One of my favorite authors is Richard Leider, and in particular his book, The Power of Purpose. He spoke about Daily Reflections. He shared this in 2012, Are you “always going somewhere; never being anywhere”? Have you succumbed to the “hurry sickness” so common in today’s society? If your brain is always filled with the noise and chatter of modern living then you’re exhibiting the symptoms. If your heart and mind feel numb, then you know you’ve got it. The antidote: regular time-outs. Minivacations. Appointments with yourself. Even 15 minutes or so a day can work wonders. Have you found a regular time and place to be alone, to put yourself on your own daily calendar (Click here for reference page).
I recall a comment made a few years ago with a similar meaning. Most of us spend more time planning for a day off, a weekend, a vacation, than we do for our own life. Why? I believe it is primarily due to the fact that we get caught up into the pace of life, which seems to be going faster and faster with every year. It takes almost everything we have to keep our heads above water with respect to our job, finances, health, families, children’s activities, etc. Other factors relate to the difficulty we have in quieting our minds with all of the distractions around us. This also relates to the discomfort many have with silence. We like to fill in these moments so that we are not confronted with our thoughts. Technology has provided us with a quick and easy distraction with access to social media, the internet, etc. in the palm of our hands.
What is the value of making this time? As an introvert, I have found that I need this alone time simply to recharge my batteries. I will become tired, grumpy, and low on energy if I don’t take this time at least once a week. Those who meditate on a regular basis state how they are able to think more clearly, react less, and remain calm. Moreso, I believe the value comes from taking the time to consider how you are doing and what adjustments you need to make. Otherwise, we find years pass in what seems like days and we seem to have gone nowhere. This is a profound realization and is hard to accept, much less deal with. I think of the time when I was going through the classic mid-life crisis. I wondered where I was going with my life, and that my mortality was real and something that I had to factor into my life’s equation. What do I even put on my bucket list?
What can we do to spend more time with self-reflection? The secret begins with scheduling time, 15 minutes a day as stated above is sufficient, and sticking to it. I have experimented with several ways to do this. Initially I scheduled this for the end of the evening, but I found myself falling asleep as I attempted to sit and quiet myself. So I provided myself with more structure. A few years ago I had learned about Ben Franklin’s 13 virtues and how he used this on a daily basis to assess how he was living up to these virtues.
You can Google his template that he used to evaluate himself each day. This worked well, and over time I modifed the form to include my own values along with behaviors I was working on. Over time this was expanded to include key affirmations for each of the specific behaviors. I recited these following my assessment and evaluation of the day.
Realizing that my schedule changes and includes periodic travel, I had to adapt this on a regular basis. The key however was ensuring that I devoted 15 minutes a day to this reflection. At this point I complete this about 60% of my days. I realize that it is not realistic to be at 100% but that 80% is my current goal.
While in Malaysia recently, I took advantage of my time there to learn more about the Islam religion. One of the practices I really liked was their daily prayer routines. There was a real discipline around this, although the specific time could fluctuate to meet daily demands. The intetion of this time was prayer. So when I returned I blocked off my calendar for 15 minutes each morning for my own morning prayer which included some self-reflection and some form of practice to work on my development areas.
Without reflection, we go blinding on our way, creating more unintended conscquences, and failing to achieve anything useful. Margaret J. Wheatley