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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life

How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life

Many world champion athletes, business people, and spiritual teachers all cite self-reflection as an essential key to success. This is also true for ‘everyday people’ who are fulfilled and happy with their lives.

So why is self-reflection so important? I’m going to tell you why self-reflection matters to you and how you can do it to lead a more successful and fulfilling life.

What Is Self-Reflection?

Self-reflection is defined as “meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives.” It’s about taking a step back and reflecting on your life, behavior and beliefs.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing triathlete Craig (Crowie) Alexander speak at a conference in Sydney, Australia. Craig is a five-time Ironman World Champion and all around inspiring human being. One of the things he emphasized was the amount of time he took for self-reflection and the impact that had on his confidence and performance.

After each race, he and his team would reflect to understand what went well and what could be improved for next time. They picked apart every tiny detail, from the shape of his helmet, to when he took a salt tablet, to his emotional state throughout the race.

In practice, he did the same. The time he took to stop and reflect on all the details of his performances shaved seconds off his racing time, which was often the difference between winning – or not.

Now you might be thinking, of course he did! That’s his job. But, what if after every race he just kept moving? What if he never stopped to think about what he could do differently? Seems crazy, right?

Yet that’s what many of us do with the very thing that’s most important – our lives.

What Happens When You Don’t Reflect

We keep moving. We push through. We don’t stop to reflect. We stay in jobs that are (literally) killing us, relationships that zap our energy, circumstances that leave us stressed, unhappy, frustrated and tired.

We keep running on the treadmill of life thinking we don’t have time to waste. So we keep moving in order to keep up. But too often, we just crash and burn. That’s because the only way to keep up with the pace of life is to STOP. To hop off the treadmill. To reflect on what’s working and what’s not. To identify what to keep and what needs to change.

You may have heard the saying:

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“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again but expecting different results.”

Yet that is what so many of us do – continue on through life doing the same things and wondering why we aren’t getting a different outcome.

When a project or something doesn’t go well at work, what do you do? You take a moment to step back and see what went wrong and what you could do differently next time. The same should be true with life, yet we don’t often take time to reflect. Why not?

I’ve heard many reasons over the years. Maybe you feel you don’t have time and there is just too much else on your plate. Or maybe you don’t have the energy. You’re tired and feel like it’s just one more thing to do. Perhaps you don’t realize the significant and how it can positively transform your life. Or maybe you just feel like it’s too hard. Many of my clients feel they don’t know where to start or what to consider.

This is often why people hire a coach or consultant. To provide time and space they aren’t giving themselves. To ask the right questions and give space for the answers.

The good news is, you don’t need to hire anyone to reap the enormous benefits of self-reflection. All it requires is awareness, commitment and dedicating time.

The Importance of Self-Reflection

Many people find doing self-reflection difficult or troublesome. They don’t understand why they need it, and they don’t see the benefits doing self-reflection. Why is self-reflection important for you? Here I will reveal the benefits of self-reflection:

Improve Self-Awareness

It’s essential to understand yourself at a deeper level. Self-awareness and a little soul searching is critical to success in all areas of life.

Taking time for self-reflection about life leads to greater self-awareness which in turn leads to self-improvement. In addition, having a strong sense of self improves your confidence and level of self-esteem.

Provide Perspective

Self-reflection allows you to understand and see things from a different point of view. When you take a step back from a situation, you gain a new understanding. You can see the whole picture, not just the piece of the puzzle. You become more open minded.

Ever hear the saying, “Can’t see the forest for the trees”? This is an expression that highlights someone who is so involved in the details of a situation that they can’t see the whole picture.

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This is the benefit of self-reflection. You can zoom out and see the whole forest.

Allow You to Respond, Not React

Ever say or do something in the moment that you wish you could take back? When you react, you’re not thinking about the potential ramifications of your actions. However, when you spend time to reflect on a situation, you can respond more thoughtfully and change your behavior for next time.

Early in my career, a boss made a recommendation about this very thing. He advised me to wait 24 hours before addressing something I was upset about. This forced time of self-reflection allowed me to take stock of my feelings and emotions. I was then better able to approach the situation or issue with a level head and greater perspective.

Facilitate a Deeper Level of Learning

Many studies share the common conclusion that self-reflection facilitates a deeper level of learning and understanding. It’s a critical part of the education process. I’ve found this to be true in my own work as a facilitator and trainer.

