I’ve just done a 4-day retreat with this wonderful couple. They are thinking ahead to their retirement in a couple of years and they came to my Time Out retreat to talk about what that means for them.

They want to plan for their retirement in a conscious way.

This is what came up:

  • Dreaming about the life you want, and making that happen, has nothing to do with how old you are.
  • If you’re a couple, it’s important to get clear on what really matters to each of you.
  • Listening with an open mind is essential to working out where and how your dreams and expectations align.

All of this needs time, space, patience, understanding and humour.

This is what we did:

I met Steve and Theresa in Geneva (they’d travelled there from England) and drove them 75 minutes south-east to our place in Sixt Fer a Cheval, in the French Alps.

We arrived to a lunch prepared by our brilliant chef Jess and then took a gentle tree-lined walk to a magnificent waterfall, known by everyone around here as the ‘Queen of the Alps’.

At some point during the walk we started talking about their future. Lightly at first, to ease in. I’d spoken to each of them individually some weeks ago and I was curious about what might have changed since we spoke.

We came home. My aim was to slow down their pace, drop down a gear or two. Steve had just completed a huge submission at work and had been working all hours.Theresa also has a very busy life working and caring for others. We agreed they’d unplug from their phones except for an hour before dinner to deal with anything essential.

The next morning I took them through a simple powerful process, developed by my friend and colleague Charles Davies, to help them both get very clear on their individual intention for their retirement. They each wrote in their own words what that looked like for them.

After lunch we walked again, this time through a beautiful nature reserve called the Cirque du Fer a Cheval, a majestic mountainous amphitheatre at the end of our valley. After a morning exploring their own personal inner landscape, it was time to be outdoors — even in the drizzling rain. Our walk in nature created space, balance and time for reflection.

We arrived back damp but refreshed. We showered and regrouped, this time for Steve and Theresa to listen to what they’d each written earlier. They found (I think to their surprise) that there was a lot of overlap and plenty of areas where alignment was possible. They then co-wrote a joint statement of intention and together we identified the steps they will take in the next two years to make that happen.

Our work was done.

On day 3 we spent the whole day walking in the mountains, this time in the glorious sunshine, with a picnic lunch. They came home to a massage with a wonderful local therapist and another delicious dinner.

Day 4 and time to leave. Another local walk — through a gorge this time—and then back to Geneva and home to the UK.

This is what they took away

    • A clear intention for their retirement and a plan for how to achieve it.
    • An experience of the power of nature to bring balance and clarity about what really matters.
    • A lighter, more joyful heart.