Blueprint for life series part I: Reflection

This week I came back from another journey visiting the blue coast of France, or how you should pronounce it, ‘the côte d’azur’. I came back to prepare myself and get started with my studies and work. One of the things I love to do is reflect, more importantly when I get back from a journey I like to reflect on the past year and think about the upcoming year.

I ask myself questions such as ‘what did I accomplish this year?’, ‘where did I struggle?’, what challenges did I overcome?’ and also questions like ‘where do I see myself in a year?’, ‘Why do I want to do those things?’, ‘What challenges am I expecting?’, and ‘What do I want to accomplish?’.

‘Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom’
– Aristotle

By asking myself these type of questions, I get to know myself better. I get to visualize what I would like my future to look like and why I would want it to look that way. It gives me insights in what I did right and what I could’ve done better in the past year. It highlights these things and provides learning opportunities. And not only that, it also allows me to get a better understanding of myself.

Reflection, or self-reflection/introspection, allows you to analyse yourself, your thinking, your feelings, and your behaviour. If you have certain goals that you would want to accomplish in the upcoming year, or in ten years, then it is extremely helpful to get a better understanding of the things that work for you and the things that you have difficulty with.

If you practice weekly self-reflection, you get to know what things you have to work on that will help you achieve your goals. For example I used to get stressed sometimes because I had the sensation that I had just too much to do and would not be able to finish anything at all. What I did then might sound contradictory, however, I decided to stop for a moment and reflect on the situation. I realized that I had been in this type of situation before and what had helped me in the past was to create an overview of everything that needed to be done.

‘Honest self-reflection opens your mind to reprogramming, change, success and freedom’
– Unknown

Another example is that I wanted to exercise more efficient, without having to grab my mobile phone every now and then. Once I started to reflect on the way I exercised and how I wanted them to look like, I realized that I could just shut my mobile phone off and write down the exercises that I wanted to do. Now I am not saying that these solutions might benefit everyone, however, if you make use of self-reflection, you will figure out what best suits you.

Whenever you reflect on a situation and look at how you’ve felt, thought, and behaved, you can get a better understanding of what was going on. It provides clarity and understanding. It gives you a sense of control. So the next time you are in a situation where you did not like the way you have acted, you are able to act differently.

As I said before, every Sunday I reflect on the past week. This gives me information on the things I did that week, and it helps me understand what I can do better. It also helps clarify what I find important in life and what I have difficulty dealing with. So not only does it help me get to know myself better, it also shows me what I need to work on and what goals and decisions I should pursue.

‘The journey into self-love and self-acceptance must begin with self-examination. Until you take the journey of self-reflection, it is almost impossible to grow or learn in life’
– Iyanla Vanzant

You see, the act of setting goals for yourself does not mean you are doing the right thing. A goal might not be the right goal for you at the right time. If you want to get extremely fit in one week, but you get distracted easily and lose focus all the time, that goal might be a bit out of reach. Or if you want to get a degree in an IT-course, you might not know that you have almost zero interest in IT unless you get to know yourself.

Hence, self-reflection shows you your strengths and weaknesses, it highlights your accomplishments and also your challenges. If you want to be serious about setting goals, improving yourself daily, and reaching those goals, I highly recommend that you start with self-reflection. The most important thing being to figure out what it is that you find important in life.

Of course there are many ways in which you can practice self-reflection. Taking a moment to think about your life, for example, already is a form of self-reflection.

  • Journal: I personally like to journal my thoughts and experiences. This allows me to have them on paper and I can reread them some other time. It allows me to connect dots in my thinking/behaviour and become more aware of who I am. It exercises your self-analysis skills and critical thinking. It is a method that helps you to explore your thoughts and keep track of them.
  • Time: I recommend that you have a specific moment every day and/or week and/or month or year. Or a combination of those. Select a moment that works for you and make time for it. I make time every Sunday to reflect on the past week and the upcoming one. I also make time every year to reflect about the previous one and the upcoming one. And I try to reflect about my goals and desires and if they are still aligned with the person I am.
  • Honesty: This is an important one. If you want to get to know yourself better, you should not lie to yourself. It is not necessary for you to share this reflective process. Its main goal is to get to know yourself better and understand yourself. Being honest is a big step.
  • Questions: Ask the right questions. In this text I have named a few already, but you can play with it. Figure out which type of questions are most helpful for you to stimulate the reflective process. What is it that you are trying to know about yourself? Try not to ask yourself to many questions about different subjects, but try to go deep into one of them. This will give you a deeper understanding of yourself.

If you found this helpful, share it with a friend! And let’s connect. Feel free to send me a message and start a healthy conversation.

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