In physics, reflection is defined as 'the change in direction of a wavefront at an interface between two different media, so that the wavefront returns into the medium from which it originated.' (note 1)
While there are many examples of this definition; for example, water waves breaking on the beach and returning into the water; sound bouncing back from where it came and sometimes causing echoes; and light reflecting off different surfaces.
This is a time for reflection. Unlike normal years, the run up to Christmas teemed with health decisions, rather than the 'normal' party time, rushing around looking for that last minute idea or gift, and trying to work out how to plan Christmas Day! Who is arriving and when? What time should I start cooking? What time are presents opened?
But what about the rest of the year?
At its simplest, reflection on your year is about taking time out to focus on yourself! Something many people do not enjoy, and there are many reasons for this, some of which include:
- don't understand how to do it.
- don't like thinking about myself.
- don't like the results.
- don't see a 'return on the investment of my time'.
Reflection boosts productivity. A study of UK commuters, reported by the Harvard Business School, found that those who selected to use their commuting time in the morning to think about and plan their day were more productive, happier, and less burnt out by the end of the day than people who either couldn't reflect at this time or chose not to. Research undertaken in call centres (note 2) confirmed that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting on their day and the lessons learnt, performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not reflect.
If reflection boosts productivity, we have to wonder why people don't do it. If it is because you don't know how to, then these few steps will help you start:
- There are many different ways in which you can reflect and it is important to select the one that works for you:
- Reflect through writing your thoughts in your journal.
At a time that suits you, you can then go through your thoughts and analyse what you wrote. What were your learnings? (There are no failings, only feedback and learnings.) What were your successes? What were your achievements?
- Meditate and allow your mind to walk you through your day.
As you go back and see, hear, feel everything in the day; what are you thinking? What could you have done differently? What did you miss? What are you walking away from? What did you not deal with? Capture this detail in your journal, so that you can recognise your learnings, your successes, and your achievements.
- On your own, take yourself away from your 'normal' environment and do something different. It could be that you choose to go for a walk, swim, cycle ride, or even go to the gym.
Allow your mind to reflect on your feelings and emotions throughout your day.
- There are many other ways too.
- Reflect through writing your thoughts in your journal.
- Most people today are driven by 'daily activities' and 'diary appointments'.
- So to be able to reflect on your activities, events, feelings, and emotions; it is important that you take time to reflect.
- It isn't just about capturing your reflections, it is also about taking time to understand your reflections. What were your learnings? What were your successes? What were your achievements? It is important to capture these as well.
- If you don't allocate time in your 'diary appointments', ask yourself why you are not allocating this time? This may be where you need to start?
- Start with one step at a time!
- Sometimes your reflections might feel a little overwhelming, especially when you first start reflecting.
- Take one item, for example, what you could do differently; and work out what you want to do differently.
- Then identify when you will start doing this one thing differently.
- DO IT!
- "The only impossible journey is the one you never begin." Tony Robbins.
- If you don't do it, no-one will do it for you. This is the time to start doing that one thing differently. If necessary, put the time in your diary to focus on that change.
If you need it, ask for help!
In your reflections, you may have realised some successes and achievements. Often these are elements of life that are ignored, especially when it's something that you have achieved and not something someone else has awarded you.
It is important to stop! and realise what you have accomplished.
Clearly write down what successes you have had.
Clearly write down what achievements you have attained.
When you look at each success you have had or achievement you have attained, what are you feeling?
Think about what you had to do, what tasks you had to complete, what steps you had to take, for you to have this success/achievement. How do you feel?
Before you do anything else, stop and thank yourself. Feel the gratitude towards you for completing the tasks, taking the steps, and completing what you had to do. Capture this!
Your celebration does not mean going out and buying up all the chocolate you can find, or drinking huge numbers of bottles of champagne; what it does mean is celebrating in your way. For some, it means writing a letter of gratitude to themselves expressing their thanks for the achievements/successes; or it may mean meeting up with friends for a long-overdue catch-up; or it may mean starting a new 'habit' like spending time reading a novel, or having a hot bubble bath; or it may mean buying yourself something beautiful like a bunch of flowers; or it may mean doing something that you have promised yourself but never done like paintballing.
Whatever it is ... take the time to CELEBRATE on your reflections with gratitude!
“Follow effective action with quiet reflection.
From the quiet reflection, will come even more effective action.”
Note 1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflection_(physics)
Note 2 - Research by Giada Di Stefano, Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano, and Bradley Staats.