If I had to choose only one tip to give someone who wants to develop themselves and become better in whatever he is doing it would be to practice a lot of self-reflection.
The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection. — Thomas Paine
Too many people are rushing through life, running behind big goals without ever properly reflecting.
When we hear self-reflection we often think about some sort of meditation and most people tend to say that they basically don’t have time for that.
Don’t have time to sit down and think.
Know yourself better than anybody else does
The act of self-reflection is an advanced form of mental gymnastics where you analyze yourself: your thoughts and what drives them, your position in life, your aspirations, your wants, your needs, your flaws and fears, your skills and achievements, and so on.
The use of such analysis is potentially amazing, though results differ from person to person, with some even being influenced negatively.
Self-reflection may help you attain greater motivation or identify your goals. It can make you feel content and calm you down. It can assist organization and planning, and can even be the action that starts a major change in your life.
The way of finding yourself
For the purpose of self-reflection, you want to identify as many aspects of yourself as possible. This is usually done through questioning yourself. You can use various graphics, lists or simply notes as supplementary material, but the thought counts more than anything else in this case.
Here are some extremely basic questions that can easily lead to more meaningful ones:
✔️What are my flaws? Which of the flaws can I correct?
✔️What is my material goal? This applies to finances, employment and such.
✔️Do I have a mental or spiritual goal? If so, what is it?
✔️What will I be like once I correct my flaws and reach my goals?
✔️What has changed in this version of me other than the corrected flaws and reached goals? Am I holding anything back?
✔️Already, with just four questions, you can make a helpful reminder of what to work on and what to look forward to. An important note is not to focus on the negative aspects of yourself overwhelmingly (even if you think you should).
But, there’s, of course, plenty more.
✔️What activities do I enjoy doing?
✔️What activities do I suffer while doing?
✔️What opinions am I happy to share?
✔️What opinions do I keep for myself? Why do I do it?
✔️What are my strongest skills?
✔️What are my weakest fields?
✔️What skills should I improve?
The above questions should inspire you to analyze your weaker fields and improve them, while also invoking a focus on positive thinking and change.
Here are some questions for improving the subtle toxic behaviors in your life:
✔️Are there any facts or opinions that I do not analyze, and automatically dismiss or endorse?
✔️Am I treating my body properly? Am I aware of how proper bodily treatment influences the mind?
✔️Am I passively thinking negative thoughts?
✔️Am I ignoring my own tasks and goals?
✔️Am I worrying about things that I cannot affect?
This set of questions is suited more towards identifying negative bits of your daily routine and behavior and improving them.
There’s quite literally an infinite amount of questions that you can ask yourself. The ones above are simply among the most basic, non-personalized ones that I’m suggesting you can start with. As you self-analyze more, you’ll delve deeper and deeper into your own motivations and actions, and ask far more personal questions.
The end results
It’s important to know why exactly you’re self-reflecting.
Your end-goal for self-reflection is to paint a complete and fully clear picture of yourself.
Pretty much everyone has secrets that they hide from themselves, potential that they aren’t using, desires that they haven’t realized, unhappiness or happiness that they’re unaware of, and so on…
Your task, with self-reflection, is to identify all of these little parts of yourself and make them clear. This is why writing or drawing visuals like graphs is often used for more meaningful self-reflection.
Once you have a list of information to work with, you should command yourself easier. You’ll memorize your positive aspects and your negative aspects, and you’ll want to use both to advance in life.
When you’re feeling down — remember your positive aspects and get through.
When you’re feeling great — use the high to improve your flaws.
Self-reflection also helps you look at yourself more objectively. With practice, you’ll start to notice flaws that you ignored earlier. You’ll notice your own ignorance or your effect on others. The important part is that almost all of these negativities can be purged with enough effort. You might also notice positive influences in yourself and those around you that you took for granted earlier.
What you should try to AVOID
Self-reflection can be harmful, but a skilled practitioner knows how to prevent such effects.
✔️Don’t get overwhelmed. A session of self-reflecting is probably not enough to go through your entire life. Focus on one subject. Goals, Desires, Relationships, Ideals, Identity, etc… You’ll cover everything eventually, patience is key.
✔️Don’t focus on moments. Focus on traits. Don’t remember negative events from the past and don’t beat yourself up about them. You’re looking to improve the parts of you that caused those events, not to rewrite history. Analyzing literal mistakes will only lead to needless disappointment. Don’t focus on specific moments of success either, rather your positive traits.
✔️ Don’t lie to yourself. If you can’t identify when you’re lying to yourself, you can try this simple exercise: Imagine a possible event in the future that you’d love to happen, that you know won’t, in fact, happen. Step two is assuring yourself that it’ll happen, and considering your actions as if it’s certain. Congratulations, you just lied to yourself. Now you know what to avoid in the future, and while self-reflecting.
✔️Don’t self-reflect in a volatile state, as it can lead to unreasonable decisions and false views. A volatile state can refer to anything from simple alcohol poisoning to a state of depression. Recognize that such times aren’t fitting for this kind of deep analysis.
✔️Self-reflection can help you stay motivated. It can help you find a drive in life, but it does require a notable amount of effort. It’s also a skill, so don’t be surprised if you can’t immediately find answers from your first few tries at it. With that in mind, best of luck.
What I’ve additionally learned in the past months is that self-reflection can have an enormous impact when it is practiced on a daily basis.
Not in the way that you reflect many hours every day but rather through little habits that remind you of what is really important in your life.
Education begins the gentleman, but reading, good company and reflection must finish him. — John Locke
5 Minute Journal
I have already mentioned it in so many articles but I can’t praise it enough: The 5 Minute Journal.
This is basically a journal that you can get as an app or as a physical book (you could actually also design your own).
Each day you have to answer the following questions:
I am grateful for …
What will I do to make today great?
Daily affirmations. I am
Two things to fill out + photo in the evening:
3 Amazing things that happened today…
How could I have made today even better?
Upload your photo of the day
So, in total, you only spend 5 minutes per day to reflect on your priorities and on what went good and bad.
Clever Fox Planner
I am using the 5 Minute App but actually, I like to have my calendar and goals as a physical planner.
In the last months, I was not really happy with how I was journaling so I started a new planner at the beginning of 2019.
Honestly, there are so many planners out there that I was overwhelmed when choosing one!
At the end, I decided to go for this Clever Fox Planner mainly because it offers a lot of space for reflection.
I even have a page with my vision board which I can reflect on wherever and whenever I want!
It is also great for setting weekly and monthly goals and for being aware of your yearly intentions.
Being aware of yourself, your intentions and goals is probably one of the most important habits you can implement to be truly happy.
There are many ways of reflecting and I guess everybody has to try out what works best for him.
However, I can honestly say that once I started to reflect on a regular basis my performance and the clarity that I have accelerated.
What are your experiences with self-reflection? What are you practicing and what works best for you? Let me know in the comments! :)