I participated in a conference last week where attendees were given time after each session to reflect on what they had learned. This short exercise was one of the elements that participants enjoyed the most from the event. Why? I suspect it’s because we rarely take the time to pause, think, reflect and evaluate what we have learned. In our fast-paced careers and lives we jump from one activity to another and plough through one change after another, without doing an analysis of what each experience provided us.
How Do We Self-Reflect?
Self reflection is defined as: careful thought about your own behaviour and beliefs
We can also give careful thought to an experience, a change we have undergone or a learning event.
As we come to the end of another year, we often spend time reviewing what we accomplished, what changed, what worked well and what didn’t. We ask ourselves a number of questions, which may include:
- What made this year good? Bad?
- Did I achieve everything I set out to?
- What surprised me – good or bad?
- What did I learn?
- What did I do well?
- Where did I falter?
- What do I want to change for next year?
These are all self-reflective questions and they help us reframe the experiences we experienced over the last 12 months. They often help guide us to new year resolutions about how we want to improve our lives.
A more in-depth self-reflective practice can happen if you commit to following these 7 steps:
- Pick a subject to reflect on – career, personal life, finances, health.
- Carve out time when you can be alone, quiet and not interrupted.
- List out all the questions you would like to explore.
- Jot down your answers to each question.
- Be honest – this is for your own growth and does not need to be shared with anyone.
- Identify action steps you will take to start, stop or continue doing something. These can include how to be more grateful, more open, more supportive, more collaborative etc. or they can be very tactical things like sending fewer emails and having more one-on-one conversations.
- Celebrate your successes – congratulate yourself on all the great things you accomplished this year and what you are most proud of.
Benefits of Self Reflection
There are 3 main benefits of self-reflection:
1. Strengthening Emotional Intelligence
When taking time to self-reflect you are looking inwards. This helps to build two components to emotional intelligence: self-awareness and self-regulation. Self awareness gives you the ability to understand your emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals, and recognize their impact on others. Self-regulation involves the ability to control or redirect your disruptive emotions and impulses and adapt to changing circumstances. Building these skills will improve both your personal life and professional role as a leader.
2. Acting With Integrity
Becoming clear on your core values will help to strengthen your integrity and lead you to better decisions. Our integrity is often put to the test during stressful times. Taking time to review your key decisions and actions in the recent past and evaluating them against your core values is critical to acting with integrity. Doing this consistently can solidify your values and make the decision making process easier in the future.
3. Being More Confident
Confidence is crucial for managing a busy, complex life that includes meeting career, family, community and self needs. It helps in effective communications, decision-making, and influence building. The more your reflect on your strengths and how you can build upon them the more confident you will be in the future. We become more confident in where our strengths lie and how to close the gaps in our areas of weakness.
My Year In Review
As I take stock of 2015, I realize how much change I have undergone and how n-gen has evolved in 12 short months. We have a lot to be proud of and many things to look forward to. Change has been the key word this year for me as I have had an epic year of ‘firsts’; as I got married, became a step mom to 3 kids and became the sole owner and President of n-gen. Whew, what a ride! This year I have learned a lot and my key learnings are:
- Never say never!
- Change isn’t as scary as it seems
- Lean on others for support / help when you need it
- Be transparent and others will resonate with your authenticity
- Be honest about what you can and can’t do
- Ask for what you want
- Broaden your perspective by engaging with diverse groups of people
- Support others in being their best
- Be open to new ideas
- Be thankful for all of the great things happening
- Dream bigger
I would like to thank everyone who made 2015 a great year – the n-gen team, our clients, our fabulous partners, my family and friends and my expanding network of new connections.
Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season and a wonderful 2016!