How Pausing to Reflect Can Prevent Burnout

By | February 13, 2019

Reflection on your daily life helps you summarize the experiences, looking for ways to improve, as well as minimize any negative self-talk about mistakes and/or things that didn’t go as you hoped or planned.

Life has a way of providing many triumphs, struggles, victories, losses, ups, and downs. How you think about these life experiences will dictate how your future will look.

Too often we live our lives on auto-pilot, going through the motions, not taking time to smell the flowers (not all of us like roses), take in nature, or simply just be. We jump from activity to activity without pausing and reflecting “what just happened to me?”.

When was the last time you reflected on an experience you’ve recently had? Some call this a debrief, as what you would do in any project management exercise. What went well? What went sideways? Did we learn anything new? Did any of our past theories help (or hurt) this project?

We can use that methodology when we reflect on life experiences as well. Public speakers can reflect on what went well during your talk? What did you forget to do? Did you feel the audience was engaged, or were they suffering from after-lunch food coma?

Parents after having a difficult discussion with your child. What went well (if anything) did your child seem to understand your point of view? Did you listen (truly listen) to your child’s responses? Were you in the moment, or were you rehashing the past, or re-living the past of an experience you had as a child?

Check yourself.

Pausing and reflection on your daily lives helps you summarize the experiences, looking for ways to improve how you conduct your life, as well as minimize any negative self-talk about mistakes and/or things that didn’t go as you would have hoped or planned.

The sun still rises (even during winter, and it’s hidden by clouds, it’s still there.)

I’m a huge fan of journals. I encourage you to journal your days, so you can look for personal growth opportunities, as well as notice trends as to how your days and weeks are going.

Here’s a reflection journal exercise:

  • Write what went really well today. Be as detailed as you want. You’ll look back at this from time to time, so you’ll want to be verbose here.
  • Write what went “bad” or didn’t go as you would have hoped/liked/planned. List the experience(s) and also write down what your role was in these matters, but don’t beat yourself up. Write it from a factual standpoint.
  • Write down what you want to accomplish tomorrow. Be BOLD. Set big objectives/goals, but ones that you feel you can achieve, or at a minimum move forward.

Use your journal daily. Writing it down celebrates what went well, what didn’t, and what positive things you’ll do tomorrow. It provides you with a way to release everything that happened in your day, so that you can get a restful evening of sleep, which is a crucial burnout prevention step.

Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.

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