Would you try an Enrichment Week?

Would you try an Enrichment Week?

Last week I had my very own enrichment week. The purpose of this week was to deeply explore some areas of my business, gain a fresh perspective, and rejuvenate my creativity. 

As a solo business founder, taking time to reconnect benefits me in many ways. It stops me from burning out and helps me run a sustainable business. It brings new ideas and inspiration, and keeps me fully aligned with my purpose. 

Over the week, when I shared that I was taking an enrichment week, many people asked me what I was doing, and what I was discovering along the way. It seems we all need a good dose of enrichment. 

With this in mind, I thought I would share here exactly what I did during my enrichment week, and why I was doing it. 

This week is not just for those solo entrepreneurs, but all the activities I’ve done can also be transferred to a team. In fact some of these activities are practices I’ve used with my own clients on their team away days or off-sites. 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re solo or team-based, my hope is that what I cover here will inspire you to get better connected with your purpose, and bring to life new ideas that can make work more fun and meaningful. 

Why an enrichment week?

Before I get into all the details of my enrichment week, let’s talk about why a week like this is necessary. 

I’m guilty, like many of us, of being so busy doing and ‘being productive’, that I rarely take time to sense and feel into things . Doing things by default happens easily when we’re rushing through the weeks, but in order to break the cycle we need a reset. 

Enrichment week is a reset. It allows me to slow down, take stock of all everything, and get back into living more intentionally and aligned. 

In life and work I hear people complain about the busyness of life – but we forget that this is something we have created ourselves. Whether it’s from a lack of boundaries, people pleasing, to being driven by fear that if we are not in a perpetual state of doing something bad might happen. We all have our subconscious beliefs that have shaped our lifestyle. 

All this hustle culture conditioning doesn’t serve us in the long run. And it’s not sustainable. Whether you’re solo or a team, you are not the Duracell bunny, and there is only so much energy that you can put out before it comes to a burning stop. 

Few people talk about sustainability in a human energy sense, we’ve almost become accustomed to the robotic language of ‘always being on’ and ‘switching off’. We talk about ourselves like we are machines, when we are human beings, who need rest, play and connection to sustain us – not just a turning off and rebooting. 

Despite societal influences pushing us to work harder, faster, longer – I’m of the mindset that this way of working is neither necessary nor healthy. We’ve already seen that technological advances will out work us, and there is enough data around to show us that working in this way brings about long-term health effects. Instead, what I’m advocating for with these enrichment week’s is to embrace our full humanness. The creative, the meaningful, and following the flow of energy rather than pushing against it.  We don’t need to be more technical, we need to be more human.

Clear Intentions

The intentions I set for my enrichment week emerged over the weeks running up to it. Although I set aside this time months in advance, the agenda for my week was completely organic. As new ideas bubbled to the surface, or inspiration struck, I would jot down the topic as another thing to explore during the week. 

I knew in my mind there were certain things I wanted to dive into during this week. For example planning the first quarter of my 2024, and defining my professional development pathways for the year ahead. But as the weeks rolled around fresh ideas came to light that I knew would be beneficial. 

 

The intentions I ended up with on my list included; 

– Planning 2024 1st Quarter 

– Letting go 

– My learning and development pathways 

– Vision and purpose exploration 

– Semco Styling Liberty Mind

– Cleaning and redecorating my home office 

– Lots of reading 

 

Not all of the things on my list may be relevant to you. The point here is to be organic and truly intentional about what you want to explore. It’s not about copying my list, but instead asking yourself what would bring you the most nourishment and value from a week where the usual routine of work is put to one side? If you had one week to do anything, what would you do?

In this feature, I will go into depth on each of the areas I explored as it may be useful to you.

However, each of my enrichment week’s take a different shape depending on what I need at the time. This agile approach ensures I’m always tuning into myself and the needs of my business, and not being rigid in a process which doesn’t serve me. 

It’s also key to watch out for when we do have a list that we don’t suddenly default into action mode and suddenly rush through things. I noticed this myself at the start of my enrichment week. I sat and looked at my list and suddenly went into a mindset of “how many of these things can I get ticked off today!” – when this is not the mindset we want to have. The whole purpose of this week is to sit, be, listen and take the time to explore without feeling tied to a timeframe. I noticed myself in this action mode, gave myself a talking to, and felt into where I had the most energy to begin. 

I want to make a note here that securing enrichment week ahead of time is vital to avoiding the temptation of moving it. Securing the time in my diary is always the most important. After all, it’s easy to prioritise other things, or even postpone it completely. But ring fencing this time, and making it sacred is the first hurdle, and once you’ve done this everything else falls naturally into place. 

