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Getting Started with Self-Reflection

change leadership mindset self-care self-reflection Dec 13, 2021

In the previous article, we highlighted the value of reflection for personal and professional growth, and how many people struggle to make time for this activity.

With a million responsibilities and distractions, it can be difficult to prioritize self-reflection. The good news is that it does not have to be a huge undertaking for it to produce powerful results at work or at home. In fact, adult learning and development studies show that when it comes to taking on something new, it’s more effective to embrace a “less is more” approach.

While an hour every week would be ideal, 10 minutes is enough to make progress and perhaps more importantly, make the process feel manageable so you’ll be willing to return to it in the future. Keep in mind the purpose of reflection is to step back and explore the beliefs and perceptions you’re holding onto and why; how they may be affecting your actions and outcomes in the current state; and what you can change or do differently if you want different results.

If you have difficulty dropping into the headspace required for conscious, reflective thought, start with a brief meditation to prepare. The combination of deep breathing and focused attention calms the nervous system and helps slow the mind down. The acronym STILL can be useful here:

  • S - Sit down or lay in savasana
  • T - Name something you are thankful for
  • I - Practice intentional breathing
  • L - Let go of judgement and expectations
  • L - Log (journal) insights and observations

Rooting your process in gratitude not only feels good, but it is also scientifically proven to boost overall health and well-being. Journaling by hand also has been linked with positive outcomes, including increased happiness, goal attainment, and emotional healing. When people take time to reflect, they may not always like what comes up. Getting STILL provides an outlet for these feelings.

In the workplace, leaders can integrate self-reflection in small and simple ways, such as using open ended questions during meetings or creating space for self-inquiry with intentional pauses. A self-reflection activity can also be effective, especially during periods of change and transition. Questions to ask include:

  • How does the change affect your role or responsibilities?
  • How does the change affect your sense of belonging?
  • What are you afraid of or worried about? What excites you?
  • What do you need to be successful (knowledge, skills)?
  • What do you need to feel successful (support, resources)?
  • What would prevent you from successfully changing?
  • What is your role in making the change a success?

The answers to these questions are not necessarily meant for goal setting or action planning, but the insights often lead to shifts in thinking that, over time, produce the desired behaviors and results.

No matter what your motivation may be, self-reflection is a powerful tool for personal change, professional growth, and business transformation. As Tony Robbins once said, “changing an organization, a company, a country – or a world – begins with the simple step of changing yourself.”  

Happy reflecting, friends.

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