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  • George Samuels

How To Retreat Like A Pro

In this article, you will learn how to retreat like a pro when the going gets tough (especially when you feel like you got no time).

In some cultures, to back down or retreat is considered dishonorable or cowardly. In other cultures, it’s a valuable skill to have. What purpose does a retreat really serve, and how do you “retreat” effectively?

During the time of Genghis Khan, the Mongol Hordes quickly became masters of the retreat (often referred to as the “feigned retreat” in today’s military terminology). This worked well for them because there was no shame associated with it.

In nature, wolves never continue pursuing prey if they know it will cost the life of a pack member. They know exactly when to stop, retreat, recollect, learn from their mistakes, and then prepare for the next round.

In startup culture, 9/10 businesses fail to make it past year 1. Wolves experience similar results, losing almost 9/10 of all attempts. Although a majority of the wolf’s hunt results in perceived failure, that remaining 1/10th can equate to a lot.

My theory is that culture, often defined differently depending on who you talk to, influences whether or not people within an environment or team do too much, or too little.

Everything from the activities, to the stories told between people, defines the likelihood of burnout, passivity (triggering the need for a retreat).

Balancing and harmonising work outputs is a fine art, but for startups and overworked employees, retreat are often associated with personal escapism (but they don’t have to be). Read on to learn how to effectively “retreat”.

1. Prioritise Yourself

In order to prioritise yourself, you need to treat your personal retreat time like you would a client or customer.

Brad Krauskopf, CEO of Hub Australia (where I work during the day), once told me, “Plan your mini-retreat in advance. Make sure you never go more than 6 months without one planned. And always make sure the next one is planned before you finish the one you’re either on or is upcoming.”

I think that’s some pretty good advice.

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TIP: Use a tool like Calendly to make calendar bookings easier for both you and others. It saves you time and is also really beautifully designed. Click here to see my page in action.


2. Learn to Say No

I also believe retreating has a lot to do with one’s ability to say “no”.

This is my challenge as a Supporter profile (click here to learn more about what I mean), and anyone really who has a tendency to always want to “help others.”

Until you have teams to delegate to, or have clones ready to serve you, saying no is probably the best skill you could ever learn (if you’re the one who is inclined to always saying yes).

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Tip: Try implementing a Not To Do list to help you develop the art of saying no. (Click here to see Tim Ferris’ not-to-do list.)


3. Get Out of Your Mind

If you’ve ever gotten too caught up in the mind space, you’ll love Lil Jon’s music video. To get out of our mind, you got to do what works for you. If you’re an active person, go dancing or play some sports. Stop worrying so much about life.

If you’re not as active, go pickup a book you’ve been meaning to get to or haven’t yet finished. Meditate. Indulge in some philosophy. Whatever it is, leave the worries and pressures of making money or leading aside for now.

When you do this, coupled with having said no to other things and knowing you’ve let others know you’ve priotized yourself, your retreat will start to sync in.

And once you return from a retreat rejuvenated, whether it’s been to foreign lands or just the mental planes, write down exactly what you did and store it for next time. This will help you create a rhythm for yourself.

BONUS (Next time): If you’re a dude, or a girl who likes to retreat to “caves”, read below on how I retreat for a couple hours on weekends within my own home.

  1. Let loved ones know you’re going into “cave” time

  2. Read old journal notes (if you have them). This helps you remember anything you may have forgotten in the past at times that were “great”.

  3. Sit down for 2-5 mins and just let your mind wander, and give yourself permission to talk to yourself.

  4. Listen to what pops up.

  5. Take direction from yourself.

  6. Do nothing more than 3 items for the next couple hours. Remove all other distractions (including tendencies to randomly browse the web for nothing).

  7. Reflect on your wins (no matter how small) and failures at the end of the day

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TIP: Too lazy to write something down? Use this template. This is what I’ve written down about my own personal “retreats” every time I’ve returned from one feeling refreshed. 


What do you do to retreat? Comment below!