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Five Minutes to Thrive: Self-reflection with intention

As this year comes to an end, we can reflect back on all this year has brought us; the times filled with joyful memories, laughter and friendship, or the painful moments we would rather forget. Taking time to reflect offers insight on how we want to move forward. Looking back on your year is not about beating yourself up and seeing what you did wrong. It should be about rejoicing for all you have and achieved, not dwelling on disappointment. Self-reflection may seem difficult, selfish or even embarrassing, as it does not always come naturally. You will find it becomes easier with practice and the end result could be a happier and more efficient you.

There are several ways to reflect back over this year, these steps might be helpful:

1. Break the year into months and write down significant events or moments you can rejoice in from each month. Write down areas that might have gone better or could be improved. Nothing is too big, and nothing is too small.

2. Ask yourself reflective questions about the whole year:
  • Strengths – What were my strengths?
  • Weaknesses –What do I need to work on?
  • Skills – What skills do I have and what am I good at?
  • Problems – What problems were there at work/home that affected me?
  • Achievements – What did I achieve this year?
  • Happiness – What made me happy? What were the things that I was unhappy or disappointed with?
  • Solutions – What can I do to improve in these areas for 2020?

Self-reflection may bring negative thoughts/emotions forward. Take a moment to acknowledge them, then bring your attention back to the objective all while being kind to yourself. Reflecting helps you develop your skills and review their effectiveness, rather than just repeating things as you have always done them.

Once you complete your self-reflection for the year, you can go a step further by setting your intentions for 2020. I’m not talking about setting resolutions, just developing intentional behaviors to get you where you want to be. Below is a suggestion to help:

1. Write your intentions out on what you want to change in your day-to-day, weekly and/or monthly routine. Then make a list of incremental steps to complete these changes that will lead you to greater fulfillment. (i.e. add mindfulness to my morning routine. Wake up five minutes earlier to listen to the mindfulness app I downloaded)

2. Take a few moments each morning to think about and review your intentions. Focusing on the things you need to do, the things you want to do and the things you don’t want to do. By making reflection a (quick) daily practice, you'll stay on track with what you want to achieve.

Self-reflection will help evaluate what you do, why you do it and determining whether there is a better, or more efficient way of doing it in the future.

Questions? Contact Dr. Ashley Kilgore at ashley.c.kilgore.mil@mail.mil or the Minot Mental Health Clinic at 701-723-5527.
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