How Was Your Year? Why Reflection Is Important + How To Self-Reflect

how why self reflection

How was your year? Mine was a pretty busy one! From work projects to CrossFit competitions to travelling, things have been non-stop, and honestly I haven’t had much time to reflect on my progress and assess where I was headed.

It’s so important to self-reflect, so this year I’m going to dedicate some time to it, and ensure I’m working towards my goals rather than shooting off in random directions.

Read on to find out why reflection is so important and the best techniques to use to self-reflect on your own year.

Why self-reflect?

You’d reflect after a big project in work to see what worked well and what didn’t to inform future plans – you are the biggest project you’ll ever work on, so it makes sense to reflect on periods of your life, too. Reflection helps you to assess how you’ve done things, what the result was, and whether you’ll carry on as-is or whether you can change direction to achieve what you really want.

You might review your goals frequently but it’s also important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture to see how far you’ve really come. You can do this at any period of life, whether that’s a fresh start with a new job, home, or schedule, after a big life thing happening, or if you feel you’re stagnating – it’s just the start of a new year works well for most people to reflect.

how why self reflection

How to self-reflect

This is something we were encouraged to do frequently during my Masters (and was even a main part of a module) so it’s something I’m fairly well-versed in, but it’s still something you have to practice so you don’t lose it! Depending on how you learn and like to record things, you could type this out, write in a journal, or even create a video. I like to free-flow and keep my mistakes, so hand-writing is my reflection weapon of choice.

First up, have a think about why you’re self-reflecting (and no, the answer shouldn’t be because this blog post told you to). Are you putting a lot of work into something, but not getting very far? Have things actually gone wrong for you? Just have a feeling you could be doing something better, but unsure where to start? Decide on the objective of reflection and work from there.

You can then reflect on your life in general, or pick certain points in time, projects, or aspects you’d like to reflect on in particular. Even if it’s life in general, it might be useful to have headings like ‘work’, ‘food’, ‘family’, or ‘gym’ to give yourself starting points and also ensuring you’re capturing the whole picture. If you’re reflecting on something specific, then don’t forget the knock-on effect of other aspects of your life – for instance, if you’re just looking at gym goals but actually you’ve been working a lot of overtime this year, then don’t forget to factor that part in too.

Now have a good think about the past year. Describe what happened, whether that’s typed, written, or on video; why it happened, and the outcome of what happened. Then talk about how it made you feel and what you were thinking. Evaluate and analyse the situation – what was good about it? How about bad? What sense can you make of it?

We then need to come to a conclusion, and think about what else could be done in the situation – those thoughts that woke you up in the night and you thought “what if..?” Get them noted down now. From there, we make our action plan. Could be the same process as last time, it could be slightly tweaked after reflecting, or it could be completely new. This is called the Gibbs’ reflective cycle, and is a brilliant model to refer back to to get your thinking started.

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What are my own reflections of 2017?

I’m not one to glorify ‘busy’ – in fact, I actively seek quiet time and easily get overwhelmed when I’m doing too much – but thinking about this past year, that’s exactly what it was! I travelled a lot, especially with work but also for fun, worked on lots of different projects, and achieved some CrossFit things I’d been chasing a long time.

I had quite a few injuries in 2017 – acute injuries like sprained ankles (yep, both!) and a pulled QL muscle, to an irritated rotator cuff and golfers’ elbow. I kept saying that I would start looking after myself and slow down with my training after each injury, but that never lasted for long and I ended up getting injured again. This made me feel disappointed with myself, especially each time it happened again. Why couldn’t I just stop myself from getting injured? In reality, it’s because I lacked the knowledge to prehab my body to prevent these injuries, so I’m intending on getting a few appointments with a CrossFit-specific physio and work on a plan to keep me injury-free.

I travelled a lot in 2017, for work and play, stopped being anxious about travelling and became somebody who loves to travel – and in fact, craves it. I think this is because I allowed myself to relax properly when travelling and stopped trying to be a control freak all of the time. It’s difficult when it’s so ingrained in me so I had to concentrate hard at some points – plane take-offs and landings are still a struggle for me, but I’m getting better, so I know I’m heading in the right direction!

I did three CrossFit competitions this year, and despite knowing full well they were coming up, went headlong into them without much preparation, mainly because of the above travelling for work. This meant my engine wasn’t up to scratch and my gymnastics could’ve been a lot slicker. I know these are my two weakest areas, yet I never do anything about it – this is something I really need to assess in 2018.

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My plans for 2018

And now my action plan! After a busy 2017, I’m planning on having an equally busy 2018 – but I’m looking to plan it and prepare for each element a lot better. In fact, I’ve already started preparing for some of the early elements and other parts I’ve been putting groundwork in for all of this year.

I think from my reflections above, 2018 is going to be a year of learning for me if I want to keep training at the level I am doing. I should finish my Level 3 Personal Training course soon, then after that I’m going to take a deeper dive into how the body works, mobility, and how food fuels the body, and look to implement my learnings to improve my life.

Following on from 2017, I want to travel even more – I’m currently working on Chris to convince him to come on a very big holiday with me in September, and I’m also manifesting another, very challenging, trip. I don’t want to reveal too much before anything is confirmed though! I just need to continue to chill over travelling and make it part of my routine, though following the advice in this post it’s become a lot easier for me.

For CrossFit competitions, I have Tribal Clash Portugal booked in for early May with a group of CrossFit mates from around the country, so I really don’t want to let those guys down. I’m proud that I’ve booked in 13 weeks of swimming lessons from January 2nd, though it’s also very scary to me as it’s a big weakness – I’ll need them though for when I’m swimming in the Atlantic! There’s also likely to be a trail run in this comp, so I’ve already added in a speed session and longer distance run to my training. I’d like to do a few more partner and team competitions too – although I’m going to take a long look at my calendar and see what’s realistic time-wise, after reflecting on last year’s struggles.

I’m keeping my actual goals close to my chest for 2018, which I’m sure I’ll reveal in due course – I just don’t want to say too much before everything is confirmed! However, that’s basically the direction my life will be going in 2018. What are your goals? What did you learn from 2017? You can comment below, but make sure you’re self-reflecting, too!

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