Why is reflecting on our actions so useful?

Do you ever get to the end of the day, the week, the month, the year and ask yourself “What did I achieve?”

Do you just keep doing what you do without stopping to think if its working?

Do you ever feel really pleased with yourself and then beat yourself up for not doing better more often?

Jo Twiselton led a discussion with our members on the value of reflection and how to make it a really useful exercise.

Usefulness of reflection

  • When we feel as though there’s barely time to breath, setting aside regular time for reflection can feel like an indulgence but, in a busy day it can be one of the most productive things to do and really helps us decide what to keep doing, what to drop and what to do differently.
  • The act of writing something down gets it out of your head and often brings up a solution to a problem.
  • A BMW (bitch, moan and whinge) session with yourself can be very therapeutic. Let your inner critic loose!
  • You can also ask yourself “What would be even better if …?” (EBI)
  • At it’s best reflection can become an act of continuous learning. Approaching things with curiosity and compassion rather than judgement is a great learning process in itself.
  • If you have trouble articulating your feelings or emotions (alexithymia), downloading it out of the brain and having to find a word to describe how you’re feeling can be a big breakthrough.
  • One of the things that stops us from reflecting is that it can be painful. We all tend to dwell more on what went wrong than on what went right. The ungrateful client always takes up more headspace than the complimentary ones but reflection can re-set the balance and make us aware that we’re putting too much weight on what we could have done better instead of acknowledging all the things we did well.

Reflection and journaling

Some people reflect while they’re doing other things, like gardening, walking, painting, or cooking and may or may not make notes of their thoughts. If you’ve set aside time to reflect and want to use it as a learning process, there are lot of ways to record reflections and the important thing is to find something that suits you and doesn’t become another chore.

Journaling may feel exciting and creative, or daunting and overwhelming. It’s not compulsory and if you do give it a try it doesn’t have to be a work of art!

Having a particular notebook or diary can work well, and using audio notes or apps such as Notion https://www.notion.so/ or Morning Pages https://morningpages.app/ or any of the many other analogue or digital ways of keeping notes may suit you better.

You may like to have a daily, weekly or monthly routine or dip in and out or have someone you check in with to share your reflections and get feedback. Finding what works best for you is important.

A Framework

Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle was developed by Graham Gibbs in 1988 to give structure to learning from experiences.  It offers a framework for examining experiences, allowing us to learn and plan from things that either went well or didn’t go well.

It covers 6 stages:

  1. Description of the experience
  2. Feelings and thoughts about the experience
  3. Evaluation of the experience, both good and bad
  4. Analysis to make sense of the situation
  5. Conclusion about what you learned and what you could have done differently
  6. Action plan for how you would deal with similar situations in the future, or general changes you might find appropriate.

You can see Jo Twiselton’s weekly reflections on LinkedIn 

If you have questions or want to share your experiences of reflection as a learning tool, contact us – we’d love to hear from you!