My story of solo introspection days

Mike Giannakopoulos
6 min readJul 4, 2021


Entering deep summer, we collectively have one single thing in mind, vacation—a timeout from the previous period of heavy work and responsibilities. Vacation has the effect of timeout — or time off — from exactly that, a year-long of responsibilities and work.

In this post, I’ll share a story of a timeout to maintain that tempo and spirit. So this is my personal journey on timeout from almost everything but myself. This is my personal introspection journey.

In the following paragraphs, I’ll be sharing why and how I started scheduling a solo retreat journey and ended up with:

  • a better daily schedule
  • improved happiness for my family and me
  • being more healthy physically and mentally
  • a better sense of purpose and direction personally and professionally

Of course, the above has been a product of hard work and not just a solo retreat journey, but that’s where all begins!

How it all started

Since I remember, I recall favoring time for introspection. With time and responsibilities piling in, introspection time was harder to get until reaching a point of full halt. Then an external trigger brought back the introspection thought. That was a sabbatical — one extra month — leave offering from the company I work for, Transifex.

These extra cooldown days as a “thank you for your services so far” was time I could spend any way I wanted. Of course, I wanted to spend an extra-long vacation with my family, but there was more than enough time for some introspection days.

A view of Mount Parnonas from my first trip

How is it all planned?

Choosing a location is closely related to isolation and getting away from distractions. So far, I’ve only done that during the summer; thus, I choose a mountain retreat that tends to be less crowded.

With the location set, I need to set the purpose and focus of the trip. To do that, I use a notebook to write down open questions or topics I want to work on. This process usually spans two months before the trip so that I have time to review and narrow down to the most critical topics!

Finally — the most important aspect of planning — we talk about the trip with my wife and clarify how such a trip will benefit our relationship and me personally. I feel blessed with the support I get from my wife and kids to have these trips 🙏!

Mountain village view from above in a green scenery
Kosmas Village (1150m alt.), where I stayed on my first trip

A day of introspection

My introspection days at the destination of choice consist of long walks in nature, rest, and a snack when I feel to it. I have my notebook along with some water and dry food snacks — if needed. I usually set a goal for trekking when I wake up and try to follow it as best as possible.

Walks in nature are revitalizing and help to drive my attention where I want to. Despite having these walks in the heart of summer, the high altitude compensates with some fresh air and a cool breeze, so the physical struggle is not harder.

Lake view with a bench in from
Sitting by Lake Doksa, taking notes.

I’ve found that a loose schedule on what topic to focus on during my stops has worked well, and I’m sticking to it. The core of my day is this walk, so I don’t rush it. I give myself time to observe, think and relax.

The day ends with a single meal, usually around 4 or 5 pm, and me heading back to where I rent for the night. My notebook is always there, available, to support my thought whenever that hit.

Nighttime is when I connect with family and spend some more introspection or relaxation time watching a movie.

Since we’re talking about introspection, it is extremely vital to plan what smartphone distractions you will block! For me, that meant uninstalling the company messaging app from my phone or going off-grid when I needed to focus. My advice is, give yourself the full attention to introspect and get rid of anything that will block you from doing so! Will emails be a distraction? Is a mobile game eating up your time and focus? Will a fascinating book absorb all your time?

Taking breakfast at Chalet in Feneos before the walk (910m altitude)

What did I get from all this so far?

These trips have been beneficial for my mental health. I appreciate every moment of a walk in nature — whether my mind is set on an issue or just enjoying amazing scenery — . That connection with nature is something I try to bring back to my family throughout the year. An outcome from last year’s introspection days was a goal for a family trip once a month.

Family trips, circa October 2020🤘

Another outcome from these journeys has been affirmations to recall daily and use as a guide for the day. During the introspection days, I came up with these affirmations as answers to some of the topics written in the notebook. Referencing Marcus Aurelius' meditations as his daily exercise, I used a mobile app that reminds me to check these affirmations daily.

Affirmation: “Always trust my instinct, use my brain to make it work”
My most important affirmation as presented in the app “My Affirmations”

Using these affirmations daily has calibrated my thoughts and anxieties into something more manageable and with a sense of direction and purpose!

Another great decision during my introspection days was to focus more on myself and my hobbies. I had realized that I wanted time off-screen but had trouble sticking to it, as the screen was very tempting. So I set a strict schedule of an eight-hour workday and pushed myself to find interesting stuff to do while not working. I’ve now started with gardening, a better fitness plan, helping a lot more with house chores, and better reading habits.

Finally, two years ago, I decided to be more outcome-driven during introspection days both in personal and professional life. This has been a game-changer as I’ve seen myself grow more influential at work and a driving force of change and measure in my personal life. Part of this goal is why I’ve written this post and how vocal I am in my work-life.

Next steps with introspection days

Introspection days have been a positive outcome loop for me so far, and I intend on keeping it. So far, the format shared above has been helping, and my family and I can clearly see the impact!

This year I will try to include a friend of mine in these introspection days. The goal is for each of us to get the benefits of self-introspection while having the option for a dialogue on some common topics, like family, character, and relationships. This will be a challenge for both of us, as we have to avoid the pitfalls of trivial discussions around daily matters — that can drag us away from introspection and act as distractions.

A big fat “Thank you.” ❤️

All of the above journeys wouldn’t be possible without the support of my wife! I fully appreciate the level of understanding and caring that my wife provides me with. Nothing would be possible without your help ❤️.



Mike Giannakopoulos

Thinker, solver, experiences aficionado. Remote worker, product Manager for, co-founder. Striving for self-improvement and calm.