Everything in your life is a reflection

Of a choice you have made.

If you want a different result, 

You will need to make different choices”

Fall is in the air!  The sun rises later now and darkness lingers as I walk to the mailbox to get the newspaper.  As I exhale, I can see my breath in the morning’s early light. To the west, the moon is still visible, as the sun rises and its rays begin to melt the frost that will now bring an end to many of the plants that brought us summer’s colors.  But at the same time if you look up, those colors are replaced with the brilliance of the fall foliage and skies, that just seem to be a deeper blue in color. As morning turns to afternoon and the day dwindles, the shadows will lengthen, the sun will set earlier, and a chill will grip the air.  By dinner’s end it will be dark and I will venture onto the deck with a cup of coffee, my cigar, some reading material, and a little refreshment for later in the evening. It’s sweatshirt and vest weather now so I will light the fire pit to get some heat. The colors are gone now, save the flames that dance in the pit.  The world around the deck is black with the exception of the trees I’ve illuminated with some low voltage lights. The night sky is black and punctuated with some clouds that will soon let the moon play hide and seek.  This now becomes my time; my stillness if you will. A time when I can talk with my Dad, a time when I can reflect, a time when I still ask, “What are you looking for in your life?”

Life is a series of transitions.  Every journey begins and ends; soon thereafter another begins.  Some of us make elaborate plans designed to guide us every step of the way, while others will let the experiences of the journey guide them to a destination.  Our lives will be filled with these journeys and transitions, and there will be several points, early in our life voyage, at a mid-point (i.e the midlife crisis), and near journey’s end when we will pause to reflect and consider where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going.  These “opportunity-stops”, as I like to call them also provide us with time to consider what we have learned thus far on life’s path and how it can be applied as we continue the journey.  

Tracy Kennedy is a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people find greater happiness and success in their lives.  In a recent post (How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life) she defines self-reflection as taking time to give serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives.  She writes, “It’s about taking a step back and reflecting on your life, behavior and beliefs.  However self-reflection only becomes valuable when we harvest our thoughts and use them to generate better actions and a better life.

Albert Einstein once wrote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result.”  What’s frightening is that’s the very thing so many of us do with the most important thing we have – our lives!  Think about it, athletes will review films, work with their coaches, consider their diets and basically deconstruct one performance to improve upon another.  No less is true for a business initiative or an event; following delivery there is normally a meeting to reflect upon what went well, what could be improved upon, and changes that should be considered for the future.  Why then, would be do any less for ourselves?

The answer is simple and Kennedy shares an insight that I have also witnessed over the years; people claim they don’t have the time, or the energy for reflection, or it’s simply something they’ve never done and don’t know how to start.  This is often why they hire a coach, so they can schedule a time and place to engage in the process with someone who will ask the right questions, give them space to answer, and guide them in the self-reflection process. Here’s the good news, you don’t need to hire a coach, you only need three things; awareness, commitment and dedicated time.  The process of self-reflection is simple. I like to call it “Crossing the Train Tracks”:

  • Stop – Step back, be it from life, a cloudy moment, a situation, an event.

  • Look – Get a perspective on things; identify what you see, feel, and hear.  See the bigger picture.

  • Listen – LIsten to your inner voice or guide; the wisdom that has accumulated over the years that can now serve you as you face this challenge.

  • Cross – Identify the steps and take the actions needed to move forward,  adjust, change or improve.  

It’s important to remember that self-reflection is different from mindfulness.  Mindfulness is taking time to be present in, and appreciate the beauty of the moment.  Self-reflection is directed-thought designed to help us be a better version of ourselves and asks that we reflect only two things; ourselves (who we are and what we want for our life) and the areas of our lives that are important to us (relationships, family, career, health and well-being, spirituality, and personal growth).

Our respective journeys continue.  Our lives will continue to be filled with obstacles, challenges, and opportunities.  We know that world class athletes, successful entrepreneurs, and others take time to reflect and discover the better version of themselves waiting to be awakened.  Isn’t your life equally important? A better life is within reach through the investment of a little time, some introspection and a willingness to adapt. Stop, Look, and Listen; Now there’s a challenge worth embracing!

Embrace the Challenge