The Importance of Reflection In Moving Forward

2020 was rough for many. One of the things that made it so tough was that much of what happened to us — and to our families, friends, and our businesses — was almost solely beyond our control. That can be not just frustrating, but even demoralizing and depressing.

Thus, probably the last thing most of us are interested in doing is reflecting backwards on the past year.

Yet, would it surprise you if I told you that is exactly what we need to to do if we want to succeed in this new year and beyond?

There is significant power in reflection when it comes to personal and professional success. Much more than a lot of people realize. So much so in fact, that it quite literally might be the “magic pill” of success.

Reflecting on our past helps us do three primary things that help to secure our future:

  1. We learn lessons

Looking back to where we have been and what we have gone through, highlights lessons learned. Both our successes and our failures give valuable insights into what we need to do and what we don’t do. We can then apply those lessons learned to the things we are doing today, and that we plan to do tomorrow.

2. We identify patterns

Only by reflecting backwards, can we identify patterns that both helped and that hurt us. We recognize what helped us succeed and we see what caused us to fall short. Unfortunately, factors in both of those areas — that created both those positive and negative patterns — aren’t always within our control. Yet, that doesn’t mean we can’t use reflection to pick out those patterns that we can control, most often our reaction to the things we can’t control, and then set goals for responding in more positive, proactive, ways in the future.

3. We acknowledge missed opportunities

It’s not just what we do, but sometimes what we don’t do when we can or should that limits us, our ability to achieve positive results, and ultimately, our success. Taking the time to look back at opportunities we missed by not making decisions well or at all and WHY, gives valuable insight. Then, we take that insight or those insights and use them to take proactive steps to better identify opportunities in the future AND to make plans to maximize them.

Most likely, none of the aforementioned information regarding reflection and the power it can provide in achieving the goals and successes we desire, is surprising. But again, unfortunately, many of us just don’t take the time to perform any reflection at all. And most of us definitely don’t take the time — or make the effort — to do the depth, breadth, and level of reflection that is necessary to shine a bright enough spotlight on our past to provide the benefits of reflection.

Yes, reflecting on the past — especially looking back on a year that dealt the kind of blows to us that 2021 did — can be a little painful. However, when you look at the positive impacts that doing so can provide — the potential pleasure of the success that can come — truly makes it worth it.