Often, we can be on automatic pilot and focus on working hard to succeed in achieving our goals and life becomes work, work, and more work because we feel that being productive will deliver results. We do not stop because we feel that we might lose pace or hinder progress, however, there is power in taking time to reflect.
Researchers from Harvard Business School have found that reflection helps you perform better because reviewing what you have done teaches you to do it better next time. During reflection, we think about what has been learned, and as such, we feel more confident. This gives us the motivation to focus on doing better next time. Consequently, stopping can enable us to work smarter.
When we engage in a reflection-type activity, the brain develops its capability to think and solve problems. As such, we learn more about ourselves, develop potential situations and build resources like confidence in our ability.
Reflection benefits us in several other ways:
- Helps to process concerns positively and practically.
- Allows the identification of what is draining personal energy.
- Diverts focus on what we want to do, achieve and where we are.
- Helps us to understand the things we do, how we respond and assess what is or is not working.
- Enables us to understand the action of others giving perspective.
- Allows us to identify obstacles and why they may be there.
- Helps us to learn from mistakes.
- Enables us to notice and appreciate successes however big or small.
- It gives a level of clarity and self-understanding.
There are many experiences you can go through where you may find it beneficial to reflect. For instance, if you have just delivered a presentation or attended a particularly difficult meeting. It may be that you feel constantly busy but progressing no-where or feel a rising sense of anxiety or burnout. All these examples would benefit greatly from reflection time.
Some key reflection questions you can ask regarding a situation are:
- What has happened up to this point?
- What do you think and feel about this experience?
- What has been good and bad about it?
- What have you learned both the good and bad bits?
- What could you do differently going forward?
- What will you do next?
During reflection, it is natural to focus on negative experiences. Remember the past is just that, in the past. You cannot change what has already been done. Try to avoid ruminating on anything that has not gone too well. Instead, reframe them as learning opportunities. Ask yourself “what could I do differently next time I’m in the same situation?” If you feel anxious or on the verge of burnout, ask “what could I do differently to help my situation going forward?”
Find a time and place where you will not be disturbed so you can focus on the reflection questions. Make the experience enjoyable, like a ritual so that it is something that you look forward to. After all, this is all about you and how you can grow your potential and make the changes you want.
Be compassionate when you reflect and focus on moving forward. All feedback gives new instructions about what to keep doing and what to change for next time. This is where you begin to evolve, grow, and perform.
Images by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay