Learning Through Reflection


As this year begins to wrap up, I would like to talk about reflection. When we take time to reflect – to look back on a day, week, or year and gather all the valuable fruitage – we begin to look at things much differently. Reflection is a deeper form of learning that allows us to retain every aspect of any experience – personal or professional. It allows us to look at why something took place, what the impact was, and whether it should happen again; as opposed to just remembering that it happened. Reflection allows us to analyze every aspect of the experience, clarify our thinking, and zoom in on what really matters to us.

From a brain science perspective, it adds neural circuitry to your brain and expands the cerebral cortex by anchoring and deepening your experiences into learning. In layman’s terms, you squeeze more benefit out of each day. You will start to find that even the mundane can become great sources of ideas; providing a surplus of information to fuel personal growth, and facilitate the development of new skills.

Now, squeezing more benefit out of each day sounds great, but you may be wondering how you will find the time to stop and reflect? You have 50 emails waiting for a response, meetings, deadlines, family commitments – and the list goes on. Time is precious, and downtime is nonexistent. But if you carve out just a little time each day (or week) for reflection, you won’t regret it.

I believe the easiest form of reflection is to keep a journal. Just the act of writing can bring to light ideas that may not otherwise have surfaced. It allows you to “brain dump” everything out on paper (or screen); then review it and make sense of it.

You will find that doing this once a day (or week) for five to ten minutes will be very beneficial. It would be good to create a habit so, for example, every night before bed or every Friday at 3 pm you’ll take time to make some notes – think about your day, your work, your life…what happened, what would you do differently next time, what were you grateful for, and most importantly, what you learned from it.

Reflection transforms an experience into a genuine learning opportunity. Often we are caught up in the troubles or busyness of our daily lives. If we take a minute to step back, and reflect on things, it will help us gain perspective; and can even lower our stress level.

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