When people are given time to reflect, digest and integrate, they are better able to make abstract connections, as well as retain and recall information. In fact, whenever I’m facilitating a group training and I introduce a new concept, I provide time for self-reflection about life. Even 5 minutes to integrate and think about what you’ve learned can make a critical difference.

Think about this for yourself. If, after you read this article, you move right on to the next thing, how much do you think you will remember?

However, if you read this article and take five minutes afterward to think about your learnings, how much more will you retain?

Improve Confidence

When you reflect, you gain a better understanding of what’s working and what’s not. This in turn, allows you to make better decisions and change your actions.

Each time you improve, it helps build your confidence with increased knowledge and perspective.

Challenge Your Assumptions

What you believe to be true is not always the truth. One of the best ways to tackle a limiting belief is to step back and debate the validity of that belief.

Self-reflection allows you to challenge beliefs and assumptions that are getting in your way.

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How to Self-Reflect (A Step-By-Step Guide)

Ok, so you understand the benefits and you’re ready to do get started? Here’s how:

The Process of Self-Reflection

This is a simple guide to the process of self-reflection:

  • STOP: Take a step back from life or a particular situation.
  • LOOK: Identify and get perspective on what you notice and see.
  • LISTEN: Listen to your inner guide, the innate wisdom that bubbles up when you give it time and space to emerge.
  • ACT: Identify the steps you need to take moving forward to adjust, change or improve.

What to Reflect On

There are two important components for self-reflection.

1. Reflect on YOU

This includes who you are and what you want for your life. This is the self-awareness piece we talked about earlier.

Many ancient philosophers from Aristotle to Socrates and Pythagoras touted the benefits of “knowing thyself”.

Here are some questions to ‘ponder’ when you reflect on YOU:

  • What are my core values? What are the beliefs, guiding principles or ideas that are deeply important to me? What are my priorities?
  • What are my unique gifts, skills, strengths or talents?
  • What are the weaknesses or blind spots I need to watch out for?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • What energy do I want to bring to everything I do?
  • What is the impact or difference I want to make? How do I want to serve, contribute or add value?
  • What are my passions? What do I love? What gets me engaged, motivated and excited?
  • Are there any beliefs that I have that are limiting me?
  • What do I want for my life? (after all, if you don’t know what you want, how do you expect to get there?)
  • When am I at my best?

2. Reflect on the Areas of Your Life That Are Important to You

This might include your relationships, home and family, career, health and well-being, finances, goals, spirituality and person growth, and fun and recreation.

A great tool that many coaches and those in the personal development space have used for years is called the “The Wheel of Life”. While the original wheel of life dates back to Buddhism, the modern wheel of life was created by Paul Meyer, a pioneer in the life coaching and self-improvement industry.[1]

    The purpose of the wheel is to look at areas of your life which are important to you. In each area, you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10. This gives you an idea of where you are in – or out of balance – and what areas you need to pay more attention to. It gives you perspective on the whole of your life.

    If you google ‘wheel of life’ you’ll get hundreds of different options to choose from. But here I recommend you the following examples. I prefer to use ones that have YOU or a space for YOU in the middle. I’ve also included a blank template where you can fill in the areas of your life which are most important to you right now.

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        Questions to Ask Yourself in Self-Reflection

        Here are some questions to ask yourself in the self-reflection process:

        • How do I feel overall about this area of my life? On a scale of 1-10, how would I rate my levels of satisfaction and success?
        • What’s working? What’s not working?
        • What do I want more of – or less of?
        • What are my accomplishments/wins/successes? (People often default to what’s wrong or hasn’t worked – it’s just as important to focus on what’s going right!)
        • What do I want? What are my hopes or goals?
        • What am I grateful for?
        • How would I improve this area of my life? What actions can I take?

        When to Self-Reflect

        The more you can make self-reflection a habit and part of your routine, the greater the impact will be. Below are some ideas to get you started. Identify which ones will work for you. Then grab your calendar or phone and schedule a reminder to make it happen!

