How often do you block out time, just for you, to reflect on your experiences, good and bad, that have formed you, shaped you and taught you? How often do you catch yourself saying, ‘I’m just too busy’ but can’t really account for what you have done at work, besides go to meetings and respond to emails? When was the last time you had a fabulous idea, fleshed it out and then made it happen, at work or at home? When did you last spend time imagining possibilities, creating something or simply daydreaming? When did you last consider which of your strengths, talents and characteristics have contributed to your success thus far?
If you’ve answered never, can’t remember or not for a long time, then it’s time to stop, breathe and reflect.
Stopping Creates Starting
Einstein is rumoured to have conjured up the theory of relativity when riding his bike. Steve Jobs was well-known for his commitment to deep meditation practices. Many other famous leaders have extolled the virtues of quiet, reflective time and blocking out their diary for unstructured thinking, reflection, reading and learning.
Some of my best ideas have come to me when I’ve been walking by the water, having a massage (a regular indulgence!) or simply sitting on the tram looking out the window. The ideas have come to me when I have deliberately taken my brain out of ‘information processing, reaction, and execution’ mode and given myself permission to stop. I give myself permission to daydream, let my thoughts wander, to think slowly and to reflect on the day or week that was.
What Gets in the Way?
We live in an ‘always on’ world. The pinging of devices telling us another email, chat, message, like, comment or follow has occurred has altered our behaviour to be in permanent react and respond mode rather than initiate and create mode. I get sucked in by alerts, badges and notifications as much as the next person. But I am extremely aware of the effect that an always on mode can have on me, my nearest and dearest and my creativity.
I am acutely aware that an ‘always on’ reactive mode will (ultimately) negatively affect my business, my livelihood and my future. After all, how can I possibly be creating better ways of working, ideas for more inclusive workplaces and strategies to increase the visibility and mobility of women if I don’t take time out to imagine what’s possible? So, I take control. I switch off. So can you.
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
I commit to reflective exercises. No, not gazing into the mirror! I put time in my diary to stop, breathe and reflect I can critically examine what has occurred, why and what its taught me. One of the easiest and most powerful ways I do this, is to write a quick reflective piece every week (typically on a Friday) about my experiences that week, what I am grateful for and what I am still curious about.
Another tool I use, is my Life Audit Survey. A weekly tracker where I rate the 4 things that are most important to me (sleep, relationship, nourishment, movement) on a scale of 1-10 (1 is crap, 10 is awesome!). It’s a simple, yet powerful way for women to prioritise themselves and to be mindful, deliberate and purposeful about what matters to them and why.
Do You Admire Yourself?
This is another reason why I want women to stop, breathe and reflect. Because I bet the other question you couldn’t answer, right now, is what are the top ten reasons that you admire yourself for? In one of my keynotes recently, I asked 70 women to write down their top 5 superpowers, then say them out loud to the table they were seated at.
One of the women there said to me that she found this exercise really difficult as she had not stopped to think about herself in forever! My response was “if you can’t talk about what you’re awesome at, who will?”. So I challenge you to stop, breathe and reflect on what you admire about yourself. Forget the dissembling behaviour, forget false modesty. Write it down. The top 10. Then read it to yourself, every week!
Being mindful, deliberate and purposeful about you means you need to commit to stopping, breathing and reflecting. David & Congelton say that ‘reflection gives your brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, to untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning. This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform your future mindsets and actions.’
- How will you reflect on, learn from and celebrate your unique strengths, talents and characteristics that have contributed to your success thus far?
- How will you stop, breathe and reflect on what has got you here?
- How will you successfully navigate to there. Wherever your ’there’ is?
Here’s how. Download this.
This article was originally published by Advancing Women, and authored by Michelle Redfern
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