What is the meaning of reflection?
The Merriam Webster dictionary gives several meanings but the most relevant would be
- to think quietly and calmly
- to express a thought or opinion resulting from reflection
So here we are at the beginning of a brand new year.
Think about the things I’ve done, places I have been and people I have met and spent time with.
I ask myself:
- Did I accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish?
- Did I spend enough time with the people who matter most to me?
- Have I been to the places I wanted to go to?
I then need to dig a little deeper and examine the answers to the above questions:
- Why did I or why didn’t I accomplish the things I set out to accomplish?
- Why did I or didn’t I spend time with the people I care about?
- Did I visit the places I wanted to visit? Why not?
Once I understand why those goals were accomplished or not accomplished I can determine what I need to do to ensure I meet future goals.
You see, for me, it is all about self-improvement.
Each year, I want to become a better person than I was last year.
I want to be better at my career, be a better mother/grandmother, be a better wife, sister and friend.
I want to travel to new places and learn new things and make a difference in the lives of the people I meet.
I want this world to be a little better because I passed through, isn’t that what we all want deep down?
Benefits of reflecting
I have learned that there are many benefits to taking the time to reflect. It is only recently that I actually took the time to seriously think about the benefits gained from this exercise which in my mind only serves to reinforce why it is so important.
Learn from mistakes
If I never took the time to discover what mistakes I have made over the past year then I would not know where to focus my efforts in an attempt to grow and learn.
I like to reflect on my mistakes
- What went wrong?
- What can I do to prevent that in the future?
You see, taking the time to reflect and analyze my mistakes makes it possible to learn from those mistakes and ultimately improve myself.
Learning from mistakes is an important tool in self-growth.
I am a blogger and as such, tend to write about things that have occurred in my own life.
My site is mainly about grandparenting a type 1 diabetic child so I write about our experiences with our grandson.
When things go wrong and we can’t seem to control those blood sugars I like to write about it. It helps me discover what we may have done wrong so I can learn from it for next time.
If something worked well, writing about it reinforces the idea so I can maybe remember to try that thing next time because it worked so well.
Taking the time to actively think about our personal experiences helps me write the blogs I enjoy sharing with all of you.
I have had hundreds of great ideas that have stemmed from quiet reflection.
I have already shared how reflection helps inspire new ideas and I have found that sharing both the good and bad experiences we have had in this diabetes journey can help others.
They may be able to try the techniques that worked for us or avoid some of the things that really didn’t work that well.
When I began this site just over a year ago, I had hopes of helping people understand the diabetes journey just a little better.
I have surpassed my initial goal by realizing just what a profound effect my posts have actually had on people.
There have been many comments on many posts and several emails that reflect that I really am helping people and it feels really good to know my experiences are helpful.
Makes you happier
Taking the time to reflect on your successes is important.
Celebrating your successes gives you the strength to continue when you struggle through the downtimes.
We all understand that life is cyclical, we will have both good times and bad times.
Reflecting on the good and celebrating it will carry us through the bad.
I have found there is no better feeling than the feeling you receive when somebody takes the time to comment or email you that you have helped them.
Reflection allows you to actually take notice of how much you have done right, to notice all the good you have done.
Without reflection, we would forget these things and focus on our mistakes or failures and that won’t keep us going.
Sometimes, we get so busy in the day to day that we lose perspective.
For instance, missing a deadline at work can seem like the end of the world and be so overwhelming.
If we take a moment to reflect on the problems, on the whole scheme of things we often find it really isn’t such a big deal.
We can then more easily think of steps we can take to correct our error.
This can have a calming effect as it significantly lowers our stress levels which is certainly better for our overall health.
Gaining perspective is often a very good thing.
How to Reflect
As I mentioned earlier, I like to start each new year with some time spent in reflection.
I like to think about the past year and think about the goals I had going into that year, did I meet those goals?
If not, what went wrong? Was there something I could have done differently?
I don’t spend any time berating myself for not meeting a goal. That energy is better put towards figuring out what I can do differently moving forward so I don’t make the same errors.
This works great when examing the big picture. What I ultimately want to achieve in
- my business life
- my personal life
It is important to reflect on all areas of my life to see where I can improve and focus my energies.
There are times when I find I need to spend more time in reflection. This often occurs when I get frustrated.
