What are you proud of? What is one of your best skills? What makes you feel nervous or unsure? What area could you grow in?
I think about these questions regularly. I find self reflecting helps me to focus on my good qualities and also look at my weaknesses in a constructive way. Over time, these little reflection moments build my self confidence and trust in my abilities.
On my recent reflection, I thought about my good qualities. I wrote down four key qualities: courage, creativity, openness to try new things and kindness to others. I also wrote down one thing I’d like to work on – I chose being kinder to myself.
I don’t know about you, but I can be my own harshest critic. Sometimes after a workshop I found myself berating myself for little things that weren’t perfect, and ignored all the great learning moments that happened in the workshop. Whilst its good to strive for excellence, I’ve learnt you can still think of things to improve AND celebrate the great achievements too. You will never be perfect, but you can be fantastic at what you do.
So I’ve made it this years mission to improve my self compassion, and will sharing how I get on and little tips I find along the way. But in the meantime, here are some top tips for constructive self reflection that I’ve found useful. They have really boosted my self confidence – I hope they do the same for you:
1.) Find a quiet space
Turn off emails and all distractions. Get your favourite drink, a fabulous pen (we all have our favourites) and a nice big piece of blank paper. Some people prefer to go outside in nature to ‘walk and talk’ it through with a trusted friend or colleague. Find out what you need to focus and do what works best for you.
Before starting take a few breaths, a sip of tea, allow thoughts of ‘should’ and ‘ought’ to settle. This is your time to reflect and make progress. Enjoy it.
2.) Write down your current strengths
This can come from things you’ve done that were successful or that you are proud of. For example, if you helped someone with a work task, that shows kindness and good team skills. If you politely disagreed with someone’s point of view, that shows good assertive skills, respect and honesty. It’s normal to start slow and then pick up steam. Write as many as you like.
3.) Utilise your strengths
Now have a reflect on your strengths. These are your superpowers. How could you make more use of them? Could you find creative ways to integrate them into work or home life? Or do you feel you already make good use of your strengths and simply want to maintain this balance? Write down one or two actions to take for the next month, such as using your creativity more whilst cooking meals or using your kindness by praising another colleague on their good work.
4.) Choose one thing to improve
The reason we stick with 1 is so that it is manageable, and to keep more focus on your strengths. Sometimes it can be too easy to focus on your perceived flaws, but that is not the objective here. Think about 1 thing you admire in others and would like to improve. Would you like to feel more confident speaking up? Or perhaps you’d like to learn how to have more tact? Pick the one thing most useful to you right now.
5.) Research ways to improve
It could be training, it could be online videos, it could be a book. We all learn best in different ways. Try to pick something that will give you a definite deadline where possible, like a training day. This will encourage you to commit and learn new skills. Then put it into action. Remember to expect mistakes. This is all part of the learning process and an essential part of improving a skill.
6.) Write down 3 things you’re proud of
To finish off, write down 3 things you have done that you are proud of. It can be small things or big things, and it is personal to you. Over the months, you can look back on all the stuff you have achieved and all the good you’ve put into the world. And you should feel proud. Humans are all capable of great things. Let’s trust that we already are capable, and will only improve and refine with time and effort.
Aim to do these reflections once a month, to keep you on track and to slowly build your self trust and confidence. And if you need some motivation, just picture yourself in a year’s time looking back on your goals and all the progress you’ve made. What a satisfying feeling that will be.
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