I am in amazement that we are nearing the end of the year. As we head into the holiday season and get geared up for another New Year, I have decided to institute a change in my daily life. I’m going to give myself a gift… the gift of reflection. That’s right. I’m going to try and consistently set aside time to reflect, ponder, brainstorm, daydream, analyze, and just plain think.
I would wager that not many of us actually take the time to stop and just think for a while. Like most of us, I’m pretty adept at “execute mode,” or taking care of business, that I often overlook the vast benefits of self-awareness and inspiration that would come with investing time in reflection.
How about you? No, really. I mean it. How often do you stop “doing” to just reflect for a moment? I challenge you to try it right now. Stop. Take a deep breath. Disengage from this article for a moment, and think.
Go ahead… I’ll wait.
So, what did you think about? If you are like me, perhaps you started thinking about all the things you’ve got to get done. And, I see nothing wrong with pondering the tactical, nitty-gritty of our day-to-day tasks, but, I challenged myself to open my mind and get a little broader. What other things in our businesses/careers, personal development, friendships/relationships, family lives, etc. deserve more consistent “thinking time?” And, in what ways would I benefit from increased self-awareness in all of these areas?
Now, before you dismiss the idea as some sort of New Age exercise in meditation, hear me out. There is something to be said for taking a moment’s halt to think for a second. In fact, in article 1 published in the Harvard Business Review, the author Anthony K. Tjan discusses the importance of regularly reflecting:
“…there is one quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager, and leader. That quality is self-awareness. The best thing leaders can [do] to improve their effectiveness is to become more aware of what motivates them and their decision-making.”
Tjan goes on to say, “Self-reflection and its reward of self-awareness cannot be thought of as passive exercises, new era meditation, or soft science. They're absolutely essential. There is a reason why in rehabilitation programs the starting point is being aware enough to admit you have a problem. So, too, is the case in business leadership and personal development.”
In my effort to make this change, I came up with five areas relevant to my role as a work-at-home woman that I felt warranted more self-reflection. Maybe some of these things will resonate with you, too.
Reflect on My Work-at-Home Career
Why am I doing what I’m doing? Do I still find it rewarding? Is it enabling me to utilize my strengths? Do I have a feeling like I am making a difference or contributing to a larger goal? Does it provide me with the financial resources I need to enjoy the things I love with the people in my life? Am I still learning and growing? Am I experiencing the work/life balance I was seeking as a work-at-home professional?
Reflect on the Things That are Keeping Me Busy
I’d like to take some time to regularly think about the tasks I’m wrapped up in. Not only from the aspect of what the steps are, or, if there is a better process I should be considering or other people/resources I should be tapping into but, also, after a project runs its course, where do I find myself? Are these tasks depleting me or invigorating me? And, am I prepared to make adjustments to do more of what I find inspiring and do less (or get help with, streamline, etc.) the things that leave me feeling spent?
Reflect on How I Spend My Time
Is my time being used productively? When I review last year's calendar, am I satisfied with how I spent my time? Would I consider the time invested in projects, meetings, clients, learning opportunities, mentors, etc. a good use of my time? Were there things that I missed that I shouldn’t have? Are there things that I should be adding to my calendar next year (like the act of regularly reflecting, regular workouts, outings with friends, activities with family, etc.)?
Reflect on the Big Picture Goals I’d Like to Accomplish
In the end, the majority of the things that I am doing should be helping me to make some sort of incremental progress toward my long-term goals. If I’m not at least moving in the right direction, I may need to analyze if that activity is a result of just being in auto-pilot, or, if I am just experiencing a short-term setback. For me, the bottom line to is be more MINDFUL of what I am doing and why.
Reflect on the Relationships That Matter Most to Me
Are there some relationships I need to focus on more? Are there regular conflicts that keep coming up between myself and some other person that I need to be willing to look at? In what ways should I be communicating differently? How can I better meet other people’s needs? In what ways should I be setting better boundaries? And have I stopped lately to think about how grateful I am for having these people in my life? Have I taken the time to express this to them?
I think we all have a lot more answers locked inside of ourselves than we truly realize. I’m discovering that the best way to access those revelations is to stop what we are doing, get quiet, and give ourselves the opportunity to think and listen for a change. Gretchen Rubin, New York Times bestseller of The Happiness Project, summed it up well when she said “A key–perhaps the key–to a happy life is self-knowledge.”2
So, how are you going to set aside time for self-reflection? What areas do you need to be more mindful of? Are there things related to your work-at-home life that you need to think more about? In what ways do you see your life improving by spending more time to become self-aware?
Check out this great post from Gretchen Rubin published on her website on self-reflection/self-awareness called “Want To Know Yourself Better? Ask Yourself These Questions.”