“How are you?” is probably the most asked question in the world. For friends and acquaintances, “how are you?” seems like the next perfect thing to say after exchanging greetings. Our answers are usually vague, casual and cliche, “I am fine”. Rarely, do we give more details to our lives beyond the trite answer.
But instead of having someone else ask, block out time to ask yourself how you are doing and pay attention to your answer. For all the aspects of your life – work, purpose, finances, growth etc., how are you really doing?
Going through life without pausing to catch a breath, think and evaluate your thoughts, motives and actions is like running in circles. You can’t create the life you want by living on autopilot. Usually, experiences leave us with lessons. Some of these lessons come easily to the forefront of our minds and are more likely to be noticed. Most lessons are only learnt if the whole experience is appraised.
Know the life you want.
We can only evaluate to see how close we are to a goal when there’s a goal in the first place. Also, detours are noticeable when there’s a destination in mind. Set what you want for your life not what other people want for you. Decide how you want to spend your life. Write your own narrative.
Be Generous With Yourself
Taking a step back to meditate on your life can be either daunting or rewarding depending on how you go about it. Often times, people shy away from introspection because it leaves them feeling vulnerable, stressed or depressed. Allow introspection to be what it’s supposed to be, fun. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Show yourself some love.
You don’t need to share notes from your introspection with anyone. Carefully question your thoughts and overall thinking process with all candor. When you analyse a feat, challenge or problem, be willing to delve beyond the superficial reasons to find the root cause. Ask the right questions and answer them honestly.
How to Reflect
Allocate some time, get a journal or use a notetaking app on your phone and begin to ask yourself these questions. I usually divide my reflection period into three parts; looking back, focusing on the present and preparing for the future, to cover the past, present and future.
Add your own questions to the list below.
Looking Back –
- What am I most proud of?
- What am I least proud of?
- What are the lessons I can draw from my least proud moment?
- What are the lessons I can draw from my most proud moment?
- What can I do more to inspire more proud moments?
Focusing On The Present
- How do I feel in general? Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually?
- What am I grateful for?
- Have my routines become my enemy?
- Am I too comfortable with my current state of life?
- How would I rate myself from one to ten on the following attributes?
– Humility -Selflessness – Kindness -Compassion – Consistency
-Patience -Creativity -Forgiveness -Passion -Hard work -Love -Spirituality
- Where am I spending most of my time?
- Where am I spending most of my money?
- What beliefs do I need to discard?
- What habits do I need to change?
- What influences my actions and reactions to others?
Preparing For The Future
- What do I want to see in specific areas of my life – health, work, school, finances, relationships, family?
- What rituals do I need to incorporate to get there?
- Do my priorities match my actions?
- What are my current personal and professional goals?
- What skills do I need to acquire?
- How will I define success on my terms?
What You Will Gain
Once we put ourselves under the microscope, we see where we fall short, where we can give our best and how we can be better. There’s always room for deliberate growth and development once we reflect enough to see where to start. Personal growth cannot be outsourced. Once you have enough awareness of your past, your current state and your next stage, you can work towards progress.
High Emotional Intelligence
Introspection gives you the ability to recognise emotions and how they impact both you and other people. Self-awareness helps you control your thoughts, how you react from emotions, how you take feedback and criticism, and how you show empathy and compassion. You will connect with a lot more people without labelling them and remain open-minded.
Improved Decision Making Skills
When you know the quality of life you want to lead, making decisions become meaningful. It is easier to evaluate the weight and significance of every decision. You choose not to sweat the small stuff and have a cost-benefit analysis to examine the negative and positive outcomes of life-changing decisions.
This is a great time to have a thorough introspection and set your life in motion for the future. The journey of life is a journey of self-discovery. Let your life and experiences teach you what you need to know.
Also published on Medium.