REFLECTION: The Great Differentiator.

Announcing my tenth Word of the Year!

Have you noticed that more and more folks are committing to a Word of the Year (WOTY)? In asking questions to understand what inspires WOTY creators, I realized that WOTY means something different to each of them. I also became amused by a particular sentiment: “Once you understand one family office, you understand one family office.” (My hat is tipped to the dapper Ken Eyler for this nugget of wisdom.)

Personally, WOTY is another tool I’ve created to “design a life of clarity, focus and fulfillment”. This is not only my personal mission, but also the tagline for Intentional Productivity.

These annual declarations have been beacons and milestones during my adventure. Some years, my commitments to WOTYs were like college classes. Other words warranted being at top of mind— mantras.

Reflecting back on the list, it’s interesting to notice that each word is powerful in its own rite, and as a progression, looks like a deer path in the woods toward my aspiration:

2014 was the Year of Self-Compassion.
2015 was the Year of Focus.
2016 was the Year of Simplicity.
2017 was the Year of Intentionality.
2018 was the Year of Curiosity.
2019 was the Year of Release.
2020 was the Year of Clarity.
2021 was the Year of Space.
2022 was the Year of Cadence.

Now it’s 2023 and DRIVEN has ten years under its belt! Intuitively, my Word of the Year this time is REFLECTION.

My intention is to investigate concepts and frameworks to maximize the power of Reflection— after all, there are many facets to it. Of course, we can reflect on the past, whether it be in a journal, a house of worship or the rumination in our brains. And there’s the reflection we see from the mirror. But there more beyond the surface meanings of this word:

• We can Reflect on the mindset we’ve historically taken and adapt it to influence our decisions for our future.
• The people that surround us Reflect something about who we are.
• There’s also Reflection through the lens of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy.

But first, allow me to share “the why behind the what” of Reflection.

In my experience as a coach and as my own best client, the differentiator to living a successful life is consistent and intentional reflection. I acknowledge that the word success means different things to different people. But for me, it means designing the aforementioned life of clarity, focus and fulfillment.

These contented folks have deliberately developed practices to drive them toward their objectives. Reflection guides them to stay on track, or change course if, upon contemplation, they determine their aspirations or values have progressed.

You may ask, “If reflection as a differentiator is so great, why doesn’t everyone do it?”

Here are three reasons to contemplate:

• It’s counterintuitive to think that by “slowing down” for reflection, we are better able to manage the stress presented by our ambitiously paced lives.
• It’s challenging to protect time on an overstuffed calendar to focus on important but non-urgent matters.
• It takes courage to look back! We’re oh-so-good at beating ourselves up about how we managed in the past that reflection, without a growth mindset, can lead to guilt, shame and regret.

But here’s the thing; without reflection, we tend to only look forward, frantically anticipating the unknowns that lie in our future. Because of this, we downplay how much we do each day. It’s never enough; we live in scarcity instead of abundance. And the scarcity mindset can lead to exhaustion, a sense of inadequacy and burnout.

The good news is that we get to choose our mindset!

Want to try? First, the ground rules:

• Begin by believing that looking back will reveal treasures to positively inform your future.
• Not only that, you get to witness and celebrate how far you’ve come.
• These two truths will yield to confidence in being just where you are in the present moment.

If you are game, here’s an activity you can implement starting today. For the next seven days, take 2 minutes at the end of each day to write down three things that you’ve done to ‘forward’ your goals. They could be work goals, plans to be a better listener, intentions to exercise more or even to play Wordle.

But here’s the twist: Don’t repeat these activities, tasks or mindsets. Each entry will be unique.

At the end of one week, take 15 minutes to read over the list and reflect on how much you did in service to your intentional goals. You won’t believe you did all of this in 7 days! The investment of 29 minutes (15 of them in reflection) will lead to greater confidence in perpetuity.

If you want to take this oxytocin-producing exercise one step farther, invest another 30 minutes to scrutinize which activities are best serving vs which can be tweaked to be more effective. This will also guide you to notice where you are wasting your time.

As you’re considering each of these activities, give yourself a mental “Rock on”, an “Atta girl”, or a “Way to go!”. Celebration leads to the inspiration to continue on. It’s the bonus to reflecting on all you’ve done.

This is just a tiny example of how to use reflection to enhance your life. This state of mind takes little time, costs zero money, and leverages your own personal case studies to design your life of clarity, focus and fulfillment.

I’ll look forward to exploring 10 more angles of Reflection over this momentous year. If this sounds enticing, I hope you’ll join me on the first Tuesday of each month to dig deeper into reflection.

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