Practices and approach

As a culture coach I use a variety of tools, frameworks and methodologies to support teams and businesses in developing their ways of working. I feel truly grateful that I’m equipped with such tools that unleash our human potential and the power of creativity. But one thing I noticed on deep reflection, is that I very rarely use these practices on myself and my business. I’m preaching, but I’m not practising. This is something that came to life for me when I chatted with Christiaan Grove and Daphne Van Beek from Semco Style Global on the podcast. After chatting with them, I sat back and realised that it’s no good using these practices just with my clients, I also need to live them as well. 

Much of this enrichment week was about putting these practices and tools to work on myself and my business. Because many of the practices and tools I use are not just for creating better work, but creating a better life. 

You will notice throughout my enrichment week I have employed the tools and practices I so passionately utilise with my clients and throughout my work. 

Perhaps this might be an area you also wish to explore deeper. No matter what you do, ask yourself – am I practising what I’m preaching? 

Shedding and letting go

The first phase of my enrichment week was shedding. I sat and wrote down all of the things that I felt had been getting in the way or not serving me. I got honest with myself. I noted where it had shown up, and what the root cause of these traps had been. 

It felt incredibly cathartic, and almost poetic as we are in the season of trees shedding their leaves. There I was writing down everything I’m letting go of, and right in front of me, leaves danced down to the ground as they too had been let go. 

I’m not going to say that shedding these parts was easy. This practice was about becoming aware of them. I know that it will take practice and big shifts to fully dismantle some of these bad habits or old beliefs, but without awareness there is no change. 

I remember sharing this part of the week with my friend, and telling her how it hit me that one belief felt particularly hard to let go of – after all, many of the things we do is for our own protection. I had realised that this part had been showing up out of fear, and letting it go made me feel vulnerable – but as she so beautifully reminded me – “everything we need is on the other side of vulnerability.” – When we have the courage to be vulnerable, incredible shifts happen for ourselves and those around us. 

The next part of this activity was then to ask myself what I was choosing instead. If I was letting go, what would be the things that would replace it? 

Again, I took time with my notepad to sit and reflect on all the things I would choose to cultivate instead.  

Vision and purpose exploration

I am not the only person to exist who does the work I do. All of our jobs or careers are shared with other travellers on this planet. So why have I chosen this path? What is it that calls me here? 

For enrichment week I wanted to reconnect to my vision and purpose of Liberty Mind so that I could ensure my actions were aligned. 

However, I also wanted to connect my personal desires with that of my business. After all, when we have aligned self-interest in our pursuits we are more likely to make more intentional choices and make decisions that don’t compromise our values. 

Although adding this to the agenda feels somewhat forced its essential to keep coming back to our purpose and the vision we hold for the future.

I’ve noticed we have a tendency to see vision and purpose as extremely singular and rigid. There’s a belief that we can only have one vision and one purpose and this must remain the same all the time. But this belief is at odds with the complexity of our human need to grow, and the constant changes we experience in the world around us. None of us can forever remain the same, so why do we also expect this of our business? 

I see vision and purpose as evolutionary. The vision I held for Liberty Mind when I started the business six years ago is different from the one I now have. Plus there are many visions I have for what Liberty Mind will evolve into. This excites me and brings about a new sense of creativity and inspiration. 

To find some answers I asked myself the following questions; 

What do I really want? connecting first to my personal desires for my life 

Why do I do, what I do? connecting to the purpose behind my work 

What does Liberty Mind stand for? connecting to the principles and beliefs that drive my work

My learning and development pathways

Next on the agenda for enrichment week was to clarify my learning and development pathways. 

I decided to create my own Learning Mosaic as inspired by Ricardo Semler’s Lumiar schools, and adopted by UK consultancy firm PTHR. The idea of the Learning Mosaic is a map of 600 study areas where students have the agency to choose and direct their own learning pathway. Unlike a traditional curriculum that is forced upon students, at Lumiar Schools students can choose which of the 600 topics they feel called to explore. 

As an advocate for self-led learning I thought it would be fun to create my own Learning Mosaic, a visual map of the areas I’ve studied, qualified and experienced, alongside topics I would like to study in more depth. 

Using Miro Board I created this visual map to give me both clarity on my existing knowledge base, and a pathway for where I want to develop next. I also included other soft skills or hard skills that are within my toolbox, such as writing and public speaking. 

Now that I have my own Learning Mosaic I can choose where I spend my time and money next when it comes to my professional development. 

Semco Styling Liberty Mind

In 2022 I qualified as a Certified Semco Style Expert, and have since been using the framework and roadmap of Semco Style to support businesses in adapting to self-managed ways of working. But like I said earlier, a big part of this enrichment week was about leaning into practising what I’m preaching. Therefore, I used the Semco Style framework and practices on my own business. I asked myself, “How could I use this in Liberty Mind?”. 

