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, the self-reflection techniques and how to incorporate them into your work life.
The benefits of self-reflection
There are many benefits of getting into the habit of reflecting on your performance, all connected.
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. Call it 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 on what you just did. 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 itself.
Regular reflection will give you clarity regarding your strengths and opportunities. You’ll start to see patterns in your behavior.
You’ll start learning about yourself, as well as your performance of the tasks you’re working on.
A greater sense of control
With this clarity will come a greater sense of control. You’ll start to 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 of your career.
Types of self-reflection
Before we jump into self-reflection techniques, it’s important to understand that there are different types of self-reflection. This will help you as you apply the self-reflection techniques.
‘After action’ reflection
This is all about taking time 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 conversation with your family to see how you could have expressed your points a little more clearly (and perhaps not upset them quite so much!).
This PositivePsychology article provides 87 questions to help you find insight from self-reflection.
‘In the moment’ reflection
Self-reflection in the moment allows us to catch ourselves and quickly ‘course correct’ to 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.
Then act on that moment of insight.
There’s more here, from Medium, on how to cultivate real-time self-reflection.
This is all about 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 savoring the memory of the night before is also great!
Berkeley.edu offers 10 steps to savoring the good things in life.
This list of self-reflection techniques starts with a couple that are ideal for in the moment reflection, then moves into techniques for savoring and finally several techniques that are ideal for insight.
Take a look!
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 adjust your behavior towards a more successful outcome.
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.
A walk in the park (the simplest of self-reflection techniques!)
Gentle physical exercise is a great accompaniment to savoring self-reflection. Especially if you’re in an environment that helps you relax. It could be a walk in the park, out on the water, or on a bicycle.
You will know what works best for you.
Choose a moment in your life to savor. Take the time to recall the sensations, the emotions. Relive the experience.
A gratitude exercise
This is a simple savoring self-reflection. Reflect on the good things in your life and give yourself a moment to feel gratitude for what you have.
This is great as part of a morning routine, Tony Robins recommends spending 1 minute focusing on 1 thing that makes you grateful (and doing this 3 times). The emphasis through-out these exercises should be on re-experiencing the gratitude.
Not just recalling the gratitude, or seeing it from a far, but re-experiencing the feelings and emotions.
A diary or journal
A dairy or journal can be a great source of insight.
You might choose to give it a specific focus, for example a particular relationship, or a specific challenge that you’re facing.
And there are apps that can help (of course!).
Take a look at reflectjournal.com and “Get smart topic suggestions related to your activities. Morning invitations to think ahead of the day and evening reminders to reflect on what happened.”
The wheel of life
A more traditional tool to help with self-reflection is the wheel of life. It’s a great way to explore the balance in your life and how you can make improvements.
There’s more here on the wheel of life from Medium.
Reflecting on your purpose brings us right back to the quote from Socrates at the start of this article.
Finding purpose is what makes us uniquely human. Here are 4 places to look, to find purpose in your work.
How to incorporate self-reflection techniques into your life
The benefit of understanding the 3 types of self-reflection that I outlined earlier is that it becomes easier to see how to incorporate all the different self-reflection techniques into your life.
- In the moment reflection: when you get the feeling that you’re moving off-track and want to immediately self-correct
- Savoring reflection: when you have time to relax and enjoy the richness of life
- Insight reflection: when you want to focus on self-improvement
Perhaps you have a little time at the weekend. Make it a moment to savor your life. Take a walk perhaps, and just use the time to remember and rejoice.
Or you may want to use that time for insight reflection. Or schedule some focus time at work. Perhaps start a diary or journal that will help you.
Or, catch yourself in the moment. Stop, reflect, correct.
Self-reflection techniques vs. worry and negativity
A very quick note. I hope you can see that self-reflection has specific purpose and value.
These self-reflection techniques will help you enrich your life through personal growth.
And they do all require a certain mental focus.
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! 😊