We spend much of our time attempting to better ourselves, striving for success and improvement. But how often do you check back in with your goals, gut feeling and emotional wellbeing? How often to we consider self-reflection?
How many times do you check yourself out?
From mirrors to shop windows, there are countless opportunities throughout the average day to give yourself some much-needed, soul-satisfying physical approval (and in case you haven’t already said so to yourself today, let me be the first to tell you how awesome you’re doing, and how utterly great you look). As much as I love to see a random display of self-love, as I catch someone flexing their best self in the window of a coffee shop I choose to write and study at every weekend, I’ve always wondered what these reflections would look like if they saw past our outer legging-clad exteriors, glancing beyond skin-deep presentations of ourselves, to shine a rather revealing light onto the inner workings of our consciousness.
I wonder how many of us would love what we see, and how many of us would flex ourselves at every opportunity we could.
The problem is, when it comes to looking at our actions and goals, we’re not terribly good at taking, or making, the time to delve into the interpretative act of self-reflection.
Self-reflection, the practice of looking inwards at one’s thoughts, behaviours, performance and emotions in order to grow and progress within ourselves, is something we all too often take as a luxurious consequence of an extended holiday. It’s a task which we brush to the bottom of our to-do lists – do today, reflect tomorrow, keep on keeping on going right now, to the detriment of our personal and professional lives.
Taking time to practice self-reflection (or Introspection for those of you with a psychology major) enables us to take stock of events over the past week or day, helping steer us on a path which is in-line with our current goals, gut-feelings and aspirations for the future.
As such, regular self-reflection may help you to become more focused with work, better orientated and productive when performing daily tasks, more satisfied in your relationships, and provide additional insight into the complex manor by which our emotions and goals intertwine. Here’s how to get started.
Begin: Know your values
Self-reflection forces us to press pause on the ins and outs of everyday life, helping us to re-focus and re-align ourselves with our core beliefs and values. Self-reflection is a great practice to perform when you feel in need of guidance, or are looking to gain a new perspective on a situation. Perhaps you are considering a change of job, a career switch or trying something a little different? Instead of looking for practical solutions, sometimes, all we need do is to look at what makes us feel motivated and purposeful. Reminding ourselves of our aspirations and talents is a brilliant way to ensure that all aspects of our lives are as satisfying and uplifting as possible.
Some starting questions to guide you include;
• What is important to me, and what are my core values?
• What are my talents and skills?
• What is important to me and what is a priority for me in the future / now?
• What impact do I want to make?
• What message am I sending through my work?
• How can I best distribute my energy?
• What am I, and where am I, when I am at my best?
• What challenges me, and how can I improve this?
• What can I do today to make myself sleep sounder tonight?
Write down your answers in a journal, diary or simply note them on your phone. These are brilliant seed questions to guide decision-making processes, and help you approach the upcoming working week with your values and goals in mind.
Conclude: A little reflection goes a long way
If you can’t envisage the value of self-reflection, imagine this scenario: Let’s say, for example, we behaved in a maladaptive or unproductive way by missing a deadline for a pre-paid recipe post, and failed to make a meeting with a publishing company. Self-reflection allows us to appreciate that these were pretty regrettable decisions, and helps steer our future behaviour and cognitions by, for example, buying a new scheduling app, or leaving more time to get across central London at rush hour (we’ve all been there, never again).
Reflecting at the end of each working week, or upon the conclusion of a piece of work, will help you to assess your own personal performance and the impact of your actions upon your values, emotions and future. These concluding questions can be used to construct a practicable and motivated schedule for the upcoming week ahead, and will help you to gain perspective on how your actions affect your energy reserves and satisfaction with your goals as a whole.
• How satisfied were you with the outcomes of the week / project on a scale of 1-10?
• What did the process feel like – was it enjoyable, hard-work, draining, invigorating?
• How did you feel upon completion?
• What challenges did you face along the way?
• How could you build on these challenges for next time?
• Did this week / project align with my values?
• How have I improved since beginning the week / project?
• What did this week / project do to enhance my happiness, goals and future?
Charlotte is an author, editor and content creator, whose interests and work promote sustainable living, in every sense of the word. Charlotte is a marketer for ethical brands, author of a soon-to-be-published children's book, a regular contributor to the sustainability and plant-based publications, and is studying clinical psychology with the view to revolutionising women's holistic, natural and mental healthcare. Find Charlotte on Instagram: @charlottesophiewrites