"Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful." -- Margaret J. Wheatley
Making time at the start of a new year to reflect on the past year may feel like one more item to add to your ever-growing to do list, and the last thing you have time for. However, stopping to reflect may be one of the most important things you do before launching into the oncoming months.
Reflection simply means to give deep thought to something. It's not a fleeting, in-passing glance back, and isn't to be confused with the goofy, quirky "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handy on NBC's television comedy, Saturday Night Live. Reflection consists of stopping what we're doing, pausing our current thought stream, and purposefully remembering past events, considering why they happened, how they happened, and pondering the outcomes.
“There is no greater journey than the one that you must take to discover all of the mysteries that lie within you.” – Michelle Sandlin
In a research study of employees in call centers, compiling the efforts of Francesca Gino, Giada Di Stefano, Bradley Staats, and Gary Pisano, it was discovered that employees who spent 15 minutes at the reflecting about lessons learned at the end of the day performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not. [https://hbr.org/2017/03/why-you-should-make-time-for-self-reflection-even-if-you-hate-doing-it]. In the world of academia, researchers found the significance of reflecting on the student's learning is undeniable . "It can naturally activate further engagement with learning material, deepen learners' understanding of the topic and reinforce independent thinking and in that way create an effective learning environment."[https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329203590_Theories_on_Self-Reflection_in_Education].
Reflecting is a positive choice any time of the year, but is especially beneficial as we wrap up the past 12 months and look ahead to 2020. Making time to reflect can add value in many ways. Here are just a few:
- Forces us to slow down during a hectic time of year
- Makes it possible to celebrate our achievements
- Promotes gratitude
- Helps us determine the things we don't want to repeat in the coming year
- Births creative ideas, helping us plan ahead for what's next
- Inspires others to reflect on their own lives
- Connects us with those around us by remembering those who helped us along the way
As educational reformer John Dewey noted: "We do not learn from experience ... we learn from reflecting on experience."
Need some ideas on which aspects of this past year to reflect on? Consider some of these, for starters:
- What went well?
- Where did you miss?
- What 'made your heart sing'?
- What made you laugh?
- What scared you and why?
- What are you most grateful for?
- What (and who) inspired you with hope?
- Who helped along the way?
- Who do you wish you would've spent more time with?
- Which accomplishment made you the most proud?
- How did you overcome a particularly difficult challenge?
- Who did you help?
- What do you wish you would've done more of?
- Who are you most grateful for?
- Which activities were the best use of your time?
Most likely, reflecting on the above questions will prompt you to think of more questions of your own to reflect upon. If you like to write, consider using a journal to document your thoughts, or record your responses on a voice recorder, or have an in-depth conversation with a trusted friend or colleague.
Doing so will help direct you toward a successful year ahead.
"Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action." -- Peter Drucker