What is the Meaning of Reflection?

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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.

Personally, I like to take some time to reflect on the past year.What is the Meaning of Reflection?

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.

Inspires new ideasWhat is the Meaning of Reflection? -inspire new ideas

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.

Help others

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.

Creates perspective

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

What is the Meaning of Reflection?

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.

Daily Reflection

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.

Start a journalWhat is the Meaning of Reflection? - start a journal

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.

Again, I reiterate the necessity of scheduling a set time and then keeping that date with yourself.What is the Meaning of Reflection? - free weights

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.

Write publicly

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.

Final Thoughts

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
  • exercise
  • 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.


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8 thoughts on “What is the Meaning of Reflection?”

  1. Hi Deborah,

    I’ve been on my own self-help journey for exactly 3 years now.

    I started in January 2018.

    I just felt that life was sometimes slowly passing me by, and eve though most people consider me a happy-go-lucky guy, I often found that my thoughts consumed me.

    Funnily enough, just reading here today, one of the habits that I started back then, and that has stuck with me ever since, is journaling.

    I’ll openly admit that at first I wasn’t always regular with my journaling, and fairly often I struggled with what to write.

    However, as you have alluded to here, my daily writing soon became a habit.

    Exactly as you have mentioned, I found it was best to write down my thoughts and reflect at the same time every single day. Thus creating a habit.

    For me, this is more-or-less as soon as I get out of bed, as I enjoy my morning coffee.

    I now never struggle with what to write, as I’ve come to realise that our minds are a non-stop vortex of words and emotions, so there’s always something going on inside.

    That being said, every single Friday is a day of overall reflection for me.

    I ponder over what has happened during the previous week, work, health, wealth, family, etc.

    I take this opportunity to write down what I think went well, and the areas I need to improve on.

    As you say, this isn’t a time to berate yourself, but more as a way to seek improvement and become a better version of yourself.


    • Thanks for responding with a heartfelt comment, Partha. I am so happy to hear about how well journaling has worked for you over the past few years. Now that I have created the habit I can’t go to bed without writing my journal entry. It really is amazing how when you initially discipline yourself to do it at the same time every day it really does become a part of you and you can’t not do it. You are correct in that initially it can be difficult to know what to write. I tend to free write. In other words, I just sit down and write whatever pops into my mind. don’t worry about it making sense after all nobody will read it but me, with the exception of the one journal I gave to my husband that I wrote in during his deployment to Afghanistan. Journalling is definitely a big benefit in any self-improvement journey. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Hi Deborah, I loved reading your thoughts about reflection. Mainly of course, because they reflect most of what I do myself. LOL, we tend to feel most comfortable with what we know, don’t we?

    Although I must say that confronting ourselves at times is very beneficial as well. To sharpen the mind and keep an open attitude. That’s why I hardly ban people for instance from my FB friends list. I don’t want to sit cosy in a bubble all the time.

    Back to the cosiness now: I journal as well and have done that for the past 10 years on a regular basis. Before that I had a diary, but not a habit of writing in it.

    Have you ever heard about Kaizen? This is developed as a method to let factories function better and faster, but is a great method for changing our own habits. The general idea of Kaizen is to change just a tiny bit every day and see how it works. If you haven’t heard of it and want a booktitle, let me know. 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by Hannie and taking the time to comment. Yes, when I was a young girl of 16 I think I wrote in a diary more than actually journaling and it certainly wasn’t a habit. I was not consistent and I think some of my life choices reflected the fact that I didn’t keep myself accountable. I have learned a great deal since then and now journal daily. It gets the negative out of my head while also serving as a tool to put reflection into practice. I take the time to examine each day and discover whether I followed through on plans or not. When I don’t meet goals, I don’t berate myself (although I certainly did in my younger years). Instead, I examine why I didn’t follow through and examine what I could have done differently to ensure I follow through next time. I guess in a sense this could be likened to that Kaizen method you were referring to. I only have a very basic understanding of the Kaizen method and would very much appreciate a book title to learn more. Thank you and please take care.

      • There surely will be several titles, but I liked this one very much:
        Robert Maurer – “One small step can change your life”.
        I think it’s available on Kindle.

        The example given in the book that stood out most was: a young woman was overworked, overweight and depressed. Once she had put the children in bed she would flop on the couch exhausted and just watch TV mindlessly, eating comfort food.

        The doctor had told her she had to move more, but she couldn’t find the time or energy for it. The assignment was too broad. So a psychologist asked if she could walk in place for a minute while watching TV? She would try.

        A week later she told enthusiastically that she started one minute once a day, but very soon made that 3 times a day. And thus she gradually made that more and more. As soon as she started to loose weight she got more motivated and had more energy. All well, that ends well. 🙂

  3. As a younger man, I hated to write anything. Keeping a journal would have been something I would never have thought about. Reflecting back now I do not remember a lot of names of people from my early years or when we did things.
    Now I write short notes every day on what was done good or bad. I keep last year’s book under this year’s book on my desk next to my laptop to reflect back on what I did one year ago.
    I also put in daily goals and check them off when done. My exercise program has fallen off when my treadmill made some funny noises last year. I have it back together and I am going to put it back into my schedule starting tomorrow. If it is not in my book it does not seem to get done.
    Goals for this year are a direct reflection of what I did well last year. As each year will have its own obstacles for getting things done, I will still try to improve on last year.
    We are only given so many hours a day to get things done when you are up in years like me you need to get organized a little more to get things done.
    After reflecting on last year I am going to journal a little more this year and keep track of things closer. Do you think journaling helps you make your goals?

    • Thanks for dropping by John. I can certainly relate to your statement “If it is not in my book it does not seem to get done”. I am the same way. In addition to journaling, I have also started keeping a to-do list on my smartphone. I set reminders for important events. For example, if I need to pick up my grandson from school I set a reminder for 10 minutes prior, 1 hour prior and the day before. I know it seems like a lot of reminders for one event but it is far too easy to get busy at something and become totally side-tracked. So I keep myself on track with multiple reminders. I also keep my grocery list on my phone because I always have my phone with me but may forget a paper list. As you said there are only so many hours in the day to get things done. Do I think journaling helps me make my goals? Well yes, and here is why. When I journal, I tend to reflect on the things I wrote yesterday, did I say I was going to do something, write something or get together with someone. I then think about whether those things occurred or not and the reason why not. Then I think about whether the reason that thing did not get done was within my control or not. For example did I not spend time with my friend because I just didn’t feel like it or because we were back in lock-down due to COVID. If the reason is the latter it was out of my control, if however, the reason was that I just didn’t feel like it then further exploration is required. This is how I keep myself accountable and it works well for me. I hope that answers your question, John. Take care.


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