The Power of Reflection Time

The power of reflection time

While the world around us is changing in ways none of us could have predicted, it is a good time to pause and reflect. Reflection can be a very empowering process. It can help you to make sense of your day, to come to decisions, to set a course of action, to step away from your habitual way of doing and thinking to discover new freedoms and opportunities.

Consider just how many of us (up until now) have been going about our days on autopilot, in essence half asleep and often unaware of what’s going on inside and around us. There’s a stark consequence to life on autopilot – we risk missing vital opportunities. Opportunities to learn from a project, to give a talk, to contribute ideas to an important decision, to speak up for ourselves, to support someone in their work etc.

Reflection means to think about something, not all thinking is reflecting. Reflective thinking takes practice. It requires us to slow down, to pause and to reduce information input.

The process of reflection helps us make sense of our day-to-day experiences, it can help us to move forward, to come to decisions, to create a course of action, to challenge ourselves to switch off autopilot and our habitual ways of doing and thinking.

Make reflective thinking a habit

It’s important to allocate at least 10-15 minutes for reflection a few times a week in an environment that supports you and away from your desk and computer, and when you’re in a positive state of mind. Are you at your best in the morning or evening? When is your mind more open, alert?

Switch off all background noise and devices in order to create the best conditions to clarify your intentions and to help you verbalise your thoughts and feelings.

It’s also helpful to capture reflections as our insights and ideas can be fleeting.

Use a notebook to write down your reflections so that. You can read back and see the threads, ideas, tangles you can get into, how your life is going, developments and how you. have moved forward.

Exercising is a great way to clear your head and reflect on a big issue.

The reflection toolkit

Reflection requires a number of skills which can easily be developed.

  • Self-awareness – an ability to pause, to pay attention to thoughts and feelings and to self-question non-judgementally. This will help you to become aware of your habitual ways of thinking and behaving in any given situation.
  • Description – it is important to be able to describe / recall situations neutrally. These questions can help. What did I see and feel happening? What background factors played a role? What were the things under my control? How would other people involved describe me and the situation?
  • Critical analysis – the ability to challenge your assumptions by asking yourself: Is what I am thinking about myself, others or the situation true? Where do I need to focus next?
  • Review – an ability to pause and to ask: ‘What would I do differently next time and why? How exactly will I do it and how will that give me the outcome I want?’
  • New learning and next steps – an ability to learn about yourself from experiences (your potential and areas for improvement) rather than seeing yourself or others as a failure.

Ask yourself: What have I learnt about myself? How can I use my potential best? Where is my biggest area for improvement?

Use these tools to gain clarity about what worked and what didn’t work so well, to gain insights into limiting believes and assumptions, key learnings and where to focus next.

Apply these tools for reflection to anything, big or small – they will add depth to how you live your life, rendering it more satisfying and meaningful as a result.

Alternative reflection models

Here are four potential ways to reflect, depending on your preference.

Talking to yourself

Having a conversation with yourself in the form of questions and answers.

Reflective writing

When we write things down we support the process of reflection because when we write thoughts down, we ‘objectify’ them. Our thoughts are now on the page, ready and waiting to be referred back to.

Reflective walking

Reflecting while walking is powerful. When we walk our brain waves slow down, clearing the mind for fresh thinking and ideas.  Many well-known thinkers recommend reflecting while walking as an aid for thinking: Nietzsche said: ‘All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.’

Reflecting with others

This can be done as a pair or in a group. Firstly, decide on a topic you want to reflect on e.g. an upcoming project, reviewing a report, an important decision etc. Assign someone as a listener (the listener will also be the timekeeper). The listener’s role is to listen attentively for 10 minutes to the speaker’s reflections on the given topic. If there are silences, that’s fine too. The roles then swap.

Reflection can be a very empowering process. It can help you to make sense of your day; to come to decisions, to set a course of action; to step away from your habitual way of doing and thinking and discover new freedoms and opportunities.


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