In today’s stressed environment, where one has to adjust to changing work environments, personal habits and living, it is important that you check in with yourself from time to time to analyse and figure out what’s working, what isn’t and what changes you might have to make in the future to make yourself and your work environments more safer and productive. It often becomes important to reflect on the past perspectives of several months to plan, prioritise, prepare and build productive work habits and to build more stronger and productive teams. Difficult situations demand careful consideration of one’s actions, decisions and behaviour.
We often get into repetitive unhelpful habitual/behavioural/thinking patterns and expect different results and outcomes. We then wonder as to why we are stuck and not getting the desired results. Such patterns not only make it difficult to bring about personal change, but also hold you back from achieving your both short and long term goals. This requires that you need to check in with yourself from time to time to see what went wrong, what you could do different next time, or whether or not your actions and priorities are actually aligned with your immediate demands, changing scenarios and goals. You must regularly turn off the noise in order to let your inner guide to steer you in the right direction towards making changes in your work or personal life.
Sometimes the busyness of daily stresses or routines tend to normalise your behaviour which makes it challenging to turn inward until and unless you make a conscious effort to stop and take time to reflect. If you don’t become aware of what you are doing, you will continue to repeat the same behaviour of making unproductive choices and decisions. Self-reflection thus becomes an empowering ritual one can build into their daily schedule and everyday life in new normal. As we experience change in the way we work, educate and communicate, it is important to pause and self-reflect as you inch back toward modified life to eliminate unnecessary daily habits that take up your time and mental energy in order to simplify your life.
Self-reflection Vs self-criticism
Positive self-reflection is a balance of who you see yourself as now and who you see beyond right now. It is more about looking inward, getting in touch with your own feelings, thoughts and emotions to analyse the reasons that may lie behind them. Problem occurs when reflection turns into self-criticism where self-judgment takes place and your inner critic comes out where you find yourself thinking self-sabotaging thoughts. This can lead to demeaning thoughts over and over, stuck on a repeating loop. Self-reflection is not about lingering on what you don’t like about yourself, but more about going beyond them by influencing your inner-critic positively. By paying attention to what isn’t helping, you can choose to change them. It is done to seek insights into our behaviour, actions and habits to breed accountability and to improve ourselves.
Many of us avoid self-reflection because of our busyness and focusing on too many things. Other reasons include not willing to come out of our comfort zone as it can lead to feelings of discomfort, vulnerability or defensiveness. Lack of commitment towards improving ourselves, and some tend to see things that they could have done better and might quickly dislike the noted strengths and noted weaknesses. Also, some of us don’t know where to start and what to consider.
Self-reflection requires that you prioritise change and that you should be able to critically examine your faults, weaknesses, insecurities, mistakes and failures with the intention of gaining valuable growth and self-improvement. When you observe your faults or fears, instead of resorting to self-bashing, making excuses or blaming external circumstances, you must be willing to take full responsibility and let go of your victim mindset.
How is it important for your personal transformation and productvity
Constant activity is often mistaken for productivity and thus makes us get into unproductive and unhelpful habit loops that leave us stressed, unhappy and frustrated. But productivity demands periods of restraint and consideration especially during crisis. Many of us are also used to keeping things in our heads that it’s very easy to slip back into the familiar patterns and you get back into your unproductive groove. Bringing right things into our conscious focus allows us to add value to some aspect of our relationships, work, creative expressions and productive performances.
The ability to engage in self-reflection is one of the key trait when it comes to leading or managing. Making this highly creative and productive activity a part of your weekly reviews, helps you to update your next action lists, streamlining work deadlines, attending personal needs, reassessing your someday/ may be contents, review your to-do lists and come up with deciding next action steps. Whenever you get off track with your goals, getting back again is easy with your regular catchup behaviour of reflection. Besides leading upto stress-free productivity, increase in the relaxed , focused control, it is also important for following reasons.
Develops self-awareness. You understand yourself at deeper level to know your strengths and weaknesses. This can develop more insights about what triggers you and the situations you are in and how to handle them.
Emotional regulation. Reflecting on your troublesome emotions and feelings leads to emotional awareness. This will help improve your attitudes and improves your ability to cope with rising challenges.
Provides perspective. Reflective habit allows you to understand and see things from a different point of view. When you step back form a situation, you gain a new understanding and can see the bigger picture in pursuit of your goals.
Anger management. When you react you are not thinking about the consequences of your actions or what you say. However, reflecting on a situation allows you to respond more thoughtfully and change your behaviour for next time.
Aids in learning process. When you spend time to understand, reflect and integrate new concepts, you are better able to make connections as well as retain and recall information.
Improves confidence. Self-reflection allows you to challenge your limiting beliefs and assumptions that are coming your way and provides an opportunity to step back and debate the validity of your beliefs.
Better decision-making. To reflect on what’s working and what’s not, what to keep(habits, actions, decisions, beliefs or behaviours) and what needs to change.
Enhanced creativity. Self-reflection also is a most effective way of dealing with the information/inputs and inherent demands of your day-to-day world to produce creative ideas, perspectives and actions that wouldn’t normally occur. You can turn your catalysed thoughts into something more creative and productive.
Brings change. We often beat ourselves up for our failures and mistakes rather than acknowledging them and working towards change. Reflecting on our weaknesses can remind us of our strengths and can work towards finding solutions.
