As we advance towards the end of the year, have you considered reflecting on your professional and personal progress?
In its most basic sense, reflection is the practice of reviewing previous events, with a willingness to learn and improve on actions taken.
As an entrepreneur, you can learn a lot through reflection. Understanding the factors that led to certain decisions - and knowing what you can improve on next time - will enable you to increase the reaction speed of your business, as well as reduce your stress levels.
Reflection may also help you to find a new area to expand into, improve your business offering, or take advantage of a unique opportunity that no-one else has spotted yet.
Put your year in review
To adequately reflect upon this past year, start by committing some time to review your progress. This can be done alone, or with key people who have supported you over the course of the year.
Start by consulting your calendar - or whatever you use to plan your business activities - so you can remind yourself of this year’s big events. Select the most important things that happened over the last 12 months, and write them down on separate pieces of paper.
Now answer the following questions for each:
1. What was your aim?
Every action taken in business, and in life, has an aim at its core. What did you want to achieve?
Mentally visualise your approach - did you spend the right amount of time on it? Who was there to support you? Would you do it the same again next time?
2. How did your expectations compare to reality?
In almost all circumstances, there will be something that didn’t quite go to plan. That’s what makes it fun, as well as necessary to look back and review it.
If you didn’t achieve what you wanted, can you pinpoint why not? What would you do to overcome this next time?
3. How did it make you feel?
In most workplaces, the emotional side of business is largely ignored. We believe this can be a real weakness, especially for entrepreneurs, solo workers, and small businesses. Carrying negative emotions around can hinder your progress, especially when they are tied to a previous failure. It can make you anxious to try again, when in reality most people don’t get things right first time - and failure is a stepping stone to success.
Jot down the emotions you felt around each event, and also how they make you feel today. If something didn’t go well, breathe through the negativity. Allow it to move through you and learn from it. And for those that went well, embrace the positive emotions, and feel rewarded by them - you really earned it.
4. What did you learn?
From the above questions, you should be able to boil down what you learned. See if you can note down at least one thing your learned for each of the following:
While no two activities are identical, you can certainly improve your processes based on these learnings. In turn, this will improve your chance for success in the future.
5. What are you grateful for?
Finally, reflect on what you are grateful for. What achievements or growth did you experience that were directly related to this event? Did you make valuable new business contacts, or perhaps receive some press coverage?
Look how far you’ve come
When you’re done reviewing each key event separately, it’s time to put your entire year in review.
Carefully, cut your sheets of paper into five, separating the questions and answers out. Now reorganise them so all Q1s are together, all Q2s are together, etc.
Look over each set of questions and answers. Pay particular attention to Q3s, Q4s, and Q5s. These all show how far you’ve come in the last year, your feelings, learnings, and appreciations all in one place.
Did you like this exercise? If this activity helped you, we’d love to hear about it. Tweet us or join our Facebook Group to share your reflections. And if one area of significant improvement is your balance between work and mental health, try following our Digital Wellbeing Training, a course that you can fit around your work schedule.