2020 Hindsight: Harnessing the Power of Reflection for a Great New Year
Light itself is invisible until it reflects from something and hits our eyes. In the same way, the elements of our life are invisible until we take the time to actually see them through our mind’s eye. Self-reflection is taking the time to see the successes and failures, the opportunities and challenges, and the mental and physical development that makes each of us who we are.
It’s a fresh decade and a new year, so add some self-reflection to your New Year’s resolutions and get ready to dive into 2020 with a whole new perspective.
Find 20/20 vision with some reflection
Self-reflection has been shown to significantly improve learning and performance. It is a very useful tool to develop and fulfill potential.
Self reflection is not a moment of judgment or criticism. It is a chance to improve your strengths, align your values and goals, and track your growth. By taking the time to do a little self-evaluation and introspection through reflection, you can improve yourself and the things you do.
Keep it in perspective.
In the moment, small things can seem so important. But taking the time to truly reflect can allow you to see them in the scheme of the larger picture.
Reflection allows worries and concerns to be processed in a constructive way. By making sense of our own and others’ actions, we allow contextual perspective to make sense of what has happened.
Enjoy the big and little successes.
When we reflect on the positive, we can see that sometimes we are getting it right. Little mistakes seem less overwhelming when we know they aren’t the only kind of decisions we make. Even the littlest things done in a day can be celebrated. Made that deadline? Great! Chose that healthy lunch instead of donuts in the faculty lounge? Outstanding!
Reflect on all your accomplishments by adding appreciation for the little things of each day. It will help you make it through the tougher failures.
Reconnect with those moments in life that influenced your goals and positive decisions. Reflecting on your day, your week, your “anytime” can help you reconnect to the inspirations you’ve had and need. Empower the direction of the future by thinking about the inspiring moments and thoughts that will keep you moving forward in life.
We become more confident when working with our strengths. When we know we are really good at something, our confidence is boosted and our determination is set afire. Self-reflecting on strengths can help you borrow some of that confidence in matters that you may struggle with.
Make the most of your strengths when you feel weak. Reflect on the skills you excel at and how you can apply them to different challenges.
Keep the future in mind while recognizing the past.
Everyone makes mistakes. Taking the time to reflect can help you take those mistakes and failures, process what went wrong, and prevent them in the future. The past makes us who we are but it can also help us remember who we want to be.
Reflection allows you to press the reset button for the goals you ultimately hope to achieve. Rediscover what you wish to repeat and what needs to change. Take note of the people or elements that are draining or causing a dip in productivity and move away from those toxic things. Take the time to clarify who you are and what you truly want.
Take action in 2020
Carve out the time.
Reflection isn’t always easy. It can take time, effort, and purposeful thinking. And most feel so overwhelmed just making it through the day, that finding time to think about it seems impossible. But, like all the important things in life, creating a time to reflect is too important to ignore.
Reflect in the mini-moments.
- In the shower. Apply, rinse, repeat, and reflect. Instead of reveling in the echo of your voice singing the newest Ed Sheeran, take a few moments to self-reflect.
- The drive to or from work. Pause that podcast, turn off the radio, and use this time — no matter how brief — to think about you and reflect on the day ahead or that’s just passed.
- Running or walking. Lace those trainers and hit the road or treadmill with thoughts on your mind.
- A break at work when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Moments of frustration are sometimes the best time to do some self-reflection. Move from your desk. Walk to the break room or even the bathroom. Find a place where you can think undisturbed and reflect on what’s happening.
Reflect on a schedule.
- After work. Turn off all the media: phone, computer, tablet, and television then reflect a few minutes each day when you return home.
- Before bed. Reflecting on the day before bed can actually help you sleep better. Slip into the covers, pull your journal from the bedside, and write. Swipe away that game of CandyCrush and type your reflections. Or just allow the darkness to comfort your mind while you process.
- In the morning. Wake up ready to conquer the world and set things right. Do some self-reflection with a cup of coffee and the silence of early hours.
Reflect in ways that work for you.
- Written reflection. Writing while reflecting can be truly beneficial. Use a notepad, computer, or tablet. Start a blog or compose an Instagram post. Choose a method that works for you and your process.
- Learning journal. Journals like bullet or diary-type journals can help people process. And they are a record that can be revisited time and time again. Use the journal to write freely or take out that ruler, make some structured columns, charts, or flow charts and reflect in structure.
- Share with others. Reflecting verbally with friends and family can help the reflective process and allow outside advice. Sharing with a trusted person will allow you to learn how they see things versus how you see things. Others can often bring more perspective, play devil’s advocate to explore the other side of things, and keep your ideas real. Bouncing your thoughts off of someone else can ensure that you aren’t being overly negative or positive in your reflections.
Ask the important questions.
Self-reflection isn’t just thinking about what’s happened but also about asking yourself the tough questions. Thought-provoking questions deepen the inquiry process. Use these questions to help you challenge your thinking and to remind yourself of who you are and what you hope to be.
- What went well in the last day/week/month?
- What didn’t go so well?
- How did that make me feel?
- What are my goals and how am I taking the steps to achieve them?
- What’s stopping me from my goals — large and small?
- Was I someone others would respect today?
- Do I have negative emotions today? What are they? Why?
- Did I use my time wisely?
Don’t just answer — THINK.
Everything happens for a reason. So what are the reasons behind what happened to you recently? Think more deeply about your answers and the reasons behind them. One word isn’t going to cut it. Take the time to think about the reasons behind your answers.
- If I were to relive today, what would I do and what would I change?
- Am I holding onto something that I need to let go of?
- What am I doing about the things that matter most in my life?
- How might this affect my goals for the future?
- What can I do differently?
- What factors influenced the situation?
- What did I bring to the situation that influenced the result? Did I create this situation or was it unavoidable?
Remember: It’s not just about how you would change the same situation, but how can you apply this experience to other related or unrelated situations. Pull together all your answers and thoughts to learn, change, and improve.
Further questions to consider
- Are there generalizations, patterns, and continued responses that I’m making often?
- What does this situation remind me of?
- How does this relate to other experiences I’ve had?
- Knowing what I know now, what would I have done differently?
- What’s stopping me from doing the things I set out to do?
- Did I respect my body the way I should?
- Did I make a positive impact today?
- Did I perform at my best today?
- Are my emotions unusually negative today? Why?
- What worries me most about the future?
- What do I want most in the world?
- Does it really matter what others think of me?
- What have I achieved?
Rather than carrying on and doing things as you’ve always done them, take the time to reflect in positive ways. Be smarter. Reflect to better face challenges, give yourself insight, and make each day more fulfilling. Make your theme for the year 2020 hindsight and you’ll be able to head into the year ahead with crystal clarity.