found a Day of Reflection strategy that nourishes me! It’s funny how a day spent in solitude and personal reflection was built on advice and care from so many others. I am so grateful for what I have learned from others while I continue to grow and rebalance my life as I embrace new seasons of adulthood.