Experience doesn’t lead to growth unless you spend time reflecting on what you’ve learned.
Self reflection is time well spent. It allows you to better understand why you think the way you do, say the things that you say, and more importantly why you do the things that you do. Without self reflection you’re doomed to be stuck in a feedback loop of what ifs and not good enoughs.
Most unintended consequences are the results of blindly going through life without reflecting on our internal world.
You can’t love yourself or accept who you are without going on a quest of self discovery.
Do you love yourself?
Do you even like who you are?
Why or why not?
If you’ve never spent the time necessary to get to know the real you, then how can you answer the above questions in the affirmative?
Simple answer. But true nonetheless.
T.S. Elliot once wrote, “we had the experience, but missed the meaning.”
Self reflection allows us to build models for what we want to continue and what we want to avoid. It’s pretty easy when you touch something that burns you. You don’t touch it again!
Not much self reflection needed.
But what about other things? What about the moments that lead to breakthrough?
How can you LEARN from experience?
Step #1: think about what you did. What happened during a particular moment. What did you say? How did you feel? What internal dialogue happened during the moment?
Step #2: analyze the difference between how you reacted to the moment vs how you should have reacted. What could you have said different? What could you have done differently?
Step #3: apply what you’ve learned. When faced with a similar instance in the future remember what you’ve reflected on in the past. Remember how you SHOULD of reacted the first time and do that.
This takes time. Whenever faced with a stressful situation make sure that you set some time aside (as soon as possible) for an after action report. Reflect on what happened and how you reacted to it.
Think about how you felt, especially if things went sideways, BEFORE things actually went sideways. This will allow you to stop yourself before things get to the point of no return. In other words, work toward being more in tuned WITH Your reactions.
Yes, I am asking you to learn from past mistakes. But, I’m also asking you to learn from past successes. You’ll never be able to duplicated your success if you don’t know the why. That takes reflection.