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Reflect: Find Your True Path

Before you can act, open yourself to opportunities and consider all the drivers and all the emotions in your life.

Caiaimage/Paul Viant/Getty Image
Caiaimage/Paul Viant/Getty Image,

by Life Reimagined Thought Leader Rich Feller

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Ask yourself this: When was the last time you sat down in a quiet place to think? Can’t remember? You’re not alone. In this busy world, reflection is a gift, and a needful one. Quiet and calm help you to slow down to take stock. Making time to reflect can open opportunities as you catch your breath, burnish your self-awareness and ask that vital but often-ignored question, “What’s next?” It’s the wellspring of life changes.

Heavy schedules and obligations can distract you from your best intentions. Emails, media noise, and always “doing” create heavy shoulders, tired eyes and habits that turn you from your purpose.

But when you choose to reflect on the present, magic happens. You elevate your sense of self-awareness, find clarity about who and what really matters, adjust your expectations of yourself and of others, and discover a more mindful approach to your life.

Daily reflections help you to see opportunity, reminding you that you are in the midst of a process rather than “stuck” in a place, relationship or role. Reflection energizes your ability to feel, to look forward and to gain hope. Simple pleasures of walking in nature, sitting with a great listener, or writing down what your head is saying slows the pace and brings the present closer. From that vantage point, you can contemplate small steps or a comprehensive inventory of what you want. 

Reflection helps you to see opportunity, reminding you that you are in the midst of a process rather than “stuck.” Reflection energizes your ability to feel, to look forward and to gain hope.

There are as many ways to reflect as there are facets in your life. Here are the big ones, and the questions you must ask yourself:
Relationships: Who are your best friends? Who is in your blood and extended family? How are family, friends and colleagues nurturing or sapping your energy? Which social connections enrich you? Which connections would you like to deepen? What boundaries help you? What intimacy, encouragement and free time are you enjoying?

Well-Being: What healthy habits do you practice? How can you put more fun into your fitness routines? What is your body telling you? Who are your well-being partners? Where does your encouragement come from?

Work: Where are you at your best? When do you forget time? What would you do if you could not fail? Who has a work-life balance that you admire? What skills could you learn to enjoy work more? What do you enjoy about your manager? Who are your ideal colleagues?

Finance and Wealth: What is it like to have enough? What is enough? How do you assess the balance between your financial inflow and outflow? As you consider future needs, what would you like more of?

Recreation and Fun: What makes you laugh until tears come to your eyes? How is leisure expressed in your day? Who helps you feel alive?

Service and Contribution: How do you like to give back? How do you show gratitude?

Spirituality and Faith: When do you feel most at peace and connected? How do you express your connection to others? When are you most relaxed? Where do you find beauty, kindness and peace?

And More: What else do you want more of?

Reflection connects you to your motivation. You gather relevant, new or reframed details about where you are. Through reflection you recognize the forces shaping who you are and how you approach each day.

Whether your questions surround relationships, well-being or work, your yearning for more purpose and community can only be sated when you are able to pause and reflect. It’s a practice well worth the time. 

How Reflection Transformed a Mother-Daughter Relationship

Maureen’s daughter had dramatic meltdowns before soccer games, with the young teen huddling in her room refusing to talk. The soccer coach asked Maureen to take a big-picture view of the relationship. What could be influencing her and her daughter? As Maureen reflected, the following themes emerged:

- Maureen’s dedication to rearranging work to handle transportation to practices and games, and the worry that this brought.

- The embarrassment Maureen felt in letting others down when she joined a committee and then fumbled as work demands intruded.

- Maureen’s concern about her own weight gain and belief that playing soccer kept her daughter’s weight issues at bay.

- The tension that Maureen’s partner’s struggles at work brought to the family.

After reflecting, Maureen was able to have productive conversations with her daughter.  The investment she made in understanding situations and the emotions that underlay them allowed her to better listen to her daughter’s concerns, and reflect on the issues she herself was experiencing. Only when her daughter’s worries about being new to the sport and keeping up with more experienced players surfaced could they be addressed in conversations with the soccer coach.

“If I had pressured her to stay in for the season because of my fears, I think she would have pushed back and rebelled,” Maureen said. “When I could identify my own influences and address them separately, I was free to ask about hers—and really listen to them.”

Life Reimagined thought leader Rich Feller, Ph.D. teaches at Colorado State University. He is a certifiedcounselor with scores of publications in academic journals and awards.