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People Don’t Succeed by Luck, They Succeed by Doing a Lot of Self Reflection

People Don’t Succeed by Luck, They Succeed by Doing a Lot of Self Reflection

How often do you set aside time to really think about yourself?

If you’re like most of us, rarely.

Self-reflection is the process of looking at yourself, your life and your experiences.

It’s been shown to strengthen your emotional intelligence, help you act with more integrity, and boost your self-confidence. [1]

Even if you’ve never deliberately practiced self-reflection, you probably have at least some experience with it.

Here are some examples of self-reflection that you’re probably familiar with:

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  • New Year’s Day. Most of us spend some time reflecting on each year as it comes to an end, and making resolutions to improve ourselves in the future.
  • Birthdays. Many of us use our birthday as a time to reflect on our lives so far, and think about what we still want to achieve.
  • Job applications. Applying for jobs forces us to lay out all of our skills and experiences in a clear and linear way, which can be an eye-opening experience.

But do we have to wait for the new year’s day or birthdays to review ourselves? If we really want to improve ourselves, why can’t we have such self-reflection every month, or every week, or even every day?

Are you ready to start improving yourself with a deliberate self-reflection practice?

Great!

Just follow the simple tips below.

Questions to ask during self-reflection

To do self reflection effectively, the best way is to ask yourself questions.

What are my strength and weaknesses?

Identifying where your strengths and weaknesses lie helps you solve problems and make good decisions.

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For example, if you know that you’re great at organisation, you might volunteer to help put on an event at work and get on your boss’s good side.

If you don’t work well under pressure, you’ll know not to take a job as head chef at a busy restaurant.

However, remember that your strengths and weaknesses aren’t set in stone. Want to change something about yourself?

You can.

Put together a plan, set measurable goals, and take it one small step at a time. There aren’t many problems you can’t solve this way.

What have been my greatest achievements?

Identifying your biggest achievements shows you where your values lie. Are you most proud of something to do with work, family, or education? Do you want to focus future efforts in the same area, or shift to something new?

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What have been my biggest failures?

Failures can be a wonderful learning experience. Gently acknowledge a time something went wrong, and ask yourself why? Low self-confidence? Lack of planning? Fear?

Now consider what you could do differently to ensure you don’t make the same mistake twice.

What skills do I have?

Making a big list of your skills is a great way to see how you’re doing. Are your skills where you want them to be? If not, commit to learning something new, taking a course, or trying out a new activity.

Are your skills equally balanced. Divide them into categories, including:

  • Work
  • Hobbies
  • Spirituality
  • Health
  • Exercise
  • Social

Are the lists equally balanced, or are you lacking skills in certain areas of your life?

What problems do I have right now?

Self-reflection deals with good and bad. Ask yourself what the biggest source on unhappiness is in your life right now.

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It could be:

  • Your job
  • Your partner
  • Your living environment
  • Your finances

Once you’ve identified the biggest problem, you can start looking for ways to solve it.

How could I improve my life?

Writing a short passage describing your ideal day is a great way to generate ideas for this question. Focus on all the small details, like your home, what you’re eating, your hobbies, your routine, etc.

Then compare your ideal day to an day in your current life, and think about how you can bring the two closer together.

Common challenges during self-reflection

You might encounter some of the following problems when practicing self-reflection:

  • You forget to do it.
  • You’re not sure what to reflect on.
  • You’re afraid to be honest with yourself.
  • You feel embarrassed.

How to stay committed to self-reflection

To ensure you stay committed to self-reflection, try the following techniques:

  • Add a weekly or monthly ‘reflection date’ to your calendar.
  • Write a few sentences about why you want to keep up with self-reflection. Read it when you start to lose interest.
  • Be kind to yourself. Self-reflection isn’t about being too hard on yourself, it’s about helping you to be the best you can be.
  • Keep self-reflection private. It’s hard to be honest if you’re worried about the opinions of others. Don’t feel you need to share your practice.

Ready to stop moving through life on autopilot? Start your self-reflection practice today.

