Every day, each of us is bombarded with a multitude of information, interactions, and experiences. Keeping up in today’s fast-paced world can be near impossible. Many of us are juggling successful careers, academics, and families, amongst other responsibilities demanding our attention. Often it seems there simply isn’t enough time in the day to spare even a single thought. When we finally get the opportunity to unplug, unwind and get away from it all, we’re all too eager to avoid replaying the events of a long day. However, reflective thinking is one of the best things you can do for yourself, both in the work place and in your personal life.
Many of us have heard the saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly, but expecting different results.” So, what is the “cure” for insanity? The answer is reflection. It is important to take the time to examine your missteps, or think about how you could have handled the same situation differently. Reflection is crucial for personal growth, allowing us to identify past mistakes and prevent them in the future.
Reflection keeps us centered and on track, ultimately increasing our productivity. Consider what you and your team have completed, and take the time to be thankful for the accomplishments achieved. Many of us get too caught up in our massive to-do lists, and are immediately on to the next endeavor. Forming an understanding and appreciation of what has already passed builds a solid foundation upon which to build the future. Only once you’ve created this foundation should you prepare yourself for the tasks that lie ahead.
Set aside time each day to reflect and find a calm, suitable environment in which to do so. Keep a journal. You may find your “aha” moments during this “me” time, when your mind is clear and your stress levels are low. During reflection, nothing is off limits; take the time to consider the difficult questions. Consider your actions, your motives, and the alternatives.
Ask yourself if what you did today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow. Setting goals is an excellent exercise in personal reflection. What have I accomplished so far? What do I still have left to accomplish? How do I get there? What barriers might there be? These are all great questions we should be thinking about continuously to keep us focused and allow us to grow.
Reflection not only aids in personal growth, it’s also an effective tool to ensure everyone on the team or within the organization is on the same page. Think about the various meetings you are involved in throughout any given week. A lot of ideas can be thrown around, leaving you wondering if anything was truly accomplished. At the end of a meeting, as a group, reflect on the main takeaways. Come up with action items and assign responsibility to them. Establishing realistic time lines and follow-up actions at this point in the process is crucial. After a meeting, there should never be confusion as to how the team plans on moving forward, when the team plans on following up, and where the accountabilities lie.
In addition to helping us become more organized and productive, reflection allows us to see the many blessings in our lives. During your day, what is something minor you may have noticed that is actually
beautiful and miraculous? Taking the time to appreciate even the little things in life can completely change your world view and improve how you approach the bigger picture.
“Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some” – Charles Dickens
We live in a busy, dynamic world where very few take the time to sit back and reflect on all there is to be grateful for. Did you know writing in a gratitude journal for even just five minutes a day can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent? Studies have also shown that the greater number of gratitude experiences a person has on a given day, the better he felt. Expressing gratitude can lead to greater life satisfaction and stress control.
A simple “thank you” email to a customer or co-worker for providing you with information you need can go a long way. People like to feel appreciated and feel they have worth. Saying “thank you” has also been shown to make you feel happier and more fulfilled. We should all find these small moments and opportunities throughout the day to express our gratitude towards everyone and everything around us.
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