Geese uses thought-provoking questions as the main activity on all his solo retreats. As you might expect, the more relevant and personal the questions, the better. But generic questions work as well. The key is to select questions that get right at the heart of the topic/issues that is most meaningful to you right now; questions that require some deeper thinking to address.
Below are some example thought-provoking questions to get you started. Geese uses his journal or iPad to record his responses to his questions. Use whatever works for you. But be aware, some of the answers may come to you when you least expect them, like on a hike or during a shower. For me, the answers that come unexpectedly are usually the most profound.
Example Questions: (Because we recommend doing a solo retreat on an annual basis, many of the questions can be asked every year)
- There is as much to learn from the good things that happen as well as the bad things. What did I learn the most about myself from both the highlights and low-lights from this year?
- A defining moment is a moment in time that had a life-changing impact on me. Did I have a defining moment this past year? If so, what impact did it have?
- What has surprised me the most this past year and why?
- What kind of legacy am I leaving?
- What’s the biggest change I made this past year? How well did I handle it?
- Am I still passionate about my work? If so, how would people know it?
- What has been the biggest challenge I’ve had to deal with lately? How am I dealing with it now?
- Who are the people that have the greatest impact on me? And who have I impacted?
- What didn’t I do that I wished I had done this past year? What’s going on there?
- Which friendship have meant the most to me lately and why?
- How have I changed in the past year?
- If my kids were to describe me to a friend, what would they say?
- If I could re-live a special moment from life, which one would it be?
- From an “enjoying life” perspective, how would I rate myself right now and why?
- What have I done this past year to grow and develop myself both personally and professionally? Is it working?
- If I could change one thing right now, what would I change and why?
- What was one of the most meaningful things that someone did for me lately?
- What was one of the most meaningful things I did for someone else lately?
- Do I have a favorite romantic highlight from the past year? Why or why not?
- What are the three things I’m most grateful for right now and why?
- What am I doing to stay healthy? Is it working?
- What am I doing to play and have fun? Is it enough? Why or why not?
- What do I need to do to prepare for retirement?
- What’s missing in my life right now? How can I change that going forward?
You get the idea. And you can turn any of these questions into future-oriented questions simply by tweaking the question. For example, instead of, “What did I do to stay healthy this past year?” Change it to, “What am I committed to doing to stay healthy this coming year?”
Thought-provoking questions don’t work for everyone, but they work great when you are not sure how to structure you own solo retreat.
And remember, Geese is available before, during, and after the retreat to help you get the most out of your solo time. All you have to do is ask.