As I write this blog I complete my second annual Think Week. I thought I’d share some of the experience, how it came about for me, and how I use it.
For a dozen years now I’ve taken some intentional outings to be alone, to reflect deeply and to explore matters beyond the everydayness of life. Each outing provided its own journey.
In 2005, I lived a month in a Zen Monastery; in 2007, and 2008, I spent 3 weeks each year writing in Cape Cod, and in 2012, I ventured to Sedona for 3 months to regenerate and explore direction.
With these intentional pauses, I explored different dimensions of myself, pondering the question: What matters most? And What is my work?
In 2015, a colleague gave me an article on Bill Gates and his annual ritual, Think Week. For years, Gates has gone into seclusion for two “Think Weeks” a year. Family, friends and Microsoft employees were banned from his retreat and since this has become public, others have adopted this practice.
What it IS and is NOT.
First let me premise this by stating that genuine Thinking involves weighing evidence that questions, not confirms, our thoughts, assumptions, and beliefs. That questioning includes discarding outmoded views and then becoming open, available, and awake to different views.
When I discuss a Think Week with others or read remarks about it, I see all kinds of observations. So let me offer some clarity.
Take the two words THINK and WEEK, literally and seriously. To be precise, the intention here is to get away long enough to allow for creative thinking that is not possible in the din of everyday life.
We take many outings, and each serves a purpose. A Think Week is distinct from other outings. It may sound the same, but actually, other outings serve very different intentions. For instance,
- Spa Day: A spa day involves a spa for a day and can be great to unwind and relax, so go for it. At the end of the day, we return to our routines.
- Vacation: We take vacations to unwind, visit family and/or other locales. Vacations can be fun to plan and allow for surprises, to explore new experiences, connect in new ways, and to reminisce.
- Retreat: We attend retreats as a refuge, to learn, commune, or contemplate within a specific community, study regime, or set of goals.
- Escape: Boy can these be great. Living in New York City, I find myself close to many escapes or weekend jaunts to get away and unwind. These quick getaways and diversions offer a different kind of stimulation.
A Think Week pulls us from our ordinary routines and for many, including me, that often takes 24-48 hours just to settle, let go, and begin anew.
Why Engage Think Week?
If I haven’t lost you yet, a Think Week may be just for you. So then, why consider it at all?
According to Bill Gates, “I actively disconnect and look at everything from 50,000 feet, I