I need to spend some time reflecting on what is frustrating me and what can I do about it?
In those stressful times, I find daily reflection helpful.
I need to examine my day objectively and determine what went well, what went poorly and what can I do to ensure tomorrow is a better day.
Journaling is a very powerful tool. I first began journaling as a teen girl and found it helped to get stuff out of my head. By putting it down on paper I could read it more objectively than just thinking it in my head.
By writing my problems in my journal, then reading it out loud to myself, I have often discovered a solution while still reading and then tend to write the solution I will try.
I can write about whether that solution worked or not another day.
Lately, I have taken to beginning my journaling session by writing one sentence about what I am grateful for that day.
I then continue with the rest of my journal entry and get any negative thoughts out of my head and onto the paper so I can effectively let them go.
This helps keep me in a positive frame of mind which is important when I need to write every day.
How to Make Reflection a Habit
I read somewhere that it takes 21 days of consistently doing something new before it becomes a habit.
So how can we make reflection a habit?
Same time every day
I have found that if I want to do something every day I need to do it at the same time every day.
Make it a priority and set what time you will do it.
Schedule it into your day planner. No, don’t pencil it in, make a commitment to yourself and follow through.
I personally like to journal in the evening before bed. I can get any negative thoughts out of my head before sleeping. I don’t want my mind harbouring any negative thoughts all night long.
For me, daily exercise is a must to feel and perform at my best.
Anytime I miss a day I just feel off for the rest of the day.
I have found that exercising with a friend helps keep me accountable and I am less likely to cancel.
Three times a week I work out with free weights with my husband. This means we always have someone to spot us for safety but it also keeps us accountable. We can push each other to try harder. Works great for us.
Before they moved I would take a yoga or Pilates class with my daughter-in-law. We would take turns driving and kept each other accountable. I really enjoyed it and was sad to see them move away.
I now do Pilates and yoga at home following youtube videos.
Whatever exercise you do be sure to set a time and follow-through, your mental and physical health depends on it.
There are times I enjoy going for a long walk or a run and I find I spend a fair bit of that time reflecting or meditating while I walk or run.
Include your day, work and life
Think about your day, your work and your life in that order.
Think about what went great throughout the day and what didn’t.
Ask yourself what could you have done differently to get better results?
How was your workday? Did you accomplish your goals there? Why or why not?
How is the rest of your life? Are you spending time with your spouse or significant other? Are you keeping in touch with friends? Is there anything you need to improve upon here?
Examining each area of your life is a crucial part of self-growth and can make such a difference and lead to a significant improvement over time.
As I mentioned earlier, the topics I write about in my blog are directly linked to personal experiences in my life and my family’s life.
When I publicly discuss the problems we have faced it keeps me accountable to share accurate information honestly.
I share what works and also what didn’t work.
If we are struggling with something, my readers will hear about it as soon as I can write about it.
You can learn more about blogging in my husband’s article entitled How to Make Your Own Blog for Free.
For those who are not interested in blogging, pick up a journal notebook at your local store and start journaling daily.
It really is therapeutic.
When my husband was still serving in the military and was doing his tour in Afghanistan, I bought a new notebook and journaled every day he was gone. I would write about my daily life without him.
Talk about how much I missed him, struggles I was having keeping up with the maintenance on the house, struggles with the kids, basically whatever was going on.
I even talked about how I hated having Christmas without him but went through the motions for the kids.
When he returned I gave him that journal so he could know what life was like without him.
So what is the meaning of reflection?
We have discovered it is simply taking the time to reflect over your day, week, month or year to determine whether or not you have reached certain goals you have set for yourself.
There are many benefits to taking the time to reflect, such as:
- we can learn from our mistakes
- help others
- inspire new ideas
- feel happier
- creat perspective
One very effective tool for developing reflection is journaling.
It is important to make reflection or journaling a habit by:
- same time every day
- include all areas of life, your day, your work and your life
- write publicly either on a journaling forum or through your own blog
Self-improvement is an important part of getting what we want out of life. Taking the time to reflect on our goals, and learn from our mistakes is a great way to analyze our performance and keep ourselves on track.
If you aren’t currently employing any form of reflection in your own life I strongly recommend you start.
Do you journal?
Do you have other methods of reflection?
Share your experiences in the comment section below and learn more about blogging here.
I wish you all the best in the new year.