“We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience” – John Dewey, American philosopher
I bet you think about your business, or your job, or just the direction of your career generally. I bet you think about it a lot. BUT - do you spend any time working on your own ‘bigger picture’, outside of the work space?
Few of us can say, honestly, that we put time in the diary to regularly reflect on our thoughts and behaviours. Constantly caught up in the chaos of our busy day-to-day routine, we’ve let our lives carry on un-examined. Much like a business, this is an unsustainable way to flourish. Don’t worry because you’re not the only one.
What is personal reflection?
To sum it up, personal reflection (or self-reflection) is the practice of taking time away from all other distractions to give serious thought to your attitudes and emotions, your decisions and responses and your motivations and desires, to learn more about what truly matters to you and to keep your life flowing and growing positively.
Why is it important?
We’ve all had that nagging feeling that we’ve got a little side-tracked on things that, in retrospect, haven’t served us in any meaningful way i.e. they didn’t actually matter at all in the grand scheme of things.
Without devoting time to look at the ‘why’ behind our actions, we just jump from one obstacle to the next, doing things the same way we’ve always done, without really understanding why we’re doing them.
Some benefits to self-reflection:
- Achieve a sense of control
- Space to process our experiences and accept our circumstances
- Encouragement that we ARE doing well
- Understand why we react the way we do
- Manage our responses instead of just reacting
- Considering the impact of our decisions
- Identify patterns in our behaviour and habits
- Seeing opportunities for new ideas
- Keeping our goals in-sight
Practical tips to put it into practise
As with most things, it takes discipline and intent. Here are some things that have worked for me:
- Identifying the areas I feel I need to reflect on; home life (family, friends, relationships), finances, business, mental wellbeing, physical health
- Scheduling a recurring meeting in my calendar that is a non-movable fixture. I reflect over a weekly period, but you may decide to reflect monthly or fortnightly until it becomes second nature (trust me, you’ll soon find you can’t do this enough!)
- Journalling, omg JOURNALLING. Often used as a form of writing therapy, journalling works so well for organising where my head is at, observing my behaviour and just generally putting a spotlight on my thoughts and emotions. So integral to me that I’ve given it its own section below (I might even give the topic a dedicated blog post soon - watch this space!)
Honestly, I don’t think there’s a ‘right’ way to do this, because it’s so personal. It's tricky to know where to start, I once read that 'writing in your journal is the only way to find out what you should be writing about.'
Here's my process:
1. I list my highlights and lowlights from the week just gone
2. Reflect on each list. Were the lowlights in my control? Do I need to adapt or accept?
3. I then ask myself a series of questions. These will be different for everyone but I've listed some examples below.
After enough entries, I can start to notice any patterns. For example, which people are consistently on my list of 'highlights', what activities cause my mood to change and so on.
Here are some examples of questions you might ask yourself:
- What got me 'pumped' this week?
- List 3 wins this week and why were they important to me?
- Has anything changed in my relationships, work, or passion projects?
- Am I aware of my bad habits and when they take over?
- Did I make a difference?
- What freedoms do I wish I had?
Upcoming event - Reflect, Explore & Collaborate Online Workshop
The Reflect, Explore & Collaborate quarterly workshops have been created with women in business and female led brands in mind who are looking to give themselves the gift of dedicated time to reflect on their successes and learnings from the previous quarter, explore new ideas for the quarter ahead and see how collaboration can be a great business opportunity.
You can also bag yourself a nice 50% off the first workshop of 2021 (31st March 2021) using the code CCsubscriber.
Learn more about the workshop here.