The art of reflection consists of building your self-awareness and constantly reflecting on your behaviour, beliefs, desires, and wishes in order to improve in all aspects of your life. Therefore, reflection is a critical skill not only for your career but for your personal life as well. So, I will present you with some tips that have helped me reflect and become more self-aware. Although feedback is a vital part of reflection, I will be helping you with some ways that you can reflect on your own.
But first, why is reflection so important? Simply put, you cannot improve when you don’t know what to work on. Reflection is not just about taking a critical look at your work and finding out where you can do better. Reflection is about truly getting to know yourself. When you are faced with a difficult decision or when you find that you don’t fit in quite right at work or school, reflection can help you figure out what you actually want and what is holding you back. So, let’s find out how you can use reflection to improve your relationships, productivity, and motivation.
The ABC model is a simple way to reflect on daily occurrences with the goal of shedding light on what actually happened and how you dealt with it. Eventually, it will help you target the beliefs that aren’t useful to you and helps you replace those with more positive or productive alternatives. So think of a challenging moment and write down:
A – Activating event: describe what happened. Try to put yourself in the position of an objective observer. How would a third person who observed the situation describe it?
B – Beliefs: What were our beliefs about the event? Our beliefs affect our behaviour. So what were your thoughts? How did you interpret the situation and the behaviour of other people involved?
C – Consequences: How did you react? Your reaction encompasses both your behaviour and your inner reaction, such as your thoughts and feelings.
This model shows you how your beliefs affect your behaviour. After you have written all of this down, reflect on it. Did you react the way you wanted to? Is there another way of interpreting the event? How would another interpretation or another set of beliefs affect the consequences?
Another helpful way to reflect is reflecting on your values. If I were to ask you what your values are, chances are that you won’t be able to list up to five values. But it is important to be aware of your values. When you feel like you’re not where you want to be at school or work, it might be the case that your values clash with the work you’re doing or the courses you’re taking. For example, when you feel like you have issues building relationships with colleagues or classmates, your values might clash with theirs.
Knowing what your values are will help you grow your relationships, make decisions that are right for you, and set goals for yourself. So, look up a list of values online.
- Write down 25 values that you have
- Of those 25, highlight your top ten
- Lastly, choose your top five most important values.
It might feel strange to pick only five, but this is important. These five values are the most important and most influential values in your life.
So, you have picked your top five values. What have you learned? Have you been true to your values? Are there opportunities in your work or projects to implement your values more? And the harder questions: based on these values, are you friends with the right people? Are you working in the right field? Are you studying the right course?
So, this one is for motivation. The concept of flow has become very popular and for good reason. Flow was first termed by the psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. Flow is a state of mind in which you are fully immersed in your activity. When you’re in a state of flow, you are unaware of the amount of time that has passed and you are not distracted by anything else.
Flow can be achieved when you are engaged in an activity that interests you and that you love. If you want to do a job you love or pick a course that is right for you, a great way to find out which job or course that would be is to find out during which activities you have experienced flow. These are the activities that you lose yourself in, that interest you, that fit your skillset, and that fit current goals. Finding out what gets you in a state of flow can help you make decisions about your future and it can help you do more of what you love.
How Satisfied Are You With Your Life?
Reflection can help you become aware of how you are enjoying your life. As I’ve mentioned before, reflection can help you improve on all aspects of your life. But first, you need to know which aspects of your life could do with some improvement and what you need to do to bring about the desired changes.
First, rate all areas of your life from 0-10. How satisfied are you with each area? Here are some examples that might help:
- Relationships (you could make distinctions between “family”, “friends”, “colleagues”, “classmates”, “neighbours” etc. if each of these would get a different score.)
- Environment, meaning the place you live in. Do you like your neighbourhood? Do you feel safe in your neighbourhood? Do you like your city, county, country? Do you have a lot of green surrounding your house or do you live in the city? And how satisfied are you with this environment? Your house and workspace can fall under the environment as well.
- Spare time/hobbies
- Financial situation
- Personal growth
Reflect on each score. If they are low, what would you like to change? How will you bring about that change? If the score is high. What do you like about this area of life? What makes you satisfied? Can you do more of it?
Reflection is a skill that can be honed and improved upon. And like any skill, you need to practice it. So try some different techniques and exercises and try to make a habit out of reflecting. And, like any skill, you can reflect on it. What all these exercises have in common is that you ask yourself questions. You can do that however you want. So if you’re reflecting on the way you reflect, ask yourself some questions:
- How do I reflect?
- Is this working for me?
- Why or why not?
- What would I like to change about the way I reflect?
- What do I need to bring about this change?
Reflection can take many forms and can be used for different goals, but ultimately reflection is a quiet skill that is all about getting to know yourself and identifying opportunities for improvement. So, reflection is the skill you need to improve on all of your other skills.
Written by Merel Melchers