Holding up the mirror saying, “Mirror, mirror, in my hand, am I not the fairest in the land?” may not be its best use. The primary function of a mirror is simple, to reflect. It shows what is unseen by us, but obvious to others.
We all look and judge the actions of others, but how often do we hold the mirror up to what we’ve done?
The act of reflecting is “Turning back, as thoughts upon themselves or upon past events.” It is a simple, easily understood definition, generally synonymous with meditation and contemplation. I find the word reflection itself better illustrates this idea of looking back on thoughts and actions.
Reflecting is an important aspect of intentionally living. Looking critically at what we have done and why we did it. It allows us the chance to see common themes to the stories of our lives or lessons from yesterday to apply tomorrow.
From the farmer in the field to the CEO of a fortune 500 company, reflection is required not only for personal development, but for business. They tend to call it a Profit and Loss report.
There is however, a difference between reflecting and dwelling. When you reflect, you gaze upon past events or thoughts and consider them. Dwelling is when you plant yourself in those thoughts, mired in the “would-have – could-have” of life. The purpose of reflection is to learn from what you’ve done or thought. The purpose of dwelling is to lose yourself in yesterday.
This is the point of the year when reflection becomes poignant. The year is close to ending with a New Year dawning. What have we learned from this past year? Can you say you’ve improved? To answer these questions requires a time of reflection to remember the lessons learned and the events lived.
3 Ways to Reflect:
- Reviewing your journal – Journaling is an excellent way to keep track of what’s happened in your life, the thoughts you’ve had, or your hopes for tomorrow. Look back through the year at what you wrote.
- Reviewing your bookshelf – What books you read in a year can give you an idea of how the year went, or what ideas you developed and considered in that time.
- Reviewing your work – What actual work was finished? Look at what projects you finished at work, or at home. What tangible things did you complete in the year?
We each have our method of auditing a year, the particular way we like to reflect on it. I journal while my father looks at his work. The key is the action itself. Take a moment to go over the last year in your head and see what you can learn for the new one.
As the year is drawing closer to its close, it is pushing me to say, “I’m reflecting.”