        • New Years – There’s a reason New Years resolutions became a tradition. It’s a great time to reflect on the year that has passed and identify what you want (your intentions, goals, desires) in the year ahead.
        • Milestones – I have a friend that uses her birthday every year as a time for self-reflection. You can also choose an anniversary, the Spring equinox, a religious holiday or any date that has significance or importance to you.
        • Monthly or Weekly – Maybe you’d like to schedule time at the beginning of the month, or choose a day of the week, like Sunday to reflect on the week before.
        • Daily – A daily practice of self-reflection is probably one of the best ways to create a habit. I have many clients that like to get up early and reflect on the day before and the day ahead. Some prefer to journal in the evening before bed.
        • After an ‘Event’ – Just had a terrible work meeting? A bad interaction with your kids or spouse? Take a minute to step back and reflect on what happened. Doing this now will help you understand what happened and prevent future incidents similar to this one.
        • When You’re Off Track – Whenever you feel like you’re off track, unhappy, stressed or demotivated, it’s time to take a step back, reflect and regroup.

        Bonus Self-Reflection Tips

        Here are some extra tips for you to do self-reflection:

        • Grab a Journal – If you don’t have one, head to the store and find one you love. Writing has been proven to facilitate new levels of understanding and significantly reduce levels of stress. Moreover, when you see something, you are able to process it in a different way. And once it’s tangible, you then have a greater ability to tackle it, or let it go.
        • Schedule Time – Schedule uninterrupted time where you have space, feel quiet and can focus., whether that be 5 minutes a day or half a day once a quarter. If you think it’s just going to happen, it’s not. You have to do something to make it happen.
        • Accountability – Join a group, get a coach, find a buddy, tell your spouse – find someone to do this with. I was talking with a client of mine last week and she said the most valuable part of hiring me was the fact that she had someone she had to report back to weekly. It forced her to do the work that she wouldn’t have done otherwise on her own.
        • Be a fly on the wall – When you’re reflecting on something, especially relationships, it’s helpful to take the stance of a neutral observer. When you step back from a situation and view things as if you were a fly on the wall, it’s incredibly insightful. Try this with something in your life you’re having a hard time resolving. Take a step back and view the situation as if you were a fly on the wall, or as if you were watching the entire scene on a movie screen. Notice what you see, hear and feel about what you ‘observe’. It will give you a perspective that you hadn’t seen before!
        • Meditate – There are hundreds of studies that show the benefits of meditation. Something powerful happens when you don’t ‘think’ about something. Things bubble up. You have incredible, innate wisdom inside of you and meditation allows it to break through. Again, it’s just a matter of giving time and space to tap into it. Here is a simple guide to meditation: 5-Minute Guide to Meditation Anywhere at Anytime

        Final Thoughts

        If self-reflection isn’t a regular part of your life right now, this is your wake-up call. It’s time for you to take a step back. Time to hop off the treadmill of life. Time to reflect.

        Whichever step you take next is perfect. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do this. It’s only what works for you.

        If I’ve learned anything from working with thousands of clients over the years, different things work for different people. There’s no one size fits all approach to self-reflection, just like there’s no one size fits all approach to life.

        So, how are you going to get started?

        More About Self-Reflection

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Paul J Meyer: Industry Pioneer

        More by this author

        Tracy Kennedy

        Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

        How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power 12 Proven Ways To Increase Your Intellectual Wellness How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life 10 Powerful Ways to Be More Confident 10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck

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        Last Updated on April 19, 2021

        30 Essential Core Values for Living the Life You Want

        30 Essential Core Values for Living the Life You Want

        The weather will always change. Technology will always change. Trends will always change. We will always change.

        In a world that is constantly evolving and taking new forms, it can be somewhat overwhelming trying to make sense of this thing called life.

        One of the things that rarely changes in this world though and what can provide a guiding light for you throughout your life is your core values. This article will provide you with a core values list of 30 incredible values to adopt and use when all else seems to be changing.

        What Are Core Values?

        Core values are principles or beliefs that you hold most dear and that are of central importance in your life. When everything around you is changing, when the world is difficult to understand, and when you are riding up and down the emotion rollercoaster, your core values will always be there for you.

        Why Are Core Values Important?

        Core values are important because they act like a compass to help you lead the amazing life that you want, no matter where you find yourself in this world.

        Not only that, having the right core values can improve your decision-making, your productivity, your achievements and perhaps most importantly, your ability to love and be loved. They’re kind of a big deal. And it isn’t just us saying this, studies[1] have shown core values to have a whole host of other benefits.

