August can be a great chance to refresh and reenergise. Whether you are taking holiday, working through or taking a staycation, building regular moments of reflection, i.e. thinking time, is invaluable and yet is often an overlooked item in our ever-increasing busy diaries. When was the last time you took some time to stop, think and let your mind settle? If it’s not been for a while then you are not alone. Or perhaps you are someone who already takes this much needed space and is already feeling the benefits. In this blog we will explore what reflection time is and the value it brings.
There are two parts to consider – firstly, creating the time in the diary for reflection time. This is a step in itself as if we don’t actively manage this then the time is taken with other work.
Secondly, there is then the process of reflection. Reflection is often what we do in coaching. It is a process of pausing and noticing how we are showing up in our lives, understand what is going on for us in any given moment so that we can adjust and make tweaks to be even more productive, happier, peaceful and successful.
Reflection can take us in to three moments in time: the past where we reflect on what’s happened, the current, what is happening right now and the future what we wish to happen.
Think of it like a 180 degree half circle and notice which aspect is most useful to reflect on. At different moments we will focus more on one of these moments in time. Our reflection may be a mix of items including about:
- Our wishes and desires – our goals
- A particular situation
The Reflection Process
In coaching sessions we reflect using a process which can also be used during your own reflection time. Think of it as the beginning of reflection, the middle part and the ending. At the beginning we notice what is going on for us, what do we want to reflect about and in what moment in time. Secondly, we investigate our thoughts further, including gathering data in our minds about the topic. Thirdly, we start to have new awareness and learnings about this, and finally we often decide to take some form of action or do something differently. Actions may be a “doing” thing i.e. an action you go and do or a “being” thing i.e. increased self-awareness so that the next time you are in this situation or with a particular person you react in a different way.
You can use these questions as a process:
- Beginning: What’s my focus?
- Middle: What’s the data about this topic?
- Middle: What am I noticing? What am I learning?
- End: Now what next?
These are additional questions to ask yourself during reflection time:
- What has my mood been like this week?
- What are the successes?
- What are the learnings?
- What are the top items on my mind right now? And in what area of my life do they fall into? (e.g. relationships, work, health, careers and finances)
- What changes, if any, do I want to make?
Often when clients start a coaching process, they recognise the value of reflection straight away and build in more reflection time in between sessions than at any other point in their lives. Coaching can be a catalyst for reflection – in fact one client said “Jackie, I have woken up through this process and I now I want to stay awake once our coaching programme finishes”. The key to “staying awake” is reflection.
Clients report the following benefits of reflection time:
- Better decision making due to thinking things through before acting
- Improved relationships
- Less stress
- Increased self-awareness
- Quicker achievement of their goals
- Enhanced communication with others
- More creative and innovative ideas to challenges
Ways to reflect
Consider what works for you both in terms of location as well as time of day. Are you someone who reflects best at their desk? Or do you prefer to be moving? Do you prefer mornings or another time in the day? Here are some additional tips to consider:
- Allocating space in the diary every day
- Meditation and mindfulness activities
- Coaching sessions are a great way on a regular basis to use a process of reflection in a guided way without judgment or advice
- Regular conversations with others specifically for this activity
During this month I encourage you to start a reflection process of your own. Start by allocating small moments to reflect and start becoming more aware of what is going on for you and how this simple act can make a big difference to our mental agility, decision making and ultimately to our success.
If you would like to experience the benefits of coaching, we work with leaders who benefit from reflection space in coaching sessions. If you wish to work on this, or have any questions for me, please get in touch for a no obligation initial consultation.