The power of reflection is the most important skill you'll learn


Some years ago I was asked by a mentee: "How I keep moving forward when things get hard? How do I find the motivation to keep momentum and being sure that I’m on the right path?"

I didn't have a clear answer at the time,  so I said, please let me think about it properly and I'll come back later with an answer.

Over the years, I have had some great successes, but also some hard times where things looked as though they were impossible.

In these periods, it was hard to keep moving forward and believe that things were going to get better. I did not understand why my motivation levels were so low and why I felt like I did.

Most of the time I thought the world was unfair to me. I blamed external factors rather than looking inward.

Reflection helps us handle the very good & very bad

Sitting and reflecting over the question from my mentee, it became apparent to me that the answer was in my notebook. Looking at my notes, I discovered, that there was a simple activity, which has emerged over the years and now become a daily and weekly habit that boost my motivation.

The simple activity is reflection.

Reflection has become so important for me to do because, besides making me focused, it also connects me to my feelings and mind, which is some of the most powerful resources we as humans have; if we can manage them properly. It’s all about understanding your motivation and how to use it to get positive things and actions into your life.

I discovered that if you want to grow, you need to get out of your comfort zone. As you probably know, change (at work or in our lives more generally) is often connected with discomfort, fear and sometimes even pain.

An activity that I spend less than two minutes on every week, has not only helped me to move through any challenging times, but has also given me weeks of my life back (through better focus and not wasting time worrying), great successes and confidence in my ability achieve and focus on the right things.

All of these things have changed my life for the better, step by step.

It's simple, but it can be difficult...

That sounds simple, doesn’t it? Just spend a few minutes every week to reflect and you will achieve better results. So why do we not do it, then?

When I mention this idea to people, they often shake their head, saying they are too busy.  They are too busy moving from task to task, from project to project, and event to event. They share this challenge with me and ask, “When would I have time to reflect?”

Other reasons I often hear are:

  • I don’t think about it…

  • I don’t realise the importance of it…

  • I don’t value it…

  • I don’t know how to do it...

Our lives today are very different to the lives of our grandparents 75 or 100 years ago; people would have time to sit down to drink a hot drink in the evening to and re-visit their day.  What they were doing was reflecting, while not in a very structured way, they were reflecting on their day/week which gave them the headspace to move forward.

Why reflection is so powerful

Research states that there are many reasons why you should get starting reflecting. Reflection...

  • improves your understanding of yourself and your emotions - better management of your emotions and mind

  • increases your productivity - focus on the 20% that gives 80%

  • reduces your stress levels

  • provides you with a strong sense of purpose and achievement

  • helps you to be motivated and focused through hard times

The best thing about reflection is that it costs nothing & it only takes two minutes of your time.

How to get started & how to keep momentum

First, you buy yourself a nice notebook and you decide there and then that you're only going to use this for your reflections.

It’s important to make reflecting a strong habit. Don’t start out too ambitious because then you'll probably feel that it's not working for you.

You probably already know that for other areas in your life e.g. when you decide start exercising and you overcommit and feel already after the first week that you can’t live up to your plan. So keep it simple and - most important of all - make that first step.

So my advice is to start with committing to do a weekly update with your team. Where you write down the answers to the following questions - don’t overthink it; just write down what comes to your mind first:

  • What have been my top 3 highlights of the week and why?

  • What have been my top 3 challenges and why?

  • How well have I been focusing this week and why?

  • What is your top 3 focus for next week and why?

  • How motivated (how do you feel) have you been on a scale 1-100 the last week and why?

It’s important that you try to keep it short and concise; you would be surprised how much two-minute of thinking about how things have gone can change you. That's the power of reflection!

If you do this consistently, you will learn and understand things that will empower you to achieve much better results in your life.

What reflection has taught me

Working with my clients at Motivii, I've seen the power of reflection unfold on an individual and organisational level by people using our app to capture weekly reflections and motivation levels in real-time.

Our clients’ employees use the app to become more aware of themselves, but also it helps managers of teams to understand their people better to move the team in the right direction.

Please reach out if you what to talk about how you can improve your performance through reflection and understanding of your motivation. Remember: to achieve anything, first of all you need to get started.

By Eamon Tuhami, CEO and Founder at Motivii

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