Cultivate a Reflective Practice that Nurtures Personal and Professional Growth
A parent asks the child, “What are you doing?” Her response “I’m thinking.” The parent comes back with, “Don’t you think it would be better if you got up and did something constructive like cleaning your room instead?” We’re trained at an early age that “doing” and ‘’checking off tasks” is what’s important. We certainly aren’t taught a formula, system, or reflective practice to unpack our experiences. But I’m here to do that for you and we’ll get to that in a moment.
As a result, we’re caught up in the whirlwind of daily tasks and responsibilities. We race through life, rarely pausing to reflect on our actions, decisions, and experiences. However, cultivating a reflective practice can be a transformative journey that brings clarity, self-awareness, and personal growth. One of my favorite quotes helps bring this into perspective…
“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard
What is a Reflective Practice?
A reflective practice is a deliberate and structured process of introspection, analysis, and evaluation of one’s thoughts, actions, and experiences. It involves taking time to think deeply about past events, interactions, and decisions to gain insight, learning, and ways to grow personally.
We can all benefit from this practice of reflection and introspection, from professionals in the fields of education, healthcare, business, and leadership to creatives to students to personal growth enthusiasts. But you want to know what’s in it for you, right?
Why Cultivate a Reflective Practice?
Enhanced self-awareness: Reflecting on your experiences and actions helps you develop a deeper understanding of yourself. You become more aware of your strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs.
Improved Decision-Making: Through reflection, you can analyze past decisions and their outcomes. This analysis provides valuable insights that can guide you in making better choices in the future.
Learning and Growth: Reflecting on experiences, both positive and negative, allows you to extract valuable lessons. It transforms mistakes and setbacks into opportunities for growth and development.
Effective Problem Solving: A reflective practice encourages a systematic approach to problem-solving. You can break down complex issues, identify root causes, and generate creative solutions.
Enhanced Relationships: Reflecting on your interactions with others can lead to improved communication, empathy, and conflict-resolution skills. It fosters better relationships both personally and professionally.
Stress Reduction: Taking time to reflect can be a form of mental and emotional release. It can reduce stress by helping you process difficult emotions and gain perspective on challenging situations.
“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” – Barbara De Angelis
Get Started with YOUR Reflective Practice using my MIRROR Formula
I for Intention: Identify why you want to do this, so you’re eager to keep it up. Review the benefits above and identify what you want to get out of a reflective practice.
R is for Regularity: Dedicate regular, uninterrupted time for reflection. It could be daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on your preferences and schedule.
R is for Reflection: Unpack your experience through questions. Start with these three basic questions to skim off the cream of the experience. Imagine explaining the experience to Mirror on the Wall and follow where the questions lead you…
- Describe what happened. Mirror asks, “Why did it happen?” You answer.
- Explain how you feel about it. Mirror asks “Why do you feel that way?” You answer.
- Explore what to do differently next time. Mirror asks, “Why is that a better way?”
O is for Own It: Mindful introspection and reflection take honesty and openness, without judgment or self-condemnation. Take responsibility for the part you played in the experience and learn from it. How you react to what others do is your choice, but what they do, think, and say is on them, so be careful not to internalize their negativity.
R is for Reset: Now that you’ve unpacked your experience, processed your emotions, and gleaned new nuggets of wisdom, you can reset. Let the negative go. Embrace the positive. Create a plan for doing things differently in the future.
Cultivating a reflective practice is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It’s a personal journey that evolves over time, helping you become a more mindful, self-aware, and resilient individual. Whether you’re a professional looking to enhance your career, a student seeking better learning strategies, or simply someone on a quest for personal growth, embracing reflection can be a powerful tool for transforming your life. So, take a moment to pause, look inward, and embark on your journey of self-discovery and growth through reflection.
Is it still feeling too tough? You don’t have to go it alone. A good way to start might be to get yourself a leadership coach who can ‘hold the space’ for you so you can begin a gentle journey inward. I invite you to contact me and request a 30-minute free consultation to discuss the options available to you. I’m looking forward to getting to know you better.
Thank you for the photo Luis Villasmil.