Welcome to Thrive IN™ and greetings from Houston, Texas. This is Dr. I.J., your College Life Coach. ThriveIn is a life coaching podcast for college students, and believe me, you’re in the right place if you’re serious about becoming the highest and truest version of yourself while making the most of your time in college. This is session number two, and for this session, we are talking about reflection today. I will share some insights about reflection, what it means and why it’s important for you to practice and how to do it. Towards the end, I’ll walk you through an exercise and I think you’ll find helpful as you navigate this whole idea of reflection.
So to jump right in…what is the thing that we’re talking about today of reflection? It simply means to think, spend time thinking. It’s an opportunity for you to think deeply about past or current events. It’s a great time to really play back the happenings in your life. For example, how you showed up or performed in a class, your experiences with your friends last semester. What happened? What did you learn about yourself? What was hard about last semester? And what are you proud about? What do you want to improve and think about the things that hurt you? What hurt you? What made you happy? When you spend time in reflection, you’re also pondering over what you want for your immediate and your long term future.
In one religion, the Christian religion reflection is often referred to as the Sabbath day, which is a day of rest where you get to rest your mind and rest your body. And I would argue that the Sabbath day or Sunday or whatever day you choose to be your Sabbath day could be used as an opportunity to reflect as well. Any day could really be used for reflection, you know, in my opinion, as long as you do it once a week. I think you’ll find great benefit in engaging in that practice. And reflection is just simply a time to stay still. We are so busy with so many things that we have going on, silly things we have to do or running around, running errands, tending to different emails. I mean, the list goes on and on.
So reflection is essentially a time where you allow yourself to stay still and think and reflect. So why is it important to practice reflection? Well, firstly, it gives you an opportunity to focus on the things that are important. As someone who’s working hard to establish yourself, you could get caught up in tending to urgent things or going through the mundane tasks that you may end up losing sight of what’s important. You know, as human beings, we get caught up in our day to day and we end up tending to things that are urgent rather than things that are important. So reflection is also an opportunity to think about what you’ve gone through as a student.
You may be busy studying for exams or working your part time jobs or stressing out about relationships. And the semester goes by without you sitting down to think about the direction of your life. So as human beings, we tend to be in motion like we’re constantly doing things. But if we continue in that pattern, we may end up not progressing or advancing ourselves in ways that we need to be in order to achieve our ultimate goal.
So motion doesn’t necessarily mean progress. You could be going in circles and revisiting the same things that don’t work or are actually detrimental to your success. It’s important to be intentional about progressing rather than just being in motion just to say that you’re busy and that you’re doing stuff, right? Are you doing things that are actually important?
Engaging and reflection also gives you a chance to organize your thoughts. It gives you clarity about something you were once confused about and it gives you clarity about next steps to take. It’s an opportunity to make meaning of your experiences and also gain new perspectives. It helps to shift your thinking. Another thing to keep in mind is when you’re going through something, it’s simply just that you’re going through something. And the brain doesn’t learn from experience. The brain learns from reflecting on an experience. So you might think like you’re going, going, going, you’re busy, busy, busy and you’re learning, learning, learning. That’s not actually the case. Yes, experiences are great teachers, but your brain actually processes and analyzes that information by staying still, by reflecting on that experience.
You can even gain a sense of freedom because you’ve gained clarity and a new perspective in the process and you’re released from what I call the chains of confusion. If you’re not understanding a particular predicament that you’re in or an experience that was a bit troubling and you take time to reflect on and think about it, you can gain a sense of freedom and be released from the chains of confusion if you take time to process that experience.
And my personal favorite thing that I gained from reflecting is it gives me an opportunity to be creative. Creativity does come out of rest, not work. When I’m laying down and resting, that’s when my mind starts generating so many ideas. Sometimes, I even have to sleep with a notepad by the side of my bed because so many ideas are created by me staying, still and shutting my eyes and resting my body.
In order to avoid burnout. It’s really important to engage in reflection and it helps because it gives you an opportunity to recharge and regain your energy so that you can continue the activities that you take part in on a daily basis. You can continue that process. When you reflect, it really helps you develop this attitude of gratitude or an appreciation for the things that you’re going through in your life, the opportunities that you are given, the meaning making process that you’re able to engage in upon reflecting. And it helps you also see how far you’ve come from a trying situation, from a plight that was really hard to overcome. Just as reflection gives you this sense of freedom in a way, it also has healing power. You get to start something else on a clean slate. You’re more refreshed, you’re more rejuvenated. So it does heal you from perhaps a bit of burnout and allows you to start with this new energy.
Reflection also gives you an opportunity to feel more motivated to tackle your responsibilities head on, because you you have that clarity, you have that sense of direction and with that clearly comes this great sense of motivation to do what you have to do to achieve your goals and to get things done. So you may be asking, well, what time do I have to start reflecting? When do I actually have time to do this?
I recommend summertime to engage in reflection because you’ve been through an entire academic school year and you have summer time to think about what your experience was like, what you want to improve upon, what next year will look like for you. It’s hard to absorb your learnings if you’re in stressful, anxiety filled situations. So it’s important to make sure you’re in a space where you’re not feeling stressed. It’s important to really schedule these times, put it on your calendar and make sure you allot something like two hours. I mean, there are 168 hours in one week. I believe you could find two nice hours to engage in reflection. So allocate ample time for yourself to do this activity. Make sure you’re in a place where there are no distractions. Make sure it’s during a timeframe where you won’t encounter many distractions. Make sure you’re in a space that guarantees your solitude. Make sure you’re alone. That no one will just randomly walk by and distract you. Being in solitude is certainly different from isolation, and isolation is not necessarily an intentional space to engage in a positive act. Whereas being in solitude, you’re intentionally in that space because you’re working on becoming a better person. You’re working on thinking and reflecting and re energizing yourself. But isolation happens because of fear. You’re afraid to be around certain people. You’re afraid to answer certain situations. Therefore, you feel safer to isolate yourself.
