May 21, 2013

The Importance of Self Reflection: Why I Talk To Myself and You Should Too

Despite what some people may think, talking to yourself is not always a sign of a mental illness, rather it can be quite the opposite.

As we all go through the motions of our daily lives, it’s no surprise that we tend to forget who we really are and what we’ve set out to accomplish. We often forget the importance of self reflection. But how can we know how we’re doing without asking?

How am I doing?

The truth is that I would be lost if I didn’t dedicate at least an hour a month to simply ask myself, “how am I doing?” Sometimes, my answer is, “I am doing great” and sometimes it’s, “I am feeling miserable.” Generally, my answer falls pretty close to the “pretty good” side of things, which is definitely attributed to my self check-ins.

How did I get here?

Regardless if that answer is good or bad, I proceed to ask myself a second question, “how did I get here?” This is an important question as it prompts me to isolate specific situations that led me to my current state. This process helps me figure out how best to move forward, i.e. what objectives to set or revise to ensure that I am on track to achieving my personal goals. We only get one shot at this thing called life, so why not make the best of it?

Frequency is Key

I know many of us live busy lives and an hour a month can seem impossible. But, self reflection can fit into the busiest of schedules. The hour doesn’t have to be all at once. It can be 15-minutes every week or 30-minutes every other week. Just make sure not to have too much time pass in between your self check-ins. Just know that it is possible, and quite necessary, to step away from your distractions to talk to yourself.

Reconnect with yourself during a walk around the block, a morning stretch, or even while you’re in the shower. Do whatever it takes to give yourself the space to just clear your mind to ask, “how am I doing” and “how did I get here?” The shorter time between a time of self reflection, the easier it is to remember who you really are and what you really want to accomplish.

The benefits of self reflection are also incredibly relevant in the workplace. According to research by Giada Di Stefano, Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano, and Bradley Staats, employees who spent 15 minutes each day reflecting on what they learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not take time for self reflection. (Source: HBR "Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reflection (Even If You Hate Doing It")

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection, will come even more effective action.” - Peter Drucker

Now that you understand the importance of self reflection, give it a try. Make it a habit. I’m sure you won’t regret it. Now, go make the best out of your life.

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