        30 Best Core Values to Live by

        You might already have a few core values in mind or in your heart which is great. If you need some more ideas or haven’t really thought about your core values until now, here are our 30 favourite core values that you can adopt right now.

        1. Acceptance

        The ability to accept what you can control and what you can’t control. Being able to understand that on some days you are the hammer, and other days you are the nail. With acceptance as a core value, you can build either way and be happy while doing it.

        2. Adaptability

        Life is going to throw you curve ball after curve ball and if you aren’t ready for them, you are going to strikeout. Your life and the life of those you surround yourself with are far too complex to confine yourself to one mould.

        Be adaptable and ready and willing to change when you need to.

        3. Awareness

        Awareness is one of the best core values that you can adopt. Period. Awareness means paying attention to yourself, to others, to the world around you, to emotions, to situations. It means being able to see everyone and everything clearly – most importantly yourself.

        4. Balance

        There are going to be times when you need to sprint in life, and other times when you are going to need to slow down. The yin and the yang.

        Balance is one of the most important core values in many ancient cultures because it reflects nature for what it truly is: perfectly balanced and able to bend, rather than break.

        5. Calmness

        As well as being a sublime state of mind, many people forget that calm is a simple decision to make.

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        You can be calm in any situation should you allow yourself to be. No amount of angry drivers, long queues or frustrating technology can penetrate you when you adopt calmness as a core value.

        6. Community

        Every one of us is a social creature, whether we believe it or not, and community has been a key core value for us as a species for thousands of years.

        We are hard-wired to socialize; to eat, drink, gossip, laugh, tell stories, share ideas, give and receive amongst ourselves. Community also enhances the effect of other core values on this list, such as creativity.[2]

        7. Compassion

        Compassion is taking the time to understand the suffering of others and hopefully, being able to do something about it. There is a lot of struggle and suffering that can be alleviated in the world; with a core value like compassion you might be able to do help your fellow humans in some meaningful way.

        8. Creativity

        With technology taking most of the administrative jobs, creative people are going to be leading us into the future.

        Someone who cherishes creativity is able to think up new and big ideas, see things that other people can’t and see the world around them through their own lens, not somebody else’s.

        9. Discipline

        Discipline will lead you to the life that you want, should you adopt it as a core value.

        “Discipline Equals Freedom” is a term popularised by ex-Navy Seal Jocko Willink, and what it means is that if you can be disciplined in the right things, you will be free in the right things too.

        Discipline to workout means more freedom in your body as you age. Discipline to save means more freedom with your time and money in the long-term. And so it goes…

        10. Empathy

        There is perhaps no greater value on this list that will connect you deeper to not just the closest people in your life but to complete strangers too.

        Practising empathy requires the understanding that other people have a nagging voice in their own head, just like you do. That they have a worldview different to yours based on their experiences. And that’s ok. It’s not easy to adopt empathy as a core value, but it is certainly worth it.

        11. Freedom

        Freedom comes in many forms and that is why it is one of the ultimate core values to have. The freedom to choose, freedom to speak, freedom to live on your own terms, freedom to love and be loved.

        If freedom becomes a core value of yours, watch how your life changes for the better.

        12. Gratitude

        Gratitude provides a powerful perspective shift whenever you feel yourself get into a rut.

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        You can become grateful for the big things like having shelter, food and great people in your life. You can also become grateful for the small things like the cup of coffee that you just drank or the soft sheets on your bed.

        13. Happiness

        Happiness is a powerful core value and is not just restricted to your own happiness but also friends and family.

        When happiness guides your decision-making rather than superficial things like money and status, you will find yourself in a much more satisfying position than if you chase other people’s idea of happiness.

        14. Health

        They say that a healthy man has a lot of dreams and wishes whereas a sick man only has one – to be able to get out of bed.

        Health is the precursor to every other core value on this list; if you don’t have your health, you can’t do much else until you do. Because of this, health has to be a core value in your life.

        15. Humility

        Humility

        is the antidote to arrogance and selfishness and is a value to adopt if you want to keep your feet firmly on the ground. It is said that you are never as good or as bad as people say you are.

        Humility recognizes this and keeps you moving towards your goal, no matter what anyone else says.

        16. Innovation

        The act of innovation involves taking one existing thing and making it better. Although images of whacky car designs and complicated technology can spring to mind when thinking about innovation, it doesn’t have to be that grandiose.

