How to Use Reflection as a Growth Tool

What do you do when you are alone with yourself? Where do your thoughts go? Do you begin to replay your mistakes on a loop? Does the state of the world consume your mind and prevent you from thinking about your needs and relationships? 

How important is progress to you? Are you on a self-led journey seeking to constantly improve your life and become your ideal self? Or are you fighting to maintain your lifestyle as is, just keeping your head above water? 

When we have lives that are constantly evolving in a busy world constantly presenting challenges, it can be difficult to feel centered and find time to focus on yourself and YOUR dreams. This is when reflection becomes most valuable, even if it can be difficult to find time for. 

Why Reflecting is Important

Finding the balance between reflection and ruminating into a spiral can be difficult—sometimes, our stream of consciousness likes to hammer a specific memory, behavior or mistake into the ground instead of following a productive thought process like introspection. 

  1. By pausing to assess your life with reflection, you are able to better understand what is truly happening and find solutions.

  2. It allows you the opportunity to intentionally choose your mindset and beliefs.

  3. You take the driver's seat and create your life.

  4. In doing so you regain focus, momentum and inner peace.

  5. You strengthen your relationship with yourself and others.

If you struggle to intentionally reflect because you can’t find time or you forget, try the habit-stacking method. Think of a time when your thoughts are able to wander aimlessly, and pick one that you feel is the most realistic and optimal time for you to do some reflection. Then, make it a habit to reflect during that activity each day, so that part of your day becomes your automatic time for reflection, too, and your brain can easily associate it with the activity.

Reflection Activity Ideas

  • While drinking coffee in the morning

  • Right before bed

  • In the shower

  • On a walk

  • When you journal 

  • Before watching TV

  • While cooking


woman meditating and reflecting

Opportunities for Reflection

Sometimes reflection can be unproductive if we don’t have a specific topic or goal. While general introspection and reflecting can still be beneficial, living a mindful life with intentionality can often provide more specific and helpful guidance.

Categorize areas into your life that you see as separate spheres. Then, categorize the aspects of these parts of your life: social dynamics, productivity, motivation, your feelings, behaviors, etc. It can be pretty easy to recognize which areas can benefit from reflection… just look for negative emotions such as frustration, burnout, depression, dissatisfaction, overwhelm, loneliness, imposter syndrome; any area where you feel unfulfilled or have a blockage toward is an area of your life that you can use reflection as a tool for.

Here are some categories you could use to pinpoint what to reflect on: 

  • Work

  • Home 

  • Family

  • Platonic relationships

  • Romantic relationships

  • Personal development

  • Physical health

  • Mental health

  • My values

As you consider each of the broad categories, notice which ones bring up feelings of discomfort, unease, a lack of alignment with what you desire, etc. These are the areas where insight from reflection can help formulate a plan to take action and remedy obstacles preventing you from living your ideal life. 


woman journaling and reflecting at a picnic

Reflection Journal Prompts

When you are feeling a lack of confidence, it can be helpful to reflect on areas where you are strong, accomplished etc.

What traits from these areas can help you for areas you feel the opposite?

When do I feel most in control? Why? Out of control?

Where do I feel most at peace? The most anxiety? Is there anything I can do to change the space?

For challenges that keep recurring:

What beliefs do I have that could facilitate this? For example, there was a time in my life where it was a struggle just to find enough money to pay the bills. There were many beliefs I had around money that stemmed from teachings and experiences growing up that contributed to be experiencing life from this place of lack. These included beliefs such as:  making a lot of money is synonymous with having to work long hours, sacrificing time with loved ones and personal health, having an abundance of money is greedy, it's okay to spend money to invest in other's happiness, well-being and growth (my children), but not on myself as this would be selfish. It was not until I worked through my limiting beliefs around money that I found my financial situation begin to shift, my income doubling within a short period of time.

Sometimes, it's easier to uncover these types of limiting beliefs around personal challenges by imagining that your friend has this challenge—what beliefs could she have that could contribute to this?

For habits you are trying to create that aren't sticking:

What is most contributing to me not following through on the habit? For example, I by using my habit tracker, I noticed that I was struggling with not journaling in the evening on the nights when I was at our cozy home (aka our small RV that we are using for a second home while Curt's job is to far away to stay in our house). It's a small space and I prefer to journal in solitude. That didn't seem possible with my husband Curt there with me in the evening. My solution? We added a couple of chairs outside. We can now sit outside together, or when I want to journal, if he is indoors, there is now another place that feels like a good spot to go for journaling and reflection.

What could I do differently to ensure there is a cue to remind me to do the habit?

How could I set myself up with a reward that is even more enticing?.

For areas of your life where you feel stuck or in a "rut":

Is there some underlying reason I may not want to move forward?

Are there limiting beliefs that I hold that make me doubt myself?

What are three simple things I am capable of doing right now that could move energy in this area? This could be as easy as complimenting someone else about how good they are at this same thing, researching ways to do something, making a list of next steps, etc.

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