I’m not one of those people who take every opportunity to check out their reflection in the nearest mirror or shop window: maybe that’s why I’ve been known to run out of the house in the morning with mismatched earrings! Perhaps my aversion to looking at my physical reflection explains my occasional reticence to reflect on my actions and reactions: I can have a tendency to want to run on to the next project without looking back on what I’ve just finished.
Last time, I wrote about how it can be useful to recap on events at work or in life to allow us time to evaluate them before we move on. Since that post, I’ve been asked if there’s a structured way of doing so in order to ensure we review it properly and capture any valuable learning.
One tool I use with clients is asking them to write a reflection note. Notice that it’s a note – not a report, an essay or a novel – we’re looking for no more than 250 words in response to each of the following four questions:
Exactly what happened and what caused it to happen in that way?
Here we just record facts and it gives us a chance to be a little more analytical about what actually occurred.
How did you behave, think and feel as it was happening?
This gives us the chance to consider what was going on in our mind at the time, bringing to the surface emotional responses to the situation and their effect on our behaviour.
What were the main things you learnt from this experience?
Here we link the previous two sections, giving us a chance to combine facts and feelings, increasing self-awareness and strengthening learning.
So how will you apply that learning in future? (Should these be SMART goals?)
This reflection and self-awareness is all very well but it needs to be applied! The challenge now is to identify some tangible actions to be taken.
It’s a simple process but it’s not necessarily an easy undertaking. If being reflective isn’t your natural style, this takes some practice (and I speak from experience here). Some people will become bogged down in detail in the first two sections: having the word count limit encourages us to identify salient points and dig down to the core of the event. This reflection note practice helps us to be objective, asks us to find the essence of an issue and encourages us to notice what we’re learning then apply it. It’s very powerful.
Today’s pebble for you: what will you reflect on this week?
I’d love to hear from you.
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we can work together?