Personal change being an internal as well as an external experience, motivation for it begins with the realisation that we aren’t fulfilling our full potential in certain areas of our life. This awareness that something needs to shift in either our mindset or in a particular area of our life can only begin with a regular habit of self-reflection. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you are likely to come across reflection space to influence yourself positively.
However, self-reflection is only useful when followed with thoughtful action. Reflection with out action produces discouragement, frustration, self-pity and disappointment. It can even lead to complacency, overconfidence and arrogance when you lack gratitude. So, it should be balanced with required action steps to adjust, change or improve your present self moving forward. It gives you an opportunity to pause amidst chaos, confusion to untangle and sort through observation and experiences, consider possible interpretations and create meaning. This meaning becomes your learning which can then influence your future actions and decisions based on which you can improve yourself.
How to practice Self-Reflection
There is no one-size fits all approach when it comes to self-reflection or there is no right/wrong way to do. It is your ability to be honest and willingness to take responsibility for your actions and giving space to learn from your experience and commitment to action is what makes it different. The key is to value your self-awareness and your willingness to make changes from a place of compassion and acceptance rather from self-criticism. When you step back and analyse your own actions as an observer gives you an unbiased and deeper insights of how you are being perceived from outside.
You can carve self-reflection into your daily routine and build into your weekly reviews in your workplace or do a personal after action review. It involves spending some quiet time daily or weekly reflecting on your thoughts, daily activities, people and circumstances. It involves that you look at your day objectively and asking yourself a series of questions that can help you understand what happened, reasons and what you can learn from the experience and where you can make improvements so you can make optimal choices in future.
Ways you can Self-Reflect
Start small and take 10 minutes every day to reflect on your choices, decisions you make, upon your actions, values, attitudes, interactions and outcomes. You can find something to write in or on. Writing is constructive in processing through things and it will help you keep a log of the process you have made along the way. Without structure you can end up anywhere, Keep your own set of rules and guidelines to follow so not to go astray with deviations. Schedule your time and commit to keep it. Formulate a list of questions that will help you process.
If you are still wondering where to direct your self-reflection, here are some questions to include in your Self-reflection process to get started. You can use all or just some of the questions through your self-reflection session based on the events that transpired including your goals and objectives.
Reflection on yourself
How am I using my time wisely today? What is my purpose? What are my core values and priorities—Are they aligned? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What is the impact or difference I want to make/How do I want to add more value? What are my passions? What are my internal and external motivations? Are there any limiting beliefs I hold on to? What are five things I am grateful about? How do I handle criticism and rejection? What unhelpful habits I need to let go?
Reflection on your emotions
Am I caught up in a repeating cycle of emotional patterns? What emotions dominate my day and why? What triggered my negative emotions today? How well am I emotionally regulating myself? How is my self-talk, is it emotionally uplifting or discouraging? What type of habits have I built around my emotions? What areas of my life, I am not happy but rather disappoint about?
Reflection on your beliefs
What do i believe about today—about myself, others and about the events of the day? What is the validity of my beliefs? Are there any limiting beliefs? Am I jumping to conclusions? What assumptions am I making? How empowering are my beliefs in overcoming challenges? Are my beliefs triggering how I interpret or evaluate a situation? How do I respond to challenges? How are my beliefs self-sabotaging my goals and outcomes?
Reflection on your thoughts
Where did this thought stem from? Is this true? Do I really believe in this thought? Is the opposite true? What fears are holding me back? Why did i think this way about these things? Was this optimal way to think about these things?What is a different perspective on this? What are my biggest regrets and how can I let go? Are my thoughts helpful or self-sabotaging?
Reflection on your next action steps
What risks did i take today? Why? How did all the risks pan out? Am I focusing on my strengths when planning for my next action? What projects need to become some days/ may be? What is your fall-back plan when you are not performing well? What’s the most important next action step that can be taken with my goals, both short and long term? What different next action steps can I take moving forward?
Reflection on your decisions,
What specific decisions did I make today? What purpose? What outcomes did all these decisions lead to and why?What’s working? What is my next action decision? What went wrong and why? What did I plan to accomplish? What are my daily/weekly/monthly milestones? Are there any hard decisions I am avoiding? Are my decisions aligned with my values and my strengths?
Reflection on your goals
Am I setting realistic expectations for myself? How resourceful am I in accomplishing my goals? How do my current goals grow and improve me? Am I striving to my full potential or am I procrastinating on my tasks or goals? Are the people I spend time with are supportive of my goals? What problems am I in the process of solving? What are my distractions?
Space for Self-Reflection
How often do you self-reflect and if not, what is your willingness to make it your daily habit?
How willing are you to improve yourself in aspect of your relationships, work and creative expressions?
How often do you consider quality of your thoughts while reflecting?
What other contents, reviews might help you reveal valuable ideas during your reflection process?
Do you reflect on your strengths/passions/priorities?
Do you reflect on your important decisions and action steps?
*Build self-reflection as part of your mindfulness process to identify your true potential *
You can add more ideas and value to different areas of your life once you bring right things into your conscious focus with the ability of self-reflection. Personal change is not easy for most of us. Even though it is a difficult task to do in the beginning as it challenges our illusions that we have been living in, through conscious effort of self-awareness and self-reflection, you can learn and master your own ability to change. It is an important process to understand and get to know ourselves, to find the problem in depth and ultimately to find a solution to solve it. With this empowering ritual, you can blend who you are with who you want to be.