Have you ever had a habit that you wanted to work on or a routine that you wanted to establish, and it just was one of those ‘it didn’t work for me’ endings. Many experience this on a yearly basis, as they set themselves up with many resolutions, only to decide by February that it’s time to give up. Even more so, this year in 2020, people have thrown in the towel and given up on many goals and dreams. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a time to give up things as lost, but here I want to give one option, to assess if it’s the right time to give up, if it is, then why it’s not a complete waste, and if it isn’t, what we can do next. The option is reflection!
REFLECTION DEVELOPS AWARENESS
When we reflect on anything we become more familiar with it, we learn more about it and this is always the first step to advancement. Think about close relationships you have now, likely you have gotten to know the person more and more over time. As you did, you may have tried doing more of the activities they enjoy, eat at places you know they will like. Let’s say you have a friend of 5 years, the chances are high that if I asked you their favourite food, you would know. But again, the chances are high that you didn’t know it on day one of the friendship. The point is, when we start out on an endeavour, we don’t know much, we need to build knowledge. Just as you would ask questions of your friend, we all need to be asking those questions of ourselves, in other words – reflect!
REFLECTION CAN HELP US ASSESS
When we stop at a crossroads, we can be left in a state of indecision, maybe we see options but we don’t know the best choice. Well, think about that scenario of being at the crossroads, two paths ahead. Imagine we see one that is wild and rustic with a dirt trail, and one that is manicured and has a paved path. We might think – ‘I like both of those’, but, will our choice be hard if we remember we are wearing high heel stilettos? The point is, the more we reflect on our selves, our situation, our current position, the more we will feel like we are making the best informed decision we can.
REFLECTION CAN LEAD TO GROWTH
This point has two sides to it. On the one hand, let’s talk about a situation where we discern something has gone well. ‘What is the point of reflecting on that?’ – you might think. Well, reflecting on our successes is a very important step. If we mentally reflect and notice – a successful narrative goes like this ____ – it cements it into our mind, we can repeat what we now have decided and noted is successful. Let’s say we want to stop scrolling on social media and go for a walk in the evening. It’s a new goal, so excitedly, the first day, we do it! Done! Well, what if we came back from that walk and took a minute to reflect – ‘how do I feel after walking? Was it a positive experience? Do I prefer it over scrolling on social media? Will I go to bed feeling better about my day, my self?’ If we take the time to reflect like this, we might just make the time and do it again tomorrow. Something else to add here is that doing this kind of reflection, can lead us to have a deeper self-worth and self-respect.
On the other side of this coin, reflection can help us to grow when we have fails, when things don’t go well for us. Imagine we decide to learn a language. We have put in quite a bit of effort, we have made it a habit in our life, we get books out from the library, etc. Then we meet someone who speaks that language, and we try out our first sentence. They don’t understand. Try saying it a different way. They don’t understand. And so we get out our phone translators. How can reflection help here? Well, now we can ask ourselves some questions – ‘Am I better off changing my way of learning this language? Do I need to include some more experience of using what I’m learning? Can I try to include more pronunciation learning rather than just being able to understand written words?’ Looking at fails as a reason to stop is only one option, another option is looking at fails to find the way to success. This is why we need reflection.
HOW TO REFLECT
Well, we have definitely seen the importance of reflection but how can we do it? One thing we can do is to make it a daily practice. There are a lot of people doing daily gratitude journals, so I ask, why not do a daily reflection journal? You can ask yourself each and every day what was good, bad, learned, appreciated, achieved, etc. By all means continue from there. I also do a weekly reflection, and a monthly one, because more reflection, means more awareness, which means more improvements, and achieved goals.
I would like to say that an important part of reflection is having the right mindset. The purpose of reflection is learning. It’s not to just rehash old arguments, or beat myself up over something I didn’t do right. That would be negative reflection and not good for us at all. But even that we could turn around and positively reflect on. ‘Why do I speak so badly to myself, or others?’ ‘Where have those words come from?’ ‘Is it helpful for me?’ ‘Can I choose different words?’ This is positive reflection, we are trying to learn. Hopefully the difference there is clear.
Reflection takes time. Many might say that they don’t get a minute to stop. But potentially if they stopped and spent a minute reflecting they might be able to save 10 minutes further along. Is it worth the time to reflect? Well, I think I will let you reflect on the answer to that.
“Is it worth the time to reflect? Well, I think I will let you reflect on the answer to that.”
In summary, I want to give my personal experience. As I started on my journey, I took a lot of time to reflect, as I have moved on from that time, I have seen the need to constantly adjust, check in, reflect and change. Especially in 2020 right! The more I reflect, the more I want to reflect. It’s been an amazing experience for me to see just where I can make improvements. I sincerely hope that you get to have a good experience with reflecting too.