Self-reflection for enhanced performance at work

Self-reflection is a great way to quickly enhance your performance at work.

Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action. Peter Drucker.

In this article I’ll cover the benefits, types of self-reflection, and how to incorporate them into your work life.

The benefits of self-reflection

There are many benefits, I’ve highlighted just three:

Quickly enhance your performance at work

This is the most immediate benefit, the opportunity to quickly enhance your performance at work.

If you’re working on a task, you’ll get a little better just by doing the task itself. Trial and error. But you won’t get much better.

We all know people who have been doing their job for a long time, and still aren’t much good at it!

You’ll improve much more quickly by doing something, then reflecting. It might be a meeting, a project, or as you leave a job and move on in our career.

It’s the reflection that consolidates the insights and learning.

Clarity regarding your strengths and opportunities

It’s not just about the task.

Regular reflection will give you clarity regarding your strengths and opportunities. You’ll start to see patterns in your behavior.

You’ll learn about yourself.

A greater sense of control

With this clarity will come a greater sense of control. You’ll see why you have certain strengths, and areas for development too.

And you’ll start to see more clearly what is important to you at work, and why.

Your self-reflection will become a habit, and you’ll have the time to explore your career goals, what drives you, your purpose.

You’ll have more control over your career.

‘After action’ reflection

This is all about taking time after the event to reflect and gain a deeper understanding of yourself, to guide future behavior.

For example, reflecting on a job interview and exploring opportunities for improvement, so you can do a little better next time.

Or reflecting on a meeting and how you could have managed it better.

Use 4 simple questions:

  • What did I do well?
  • What could I have done better?
  • What did I learn?
  • What will I do next time?

For more introspective questions, this PositivePsychology article provides 87 questions to help you find insight from self-reflection.

This ‘after action’ reflection can take place in any way that makes sense for you:

  • During a walk in the park
  • Writing a journal to keep your thoughts and refer to them later
  • Reflecting in conversation with someone you trust
  • Or just scheduling some ‘focus time’ at work to sit and think

Remember, follow effective action with quiet reflection. You’ll enhance your performance as a result!

‘In the moment’ reflection

Self-reflection in the moment allows us to catch ourselves and quickly ‘course correct’ to improve our performance, be truer to ourselves, and better achieve our goals.

Perhaps you’re in the middle of a difficult conversation with a colleague you can feel things are starting to go wrong.

Take a moment, free up a little mental bandwidth, and reflect on your behavior and what is driving it.

Ask yourself:

  • What is driving my behavior?
  • Why is that?
  • What should I do to ‘course correct’?

Then act on that moment of insight.

For example, we all have our own personal stress signature, the specific way our body feels when we’re stressed.

Becoming more aware of this signature will help you recognize your stress more quickly.

Then, through self-reflection in the moment, you have the opportunity to recognize the stress, and adjust your behavior if necessary.

There’s more here, from Medium, on how to cultivate real-time self-reflection.

‘Savoring’ reflection

This is taking time to enjoy an experience again and appreciate the richness of life! This is an important part of living life to the full.

For example, my wedding day. It was a beautiful experience. Returning to it in quiet moments of my life helps to strengthen the memory and enriches my life. And savoring the emotions of that day helps me recommit to the relationship with my partner.

It doesn’t always have to be a life-long memory.

Relaxing on the sofa and reflecting the positive moments of your working day can be a great way to recommit to your job!

Berkeley.edu offers 10 steps to savoring the good things in life.

Growth mindset reflection

This can be used in the moment, or for insight after the event. The focus of the reflection is on mindset, and to what extent you were able to stay in a growth mindset.

Simply ask yourself:

  • To what extend was I using a growth mindset?
  • What was drawing me towards a more fixed mindset?
  • How can I overcome these barriers and move towards growth?

There’s more here on the activities that you can undertake to cultivate a growth mindset.

Self-reflection vs. worry and negativity

A very quick note. Self-reflection has specific purpose and value.

If you find that your self-reflection time is turning to worry and negativity, take a break and try again another time.

Yes, you must reflect on your reflections! 😊

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