Enrichment week itself sits within the Semco Style practices of creative space and entrepreneurship, but I wanted to see if there were other areas I could enhance through Semco Style. The following ideas emerged; 

 

Semco Style Practice: Meet, Track, Challenge 

My partner and I both run our own businesses and we come together every month to collaborate and support each other. The idea of Meet, Track and Challenge, is to meet and discuss both our business and personal goals, and to support and challenge each other. It not only provides us with a level of accountability, but getting outside input on our businesses proves to be a vital way for us to see gaps or places where we might be holding ourselves back. 

 

Semco Style Practice: Bring the Clients In 

Bring the Clients In is a practice of getting more input from clients on what you’re creating. While I felt like I was doing some level of this as I request feedback sessions after every project. I also realised I could probably take this a step further by getting more input from clients on the development of new ideas to ensure it’s meeting their needs. 

 

Semco Style Practice: Rush Hour MBA

Rush Hour MBA is a simple practice of learning whilst on the move. This could be anything from listening to an audio book or a podcast, to watching a TedTalk. The idea is you make use of the dead time of a commute and utilise it as an extra learning opportunity. 

As much of my work is remote now, I instead created my own Lunch & Learn, whether I’m out on my lunch time walk or enjoying my soup and a sandwich, I’ll choose a podcast or audiobook to listen to while I’m lunching. Of course, when I am commuting in the car or the train I also have a list of podcasts to tune into when I’m on the move. 

 

Semco Style Practice: Make Time to Celebrate 

Make Time to Celebrate really does what it says. But how often do we make time to actually celebrate the good stuff? I know I’m guilty of moving on to the next project or developing the next idea and not making time to be grateful. This practice hit me hard that I do need to start setting aside time to be in the moment and embrace the positive things that happen. 

 

Semco Style Practice: Retrospectives 

A retrospective is where you reflect on what went well, what went wrong, and where there are challenges. This practice is something that I’ve used intuitively after every client project. However, being self-critical, I knew there were places that I could use this practice more often to enhance my ways of working and what I’m delivering. Now my intention is to heighten the amount of retrospectives I have, as well as include clients in these as much as possible. 

Planning 2024 1st Quarter

As this enrichment week fell in the last quarter of the year I felt like it was an ideal time to plan the 1st quarter of 2024. 

I plan quarterly as this helps me to focus my efforts on key activities while still remaining agile to the flow of what the year may bring.

I begin this plan by identifying what goals I wish to achieve, and then break it down into activities, tasks and projects which will give me the steps to move forward. Tasks are one activity, like send an email, or make a call. A project is made up of multiple tasks. Mapping out activities in this way helps make mountains into mole hills, and creates less overwhelm. 

Of course, although this planning gives me direction, I never take it as a completely predictable map. Things may change and evolve as new opportunities arise or things around me change.

Cleaning and redecorating my home office

I admit that redecorating my home office wasn’t actually on the plan for enrichment week, but when I got into declutter mode I had this urge to give the space a fresh lick of paint. Suddenly what I thought would be a small task became a grand design. (Well not quite, but it felt that way.) 

Why am I mentioning space? 

We all know that our environment plays an important role in how we think and feel, so it felt natural for me to rejuvenate the space I work within during my enrichment week. To me, it was also part of the ritual of cleansing and shedding the last quarter and starting the next one completely fresh and ready. 

I realise that I am privileged to have a space at home that I can make mine in every way I see fit. Being able to paint it the colour that brings me the most joy, put up artwork, and fill it with as many plants as possible – but it doesn’t matter who we are or what work we do, we should be able to shape the spaces that help bring our best work to life. 

Lots of reading

I’m quite the bookworm on a normal week, but there was a list of new business books I wanted to get stuck into which I knew wouldn’t be easy bedtime reading. 

Simply making more time in my day to escape to a coffee shop and enjoy a few hours of reading gave me a fresh dose of motivation and inspiration. Two things that can be drained so quickly when we’ve had our heads down being busy! 

I’m not a fan of speed-reading, and for me I want to harness as much of the knowledge and wisdom that these books hold. Books I find useful will often be covered in annotations and sticky notes so that I can learn more and integrate any new ideas. 

Rounding up

There you have it, my enrichment week in a nutshell. 

Did I get everything I wanted out of it? – Hell yes, even more than I expected. 

I’m fully aware that a week of enrichment may be a stretch for some, but surely even a day or two is possible? 

We may tell ourselves that we’re too busy, or we’ll do it when things are quieter, but let’s be honest. We’re just putting it off for one fear or another. 

So, when are you going to try some enrichment, and what will you explore with your time? 

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    About The Author

    Lizzie Benton is a people and culture specialist who supports organisations in developing a unique company culture and building engaged teams. Lizzie has been recognised as a millennial changing the world of work, and has been featured in the Metro, HuffingtonPost and has spoken across the UK on employee engagement. When not consulting or running a workshop, Lizzie can be found in rural Lincolnshire enjoying afternoon tea and fresh air.