Live With Intention. Work With Passion. Value What Matters.
I’m so excited to finally share with you all about my time at The Fireside Retreat! From June 11 through the 14th, I had the incredible opportunity to attend my friend, Laura’s, first ever retreat! The retreat took place at the incredibly gorgeous Windrift Hall in Coxsackie, NY!
For four days, I got to learn, grown and be challenged alongside twelve other female entrepreneurs who all desire to create harmony between life and business! I can tell you right now that it is possible! It’s not perfect, and nothing is ever exactly balanced, but there is a way to have harmony between both, and over those four days together every minute of our time was focused on learning how to implement this into our life and business!
I want to take a few steps back, though, to talk about how I ended up at the retreat in the first place! Several years ago, my friend Julianne (THANK YOU, JULIANNE!) introduced me to Laura! The two of them actually went to college together, and Julianne shared with me that Laura was also a wedding photographer! From that moment on, I had followed Laura on social media and she had already taught me so much – through her blog and newsletter – about how important it is to have and use effective workflows and systems in your business!
Then earlier this year, Laura announced The Fireside Retreat, and it couldn’t have come at the most perfect time! This was truly such a blessing, and I knew that God’s timing couldn’t have been anymore perfect because I was just about to sign up for another conference! This all took place during the month of February, and once I signed up, June seemed so far away!
During that time, I had gotten to know Laura more, we became friends and I actually started coaching sessions with her – BEST DECISION EVA’!! Oh my goodness, I don’t know what I’d do without Laura! Her friendship and guidance over these past few months have truly been a godsend for me – I don’t know if I’d have my sanity right now without her in my life!
Fast forward, and the day came when I’d be traveling to Coxsackie, NY for the retreat! This day seemed to come so slowly and so quickly all at the same time! I was so excited to also have my friend, Sara, join me on the ride up! This was actually our FIRST time meeting each other, and I’m so grateful that we got to know each other more during our carride! It was seriously the best way to kick off the start to an amazing week!
After over three hours of travel, WE MADE IT!! AH!! Right as we were pulling into the driveway, I just knew I was leaving behind the bad habits, terrible to-do lists and doubt/comparison at the door. Over the next four days, what I was going to learn would completely transform how my life and business would co-exist together! AND I’ll say it again, friends – it IS possible!
We are all told that a work-life balance is important, but figuring out HOW to do this seemed a little daunting at time. For me personally, I literally didn’t even know where to begin to make this a reality. Ever since becoming a solopreneur, I had been wearing too many hats, working way too much (more than I ever have), pushing time with my family and friends aside, not prioritizing my health, late nights working until 4am, all while feeling like I was super close to burning out. From the outside, you would probably be shocked that this was what I was doing to myself earlier this year, but it was truly a reality for me. AND I hadn’t even begun my first full wedding season, and I was already feeling overwhelmed! This was not good, and I’m so glad that I recognized that something had to change before completely losing my mind!
I knew that attending Laura’s retreat was exactly what I needed, and like I said, it couldn’t have come at a better time!
After driving up the long driveway to the airbnb we were all staying in, I couldn’t wait to FINALLY meet Laura! Even though we had been having our coaching calls weeks prior, we had never actually met in person! Oh my goodness, she is one of the most caring, selfless and kind individuals I’ve ever met! Literally, her heart for others and her desire to help people live a more fulfilling life is evident in everything she does! Laura planned out every minute of the retreat with purpose and intentionality – she didn’t hold anything back!
Below, I’ve included some of my favorite topics that we discussed, in addition to a few of my takeaways!
Building an Intentional Life
This was the FIRST topic we discussed, and to be honest I think it was one of the hardest topics for me all week! Give me all of the workflows, systems, to-do list tasks and I can knock those out, but this one forced me to really think about my ideal lifestyle, what are my values, priorities, defining what success looks like to me, the non-negotiables in my business, etc. I had to think deeply about how I want my life to look like so that I’d have a healthy foundation for my business – I certainly don’t do this enough and that’s exactly why I’m glad we did!
Goal Setting with Intention
Goals are very important, and this was a great exercise of actually putting my goals to paper! We covered everything from business (financial, etc.) to personal (how much do I want to work/week, etc.) goals! One of my biggest takeaways from this session was to definitely write down my goals where I can see them daily, AND to also write in a way that declares that the goal will happen. For example, I will cook dinner with my husband once a week, instead of “cooking with my husband.” You might be surprised, but this is one of my personal goals! Time with my husband is SO important, and in the past it has been pushed aside during the busiest seasons of my business – I hate to admit that, BUT if I write down this goal and schedule this into my week, it WILL happen more often than not! The things in life we prioritize usually reflect what’s most important to us – and my husband most certainly should be a priority of mine!
I knew that there was an app for everything, but my goodness there really is an app for everything! Laura shared with us her favorite productivity tips and tricks – these resources save SO much time! Three of the ones I had never heard about before the retreat are: Zapier, Toggl and CoSchedule! I’ve already started to use these! Woohoo!
