Clinician resiliency expert Mark Vickstrom offers the following reflection pointers to improve your strengths; clarify and align your values and goals; and track your growth. Ideally you would have hours to walk in the woods or sit by the fire as you ponder these questions. But you could also just pick one a day to think about on your drive home or as you wash the dishes. Or even just scan the list and pick one or two of the questions that feel most relevant to you.
Ask the important questions.
First, self-reflection isn’t just thinking about what’s happened. It’s also about asking yourself tough and thought-provoking questions to deepen the inquiry process and help shape what is to come. Ask questions that challenge your thinking. Remind yourself of who you are relative to who you hope to be. For example:
- What went well in the last day/week/month/year?
- What didn’t go so well?
- What did I think/say/do in response?
- What are my goals and how am I taking steps to achieve them?
- What’s stopping me from my goals — large and small?
- Was I someone others would respect? Someone I would respect?
- Do I have negative emotions? How frequently? What are they?
- Did I use my time wisely?
Think about the reasons behind your answers.
Second, think about the reasons behind the answers to your questions. Why did what happened to you over the last day/week/month/year occur? Take time and think deeply. For example:
- If I were to relive today/this week/month/year, what would I do differently, what would I change, and why?
- What am I holding onto that I need to release?
- What am I doing about the things that matter most in my life?
- How might this affect my goals for the future?
- What factors influenced the situation?
- What did I bring to the situation that impacted the result? Did I create this situation or was it unavoidable?
Ponder a better future and your best life.
Lastly, reflection is not just about how you would change the same situation were it to occur again. It’s also about how you can apply your experience to other situations so as to build a better life. Pull together all your questions, answers, and thoughts with a view toward expanding your overall ability to learn, adapt, change, and improve the future. Blueprint your best life.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
- Are there generalizations, patterns, and continued responses that I’m making often?
- What does this situation remind me of? How did I handle it?
- How does this relate to other experiences I’ve had?
- Knowing what I know now, what would I have done differently?
- What’s stopping me from doing the things I set out to do?
- Did I respect myself the way I should?
- Did I make a positive impact?
- Did I perform at my best?
- Are my emotions unusually negative? Why?
- What worries me most about the future?
- What do I want most in the world?
- Does it really matter what others think of me?
- What have I achieved that I’m proudest of?
Where life will lead in the future, you cannot know. But you can help shape the journey ahead by reflecting on where you’ve already been. For those Disney aficionados, Tow Mater from Cars said “I don’t need to know where I’m goin’, I just need to know where I’ve been.”
GME Wellness Committee