For many, the New Year presents an occasion to reflect and an opportunity for change. Taking the time to evaluate and consider new areas for growth can serve us well beyond this time of year, as self-reflection is an essential step to achieve goals, build new habits, and develop emotional intelligence.
With a habit of self-reflection, we naturally become attuned with our inner world, enabling us to be more intentional with our actions and choices. A cornerstone of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. Knowing ourselves—our character, motivations, values, etc.—and monitoring our internal dialogue is the first step to regulating our emotions, managing our response to stress and understanding others.
When we check in with ourselves and evaluate our circumstances, we can ensure that our decisions align with our values and long-term objectives. For example, “going with the flow” may be a helpful prescription in certain scenarios but the “flow” often does not serve us in reaching our goals. Think of times where you’ve felt confined to the status quo, making decisions on autopilot, reacting rather than responding with purpose. As we become self-aware, we set a foundation of knowledge to deliberately inform our actions, empowering us to honor ourselves and what we want to achieve.
This is a skill that requires ongoing dedication and practice, especially as we change throughout our lives. However, setting a space for ongoing introspection is simple and can take different forms. For some, all it takes is slowing down and paying closer attention to their inner dialogue. For others, a more structured routine such as journaling or scheduling time to reflect is helpful to see results. With any strategy you choose, always start small and acknowledge your progress along the way.
As you look ahead to 2018, consider the impact that regular reflection might have on your life. What is one area of your life or work where you’re feeling restricted or disconnected that would benefit from this practice? What is one goal you want to achieve that requires reflection to set you on the right path?