How to reflect on your business in a balanced, healthy way
One of the biggest challenges when becoming self-employed is being able to reflect on your business in a balanced way, and make the time to do it. I often hear people talking about how they “get stuck in their own heads”. Often their own heads can be a negative place, with a fairly big serving of self-doubt thrown in too. Not a great recipe for a balanced evaluation on any situation.
In the business world you are always being told that you need to have targets, action plans and vision boards to be working towards. Don’t get me wrong I am a big advocate of having clear, measurable targets to be working towards. However, this needs to be within the context of regular reviewing and reflection, something that often gets overlooked or pushed to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list.
I don’t have time
I hear you! When you are busy running your business and juggling the rest of your life too, taking time to reflect doesn’t feel like the best use of time. You feel like you need to keep your head down, and be productive and get things ticked off the never-ending to-do list.
I guarantee you, that when you find a way to embed reflection into your business processes, it will benefit the business and your own well-being. The process of regularly reflecting on what you are doing is so important for the health and well-being of you as an individual and for your business. Here are just a few of the ways it will benefit you and your business:
- it is how you learn, grow and develop.
- it builds confidence and belief.
- it enables you to develop a responsive business, that adapts and responds.
- it protects you against the exhaustion of always feeling like you are never getting the to-do list ticked off.
- it will improve your focus and productivity
Balanced reflection is key
What you are aiming for is a balanced approach to your evaluation of particular situations, products, client services etc. This is why there are certain times when you DO NOT want to be reflecting on your business:
- in the immediate aftermath of a situation that has left you feeling angry, hurt, upset, distressed
- in the immediate ‘high’ of a positive situation
- when you are physically and emotionally exhausted
- when you know that hormones are at play and clouding your judgement
- when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed
Timing is everything. Giving yourself enough time to properly dive into the process without cutting corners so that you can just get it done and when you are in the best frame of mind, rested and fuelled.
Having a tool or process is also really beneficial, rather than sitting with a blank piece of paper and asking contemplating “how was that?”. There are loads of really useful reflective tools that you can use. One of my favourite tools that I use a lot for myself and recommend to people is Gibbs Reflective Cycle.
Gibbs Reflective Cycle – 6 steps to a balanced reflection
These 6 steps are versatile and can be applied across a host of business activities.
- Get specific about what you are reflecting on.
- keep it factual, try not to let feelings creep in here.
- Give it a ‘title’
- What you were feeling before, during & after?
- How did that impact on you, your actions and your approach?
- What was good about it and/or less good?
- How did the scenario end? As planned? Did you complete it? Was it incomplete?
- Why did the good bits happen?
- Why did the less good bits happen?
- What sense can you make of it?
- What was the consequence(s)?
- What have you learnt about myself?
- What could you differently?
- What got in your way?
- Did I achieve my goal / target / intended outcome?
- What can I do to prepare for next time?
- What areas can I improve?
- What priority areas for development do you have?
- What do you need to do next? Create a specific action plan
Whether you are reflecting on a particular project or area of your business delivery, or on your business as a whole, following these 6 steps and asking yourself the questions in a balanced and considered way, will provide you with a robust evaluation. Decide when you will embed reflective practice into the rhythm of your work (for example, traditional milestones of quarterly reviews or after particular business activities), and enjoy the benefits it will bring.
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