Gemma has been preparing for her annual appraisal with a period of self-reflection…
An annual appraisal is a good prompt to spend some time reflecting on our past actions but it’s important that we don’t limit holding a mirror up to ourselves to this yearly review. Reflecting helps us to develop our skills and review how effective we’ve been rather than just simply doing something this way because that’s how we’ve always done it. Reflection plays an essential role in how we learn.
At its simplest, reflection just involves some careful thought. To be more useful and promote learning, however, we should direct our thoughts to the conscious consideration and analysis of beliefs and actions. This ‘time out’ gives our brain the space it needs to sort through observations and experiences and consider various possible interpretations. These interpretations eventually become learning which will inform future mindsets and actions.
Don’t be lulled into thinking that self-reflection is easy. It’s not simply spending half an hour randomly daydreaming. It requires concerted effort and might unearth things that we could have done better. It’s important that we don’t become defensive in the process and dismiss the things that we don’t like as this won’t help us to learn anything. Adopt a mindset of curiosity and be prepared to experience valuable insights as well as feelings of discomfort and vulnerability.
So, rather than waiting for your annual review, make sure you schedule some time to think. Start small, if it’s new to you, but make sure you commit to it. If you find yourself avoiding it, that’s worthy of reflection in itself! As Peter Drucker, management consultant, educator, and author said: “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection, will come even more effective action.”