Featured photo credit: The Crunchies! via flickr.com

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Eloise Best

Eloise is an everyday health expert and runs My Vegan Supermarket, a vegan blog and database of supermarket products.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Hope is not a strategy when it comes to change. Commitment is what is needed to make real change happen. Can people change? Absolutely, but exchanging your excuses for commitment is necessary to get started.

Human nature leans toward habits, which can become ingrained over the years, but that doesn’t mean habits can be undone.

The good news is that your personality and behaviors can be changed, but it is up to you. Below are some tips to help you get started with change.

1. Figure out What You Need to Change

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of something you would like to change. That’s great! The first step toward change is acknowledging that you have something you need to change.

Look at the repeated problems in your life, the issues that seem to come up time and time again. Do you keep gravitating toward the wrong relationships, but you blame the people you are choosing, rather than looking at your problem in the selection process?

Do you jump from one job to another, yet blame co-workers and bosses, rather than look at what you may be doing to cause problems and dissatisfaction on the job?

We are creatures of habit, so look at the negative patterns in your life. Then, look inside to see what’s causing these repeated life problems to occur. If you can’t figure it out on your own, consider going to a counselor for better understanding. Once you recognize the area that requires change, you can move to the next step.

2. Believe That Change Is Indeed Possible

There are people out there who believe that personality is unchangeable. When confronted with their problem, such as constant negativity, they lash back with “that’s just who I am.” It may be who you are, but does it need to be?

Change in personality and behaviors is possible. Nobody stays the same from one year to the next, let alone across a decade, so why not move change in the direction that is best for you? Be proactive about the change you want in your life, including the belief that change can occur.

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Look for success stories and people who have changed and done what you so deeply desire to do. Seeing that others have been where you have are and have accomplished the change you desire will help you in your process to accomplish that change.

3. List the Benefits of This Change

In order for people to change, they need to buy into the premise that the change is necessary for their betterment. For example, maybe your goal is to be more productive at work. There are many benefits that could come from this, including:

  • Getting more done in a shorter amount of time.
  • Having more time for your family.
  • Getting a promotion
  • Being liked and appreciated by your boss.
  • Being part of the success of the company.

One of the best ways to help yourself stick to the commitment of change is to make a list of the benefits that the change will bring in your life. Make one list of the benefits for your life and another for your loved ones. Recognizing the full spectrum of benefits, including how your change will affect those closest to you, will help you stick with the process of change.

When you have moments of weakness, or fail on a particular day or time, then getting back on track becomes easier when you review your list on a regular basis. Posting your “benefits of change” list somewhere where you see it often, such as a bathroom mirror, will help you be reminded of why you are doing what you are doing.

4. Make a Real Commitment to Change

Make a commitment to the time frame needed for the change to happen. If you want to lose 50 lbs., then set out a realistic plan of a few pounds per week and a timeline that reflects those goals.

It will take you a lot longer than a month, but setting realistic goals will help you stick to your commitment. Change happens one day at a time. It is not immediate, but over the course of time because of your dedication and commitment to the process.

It also helps if you make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.[1]

People can change using SMART goals

    An example of this would be a person who wants to become an active runner so they can tackle a half marathon. The first step would be to research what other people have done for training plans to achieve this goal.

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    Runners World lays out specifics for a beginner to train for a half marathon: “Target the Long Run: Every other week, increase your long run by 1.5 miles until you’re run/walking 13 to 14 miles. On alternate weeks, keep your long run to no longer than three miles. Your longest long run should fall two weeks before your half-marathon. Plan to take about 15 weeks to prepare for the big day.”[2]

    These kinds of specificities will help you create a personalized plan that is achievable and time-bound.

    You can learn more about writing SMART goals here.

    5. Create a Plan of Attack

    You need a set of steps outlined to succeed. This is why 12-step programs are so successful. You can’t simply walk into a meeting and be cured and changed. You need to mentally process the change in order for the change to be lasting and effective.

