As many of you might appreciate or hate, I am usually writing blog posts in response to something relevant that is happening in mine or my clients’ lives. Being that I’m often overly frank and honest, it’s nearly impossible for me to create examples that I have not witnessed firsthand.
Hence, it’s time for me to write about the art of reflection, and how it can provide extreme value to you when you might feel a little stuck in life. We are ALL going to get stuck at some point… it’s just a matter of when it will happen to you.
Ask anyone that knows me well: I am NOT a natural processor or reflector. I often move extremely quickly from one decision or action to the next, taking great pride in my ability to create change and get things accomplished soon after I’ve had the idea. This tendency has led me to succeed in some ways, but also resulted in a huge ass kicking in others.
But I usually screw up when I move too quickly during the ‘stuck’ phases. And when I move quickly instead of thinking things through, then I’m right back in another moment feeling stuck and thinking, “Not here again! UGH!”
I swear to you, the art of processing and reflecting is SO hard for me. So hard that I need a framework or tool, so I can feel there is actual work getting done. Just “thinking on it” makes me feel stir crazy and angry.
If you are like me and struggle in this arena, I wanted to share a few tricks that might help you slow down and reflect to move through the “stuck” phase:
Get Curious to Find the ‘WHY’
What is the REAL issue that you are grappling with? Fellow colleagues and I often facilitate a process called “The 5 Why’s”, where we continue to ask someone why about a specific situation until we have arrived at the very root problem or issue.
By digging deep and continuing to ask why around the external feelings and frustrations, we can uncover and understand the hidden issues that are causing us to get stuck. Sometimes it ends up being something different than you assumed it was, which can free us up to more understanding. (If it’s too awkward to ask yourself those questions, consider asking a trusted friend, loved one or colleague to do the questioning for you.)
Ask “What Outcome Am I Hoping For?”
I force myself to spend time on this concept VERY often. It is easy for me to charge forward and get way down the road before I’ve realized I missed a turn 3 miles back. Goals change. What we really want from life or work changes. It’s ok – it’s normal.
When I was 17, I was determined to be a zookeeper and help design animal exhibits. Didn’t happen.
At 28 I was going to lead a non-profit in West Africa and work in my Peace Corps village again. Didn’t happen.
At 32 I was going to be a stay-at-home mom. Again – nope. It’s ok.
My ideal outcomes, or what I’ve wanted out of life has continued to evolve and shift.
So what about you – What do you see as an ideal outcome for you right now? How has it changed from before and where do you want it to take you?
Remind Yourself of YOU
You are an amazing person that has racked up a long list of challenging, amazing and relevant experiences in your life. Do not ignore those beautiful experiences and everything you have learned about yourself along the way. Taking some time to reflect on what you have accomplished and what you have learned about yourself is key. I can now look back and be honest about the jobs or experiences that I’ve loved and hated. If I take the time, I can also remind myself of why I made certain decisions and what I have learned about myself along the way.
What values guide you? What about your life do you want to look back on with pride and happiness? Those answers are inside you – answers that will help guide you to what is right for you next.
So what if you’ve tried everything here and still feel stuck? Take it deeper and read a book or watch a TED talk. Look into authors and practitioners like Martha Beck, Brene Brown, and Jen Sincero for some true realistic views on how to grow yourself.
Don’t worry. Trust the process. It’s what gets you to the light at the end of the tunnel.
And for those of you that are natural processors and reflectors – Help! What tips do you have for those of us that are terrible at it?