It’s getting to the end of the year. A year like no other. We’ve really been through the mill and now we’re coming out the other side, ready to face a new year.
But before you get ready to throw this year away and discard it from your memory bank for good, take some time to reflect on it, in all its glory or ugliness and see what you’ve learnt. There’s likely some learning gems in amongst it all that you may want to keep hold of.
At this this time of year, I, like a lot of people, like to start looking to the new year, with all the hope and optimism new beginnings can bring. There’s also a lot of talk about goal setting and getting clear about your intentions going forward. This is all good, but so many of us are so eager to make the new year better than the current one, that we often jump straight in, feet first without giving much thought to all that has happened in the 12 months before. I think they’re missing a trick.
Taking time to stop, pause and reflect, can be so powerful and I actually think, necessary. There’s a great quote from John Dewey, and he says:
“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience”
It’s so true. In a world where ‘doing stuff’ is worn like a badge of honour it can be easy to want to just plough on and do more and more. But really where does it take us, if we just do? We might as well just be robots if we continue to take that approach.
But we’re not robots. We feel, love, touch. We have emotions and reactions and we also feel pain. So when those things start to show up for us, that’s usually the time to stop and listen to what our bodies are telling us, tune in and reflect.
Reflection forms a big part of my career coaching practice. When I take clients through their initial sessions with me we spend that time looking back at what has been happening for them, and really getting a sense of what has brought them to where they are now. We do this through in-depth questioning, visualisations and exercises such as journaling and letters to their future selves. We go deep because by looking back we unpick the bits we want to keep going forward and work on letting go of the things that have been holding us back.
I also use reflection as a daily tool and I encourage clients of mine to do the same. Daily, weekly and monthly reflection goes such a long way to clear space not only in your head, but also to allow you to see how you can create space in your day to day. By stopping, and assessing what’s working and what’s not you can tweak what you are doing so that it’s constantly being refined to work better for you.
So what is reflection?
In its simplest form its space and time to think. For some people they may prefer not to even think and just sit and be with themselves and clear their minds, maybe through visualisations or meditations. Whatever it is for you, the aim is the same: to clear your mind, get some perspective and grab hold of any learning points that emerge.
How do you start to bringing it into your life? Well, like anything I impart, for me it has to be easy to do, or else, along with everything else that I have to do, it won’t happen. So here are 3 easy ways to bring a little bit of gentle reflection into your life:
1. Journal – get up half an hour earlier or take 10 minutes from your lunch break, put pen to paper and let the thoughts come out on page.
2. Bedtime thoughts – take a few moments to think about your day. What went well? What not so well?
3. Friday round up – allocate 30 mins into your day, just before you finish up. Spend half of it reflecting back and the other half thinking about what comes next.
So there you go. Make it as easy as you can and soon you’ll start to see the benefit.
Facing up to what has gone before is the start of changing our actions in the future and it’s something we can all learn from. So today, give yourself permission to take the time to just sit with yourself, grab a cup of tea and just be.
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