Taking Time for Reflection In The Workplace

Reflection time is about putting the pause button on, stepping out of our usual working lives, and looking in on it. We get to be a third-party observer of how we are showing up, what we are focusing on, what we are achieving and what might need some focus or change. If we are always doing the doing in life, it can be harder for us to focus on what matters to us, as we can easily lose sight of this when we are busy. I liken it to being on a fast train – the journey whizzed by, and we didn’t take in the scenery or any of the places along the way because it went so quickly. Reflection time allows us to step off the train at different stops, look around, and get back on the fast train with new awareness and possibly a different speed and/ or direction.

What do we reflect on?

Reflection can include everything about you and your life and may centre around particular topics relevant to you at different moments.  Examples of enquiries we might explore are:

  • I wonder how I showed up to others in that meeting?
  • How could I have a better relationship with my line manager?
  • Is my leadership style working or do I need to change it?
  • Is my job fulfilling?
  • What direction is my career heading in?
  • Why am I always so tired?
  • What can I do about being so impatient?
  • I might be close to burnout – I wonder what needs to happen now.
  • I need more time for me

Areas of focus for reflection might be:

  • Relationships
  • Career
  • Different stages of life include maternity/ paternity, stepping into a new role, health conditions, retirement, or moving countries.
  • Work/ life balance 
  • Self-care
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Leadership

There are also areas of reflection about us, these may include:

  • What type of person I am, for example increasing awareness of my own preferences for introversion or extroversion or being more of a planned versus spontaneous person.
  • Confidence levels – exploring how these ebb and flow.
  • Emotions – what we feel and making sense of the emotion.
  • Hopes and ambitions – what we really want.
  • Fears – naming them and noticing them.

The process of reflection

Reflection starts with creating regular habits to pause. These might include:

  • Starting and ending the day with time to reflect with some key questions.
  • Journalling your thoughts.
  • Using exercise time to notice how you are doing. 
  • Take an afternoon a month in a different location to check in with yourself.

Reflection in Coaching Sessions

Reflection also forms a key part of coaching sessions. We start with exploring what your enquiry is for the session, for example:

  • What is most pressing to talk about today?
  • What has been playing on your mind?
  • What are you feeling but have not told anyone yet?

Once we have this focus we start to explore together through dialogue. This phase of the process is often about noticing new insights about yourself and your situation. Some people call it that “ah ha” moment when we join the dots together and make sense of what is going on for us. That awareness alone is so powerful as it can have a transformative effect on how we approach the situation we were enquiring about.

An example of reflection

Let’s share an example to bring this to life. Here is the approach we take in coaching sessions to reflect, with a start, middle and end:

What is most pressing to talk about today?

“I want to have a better relationship with my line manager and I wonder what I can do differently”

What do we notice?

“I have had recent examples where he switches off in our one to ones.”

“I wonder about his style versus mine.”

“Now I am thinking about it, I guess at times he wants me to keep it briefer. I tend to like to share all the detail, he likes short messages”.

“I also think I am looking to him for recognition and at times I don’t think I necessarily need that from him as much as I think I want it. He shows acknowledgement for my work just not as much as I would like” 

What’s our thoughts now?

“Through this conversation, I realise we are very different people, and I can tailor my approach more to how he needs to hear it. I do notice that I am someone who values being told I am doing a good job and now we’re talking, I can see that this is what is driving me more than I realised.”

Here is a list of questions to use as part of your own reflection time:

  • What am I feeling?
  • How balanced is my life now?
  • What is the most pressing topics for me right now?
  • How are my relationships?
  • What seems to be a recurring issue?
  • Who frustrates me?
  • What feedback would I give myself?
  • What is my purpose?
  • How am I doing against any goals I have set myself?

In my own experience, a reflective practice is a crucial part of my self-care as well as my professional development. When I create moments of pause I am always better for it in the days that follow. When I skip those moments and fill it with more work I regret it. I liken it to glasses, if we don’t take them off regularly and give them a clean, what we see becomes fuzzy and unclear. When we clean them the view is far clearer and taking the next steps is much easier. 

In Summary

Creating time for reflection in any profession allows us to “sharpen the saw” both personally and professionally. It enhances well-being and allows us to make even better decisions with new awareness. I’d love to hear how you create moments to pause and what works for you. If you’d like to hear more about how coaching can support your own reflective practice do get in touch

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