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Too busy to reflect? Here's why you need to carve the time out.

How often do you carve out the time to think about yourself, your personal and professional development? Or even just to check-in with yourself? Stopping and thinking has become a luxury. The value of ‘Me time’ has somehow eroded.

When you’re overwhelmed and busy, with an ever growing to do list and conflicting priorities, taking time to reflect can feel impossible. In fact, in these moments of chaos, lots of self-care practices fall to the wayside too.

You probably also know that these are the times when you need reflection and self-care more than ever.

With our ever growing need to do more and ‘keep going’, taking time to step back and engage in an intentional effort to look back or learn from experience seems luxurious. However, research (Stefano, et al, 2016) shows that deliberating taking time to think back, to understand, explore and be curious, powerfully enhances the learning process - not only embedding learning to a far deeper degree but also increases chances of success when you attempt something for the second time.

For example, you might continually be having the same argument with your colleague. It leaves you in a negative mindset, resentful, brooding and damaging your relationship. The same subject comes up again at a later day. You have the same disagreement, no progress is made. Without taking time to reflect, you may continue repeating this pattern for a long time, not ever breaking the cycle or the negative thoughts and feelings.

Stopping for a moment and reflecting on the interaction will allow you to examine your actions and behaviours. It will enable you to think about what different approaches you could take, or examine new perspectives to reach an amicable conclusion, asking 'how else could I approach this? What am I not seeing?'. Rather than going round in circles, this time to reflect will help you move forward.

Studies also show that those who take time to reflect increase their self-awareness, develop a growth mindset and improve their emotional understanding - enabling them to improve performance, develop towards their own goals, engage in healthier relationships and ultimately feel increased levels of contentment, in and out of work.

It was the wise psychologist, John Dewey, that said: “We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.”

Where does time to reflect feature on your priority list? What could taking time to reflect enable you to do?


Gemma Brown is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation, working with individuals and groups to navigate successfully through transitions - be it career, relationships or life in general. Her belief is that when we confidently bring our whole selves to all areas of life, anything is possible. Transitions exist in both our personal and business life, and so often, the two fiercely overlap. Coaching with Gemma focuses on you as a whole, enabling you to identify your strengths, build confidence and to live a life with increased purpose and direction. Gemma works face to face with clients in the Cambridge area as well as via Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.

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Reflection, or 'thinking' is one way to become aware of what has changed around us. It helps create conscious awareness for moving forward.


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