Monday, June 27, 2016

The Power of Reflection: 5 Minutes That Will Change Your Life

My daily 5-minute journal. No, I'm not living in Paris.

Last week I gave you some Practical Ways to Turn Your Goals Into Reality, and this week I'd like to expound on one concept I mentioned: reflection.

John C. Maxwell recommended that we spend about 5 minutes at the end of every day jotting down a few notes about our day. Let's talk about that some more.

Mine typically consists of:

- a general order of the day's major events
- how I felt about how the day/events went overall (ugh, YAY!, sigh, etc.)
- what I think might need to be changed

This little bit of time to step back from my day and reflect has made a huge difference for me. No longer do I feel like I'm stumbling through each day and spinning my wheels on my goals. Now I feel as though I'm living each day intentionally, with the processes in place to make the next day even better than the one before.

So how does this work on a practical level? Let me give you some examples.

Here is my entry from one day this week:

Stressed out midday- girls bored and whiny. NEW RULE- if you whine you're bored, I will give you 3 fun ideas for what to do. If you still say no, I will give you a 4th less fun idea you MUST do.

Hard to do Reading Time- friends call or kids get involved in other stuff- maybe move RT to right after lunch, no later than 2- gives kids time to play afterward & me time to fold laundry & make dinner.

When kids start to yell- "I can see we're having angry/frustrated feelings here, but this conversation needs to come down to a normal talking voice or you will have to put stones in the jar. (if the jar gets filled to a certain level by Friday then we don't go out for ice cream)

Jar is working great!

So what did I do?

1. I identified problem spots & patterns (and obviously, just the act of identifying those spots almost immediately led me to a way to solve them).

2. Jotted down ideas to solve problem spots. 

3. Celebrated little victories.

Had I not done this, I would have gone to bed that night knowing that parts of my day had been good, and parts had been frustrating, but I would have carried on the next day without giving those things a second thought.

With this less-than-5-minute process each evening, however, I was able to face the next day with a better plan than I'd had the day before, which got me excited for another chance.

Here are some issues that have been solved this week thanks to my little nightly routine:

1. I was able to nip 3 different "I'm bored," whines in the bud.

2. My kids were able to do a full hour of Reading Time AND play with their friends in the afternoon (while I folded laundry and prepared dinner).

3. I was able to stop a few humdinger fights before they started with only one sentence.

4. I made a new plan for our Friday night movie night next week since I realized the ill effects of starting it too late.

5. I made a new rule that it is the responsibility of whoever is doing dishes to remind everyone to clear their own plates, and if plate is not cleared by the time dish-doer is finished, then plate's owner will have to wash it themselves.

6. I learned that at a certain time of the month I need to ditch my writing schedule and go to bed early with a good book. And I will be okay with that.

All of these things have to do with those little speed bumps that throw us off during the day, and while I'm pretty sure I'll never have a day that's totally smooth-sailing, at least I'm addressing some of the bigger frustrations and building a framework to deal with them.

So this week I challenge you to take just 5 minutes at the end of your day to jot down some notes and reflect: What stopped you from having the day you wanted to have? What can you change to make it better? Where did you succeed today? How can you continue that success in the future?

Harness the power of reflection!

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