There's a quote I have seen shared on various social media sites that has inspired my latest blog about self-reflection.  "In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to," Dave Hollis.  

I'm not generally one for self reflection.  I'm more action oriented.  I prefer to look to the next thing and the excitement that the 'up and coming' gives me. There have, admittedly, been periods of my life where making the effort (and it has been an effort!) to self-reflect has come more naturally.  When I travelled during a career break, during my two periods of maternity leave and probably holidays too.  It's clear to me that reflection works best for me when I break from the norm, when I'm somewhere different and I can dedicate time to it.  I feel I can benefit from the hindsight and commit to doing things differently.

The quote from Dave Hollis, shared by many during the current Covid-19 pandemic, resonated with me because right now we've all been presented with an environment that is the right tone for self-reflection.  We're forced to pause in many ways, we're less active, no longer rushing to places and we're more distanced from others.   We may more easily find the pockets of time that self-reflection requires.  

Reflection has many facets.  It can help enhance the meaning of what we learn and experience, help us to gain new and more complex insights to our behaviours and those of others.  It can help guide us on what to do next and do differently, as well as help us process our thoughts and feelings.  Ultimately it presents us with a positive way to raise self-awareness and better ourselves.  

Reflective practice is so much more than casual thinking.  It requires conscious effort. According to Jennifer Porter, writing in the Harvard Business Review, an "[untangling] and [sorting] through observations and experiences, [to] consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning."  It's about "meaning making" and through this learning, growing and taking action.  

So, if you're going to take the opportunity to reflect on what you would like your new or next normal to be once Covid-19 has passed or if you wish to commit to regular reflection here's how to access it:

Environment: Test which environments work best for you for self-reflection.  Do you prefer places where you feel like you're 'away from things.'  Do you need to be alone or have someone to talk to?  Is it enough to just sit, to write or do you like to be walking in the great outdoors?

Time: Even if you're limited in time you can find opportunity to reflect. Do you reflect best in the morning or when you're unwinding in the evening?  Start small and build up if you have to.  Come back to topics if you didn't have enough time.  

Watch and listen: notice what is going on around you.  

Feel: pay attention to your emotions, what prompts them, which different ones you feel, how you deal with any negative ones. What are you energy levels like and when are they at their best?

Consider some questions: plan a little.  Use open questions to explore your thinking.  Use a coaching model like GROW to determine your goals and how you will get there.  What's helping that process? What's hindering it?

Challenge your thoughts: consider if you really believe the first thoughts you have.  What tells you they are or are not true? What other perspectives might there be?

Commit and take action: what do you intend to do differently next time?  Apply what you've learnt and evaluate how well its worked for you. 

Reflection is a ongoing cycle that you can apply to many areas of your life.  There's some fantastic guidance and templates you can use in the below article by Tracy Kennedy, Personal Development Expert, writing for Lifehack.  

Elizabeth Hardwick-Smith is Director of HR & Training at Pick Everard