Reflecting for Personal Growth

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Time for Personal Reflection!

“One of the greatest moments in anybody’s developing experience is when he no longer tries to hide from himself but determines to get acquainted with himself as he really is.”Norman Vincent Peale

The New Year is just around the corner and what better time to take a step back, reflect on the year, learn from our successes and failures, and manifest great things for the New Year!

As human beings, we desire to live a fulfilled life, know ourselves, and find meaning in our lives. We have the capacity to do this, but we can’t do it while blindfolded. Reflecting on our lives allows us to observe our thoughts and feelings and recall actions and events in the past to learn from. We look at a mirror to spot physical imperfections and perhaps pop a pimple or two. Why not look at your internal reflection and see if there are any pimples worth popping.

Look back five years ago. Are you the same person? Can you see noticeable change from who you were back then? What about one year ago? Have you witnessed noticeable growth in various areas of your life? And one month ago? What has improved since then?

Hopefully, you have answers for these questions. If not, something may be wrong. That is unless you are just trying to maintain your perfectness! 😉 Life is a road of progression, and if you aren’t seeing positive change over time, you will not be reaching your ideal life situation any time soon.

5 Reasons to Look in the Mirror

Think about it: Why are there summaries at the end of chapters? Why do speakers recap what they’ve already said when they are closing? Why are people debriefed after an investigation? The answer is always the same; to review what we have experienced or learned, and to firmly implant it into our minds. Here are 5 great reasons to practice personal reflection on a regular basis:

  1. Witness Noticeable Change – If you can’t notice change over time, then you are stagnating and won’t recognize the need to take action.
  2. Self-Discovery / Awareness – Learn what makes you tick! Do you know why you made that decision, why you felt that way, or what you would have done differently? Don’t over-think these – simply make a note to yourself about what worked for you and what didn’t. Then focus on the person you want to be.
  3. Goal Tracking – Did you meet your goals? Did you have goals? Perhaps you need to make a goal… to set goals! When you are out of school, you are no longer given grades to base your performance. How do you base your performance in life? Make goals and reach them! If you don’t manage to reach your goals, then figure out why not and learn from it.
  4. Decision Making – Personal reflections help you learn more about yourself. This makes future decision making much easier when you can answer the question, what do I want?
  5. Learn from your Mistakes – You’ve heard this all your life. Perhaps you can appreciate Albert Einstein’s thoughts on this: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Reflecting Regularly

Make it a habit to mentally review your day before going to sleep. I like to quickly visualize the activities I did through the day, the people I interacted with, and the decisions I made. Am I happy with how the day went? If so, great! If not, I dive in for a minute and decide what could have gone better and how. We can’t change what happened, but we can consciously prepare for a better tomorrow. When should we take time to reflect and what should we reflect upon? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Daily: Recap your day. Don’t over-analyze situations or circumstances out of your control, but recognize if you are proud of how the day went or if there was room for growth. Were you productive? If not, why? Did you establish or improve relationships? What are the steps you took today to reach your weekly or monthly goals? Did you meet your fitness goals?
  • Weekly: Did you meet your weekly goals? Did you finish or close out your projects? Did you make time for your relationships? What lessons have you learned?
  • Monthly: Did you successfully complete your monthly goals? Did you see noticeable improvements on the areas of growth you are striving for? If you didn’t meet them, why not and what can you do to meet them next time?
  • Yearly: How much closer are you to reaching your long term goals? Did you drastically improve different areas of your life that you set out to? Have you learned new things and acquired new skills? Are you conscious of how the world is changing and adapting to the change to make sure you are not left behind? This should be a big reflection, don’t stop until you see a huge list! … or plan now to make sure you have a huge list next year!
  • Completion of Goal/Project/Event: Always reflect after the completion of a success or failure of a special occasion such as these. You only truly fail if you didn’t learn anything from it. Look at it from Thomas Edison’s perspective:

    “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

Reflecting on a regular basis helps you recognize when you have stagnated and are in a rut.

What About You?

It’s the end of the year!  Spend some time reflecting on how far you’ve come this year and see if there are any ‘pimples’ to be popped! Then, start making goals for a great year to come!

How do you reflect?  How do you ensure you learn from your mistakes?  How to you keep track of your growth?  Share it!

This post was written by

Greg has written 69 articles on Student of Me.

Greg is the creator and primary writer for Student of Me. He probably spends way too much time on the computer writing, researching, programming, and working on his photography. He loves escaping from screen-time to travel, ride his motorcycle, experience the outdoors and spend time with loved ones. You can contact him at greg (at)!

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