The Power of Reflection

Sometimes it seems there’s so much going on that all we ever do is plow ahead to the next assignment or activity. In truth, one of the most important things we can do is to take time to reflect on what we’ve just experienced or accomplished before moving ahead too quickly. This can be especially rewarding when wrapping up a major project, completing a workshop or conference, undergoing a transformational experience, rising to a special challenge or, yes, even making a mistake or failing to meet our goals somewhere along the way. (And I’d like to add that making mistakes is often a sign of something very positive—that we are growing, being creative, stretching our boundaries and learning new skills.)

It’s nice if we can take some time off to reflect. I love nothing more than a road trip or time alone on the beach to think. But in reality, we’re probably talking more about a walk around the block or snatching an hour here or there. I had a wonderful teacher this summer who said that she likes to take one hour “mini-vacations” during the day to reflect, or perhaps to sneak away a half day. This time could be spent journaling, discussing our experiences with a friend over happy hour, or just sitting quietly and thinking about what we learned and accomplished, how we might apply those lessons in the future, or what we might change if we had to do it all over again. Doing this helps us make sense of our experiences, to learn from them, and to grow. It’s the last step in any process and can provide us with direction, helping us to figure out what comes next.