Focus, Time and Schedule Management
As a business owner, time is one of my most valuable resources, and I really needed to be reminded of this! Using my time intentionally can truly have an impact on my business, and even on how I get tasks done. For example, Laura asked us to think about when we think we feel the most motivated during the day. You might not think this is important to know, but it really is! For me, I’ve realized that I’m most efficient and motivated between 1pm-4pm. During those three hours, I can crank out tasks like a crazy lady because this is when I’m, personally, more efficient! If were to do those same tasks in the morning (blah!) it would probably take me twice as long! This is just one exercise that we discussed during this seminar, but one that has already had tremendous impact in my personal life and business since the retreat! It has totally changed how I schedule my days and weeks!
Weekly Task List and Daily Routine
No matter if tasks are personal or business related, we all do some of the same things either every day or every week! Because of this it’s so important to recognize these tasks so that we aren’t making more work for ourselves or wasting time! One of the suggestions that Laura gave us is to assign themes to our week days! For example, Mondays = content creation days, Tuesdays = clients calls/meetings, Wednesdays = admin tasks, etc! Doing this would ultimately save me an immense amount of time each week because my days are FOCUSED on finishing specific tasks. If I don’t set aside specific days or blocks of time each week for client calls, content creation, etc. then I wouldn’t be prioritizing those things in my business. They would either get pushed to the side when things would get busy or, worse, these tasks wouldn’t happen at all! Which is NOT good! I’ve started to theme by days, and this has been so life giving!
How to Design Workflows and Systems
Maximizing Business Systems
Yes, yes, and YES! This was by far my favorite topic that we went over during the retreat! I have no doubt that the other attendees would probably agree with me, too!
The main point that I want to get across is that there is such FREEDOM in having systems and workflows in place in my business! I’m still tweaking and constantly updating my workflows and systems, and that’s OK! BUT what’s not helpful is when I don’t have any systems in place, and that was me for a long time before this retreat! Systems for every part of my business are so important to ensure that every client has the SAME great experience with, in addition I don’t want to miss any steps along the way! Laura went through the anatomy of a workflow, and it rocked my world! She really has it down to a science!
There is something that I had written in this section of my workbook that is my drive for using systems in my business, and it’s this: “ I don’t want my computer to see my face more than my husband.” No way, Jose! If I’m using my time intentionally and creating effective systems in my business, I can spend more time with my family and friends instead of feeling scatterbrained or feeling like I’m always chasing my to-do list! Like I said above, workflows and systems give me such FREEDOM!
Blogging and Content Creation
Systems and workflows can be applied to every area of your business, especially when it comes to creating content for your blog, newsletter, and social media outlets! How cool is that?! I don’t know about you, but for me knowing what to post can feel overwhelming at times…BUT if we really stop to think about the topics we want to talk about and breakdown those topics, it seems way more attainable!
If I’m being honest, posting on social media isn’t something that comes easily to me, but it really is such an important marketing tool. Also, it’s FREE! I really should utilize a free marketing tool more often! If I could do Instagram stories all day long, I totally would instead of posting! (LOL)! One of the tips that really stuck with me from this seminar is that your blog post content can be the map for your social media posts! I don’t know about you, but that makes it much less daunting of a task! Let’s say I were to schedule out my weekly blog post content for the next three months? That’s twelve blog posts, which could also be twelve social media posts if I were to post once a week or more if I really wanted to!
Overall, content creation doesn’t have to be scary if we make the time to do it! This all goes back to assigning themes to my week days!
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, LAURA!
These are just some of my takeaways that I wanted to share with you all! Obviously, everything that I learned and experienced while spending FOUR days at a retreat cannot possibly be summed up in a blog post, BUT I hope you were able to get a glimpse! I wish I was still at the retreat, sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows, drinking wine, eating the BEST food made by Laura’s sweet mom Terry (THANK YOU, TERRY!), and staying up late having deep conversations with those ladies!
Even though that’s not how I’ll be spending my night tonight, the greatest gift that I’ve experienced from attending retreats are the relationships! It’s so great to be able to leave a retreat knowing that my community has grown immensely and that we can share in those experiences together! I’m not joking when I say that I was crying a bunch of tears on our last day together because I was going to miss those ladies so much!
The Fireside Retreat was incredible, and I would do it ALL over again if I could!
Thank you Laura, Bridget and Terry for all of your love and support! I’m so blessed to have you all in my life!
Laura! I cannot thank you enough for all of the time you put into making this retreat such a success! I’m truly speechless! Your heart for others is one of the biggest I’ve seen, and know that you’ve impacted my life in such a big way! Sending you a huge, virtual hug right now!! 🙂
P.S. If you don’t already follow Laura on social media, you should definitely change that right now by joining The Fireside Tribe on Facebook (aka the best.community.ever!), in addition to her Facebook and Instagram!