    Create a plan for your change. Be realistic and investigate what other people have done to change.

    For example, if you are dealing with anxiety and want to change that, then seek out therapy methods to address your problem. Stick with the therapy plan until your change process is complete. Simply hoping the anxiety will someday go away is not a plan.

    6. Commit to Action

    It is wonderful to set a goal for change and to write it down, but if you don’t act, then your mental commitment means nothing. There is no actual commitment unless action follows. To best kick start our change, the key is to act now[3].

    For example, if you committed to lose 50lbs, then now is the time to go join a gym, hire a trainer, and walk into a weight loss clinic to get support. We can make up our mind to be determined to change, but if action does not follow soon thereafter, then you will likely fail.

    If you wait until later that week, you will get caught up in doing your daily routine, things for works, taking care of others, or whatever it may be; there will be distractions that will derail you from taking action later. There is no better time to take action than when you make the decision to change.

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    For example, if you decide you want to finally write that book that is in your mind, but you don’t have a working laptop, then go and get a laptop today. Then, set aside an hour each day after work (and on your calendar) so that you can write. Instead of going out with friends after work, you are committing to achieve this goal, and you have time set aside to make that goal happen.

    7. Find a Support System

    When people want to change, finding a support system is key. A great way to find support is through group therapy or support groups. If you have a substance abuse issue, for example, you can find groups that specialize is supporting you through recovery and change.

    If you prefer to find support in the comfort of your own home, then you can look for online support forums and Facebook groups that deal with whatever change you are looking to pursue.

    Your ability to be successful in change is dependent on your ability to dive in; support systems help you with the initial dive and staying committed thereafter. and will help you stay committed to the process. Don’t underestimate the power you have by partnering with others who are seeking the same change.

    8. Get Uncomfortable

    Change should be uncomfortable. You are entering new territory and stepping out of your comfort zone. Your mind and past habits will be resistant to the change, as it is uncomfortable and difficult.

    If you give up because of the discomfort, then you are destined to fail in your pursuit of change. Embrace the discomfort associated with change and recognize that it puts you one step closer to accomplishing your goals.

    9. Stick to the Plan

    When people decide to change, sticking to it is difficult. If you get derailed from your plan, don’t berate yourself. Instead, allow yourself some margin of error and then get back on track.

    You can’t expect to go on a diet without splurging sometimes. The key is “sometimes.” The sooner you get back on track, the more successful you will be in accomplishing your change goals.

    Other researchers on the topic of change believe this process is about dedication and commitment to the change desired in our day to day lives, as Douglas LaBier from the Huffington Post so aptly stated:[4]

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    “Change occurs from awareness of what aspects of our personality we want to develop, and working hard to “practice” them in daily life.”

    Here are some tips on sticking to a plan:

    Engage in Self-Reflection

    Reflect on things that have derailed you in the past and problem solve them before they happen.

    Jot down those things that tend to get you off track. Now, list ways to combat the derailments before they happen. For example, if you are wanting to lose weight but you work late hours, then commit to morning workouts.

    If you know that in the past you would continually hit the snooze button and subsequently miss the workouts, then hire a trainer for early morning workouts. You are less likely to miss your workout if you have real money attached to it and someone counting on you to show up. You could also schedule morning workouts with a friend, so you know there is someone showing up and you don’t want to let them down.

    Brainstorm solutions for your past derailments so that this time around you are ready to stick to the plan and the commitment you have made to change.

    Define Your Commitment

    Commitment is a daily mental and physical plight when it comes to change. If your commitment is to lose weight, then be specific about how you are going to achieve your change. For example, you decide you are going to stick to 1,800 calories a day and a 1-hour workout every day.

    Then, write those goals down and chart your daily progress. Hold yourself accountable.

    Final Thoughts

    Can people change? Hopefully, by now, you believe that they can. If you have a sense of commitment and persistence, change is possible with any life experience.

    Start small, create specific goals, and don’t wait to get started. You’ll be amazed how far change will take you.

    More on How to Make Changes in Your Life

    Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com

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