I am a zealot of daily personal reflection. The process has revealed many opportunities for me in past years. Reflection helps process the past and improve the future.
Recognize that when we stay in the past we become stranded. For reflection to be effective, it must allow us to move forward rather than to be stuck in yesterday. The power of reflection materializes when we determine a more valuable plan for tomorrow. The mistake I have made is failing to act on the improved plan. When I spend time in reflection, I may find many alternatives or options for moving forward. Without an effective process, you may lose sight of these options in the coming days.
Upon reflection, the path forward may seem strikingly clear. But when you fast forward a day, a week, or even months, how do you remember the new plan? Under the stress of day to day challenges, it may be difficult to implement the ideas you developed. Faced with the realities of the moment to moment changes in real life, it may be hard to implement the changes that you thought would be effective. Capturing lessons learned is one method that helps me. I write them in a journal or in a spreadsheet. I document the actions and options that I need to pursue. This reflection, capturing, and remembering cycle helps me grow from yesterday, and move to the future.
I have been stranded before, it does not feel great. And the longer you stay stranded, the harder it is to move forward. You have heard it said. We are best defined by our future rather than our past. Keep moving. Find a process that works for you, and keep moving. Our future lies in what can happen, not what has happened. Each day becomes an opportunity to improve and move forward. One of the ways that you can accomplish this is by learning how to communicate skillfully. Jack Klemeyer talked to us about this in an AccelaWork article that really gets down to the finer details of communication. So where can you start? Well, you do that by doing what we all do when we come across something new – we practice!
One of the best ways to get good at conversation with other people is simply to practice. Take every opportunity that presents itself to learn the art of making good conversation with other people. I learned from taking a Dale Carnegie course years ago and simply reading Carnegie’s hallmark book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Start by saying hello to the people you pass on the street. Ask the person who is checking you out at the grocery store or the teller at the bank how they are doing and ask if they are enjoying their day. Better yet, ask a good open ended question, one that cannot be answered with one word or grunt. Learn to respond with more than just one word when someone asks you a question. You will be surprised at how quickly you learn about art of conversation by doing small things such as these.
If you want to be constantly looking forward and moving onto bigger and better things, you have to be able to reflect on the past, not stay there. Communicate your needs to others and also yourself. Have an open dialogue with your coworkers, managers, and your inner voice. Great things happen to those who don’t sit on their hands and wait for it to come! By knowing yourself and your goals, and speaking skillfully about them to others, you will be on the right path toward success.