Let’s face it; we live in a fast-paced world. As an entrepreneur, we wear multiple hats to keep our businesses moving forward. This level of activity can lead to tunnel vision if we don’t intentionally schedule the time to reflect. Without reflection and evaluation, our companies can easily take over our lives.
I am a huge advocate for taking time to pause and reflect. It is essential to look ahead to where we are going, but it is equally important to look back at where we have been, evaluate what is working, and identify areas that could use tweaking. Only then can we have an accurate perspective and see the big picture.
Pausing is a powerful tool that can be used to refresh our spirit and our focus. Taking time to reflect allows growth to catch up with us. Life experience is just that unless we make time to evaluate and turn daily interactions into insights. Quieting our spirit to listen to the pulse of our lives and business can help us steer our path forward in a way that is most beneficial.
One of the best ways to dig deep is to journal. Having an intentional purpose for your journaling will reveal areas to work on. Let me share one of my client’s revelations from journaling:
She was a young entrepreneur who wanted to raise her rates. However, she’d hesitate every time she would try to address her rate change with her clients. She knew she was offering value, but something was holding her back when it came time to have the discussion. After a couple of weeks of journaling, she discovered she had self-esteem issues that were tied to her money mindset. She was able to trace the cause of her insecurity back to a conversation she had with her parents when she was a child.
Once she was able to identify the root of her roadblock, we created a strategy to confront the issue, and she went on to confidently have successful money conversations with existing and new clients. Had she not taken time to pause and reflect, she may have struggled financially in her business for years.
Pausing makes our lives better. When we take time to pause and reflect, we can savor the moments of each day. I recommend having a special place to reflect and journal. My preferred time to slow down and journal is late at night. I like to create a warm atmosphere by burning my favorite candle and snuggling in my oversized chair. Creating a peaceful environment allows me to tap into my emotions and open my mind to capture the things that are important. I use this time to replay conversations and events from each day. I evaluate how they went, and what I could have done better.
Leaders take time to pause and think. If we are going to lead our businesses successfully, there are many different types of thinking strategies to get comfortable with. For example, big-picture thinking, strategic thinking, creative thinking, innovating thinking, and bottom-line thinking. Taking time to intentionally expand our thinking time while journaling will generate ideas, improve relationships, and create strategies to grow our businesses. Uninterrupted time alone creates space to sort through the complexities of life and put them into perspective. This ritual, if practiced consistently, can be life-changing.
The first step in developing a growth plan entails setting an intentional purpose and focus of our journaling. Initially, to provide structure, incorporate the four “I’s” into your journaling routine. Growth comes from uncovering the insights and truths that lie within us.
Investigating requires more than just stopping to smell the roses. An authentic investigation can only happen if we ask ourselves deep and probing questions. Try these out for starters:
What is my biggest strength?
What is my biggest weakness?
What fuels my passions?
What takes the wind out of my sails?
What emotion drives me?
What emotion repels me?
What habits do I want to cultivate?
What habits do I need to eliminate?
What activity fills my tank?
What activity depletes me?
What values drive my life?
How did I grow today?
What obstacles stand in my way of growth?
What learning moments did I encounter today?
Who am I helping develop into a leader?
No matter what area of life you want to focus on for growth, use this simple format of asking questions to dig deeper and accelerate your progress.
Incubating our thoughts is almost like meditation. Take time to listen to your spirit speak to you. Roll thoughts and emotions over in your mind. Evaluate ideas and see if they have merit to pursue.
Putting a spotlight on your “aha” moments will help you see insights that were hidden from you. These “aha” moments often follow incubation periods and allow a plan to come together.
Illustrating your vision is like putting flesh on a skeleton. This part of the process is where you outline the details of the plan and determine actionable steps.
I know, you’re probably feeling resistant to the depth of this journaling ritual. I promise you will receive results if you set aside 20 – 30 minutes daily. Like anything worth pursuing, you will get out of it, what you put into it. There is value in writing out your questions and answers; you’ll be amazed to discover what you truly know, think, and believe about yourself and your life. Your journal will also become an amazing reference and confidence-building tool to reflect back on your journey and see how you overcame challenging circumstances.
Your ultimate goal is to become the best possible version of yourself and reach your full potential.
You can accomplish this by scheduling a consistent time to pause and reflect daily. This means putting yourself at the top of your priority list and making this time non-negotiable. Henri Arnold said, “The wise man questions himself…” By intentionally asking yourself probing questions, you will gain a deeper understanding of who you are and what values drive you. Are you ready to get started?