I begin most of my mornings the same way; sneaking downstairs in the cool and quiet of the morning. My family is still sleeping and the dogs are still whispering their dreams through flared nostrils. I find a sullen comfort in my quiet morning rituals, but I especially like the weekends when the weekday rush is absent. I find that the coffee smells better, the cool floor under my bare feet offer nostalgia and my viewing chair in the front room is far more comfortable. I usually take my position there and watch the morning songbirds or sometimes, catch the morning fog lift from the pavement. My favorite mornings are those a bit more gray, those with the sound of soft rain singing through the window; that’s when I do my best reflection.
I think there are moments for each of us, however different they may be, that cause us to stop and reflect. Most come unsummoned, but I do believe we have all had them in some measure. For some of us, this moment is a new beginning that caused us to measure our past success and failures while looking to the future, and perhaps start the process of scripting our new outlook to a more defined future. In many ways, this process allows us to maintain a conscious awareness of where we are in the present moment, and I personally practice this often; there is a sincere importance and impact to this regular mental exercise. Remember, reflection is the key to progression. It helps us sculpt- or re-sculpt our dreams and desires.
As I started to think about this more on Sunday morning while sitting in my front room reading the weekend WSJ and enjoying coffee, I recalled an article I came across once that outlined 20 questions we should ask ourselves every week, and I felt inclined to revisit it and to share it with all of you. For me, it allows time for me to sit quietly and think. It starts positioning the thoughts for the coming week. Sometimes, it is just a quiet conversation with myself, and other times I find that I reflect better when writing my thoughts down.
When we begin the process of self-reflection, we begin the process of many things that organically accompany a new way of thinking; forgiveness, affirmation, productivity, and self-acceptance.
1. What was a lesson I learned this week? – This can be a tough question, but try to search for a small victory. We should all aim to learn something new!
2. What are three small accomplishments from this week, both personal and professional? – Write these down to encourage yourself by tracked progress!
3. Which moment from last week would you consider your “high”? – Open your mind to reflection of some of the good things that happened, we so often focus on the negative.
4. What is your priority for the coming week? Is it a specific task, a personal goal? – Put everything else aside in terms of importance when focusing on accomplishing this priority.
5. What can I accomplish today in way of both thinking and execution that will make this week less stressful? – Organize yourself!
6. Is there anything that I am currently facing that will pose challenges for me next week? – Mentally prepare yourself and create a roadmap for successful navigation of potentially challenging situations.
7. How did I waste the most time last week? – Are there things that you can do to deter meaningless distractions from getting in the way of your success?
8. What mental and emotional clutter can I let go of from last week to make this week brighter? – Let’s rid of the unnecessary thinking patters so that we can concentrate on positive goals!
9. In what ways did I procrastinate from last week? –Did you put off some things that you planned to get done that are now on this week’s list? How can you make these things a priority this week to get them out of the way? How do you plan to eliminate the procrastinating events, e.g., was this a distraction from question 7?
10. What opportunities are out there for me? – Personal and professional! What is available to you to go out and grab that you’ve been hesitant about?
11. Who can I reconnect with this week? – Keeping in touch on a regular and personal basis with old friends and extended family is healthy and rejuvenating. Send a cute note or pick up the phone and say hello to someone you haven’t talk to in some time.
12. Who in my life deserves some appreciation and gratitude? – Make it a goal each week to go out of your way to not just say, but show gratitude and appreciation to someone in your life through a small thoughtful act of kindness or gesture.
13. How am I going to use my strengths this week to help my family or work team? – Everyone is more successful when people take a few extra moments or steps to take something a bit further than “Average”
14. Have my long term goals adjusted based on successes and recent opportunities? – Keep track of realistic goals!
15. What did I do this week that marked measured movement towards goal accomplishment? – How did you go above and beyond for yourself this week?
16. What steps am I taking this week to inch closer to my goals? – Know them and take them!
17. What am I excited about in the coming week? – Get some motivation rolling!
18. What am I afraid of? – Think on it and find a solution based path through it.
19. What am I grateful for? – It’s a smart way to keep things in perspective, and something you should never lose sight of.
20. If I knew my time was limited just to this week, who and what would be important to me in terms of time spent? – We all know life is short but we need to spend a little time actually living that way.
Take 30 minutes once a week and talk some of these things out with yourself. Try it with a spouse or close friend! It has worked wonders for me, and I am confident it will do the same for you.
I’m feeling particularly curious, and would love your feedback especially as it pertains to Question 2! What are some other questions you may ask yourself?
by Sari Hammond, Financial Advisor/Business Development Manager