The Art of Reflection – more powerful than you think

reflection As a professional coach I take regular “time out” to reflect on client cases with my supervisor. You know the thing……. what went well, what would I have done differently, what have I learnt about myself, was I entirely focused on my client’s needs, what was important to understand about the systems at work and the context within which the client was operating etc. These are all valid questions intended to support my personal and professional growth as well as ensure I’m being the best I can possibly be in service of my clients. All sounds very professional doesn’t it, and probably exactly what you’d expect any good professional in my field to do!

To be truthful, when I’m busy, it’s often this reflection time that gets put on the back burner and, sometimes, when I know I have a supervision session coming up I wonder whether it will be a good use of my time and worry that I don’t have anything to discuss. But I ALWAYS do have something to discuss, and I ALWAYS do have something to learn, and I ALWAYS do feel stronger and more confident after a supervisory session, and better equipped to stride forwards knowing that I will be a greater coach for it. It’s definitely a much better use of my time than flittering an hour away on the internet, that’s for sure!

So why do I always find I have something to discuss when I think I don’t? Well it’s partly because I STOP and THINK. I reflect on my experiences! How often do we actually stop in our lives, just settle for a moment and engage the brain in a different way? Take a “time out” as my husband often says to the children! What are “time outs” meant for anyway? To give people a chance to think about what’s just happened, understand it and learn from it.

Why don’t you give it a try? Let’s look at a fun example. Take 5 mins. to stop and think about the last meal you ate.

  • What did you enjoy about it?  E.g. It was healthy & tasted delicious? It took you away from your desk?
  • What were you trying to achieve with this meal?   E.g. An energy boost? A romantic connection?!
  • What have you learnt about yourself?  E.g. You’re a great chef? You’re poorly organized & always run out of time?
  • What would you do differently next time?   E.g. Take the time to buy fresh ingredients? Ask a friend to join you?
  • What or whom are you focused on when eating?   E.g. Your self-satisfaction? The quality of the food? The social interaction? The homely setting?

Take a moment to really understand what these answers are telling you in terms of what’s important to you, your strengths and weaknesses, and how you can use that knowledge to have a “better” experience next time.

reflection quote

Don’t get me wrong, reflection isn’t supposed to be a painful analysis of every choice, decision or action you took, and so an opportunity to berate yourself for everything you “obviously” got wrong! It’s a chance to acknowledge that if we plough on regardless making the same mistakes, learning nothing from our experiences and battling endlessly with the same issues, we may continue to bash our heads against the same wall, wonder why we aren’t moving forward, eat the same disgusting takeaway sandwich every lunchtime (!) and therefore never experience how fantastic it would be if we just gave ourselves a chance to be the best we could possibly be.

The more self-aware we become, the more able we are to work with our strengths and effectively manage the weaknesses, and so live a happier life. Make time for reflection, it’s important. We all want our spirals to be spinning upwards rather than downwards, don’t we?

If you’d like some time to reflect with me, please get in touch!