Self-Reflection. We all have heard about it. We have maybe even told others they should think about doing some. But what is it? Oxford Dictionaries defines it as “Meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives.” And it can serve as a valuable tool for setting, resetting, and reaching one’s goals.
Self-reflection can take on many forms. A lot of the methods used are things that can be done by the individual and take on a more internalized reflection. However, there are also reflection activities that can be done with other people either one on one or in a group setting.
Journaling can be purely based on individuals writing about their experiences and their thoughts and feelings about those experiences. Journaling can also be used as a back and forth dialogue tool where a teacher, supervisor, or mentor can provide a specific reflective question and the student/employee/mentee can think about that question and provide their response in writing. Reflections can be done as a self-assessment questionnaire where an individual is critically looking at the past day, week, month, quarter, or year and evaluate their own skills in life and work. Self-reflection can also be done through meditation, taking a few quiet moments to look back on a specific time frame and again critically assess the way you responded to an event, or where you are in reaching your goals. These things can be completed daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. There is no set in stone guideline for how frequently one should self-reflect. Self-reflection can often be tied to goal setting, so often it is easy to tie in your self-reflection to an end-date for a goal you set. Dr. Douglas Eury and Dr. Jane King from Gardner-Webb University recommend making your reflections “Q.U.I.C.K.”
Q…. Question yourself
U…. Understand how to get to your objective (aha moments)
I…. Inquire of others
C…. Complete honesty (always)
K…. Keep a journal
You might be wondering what questions can you ask yourself within your self-reflection practice. Here is a great suggestion of some journalling prompts for self-reflection.
Consider following these 5 guiding questions
- What are my values?
- In what ways do my words and actions reflect or fail to reflect my values?
- What are areas in which I’m doing well and what are areas in which I could improve?
- How am I caring for myself so that I am mentally and physically at my best?
- What have I learned about myself today (this week, this month, this year)?
There are so many instances where one could benefit from the use of self-reflection in their daily life. But here is a nice little flow chart you can follow.
Using self-reflection to personally grow and learn is as important as using self-reflection with people in the work place. Everybody is familiar with employee evaluations. Many times these evaluations are numbers based or commonly scaled. How many of you have had to rate yourself on the scale of “not satisfactory – satisfactory” or 1-5 with 3 being acceptable. These evaluations do not seem to lead to significant changes or growth in employee behavior. They are not tangible.
We strongly recommend employee self-reflection exercises in place of standard scale evaluations. These assessments evaluate the programs offered, work place culture, and assess what your employees need. Self-reflection asks staff to honestly look at themselves, explore what is working & what is not, and potentially have a moment of clarity. Consider asking these questions:
- What is going well in your role?
- What challenges are you facing?
- What has the (insert work place) done/could the office do to make you more successful?
- On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you about how your position is doing and why?
- What is the best thing that has happened to you in the past month either at work or outside of it?
- Provide three programming ideas or initiatives for the staff, general population or a one-time event.
- If you ran (insert work place) what is one thing you would do differently?
- What are your thoughts on (insert new programs and initiatives?
These assessments are an opportunity for the staff member to look inward and explore what is working for them and what is not. This exercise affords an opportunity for staff to explore their areas of improvement as well as identifying their strengths.
There will be many points in your career where you will find yourself at a crossroads. Whether it is a promotion, a new position, a new state, or a new field altogether, many times you have asked myself “How did I end up here?” and “Am I making the right decisions?” Self-reflection has become an essential part of your career as you navigate toward achieving your personal and professional goals.
To begin one should start by creating a personal vision. Many times it starts with a sassy 18-year old quipping at someone “If I don’t know myself and love myself, why would anyone else?” From this time onward, young adults began to find activities they are passionate about and really start to discover who they are personally and professionally. Complete this activity to create my personal vision and update it once a year.
- What five things differentiate you from everyone else?
- Describe who you are
- Articulate what you offer
- Identify what makes you exceptional
- Show why you are valuable
- Reduce it all to one sentence
This activity is a good way to look within yourself to identify what sets you apart. Identifying your strengths will force you to look at yourself in a way that many people have not had to. From there you are able to reduce it all down and create you #twesume or elevator speech.
Once you have your elevator speech on lock, the next order of business is to write a mission statement. A mission statement could consider several factors such as your outlook on the world, your individual goals and your best attributes and professional history. Your outlook has guided you to your profession and has helped you develop your talents. Think about your individual goals. What are your career goals? How do you want to make a difference? Recognize your best attributes and highlights from your professional history. By being able to recognize your brand attributes, and then apply them to your professional history, you will be able to appropriately articulate what you have to offer and how you will be able to follow through in a professional setting. An easy way to identify your attributes is to come up with at least three nouns to describe yourself as a professional.
Creating a personal vision and brand as well as writing a personal statement will lead you to have an improved understanding of what your work place goals are. From here you should write a work place bucket this (nothing is off limits or impossible!). Writing goals and creating a work place bucket list will lead you to have a clearer purpose in the work place.
Knowing yourself is the best step to achieving your goals. Self-reflection is a useful tool to explore and discover passions as well as self-assess.