Vicky and I, grazed on lunches of huge salads while talking about the eternal questions of “How do I get better at what I do?“ and “How do I know I’m doing the right things?” Vicky and I met in a Leadership program. She’s savvy, ambitious, smart and willing to put in what it takes to be a success. She’s got it all going on and is together. Yet, she is like so many people, trying to put together the puzzle pieces of her life to figure out what comes next.
She had applied for an exciting position. Based on the encouragement and the feedback she had, it seemed like the pieces were falling into place for her. Turns out she did not make in into the pool of finalists. Bewildered. Frustrated. Smarting like someone yanked the chair out from underneath her. “ I just can’t believe I didn’t get it. Something is coming, I can feel it. I’m restless. But I am not sure what.”, said Vicky.
Reflex for Reflection
The natural response is “Well how about spending some time reflecting on the situation?” But taking time to reflect when you are too busy to get through your emails feels like an If you don’t that puzzle might just always remain unfinished and take up room.
So we say “If I spent more time thinking about my plans, actions, how did I end up here, why I made this mistake, how we got those amazing results so the team can do it again….(insert your favorite topic) the list could go on… We are all faced with the challenge of reflecting in a world where ‘unproductive’, non-doing time is not valued.
If you agree reflection is an important skill for growing and be better at what you do, (or to figure out what you would be better at doing) then you have to find time for it. There is no way around it. But finding time doesn’t mean you need to change your routine.
Use your travel time. A 10-minute commute is terrific time for reflecting. Do that twice a day and you get 20 minutes.
Working out is a great time to reflect, especially if you need to reflect about something that pushes your buttons. Burn it off and work it out at once.
Be bold. Schedule a meeting with yourself for reflecting. A mere 30-minutes can go a long way.
Topics Make Productive Time
Reflecting for the sake of reflecting is nice, but not likely to help you put the pieces in place. It’s better to have one or two questions, so you can look deeply and see if you are doing the right thing. Questions like: “I am still heading the right direction?” “What helped me get here?” “Where I am lying to myself?” and “How can this be easier?”
Your questions may be different, and the answers you seek may not always be what you like to find but the time is well spent.
Reflection As Reflex
The more you reflect, the easier it is and it becomes a reflex one that without you can’t be better at what you do. As you use the skill you’ll more quickly spot good routes, challenges and alternatives to take, before someone pulls the chair out from under you.
To help you build this skill, I invite you to take a couple of minutes to identify three topics where more reflection would benefit you, and share these with me in the comments below.
As for Vicky, she is taking time during her commute to look at the puzzle pieces more closely.
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Deirdre Danahar helps busy, creative, professionals do their best work without sacrificing their quality of life. She is the owner of InMotion Consulting & Coaching, LLC, based in Jackson, MS. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-362-8288.