We all know the saying that hindsight is 20/20, but if we’re honest with ourselves, how much do we use that hindsight?
When we are constantly striving to move forward in life it’s easy to lose ourselves in the future. We all know that feeling of where did this week go, in fact where did this year go? How often do we actually take the time to stop, reflect on what’s happened in our world, and use this knowledge to help us move forward?
I know that there has been plenty of times that I’ve said to myself “I wish I’d known then, what I know now”. Well, if we take the time to learn from things that have gone before, then we do have the benefit of hindsight.
Reflection links our current experiences to previous learning, it is a tool for continuous growth. If we do not reflect then we do not learn. Taking the time to sit quietly and analyse our thoughts, actions and words in a given situation, gives us the opportunity to look at the highs and the lows of what has gone before, learn from them and decide from that what we would do differently next time.
Whilst we may not experience the same exact situation again, the time spent reflecting and learning from our thoughts will give us insight when we come across a situation that is similar or invokes the same feelings inside. Then when a situation brings up the same emotions, the same fear or dread that we didn’t listen to the first time, this time around we have a bank of knowledge to draw upon. Instead of acting instinctively, led by our subconscious and repeating the same actions over and over again, we can draw upon the lessons learned previously and change our reaction… in doing this hopefully we will create a new outcome that is more in line with our desires.
Most importantly though…. whilst it’s great to analyse and learn from our mistakes, don’t forget about learning from the positive. We need to spend time celebrating our successes, as when we stop and take time to look at the things that have gone right and where our strengths lie, we can start to look at how we can enhance those qualities and see future possibilities to develop new strengths.
HOW TO LEARN FROM AN EXPERIENCE:
Identify a situation that has occurred recently, possibly one where you feel as though you could have dealt with it more effectively.
What thoughts come up when you reflect on that situation?
How did you feel afterwards?
How do you feel about your behaviour at the time?
Did your actions influence others?
Did your actions or words align with your values, or did you let your emotions take over?
Could different actions or words have changed the outcome?
What have you learned from the situation?
What actions would you take if faced with the same situation again?
THREE WAYS TO REFLECT…
Keep a journal: write down your everyday activities and events and what you have learned from them.
Have a conversation: reflection doesn’t have to be done alone… in fact, studies by psychologists have suggested that we learn more when our thoughts are put into words, either written or spoken.
Meditate: It is a common mis-belief that mediation means an empty mind. Sitting quietly to focus on your thoughts is also a form of mediation and one we can learn from.
EIGHT QUESTIONS TO REFLECT ON:
What am I passionate about?
Am I still heading in the right direction?
Am I doing things which have a positive impact for myself and those around me?
What are my core values and are the things that I do and say on a daily basis in line with those values?
What is my biggest lesson this last year?
What do I want from life?
What drives me?
What would I do if I could not fail?
“We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.” — John Dewey
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