Recently, inspired by Ash Barty’s decision to retire from tennis, I wrote about the important habit of self-reflection. I shared two important foundational questions we all need to ask ourselves. ‘Who am I and what do I want?.’ It is equally important to schedule more thinking time for reflection and asking ourselves additional questions. Questions to help us learn, grow and improve both professionally and personally. Yet, interestingly, very few people take the time to do pause, think and reflect.
Why do we neglect this important habit of scheduling thinking time to reflect?
- In our fast-paced lives many people thrive on the adrenaline rush of being busy. Busy is a word that often disguises a poor habit of rushing around, becoming addicted to the now normal feeling of constant stress. Consequently, taking time to stop and ponder our day and reflect our lives, feels far less exciting. Sometimes, tedious or downright boring. However, the key to growth in life is to make the unfamiliar, familiar and the familiar, unfamiliar.
- As we are motivated away from pain and towards pleasure, it’s too easy to move away and avoid this unfamiliar feeling associated with slowing down. Furthermore, many people simply prefer to continue doing what they have always done. Busily rushing around seeking the familiar instant pleasure feeling that has now become habitual and normal.
- Reflection also requires courage. We have to be brutally honest and look at our behaviours, actions and results. Moreover, what went well and what didn’t. Finally, it takes a lens of curiosity, lack of bias and regret, and a desire to seek what and how we could change, what we can learn and how can we grow?
Benefits of intentional thinking time
Research clearly shows the habit of reflection separates extraordinary professionals, athletes and leaders from mediocre ones. Indeed for me, it is now one of my keystone habits. It is one part of the equation that helped Ash Barty achieve her level of success in her sports. Furthermore, in her becoming a humble and exceptional human being. James R Bailey, a professor of leadership at Washington University, along with Scheherazade Rehman, say this about the habit of reflection:
“We would go far as to argue that it’s the foundation that all other soft skills grow from. The practice itself is all about learning, looking back on the day to contemplate your behaviour and its consequences.”
The power of writing things down is a key part of reflection
- Writing enhances the brain’s ability to learn, retrieve and retain, and identify patterns. Moreover, when you consciously pause in your thinking time, you often find solutions to problems. Additionally, you will see new perspectives and ways of doing things.
- Additionally, because writing helps identify patterns, you may be able to spot what I call, ‘repeated mistakes.’ These are often our poor habits and behaviours that we continue to play out, sometime year after year. Moreover, if you find yourself getting frustrated with a team member for being too slow, pause. Turn the lens inwards and check in with why you feel like this. Is it because it this event got in the way of your expectations or goals? Do you have a poor habit of impatience? If you do, how can you change this and in the process, become a better human?
- Finally, as we are thinking constantly, our brain uses a lot of energy. Research shows we have around 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. This means pausing for scheduled thinking time is a good idea. Furthermore, it helps make your mind stronger and to focus better. If that doesn’t cut it, remember, you are becoming familiar with the unfamiliar, a key for growth and change. Reflection is one of the five key superpowers I have written about to cultivate this year.
Like any habit, there is a key to building it sustainably
- If you are new to reflection or have been inconsistent, change strategy. Start slowly and make it easy on yourself to get some wins. Initially, schedule a couple of minutes before you finish work to reflect on the day. Make it something that feels easy to accomplish.
- Next, carefully consider the learnings and write down how you can use them in the future. What strategies worked, what didn’t, and how you could respond or behave differently next time?
- Finally, add intensity and duration to this habit of reflecting and thinking time. Take a few extra minutes every day and block more time at the end of the week to fully reflect and review the week. Keep this going until it becomes a familiar and natural habit. I guarantee your future self will be glad you did.
I have a set of daily and weekly questions that I use for myself and clients. The daily questions are designed to be done in just a couple of minutes. This leaves no excuse even if you are short of time! The weekly questions may take a few more minutes, but as the late Jim Rohn says:
If you would like a copy of these questions, simply email hello@mindsetforsuccess with REFLECTION QUESTIONS in the header, and I will personally send them to you.
About the Author
Mandy Napier is a Global High Performance Mindset Coach who is dedicated to supporting high achievers fulfil their potential and achieve extraordinary results professionally and personally. Transformations are the norm, and results guaranteed.
OTHER FREE RESOURCES
- Get your copy of my new 2022 White Paper – ‘Mindset, Performance and Empowerment in 2022’ by clicking here
- Access your FREE Mindset Essentials Toolkit in the Mindset for Success Subscribers Hub
- Join my private Facebook Community Winning Mindsets to connect with like-minded people
- Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for weekly videos
To contact and connect with Mandy:-