This week, one of our wonderful coaches, Anita Gohil-Thorp talks to us about the importance of reflection.
There is, of course, more to reflection than what we may see staring back at us in the mirror!
If we look deeper at ourselves, or even “inside” ourselves, we can actually see so much more. And, as such, reflection ties in so much with Know You More.
Through personal reflection – taking regular time to purposefully look at your life, your goals, your values, your dreams and so on – you can uncover great aspects of yourself that may have been hidden or not fully exposed. Through reflection, you can get to know yourself more than ever and potentially build upon your confidence, attain objectives more quickly and truly understand what you want. When you have that, it can feel liberating, energising and exciting. It also has the potential to raise motivation and gives you greater control in the choices you make based on what truly matters to you.
I’ve been coaching for several years and I worked in professional recruitment for many years too. I realised a long time ago that reflection was absent from almost everyone’s life. So many were, and are, coasting along following someone else’s pathway, perhaps not even understanding what they really wanted or how to go about getting it. Many were not really doing what they wanted, many were confused and relying to others to find answers because they didn’t know themselves well enough….they had rarely, if ever, purposefully reflected on life, goals, values, work or relationships.
Often, people think
- it’s time consuming
- it’s a bit hippy
- there’s no real need for it
- it’s not “cool”
– or perhaps people just feel so busy and this is just another big effort they don’t have energy for.
But, what if you experienced greater personal, mental, emotional wellbeing or satisfaction and other rewards for it? What if it helped you to feel more empowered or successful or it improved your well-being or even your memory?
John Dewey was an American Philosopher with an interest in education. He said “We don’t learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” He was saying this around 100 years ago! What he meant was that everyone can live life and learn things, learn about their specialist topic, about relationships and so on. However, to truly live, you must spend time reflecting on aspects of life that stand out for you. Only then can you truly understand and then take that understanding to greater depths.
So, what is reflection?
For me, reflection is about taking time each week (or day if you can manage it) to consider, with full attention, what has gone well, not so well and what I would like to achieve.
It’s about setting aside time, a regular time each week if you can, with a notebook to check-in with yourself about how things are going for you. In particular, use positive words if you can. If the essay you wanted to finish today was left incomplete, could you reflect that “I wrote 300 words of my essay today and so tomorrow I have 300 less to write.”? The way you speak to yourself about your day is also to be reflected on – be positive and see how things can evolve.
The fantastic thing about reflection is that it is all about you. No one else need be involved, no one else’s opinion or values or thoughts. This is your time to be true to yourself. When you are truly honest with yourself, it feels amazing!
It is about raising your awareness about what is working for you, what you’re happy about, what you enjoy, what you would like to do differently or better, what challenges you are facing, how you might overcome them, considering what or who might help you to overcome obstacles or help you to improve your technique.
Reflection is about truly looking at yourself, not just the surface.
As you do this, over time, if it can become a habit, and you seek out the resources you need to help you towards your goals and dreams, it can be so uplifting. And that leads to other behaviours that help you progress – the way you want to.
How to be "Reflection Ready"
So, what can you do yourself to start your reflection journey?
- Set aside a regular time each week, of perhaps 15 minutes, to reflect
- Make a mental note that this is an essential investment in yourself
- Invest in a notebook (or online log) where you can write your thoughts down
Consider questions that will help you to move forward such as:
What went well today/this week for me?
What is it about that that made me feel good?
What could I have done differently or better this week?
What challenges did I overcome this week?
How does that make me feel?
What do I enjoy about my course at the moment and why?
How can I improve my time and study habits?
What style of learning works best for me?
What else do I need to help me?
What did I let get in the way?
You can ask yourself whatever you like. Answer your questions truthfully – this is about you letting yourself have time for you, to be your own best friend with a view to learning more about yourself and putting yourself in a position of information that allows you to make amazing choices that matter to you.
Things to keep in mind
- Look back at your notes after 1, 3 or 6 months and see what has evolved for you or what you’re learning about yourself
- Keep reflecting – make it a lifelong habit
- If you have time, read a biography of someone you admire. What can you learn from them?
You can of course ask lecturers, parents, associates and so on for guidance but what is so amazing about self-reflection is that, even with information from others, you are well armed to make the choices that matter. You’re living on your terms – what could be better than that?