Self-reflection: The key to getting better? A reason to write

Do you find yourself stuck? Can progress appear slow?

When you reflect on achievements and what you could do better, then you can unstick and speed up your own growth. Personally, I like to have something tangible and written, to break through this spell. You can refer to what you have written for an experience. Without something similar, it can mean you have little to reference. To improve personally and make changes for the better, I believe it is useful to reflect on history, take the salient points and learn lessons.

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The reason I write this today, is I neglected to do this reflection. In 2017 I did not follow up on the objectives that I had set myself in 2016. This was down, in no small part, to an addition to the family. We had a healthy, young son born to us in the final months of 2016 that have meant 2017 has been full of joy, equal frustration, and almost never-ending sleepless nights. However, it has been a 101 course (military analogy for basic or standard, so accept my parlance) in the importance of reflective space to grow as a person.

What follows is what I had to be grateful for in 2017.

  • Personal. The need was to make more of my time.  The morning routine is now fully focussed on getting my wife, son and I out of the door to meet full-time work commitments. To quote my mother who happened to see this in action, “the efficiency is mesmerising”. I appreciate this could be similar to many families that try to balance work and home life. However, what I would like to make more of is time back for us.
  • Home. My intent was to spend more time with family.  The family has been a defining part of 2017. We have moved back to the area that we grew up in. We have access to both sets of parents within 15 minutes of home. They have been integral to our first year with our son and have managed to pick up the pieces in many ways. For all of it, I remain very grateful.
  • Education. The challenge was to achieve my MBA.  The first 6 months of 2017 were spent on essays, dissertations and a thesis. I focused on a strategic management topic that I felt was of real interest. Certainly not for everyone but it made me fall in love with learning once again. Not since my late teens has education been as important to my growth. For the dissertation, I focused on a small company and I learned a great deal in the investigative process. I do appreciate that an MBA or masters level study may not be for everyone, but I strongly encourage others to consider getting back on the learning ladder early. It has also re-engaged my love of books.
  • Reading. The challenge was to read one book every month.  I have managed 21 books in various forms. This excludes all those that were to form part of my formal MBA education, so I do feel rather pleased to have beaten my original goal. The lessons from these books may form an excellent future blog post. My Goodreads shelves look like these.
  • Work. A different career needed to be secured. After leaving the military, I started to work for a large corporate. It is never too late to make a change. This has been a watershed in many regards. As anyone that leaves an environment quite that special there are parts that may be missed. One strange symptom was a change in empathy. I often found myself impatient at things that otherwise would never have bothered me before. To overcome challenges like this has taken time. This time has allowed me to feel more comfortable in my own skin. People with no prior experience can sometimes offer assumptions and expectations based on their previous knowledge only. Also, it has shown me just how military planning and organisational purpose can be valuable to a commercial company.
  • Health. Nutrition wise it was to give up cookies. These have not entered my thoughts for approximately 6 months. However, I have found a new weakness, fig rolls. I am far from perfect.

I hope that my own reflections above spark something in you. If they ignite your interest to follow suit or to make a call to someone willing to share progress, all the better. Else, I recommend that you have this conversation with yourself or someone that you are comfortable with. Perhaps it will give you plenty to be grateful for too.

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So, what for 2019… A second chance at a career change is upon me. As part of this change, I plan to blog more regularly.

 

This was adapted from a blog post originally made in 2018 on another site. There have been changes to spelling, grammar and content.

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