Everyone has good days and bad days at work. When those bad days start to string together, turning into a bad month or two, we tend to become concerned and rightfully so. We spend a tremendous amount of time at work, so it’s reasonable to hope that our careers bring some amount of fulfillment, stimulation, and success. So, if you’re feeling a little down about your current professional path, or if you’re at a point in your life where you’re trying to discover which career is right for you, consider the power of self-reflection. It just might be the key to moving you toward a more rewarding career.
(Photo Credit: Nathan Csonka Photography/Flickr)
1. Keep in mind that struggle, even fear, propels growth.
We should never forget that the thoughts and feelings that nip and nag at us are there for a reason, and a helpful one at that. When we’re afraid or struggling emotionally, it’s because something in our life isn’t working. Shoving those feelings down means missing out on a huge opportunity. So, the first step in this process is to be brave enough to self-reflect rather than just turning your back on your own needs. If you don’t feel great about your current professional path or your position, allow yourself to think about it. Understanding what isn’t working for you about it is a prerequisite for moving ahead.
2. Embrace the idea of change
Change can be scary, but it’s also a really critical and important part of life. As you reflect on your feelings about your current professional situation, don’t close the door if your mind starts to wander toward thinking about making a big change. Be sure you stay open to that idea throughout the self-reflection process.
“It is important to be open to change,” wrote Caitlin Coggeshall for an article for Huffington Post, “because it is often in these times of change and uncertainty that you figure out what you are really passionate about and what drives you toward accomplishing your goals big and small, day in and day out.”
3. Trust yourself.
Before you start talking to everyone in your life about your thoughts and feelings about your professional path, take the time to really understand your own viewpoint. It’s easy to be influenced by others, especially the folks we trust most, so it’s essential that you trust yourself enough to solidify your own ideas before reaching out for others’ opinions. Don’t assume others know more about what you need than you do. Embrace the process of self-reflection and trust that you are the greatest authority on your own desires. Self-reflection allows us to understand them before soliciting others’ opinions.
4. Walk, write, and slow down.
The pace of modern life is not really conducive to self-reflection. You might need to make an effort to quiet yourself and your environment down enough to hear your own thoughts before you can get started. Try taking a walk, preferably somewhere lovely. Don’t listen to music or bring a friend. Just walk. Walking helps us think. If your thoughts start to roll out faster than you’d prefer, try slowing your pace a little, your thoughts should slow with them. The reverse is also true.
Adding a bit of writing to your self-reflection process might also be helpful. Instead of writing big paragraphs, allow yourself to jot down tiny, seemingly unrelated thoughts on bits of paper. As ideas come to you, write them down, fold up the paper, and throw it in a bowl to go through later. Even if the idea seems totally impractical, write it down anyway. You’re sure to learn something about your true desires from the process.
5. Don’t set time limits.
Self-reflection is not a process that you want to rush. If you have it set in your mind that you need to make a decision by a certain time, it could cloud your process. Self-reflection requires that you relax a little. You’re trying to merge your subconscious mind with your conscious one here, so you can’t have the pressure of time to distract you. Try to be easy and go with the flow as much as you can. Embracing and enjoying the process will help you find that innermost wisdom and direction you’re craving.
Tell Us What You Think
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