“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.” -Confucius
Your day-to-day life can be so busy that finding time for reflection might feel worth it. Why take the time to reflect when you can just keep pushing forward?
But research shows that reflection is actually imperative to success. A series of studies, conducted by Francesca Gino and Gary Pisano of Harvard Business School, Giada Di Stefano of HEC Paris, and Bradley Staats of the University of North Carolina, show that reflecting on what you’ve learned in the past helps you do better in the future. It increases productivity, performance, and shapes success.
There are different situations throughout your career that may require your time and reflection. Starting or leaving a job, before and after an interview, and even important work milestones are all great times to sit down and reflect upon yourself, your career, and your path.
Just take 15 minutes
Reflection doesn’t necessarily have to take a big chunk out of your day. Harvard Business School conducted a study that revealed even 15 minutes of written reflection at the end of your workday improved performance on assessment tests by 22.8%.
Journal all of your experiences… positive and negative
It can be tempting to only focus on the positive aspects of your day, but the same studies that show just 15 minutes of written reflection improve performance also show it doesn’t matter whether or not this reflection is positive or negative. The focus instead should be on writing down what you felt was most important in your day. This will help you accept responsibility for all your actions throughout the day, and you can begin to learn from your failures… an idea most people are resistant to, according to Staats.
Speaking of fear of failure… one way to avoid falling into the trap of only negative reflection is practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of bringing your awareness and focus to the present moment. Reflecting on your day might seem like an inherent act of mindfulness, but the draw to self-criticism is strong. Being mindful disengages you from negativity by allowing yourself to center and accept your thoughts without judgment. By focusing on the present moment, you can reassess your thoughts and call your wandering mind to attention. Rather than passively engaging with your reflections, you’re now completely active in writing down your day… without letting the negative get you down!
Use Career Companion: Career Playbook > Experience: Reflections to write down the most significant part of your day
Set and write down all your experiences, thoughts, learnings, feedback, ideas, etc.
Go back and reference your reflections as you make your big bold career moves