Many people live busy lives; they work hard, meet up with friends and relatives, do sports or fitness, and they travel. With the internet and mobile communication, it is virtually possible to do business anywhere, and to keep in touch with people on a 24/7 basis. Being busy can be a good thing, it can mean you are being successful and socially active, it indicates you are in demand.
But just as it is important to fill your day with exciting or necessary activities, it is important to take some time for yourself, relax, and let the hour, day, week, month, or your life reflect upon yourself.
Few people actually take the time for some self-reflection. Self-reflection does not mean that you relax and do nothing, or watch television. In fact, it involves a lot of brain activity. It means that you are taking the opportunity to let happenings, thoughts, and experiences pass your mind and that you evaluate them in a constructive way, in a way that will help you to be a better person to your own standards in the future.
So, how does this work in practice? And what are the benefits of self-reflection?
Let’s view this from another perspective, and take the risks of not engaging in regular self-reflection. As I have learned during my own life, each action, each experience, each thought, and each goal has the intention to working towards growing as a person, self-development, and leading a more fulfilling life. Whether this involves my life, my career, my business, my friends and relatives, my expertise, or anything else; different people will have different perceptions of how they can grow in life, and what they want to pursue in life.
Therefore, what we do today, how we think, and how we stand in life is so vitally important to where we want to go, and how we define the future. I consider each day, each month, and each experience to be an important episode of my life. It is an episode in which I have the potential to create things, to destroy things, but above all: to learn.
To me, self-reflection is about letting past experiences, endeavors, encounters, or actions pass my mind, form an opinion, and learn from it. Moreover, it is a way to determine whether I am still on track where I want to go, or whether I have lost track. I find, that not self-reflecting on a regular basis means accepting the risk, that I will not be able to learn from my failures, that I might lose track of how I want to develop as a person, and that in the end life is leading me, as opposed to that I am leading my life.
Each person has his or her own way of self-reflection. I want to provide some of my own thoughts below, and encourage people to find their own methods to reflect on their past, and to define their future, and simply lead their lives as much as they can.
To me, the environment is very important. Self-reflection is something, which I usually do alone. I will search for a setting, in which I can relax, and where I am likely not to be disturbed by someone I know. Either I will relax on the couch at home, grab a drink I enjoy and listen to my favorite music. Alternatively, I might go to a lounge bar or cafe down town, and order an espresso and something light to eat. The setting needs to be enjoyable, and I consider this moment as a treat for all the good things I did in life, both to myself and to the ones I love.
Since I will work with myself during this moment, I will not read a book, watch television, or actually do anything. I will basically just sit there, enjoy the setting, and start having a dialogue with myself. I might write some things down for future reference, so I always tend to take pen and paper with me.
Success and failures
One key point I like to focus on is my success and failures. I find it important not only to have success, but also to find out why I had success. What was it I did, that lead to success. Perhaps I have been pursuing this success for a longer time, and I tried multiple times. In that case, I want to find what I did differently this time, which lead to success.
The same goes for failure; what did I do, that lead to a failure? And more importantly, how can I avoid it in future?
What are my goals in life, and what do I want to achieve in 1, 3, 5, and 10 years? Every individual might have different goals accross different timeframes. I find it important to analyze both short-term as well as mid- and long-term timeframes. But I try not to look too far ahead, since many things in life can be influenced by so many factors. In my opinion, trying to set a goal on, let’s say, a 40-year timeframe is not realistic. Goals can include anything, from career or business, to social life, health issues, sports and fitness, finding a life partner, investments and real estate, living more frugally, and this list can go on forever.
The main question I ask myself is whether the things I am doing right now are likely to help me reach my goals. I do not consider the actual goal setting to be part of the self-reflection process, but I find it extremely important to review them regularly, and to evaluate whether these are still realistic, and whether I am on track.
Sometimes I find that I have lost track for some reason. This is not necessary a bad thing. Often I tend to lose track because I tend to dedicate more and more time to things I really enjoy doing, but which do not contribute to my goals. This is a good point to actually identify whether I want to get back on track, or perhaps I need to reinvent the track I want to take.
Do I find my life enjoyable?
Is my life enjoyable, and how I want it to be? I had many periods in my life, in which I was pursuing goal and I did all the necessary things to reach them. But at certain points, I found it did not make my life enjoyable. So, as a result, I redefined my goals, to be able to the things I enjoy doing most.
Leading an enjoyable life is extremely important, and it contributes to my health, my charisma, how I encounter people in life, and in the end also how successful I will be in my career or business. I know many people, who do things because they are pursuing certain goals, but they are not enjoying the things they do. I think this is a great pity, as our time on earth is so limited.
What am I contributing to others?
Give, and you shall receive. I consider egoism to be like poison, and I always try to give something back to my dearest friends, colleagues, family and relatives, and sometimes even strangers. This does not have to be something big, it can be as small as giving a helping hand, or simply being there when they need it most.
Many people, especially in large cities, tend to become egoistic, driven my money and success. I have lost many so-called friends, after finding out that they were trying to get something out of the friendship for their own benefit, without ever having had the intention to give something back.
A regular self-reflection can pose an important element of the daily routine. Self-reflection allows you to think about how things are working for or against you at the moment, and how you want to tackle any problems. Taking a moment to reflect on your day, or a week, has another important benefit: you are allowing to take a time-out from any social setting, and spend some quality time with yourself, and only with yourself. The result is, that you can continue your day with new and fresh ideas and that you have the potential to lead a happier and more fulfilling life.
More interesting articles for you: