"The unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates
In today’s culture, it has become the norm to brag about how full your schedule is. We’re here to remind you that action without reflection leads to wasted energy and ineffective behavior. Rather than always being on the go, go, go, allow yourself time to examine your actions before and after they take place. You’ll be amazed at how much more impactful and purposeful your day-to-day activities become when you’ve given them more thought. Bonus—you’ll grow as a person through this process, too.
Have you ever heard the expression, “building the rocket as it takes off”? Imagine if this scenario really played out. If the engineer tried to both ignite the boosters and construct the siding … yeah, that wouldn’t turn out well for anybody. Action requires thoughtful preparation. Conversely, after you complete an action or event, it’s important to reflect on what went well and what can be improved. Astronauts are sure thankful that engineers analyzed and adjusted their calculations before and after each launch to achieve maximum effectiveness. While we don’t need to break out the calculator at the start of each day, incorporating more thoughtfulness and reflection can absolutely change our day’s trajectory.
When to Reflect
So, when exactly should you spend time reflecting? There’s no wrong answer, as long as you make it a priority by actually blocking time off time in your calendar. Consider pausing to reflect throughout your day.
- When you wake up: Meditate on three things you’re grateful for.
- During dinner: Discuss highs and lows of the day with a friend.
- At the end of work: Think about what you learned and what went well.
- Before bed: Journal about what you want to do differently tomorrow.
Why Reflection Is Important
Reflection helps us with a range of important aspects of our life, such as:
- Processing emotions.
- Unlocking ideas.
- Thinking through mistakes.
- Exploring questions.
- Learning from the past.
- Considering other perspectives.
It's Time to Take Action
Now that you’ve considered why we want to look (or at least think) before we leap, go ahead and dive in! Simply sitting around and thinking, without ever taking that next step, is as limiting as acting without reflecting. Take advantage of an opportunity, try something new, put yourself out there! However, make sure you schedule in time for reflecting on your behavior after the fact, too. Ask yourself if your actions resulted in increased happiness for yourself or a positive impact on others. If so, keep it up! If not, reevaluate how you’re spending your time.
At the end of the day, you want to feel good about your actions and interactions. Balancing behavior with reflection enables you to better weigh opportunities, explore ideas, and learn from failures—which means that when you do act, you’re taking steps in a direction that you’re proud of!