Step 5 of ODDER Being: Reflect & Grow

You try, you learn, you grow

A thought cloud with a castle in front of a rainbow

I’m not always the person I want to be. Only yesterday did I stay in bed until 1 pm wasting time on social media. Sometimes, this happens when I forget my priorities. And sometimes, it’s because I do try, but simply don’t have the knowledge or mental or physical skills to make it happen. Other times, I am the person I want to be, and very occasionally I’m even better than that. Every single time offers me a chance to learn what works and what doesn’t.

The last (well, sort of) step in living an ODDER life is reflecting. This reflection can take all kinds of forms, but what’s important is that you take into account 2 elements: energy and progress. Basically, your energy is the fuel, it’s what keeps you going (without breaking down). And your progress is your ability to make it to your destination. When you’re clear on what helps you get there AND you know what fuels you, you have the best odds (pun not intended, truly) to live your best life.

When is the best time to reflect?

I can be very clear about the best time to reflect on your life: 2nd Friday of March, 5 AM. Kidding (duh). There are plenty of times to reflect on your life (though possibly not in the middle of a task that needs your full focus). Personally, I do two types of reflections: period reflections and event reflections.

Period reflections are a habit and I do them to look back on a certain – you guessed it – period of time, usually a month or a year. The final day of each month, I set aside an hour or so in my schedule to look back on the month I just survived and make plans for the month to come. December 31st, I do the same for the entire year. It helps that I have my journal to keep track of everything I’ve done – if you don’t, you might find it easier doing a quick reflection at the end of each day. Even answering the questions What did I accomplish? What energized me, what drained me? Are there any things I want to take away from this? will help you make small improvements in your life over time and be more mindful of the things that spark your energy.

Event reflections are something I took up after attending a particularly intense 4-day conference. I made tons of notes, met a lot of interesting people, and had all kinds of Aha! Moments. I knew I wanted to process the whole thing, so I spent some time looking at things that contributed to me enjoying the conference, things I’d prefer to do differently next time, lessons learned, and action points, such as reaching out to certain people or writing blogs on my insights.

I’d recommend trying all of the above and seeing what works for you!

Useful reflection prompts

Now, I’d like to walk you through the exact steps I’m taking whenever I reflect on my month. This is by no means the only right way to do it, so feel free to adapt this to create a practice that works for you.

At the start of every month, I look through my journal / calendar for everything memorable that happened that month, including stuff like people I hung out with, books I’ve read, and performances I’ve seen. On a page of my journal, I write down everything that energized me (made me feel happy and ‘in the flow’) with green, and everything that drained me with gray (I used to use red, but then that would draw my attention, and I didn’t want to focus on the negative).

Once I’m done, I make several lists:

  1. What are things I’ve accomplished this past month? Some of it is work-related, but most of it is on a personal level. To give you an impression, for last month, this is what my list looked like:
    1. Wrote 6 blogs
    2. Read 7 books
    3. Stuck with my daily chores practice
    4. Redesigned my planner
    5. Finished a 5a route (climbing)
    6. Made several illustrations (ideally, I’m more specific, but I didn’t keep track)
    7. Practiced playing guitar
    8. Sold a lot of card decks (again, not very specific)
    9. Practiced Arabic daily (I took up DuoLingo during lockdown)
    10. Stuck with my daily fun practice

As you can see, this list has all kinds of items. Some of it is work, like blogs and card sales. Some of it is growth, like guitar practice and a part of the reading. Some of it is habits, like my language (which is also growth), chore and fun practices.

  1. What are the lessons I’ve learned this month? Among mine from December is that I want to focus on my bonus teen’s executive skill development rather than their grades, and that my love language is bouncing off ideas.
  2. Then, I make lists of things I want to do/have less, the same amount or more of. An example of ‘less’ is “Spend time on the kids’ homework” – this was completely out of proportion. An example of ‘same’ was ‘The time I spend seeing my friends.” And in “More”, I put “Time for self-care.”
  3. Next, I rate 10 areas in my life (such as relationships, personal growth, health, and career) from 1 to 10, and look at how every rating compares to the rating of the previous month. Last month, I did better on Health, but worse on Romance.
  4. Finally, I list the follow-up actions based on this reflection. In my case, actions like “Signing up for dance class.”

That’s my monthly reflection, and then I’m back to making plans for next month, taking into account what I’ve learned about myself, and of course my vision.

 Exercise

Let’s practice with different types of reflection!

  1. Schedule a moment of reflection on your calendar. Set a reminder!
  2. Look back at your day (or, if it’s morning now, on last day). What went well, what went poorly, what are your take-aways?
  3. Do you have any eventful plans you’d like to reflect on afterwards? Set aside the time you need in your calendar!
  4. Bonus: Download our reflection templates to have all of your prompts ready!

Tip: Our memory tends to get clogged up quickly, so write things down and don’t procrastinate on your reflection (too much).

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