In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’
In our fast-paced world, being busy is easy, extraordinarily common, and even exalted.
But there’s a vast and vital difference between busy and productive.
And, in that difference lies the power to be who you truly want to be.
Halfway Around the Sun
We’re about halfway through the calendar year. It’s a little arbitrary, but it’s a milestone on the calendar that always makes me pause, take a breath, and take stock. What inspired me at the start of the year? What have I followed through on? What have I let slide? What have I traded? What have I honored?
These types of questions are not about busy. They’re rooted in productivity because they’re ultimately tied to purpose. The answers are a reflection of how I’ve chosen to spend my time and energy over the last six months. In short, they’re a reflection practice.
Reflection As Forward Thinking
If you’re rolling your eyes right now and thinking that there’s no way you can find time for such a luxury as a reflection practice, I’d challenge you to think of the last time you looked up and asked yourself where all your time went. Last month? Yesterday? This morning after checking in on the otters of Instagram?
A reflection practice is how you move from busy to productive. Done thoughtfully and consistently, it can be a trusted support system that helps you stay accountable to yourself, the people you love, the work you value, and your vision of the person you want to be.
Reflecting on You
So, what does a reflection practice look like and how do you begin to embrace the process? Turns out, it’s pretty simple and could take you as little as 15 minutes per week. PER WEEK!! The otters of Instagram took more than that this morning!
Here are three steps to help you get sorted and get started.
Book an Appointment…With Yourself Do not leave this to chance. If you don’t schedule your life, someone else surely will. So, make this a priority for yourself. Schedule 15 to 30 minutes on your calendar. And, find a space where you can focus on the work at hand without interruption. If this takes place at the end of the workday, great. If it happens beneath the moonlight because that’s currently the only un-interrupt-able space you have, so be it. The important takeway here is to schedule it.
Ask Yourself – And Answer – A Few Key Questions This is both the easy and excruciating part. After all, we’re about balance, right? Arrive at your appointment with yourself and take a moment to pause, breathe, and center yourself. You’re about to delve into some thoughtful work and you want to be ready. Then, review your day/week. What went well? What challenged you? Who or what happened this week that made your heart happy with gratitude? Anything you’re particularly proud of? What would you change about your own reactions, behavior, and choices if you could do it again…differently? (no one else’s reactions, behavior, or choices…just your own!)
Adjust Accordingly Once you’ve had a chance to reflect, it’s time to act. Start small and be consistent. Is there a conversation you need to have? A behavior that’s impacting your relationships? Maybe you encountered a challenge or something went particularly well. What is the very next action step you might take to address what happened and either replicate it or move through it. Whether it’s a conversation, a new skill, a stronger boundary, identify the action and take your next step. Regardless, be sure that this particular item ends up in your reflection practice next time so you can revisit the actions taken in the same thoughtful way you identified the issue.
Reflecting on Forward Motion
Take one small step and then another, reviewing and reflecting on each to make sure they nurture the roots of your purpose which, in turn, foster your health and growth.
It’s about progress, not perfection. Reflection offers you a vital tool to tailor how you share your time, energy, and talents in this world. And, small actions, done thoughtfully and consistently, can have incredible impact.
Choose busy and you’re likely to stay on the hamster wheel of busy.
Choose productive and watch the life you choose take shape. Allow your reflection practice to encourage and cultivate the person you aim to be.
Be intentional about your choices and you’ll soon discover that there’s time enough. Time for what you value. Time for the people you love. And, time enough for you.