        Simply seeing something small and making it better in your own life is enough to make a world of difference.

        17. Knowledge

        Knowledge is power. Not power in the 14th-century medieval banker-sense but in the power to change your own life-sense.

        Knowledge about yourself, others and the world allows you to understand everything that you see a bit better. When you see things for what they are, you can act accordingly and get to where you want to be.

        18. Leadership

        It take guts, determination, confidence and humility to lead. All of these qualities are both rare and admirable and are the reason why leadership is such an excellent core value.

        The future is dark and unknown but also full of hidden treasures. We need someone to lead us, will it be you?

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        19. Love

        It can be argued that all of the core values on this list can be tied together by the one, all-encompassing value of Love.

        When you value love deeply and try to show it in everything that you do, you make your world and the world of others a much better place.

        20. Moderation

        Forget this diet, that diet, eating there, eating then, working out before coffee or always in the afternoon. It’s all noise that works for some people some of the time – moderation is the key.

        Not acting in moderation can also have some damaging consequences, especially for your health.[3] What works well for all people is everything in moderation.

        Of course, life should be fun too so even ‘everything in moderation’, should be in moderation.

        21. Peace

        Peace is another core value that takes years of practice to perfect. However, its rewards are boundless with both the journey and destination full of rewards.

        Peace enables clear decision-making, freedom in thoughts and actions as well as providing a deep understanding of the special life that you live.

        22. Purpose

        Purpose can be doubled up with ‘meaning’ as these are two values that provide the drive in any endeavour that you might pursue.

        Purpose is what gets you out of bed every morning, it is why you sacrifice what you sacrifice and often entails something bigger than yourself. If you don’t have a purpose, it is unlikely that you will find much meaning in your life.

        23. Responsibility

        Nobody likes having to take the dog on a walk, having to clean the dishes or do things that they are reluctantly responsible for. However, responsibility can actually be an awesome way to add meaning and value to your life.

        When other people depend on you and you fulfil your role as provider, not only are they better off but you get the satisfaction that comes along with it too.

        24. Service

        Similar to the responsibility point above, when you adopt service as a core value, you will have very little time to wallow in any self-pity, anxiety or existential angst because you will be busy making the world a better place.

        Funnily enough, by serving others, many people find that they themselves are internally served with feelings of satisfaction and contentment.

        25. Spirituality

        Of course, there is the importance of physical health, mental health and emotional health, but spiritual health is just as important.

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        Spirituality has nothing to do with religion, it simply means taking the time to listen to your body, to watch your thoughts, to connect with and appreciate the world and the universe that you find yourself in.

        26. Trust

        Trust is a core value on this list because it requires many other difficult skills that also help to develop you as a person.

        To be able to trust and be trusted, you need strong relationships, an ounce of risk, a healthy dose of vulnerability and a smidge of humility. All of this creates a recipe for a very positive life with trust at the centre.

        27. Understanding

        Understanding comes from a place of acceptance of what is, not what should be or could be. It is the ability to recognise someone else’s viewpoint without trying to change it. It is learning that it is useless to fight against the way the world is and other people are, and to learn to dance with them instead.

        28. Wealth

        Not in the monetary sense but in the ‘having everything that you need sense’. Someone who is truly wealthy possesses great relationships, plenty of freedom, a life filled with joy as well as many of the other values on this list.

        Adopt wealth as a core value and it will act as a magnet to other incredible things.

        29. Wisdom

        Contrary to popular belief, wisdom does not come with age but rather, experience. There are many young people with more wisdom than the oldest people that you know. What makes someone wise is their ability to see broadly and clearly, to use good judgement and to be decisive when necessary.

        Wisdom is something that we all should seek.

        30. Wonder

        The final value on this list is wonder and it is the ideal place to finish.

        Wonder is thinking about the possibility of what comes next, dreaming about how you and things could be better, pushing your own boundaries and what you think you are capable of each day.

        Wonder is practical dreaming, and you should start right away.

        Final Thoughts

        Now you have a good idea of some of the core values that you can adopt, it’s time to not only decide which ones you like the best but also integrate and use them in your daily life.

        Core values are designed to guide your decisions in your most difficult moments. Now you have everything you need to go and live the life that you want to live!

        More About Self-Discovery

        Featured photo credit: AndriyKo Podilnyk via unsplash.com

        Reference

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