So when you’re reflecting, I want you to place yourself in solitude because you know, you’re going to exit out of that and you’re in that space alone to achieve a goal. So how do you reflect? First, you have to take off all your hats so that you’re not multitasking or doing all sorts of jobs or, you know, handling all sorts of errands. Like you need to only be doing that reflection activity. So I want you to take off that student hat, take off all those hats your way. Your son daughter hat, your colleague work her hat, your friend hat, your boyfriend/girlfriend/over hat, whatever hat you’re wearing, just take it off for a moment. I only want you to wear your reflection hat. That’s the only had that you should be focused on wearing right now. So eliminate all these other roles and only think about reflecting in this moment.
What I want you to think about as you reflect is where you were. Was it a month ago? Six months ago, a year ago, and where you are now? Think about the progress that you’ve made. Think about where you want to go. Think about your goals, your ambitions, things that you want to achieve. Think about your successes last school year. Things you were very proud of, those proud moments. Think about those setbacks, those mistakes that you made. What did you learn from them? Think about the hardship from the challenges that you’ve encountered and things that you’ve overcome. It’s an opportunity to revisit any goals that you’ve previously set and revise those goals if you have to. Think about who can help you achieve your goals. Who can help you get to a better place or a situation that you want to be in, who can help? You and support you in engaging in that space Think of any plans of action that you want to take to maybe heal a relationship or tend to just any matter that you know needs to be addressed. And lastly, I want you to establish a declaration or a commitment and say “I will jog a once a day”, “I will disconnect from social media right before lunch for one hour”. Whatever commitment you want to make for yourself to help you feel emotionally, well, mentally, well, do those things and see how it goes for you.
Pretty much. I just want you to be able to reflect on important things. Because as I mentioned, as we go on our daily lives, we tend to do things that are due that day or things that we think are urgent and we kind of take for granted the things that are important in our lives and we assume that those things will always be there. So this exercise that I want to describe for you will help you pay more attention to those things that are important.
So what I want you to do is get a sheet of paper, OK? During your spare time, you can feel free to replay this particular session. But this is a wonderful exercise and I really want you to be able to do it. So if you get a blank sheet of paper, you know how there are five sides to a star. I want you to make like a sixth star. Like a regular star. I’m really bad at describing this, too. So a regular star has like 10 lines. But I just want you to draw a star with five lines. So essentially you have a line that’s vertical and then you have the two that looks like a stick person, right? So you have the line that’s going straight up and then the two by the side said, like at 10:00 and two o’clock. Right. And then you have the two at the bottom. That’s like at five o’clock. And what is it, seven o’clock or whatever. And that’s what you’re going to draw. And for each stick you’re going to write a phrase. So for the first part you’re going to write “I value” then you are going to fill in the blank. You’re going to write. I value. And then you’re going to have an exhaustive list of things that you value. At least write five to seven things.
Ok, so if you say I value and then you might write…
I value love, I value people, I value my family, I value my friends, I value my major, I value my future career, I value exercise….
like list of things that are at the forefront of your heart, things that you really value. And then the next one, the next stick you’re going to write is “I have strength”. And then you’re going to fill in the blank with the things that you feel that you have strengths in.
I have strength in emotional intelligence. I have strength in negotiation. I have strength in singing. I mean, whatever it is. Right. Just to name your strengths. I have strength in organizing..
So the next stick, the third one you’re going to write, “I need to improve”. Then you’re going to fill in the blank.
I need to improve my confrontation skills. I need to improve my communication skills. I need to improve my time management skills.
Whatever you feel that you need to improve, start making a list of it in that part, the fourth stick. You’re going to write “I find joy.” You’re going to fill it out.
I find joy in singing. I find joy in my religion. I find joy in long walks on a beach.
Fill it out for yourself. Then you’re going to write “I believe in”.
I believe in friendship. I believe in loyalty. I believe in science.
I start listing what you believe in for that category. So, again, you’re gonna think of like five to seven answers to complete each sentence. And when you’re done writing, I want you to think about each part and meditate on each part. And then you’re going to ask yourself, am I doing things in these areas? Am I actually living up to my values? You know, if I say I find joy in X, Y, Z. Am I actually embracing that area? Or if I say that I believe in this, are my actions matching up to those things that I believe in? It’s an opportunity to really examine your actions and to see if the things that are important in your life, if you’re actually doing them and living up to them. And I want you to be able to keep this document somewhere so that you’ll be able to revisit it like every semester or however often you like to look at the document as a reminder of those things that are important to you. You can handwrite it and take a picture of it and save it to your favorites on your phone. This gives you pretty easy access to it.
You know, I remember doing this exercise one summer and it drove me to tears actually, because I realized that I was so busy doing things that were unimportant instead of the things that actually mattered to me. After realizing this, I became committed to change my focus and I set goals for myself as a result. So that’s it. I help you gained a lot from session number two, on reflection.
Feel free to connect with me at collegelifecoach.info. That’s a wonderful starting point for you. It’s my website where you’ll find loads of exciting information and resources for you. If you’d like what you heard today. I encourage you to rate and review this podcast on iTunes. Feel free to send me a message on topics you’d like me to speak about, and I’d like to know how this exercise worked out for you. So feel free to drop me a message to let me know. I’m excited to read your responses and feel free to follow. And like me on social media at the handle @drijclc So that stands for Dr. IJ College Life Coach. I’m wishing you the best week and join me for the next session. Love you.