Time to Pause
We are in the time of the year where we stop, take time out of our schedule, and reflect on how we did so far. Reflection is a systematic approach of reviewing our past and using the report we generate to improve the present and plan for the future. It is the means through which we get the most out of our experiences by turning them into lessons. I have observed that reflection ensures we learn something from every situation; no experiences goes to waste. It is the gateway to counting our blessings.
What is one thing you are grateful for today, this week, last month or in this season of your life? Is there anything to be grateful for after going through experience A or B? I refer to such questions as gratitude builder questions. I use them to prime my reflections. I have discovered that when I locate something to be grateful for in my past, I approach reflection with an expectation of benefiting from it. Negativity, like regret, doesn’t lock me up in my past. So, before I share with you three areas, we should focus our reflection time on, I encourage you to pause here and think of one thing you can be grateful for this year. As you will discover, every time you prime your reflection with gratitude, it will become easier to pull value from reflection time.
A promise for you: As you become intentional about taking substantial time to reflect, you will unlock the potential for growth in the coming season of your life.
In the remaining weeks of this year, I will share with you the following. Three areas to focus your reflection to get the most out of your experiences (Today’s post). Then I will share with you three lessons I have learned from my reflection as follows: Keys to creativity (next week); Keys to productivity (third week); and Keys to walking by faith (fourth week). In the final week, I will share Three strategies for sticking to your resolutions. Now let’s get started with the ‘3Rs’ for maximizing our reflection.
The relationships you have will determine the quality of life you live. They create an environment that will either make you flourish or wither. Good relationships allow us to grow to our fullest potential. Your view of the world is largely dictated by who we surround ourselves with. And it’s through the human connections that you have that resources and opportunities come to you. This is why the first area to focus on in our reflection is in relationships. And here are three facts you should always remember.
First, all relationships don’t carry equal weight. Some relationships are more valuable than others. So, all relationships can’t get equal allotment of our resources. Second, the value of a relationship is dependent on the investment made in the relationships. Relationships are like bank accounts, if we invest in them by depositing value into them, they appreciate in value, and if we withdraw more than we deposit they become bankrupt. Third, the value we bring into a relationship is determined by who we become. It is impossible to add value into a relationship if you don’t have value in you. If you increase your value, for example by reading good books and gaining new skills, you find more resources to bring into your relationships. The opposite is true, if you feed on negativity, your thoughts become toxic and your words poison all your relationships. Remember, you give who you are. Knowing these facts about relationships have allowed me to come up with three questions that I use to reflect and evaluate my relationships. They are:
- What are my top valuable personal and professional relationships? This question allows me to prioritize my relationships and assess how I have spent my resources on them and see if and where I need to make any adjustments.
- How have I invested in my valuable relationships so far? This question helps me to assess the quality of what I bring into the relationship and find ways to increase the value of what I bring.
- Who am I becoming in my relationships? This helps me assess my character for it is the embodiment of who I am. This enables me to look inward, not to point fingers and to take full responsibility of my relationships.
Your duties are the litmus test to your growth. Well-handled responsibilities are the evidence of who you are at a personal level. It doesn’t matter your status or the position you hold, there are always responsibilities accorded to you and demand your attention. Reflecting how you handle your responsibilities will reveal two things about you.
First, your responsibilities will tell you how people view you and how much they can trust your competence, an attribute of growth. If you focus on growth long enough, your competence will rise, and people will notice it and give you more responsibilities. Side note, people avoid responsibilities because they fear growth. Second, your responsibilities will tell you about your potential to make an impact. People with the highest responsibilities have the highest potential for impact in an organization or in society. Highest responsibilities don’t necessarily mean the quantity but certainly means the magnitude or impact. You could have many responsibilities but with little magnitude or you could have very few responsibilities with great magnitude. I use the following two questions to review and access my responsibilities:
- What were my responsibilities and what are their impact factors? High impact factor responsibilities are those which influences more people and their returns are highest. This question helps me prioritize my responsibilities. For some I gather more resources to achieve them while others I delegate. Don’t ever leave any responsibilities unattended even those of low impact. It’s better not to take new responsibilities or delegate them.
- How did I do in each and every responsibility that I was given? This allows me to go back on each responsibility and grade myself. It helps me to know which responsibilities I did well and what made them successful. Also, which ones needs follow through.
These two questions also help usher me into the third and final area of my reflection, returns.
The returns or outcomes we receive provide vital information about two things in our lives; the quality of our decisions and the robustness of our systems. The quality of our decisions determine how we live, and how we live determines what we get out of life. Good decisions raise our returns since we take calculated risks and maximize our opportunities. Bad decisions only lowers returns since they leads us to waste a lot of our precious resources like time. The systems we have in place allows us to implement the decisions we make. Good decisions with a bad system or poor decision with a good system will not work. We must make decisions and have a robust system in order to experience high returns. So, I use two questions to reflect on this area:
- What decisions did I make and how did they impact my life? This allows me to go back and examine each major decision I took and assess the change in action or behavior they brought.
- What systems do I have in place to enable me to follow through on my decisions? This allows me to assess whether I have a system for each action-oriented decision that I made and to determine if the system is the best one for the particular decision.
Without taking time to reflect, it becomes impossible to improve your relationships, execute your responsibilities excellently, and maximize your effort for impact (returns).
The immediate step that can guarantee your success at reviewing your year and unlocking your potential for growth is to; schedule a time to reflect, pick a location where you will do it, and be completely honest with yourself as you reflect. Next week I will begin sharing with you some insights from my reflections.