The Importance of Self-Reflection

self-reflection student tip Oct 13, 2020

Do you ever think back to when you first entered high school? Maybe you’re amazed at how your friend group has changed - but then you realize it makes sense because your interests have evolved. Or maybe you cringe a little at your early fashion choices, and feel much better about the style you’ve now grown into. 

This is called self-reflection, and it’s a hugely important skill to develop. It helps you better understand yourself - what you care about, what you’re interested in, and what you’re good at - and then use that understanding to make decisions in every area of your life. 

Right now, self-reflection can help you decide what career you want to pursue - and more importantly, make sure that choice is a career you’ll love for a long time. Self-reflection helps you choose a career based on what’s important to you and what you’re good at, rather than how much money you’ll make or how prestigious your title is. 

Let’s take a closer look at self-reflection, how it can benefit you, and how you can practice it in your life starting now. 

Benefits of Self-Reflection

When you cultivate a habit of self-reflection, you’ll become more aware of yourself. You’ll notice more things you like and dislike, assess your behaviors and motivations, and look for more creative ways to solve problems that crop up. 

This pattern of self-reflection will yield some surprising benefits that can impact many aspects of your life - school and career choices to be sure, but also relationships, hobbies, and even where you live or how you spend your money. 

Here’s a closer look at some of the benefits self-reflection can bring when it’s consistently practiced: 

  • You’ll be more confident in yourself. When you know what you want and why you want it, you can be more sure of your actions and decisions. 
  • You’ll be a better decision-maker. Instead of waffling between options for weeks or months, you’ll know what to look for in the best decision for you. 
  • You’ll set and achieve goals more easily. Self-reflection helps you see the big picture, so it’s easier to establish the next step in reaching a long- or short-term goal. 
  • You’ll communicate more clearly. Knowing what to say is the first step in saying it. Understanding your decisions, goals, and motivations makes it easier to convey them to others, whether that’s a parent, counselor, or professor. 

What’s amazing about self-reflection is that there isn’t really an endpoint. There’s always something you can seek to understand better about yourself. So while self-reflection can make you a better student now, and help you choose a career you’ll love, you’ll also find it helping you with other things in life. That could be choosing the next job in your career path, making a decision about a romantic partner, or figuring out if you want to move to a new city for school. Self-reflection helps you be better at whatever it is you want to do.  

How to Practice Self-Reflection

Self-reflection is an ongoing and very personal practice so there are as many ways of going about it as there are people on the planet - maybe even more! The most important thing is to commit to being honest with yourself and really wanting to analyze your actions and motivations. 

How can you do that exactly? Here are a few ideas to get you started. 

  • Guided meditation: Mindfulness meditation and other types of quiet reflection are excellent tools for self-reflection. These practices help you relax and decompress and get more in tune with yourself. 
  • Keep a journal: If sitting quietly and breathing isn’t your cup of tea, try journaling. The act of writing your thoughts down on paper can slow your thinking and help you notice patterns or details you might skip in your head. 
  • Spend time outside: The peace and solitude of nature can have a profound impact on our self-reflection. Walk in the woods, meander down a beach, or find a favorite landscape to explore. 
  • Draw, write, or take on another creative endeavor: Self-reflection doesn’t have to be a work of non-fiction. Creative outlets provide different ways for our brains to express themselves. You don’t have to be good at your chosen outlet - it can be a way to keep your hands busy while your mind ponders. 
  • Ask questions: No matter what tactic you choose, keep asking yourself questions. Why do you act a certain way? How did a certain event affect you? What can you do differently going forward? Constantly asking questions of yourself is the best way to foster a mindset of self-reflection. 

Take Some Time to Self-Reflect Now

It’s never too early - or too late - to practice self-reflection. Start small, and take it slow. You don’t have to figure out everything about yourself right now. In fact, you shouldn’t! Self-reflection is a lifelong practice that will help you in every area of your life, and it doesn’t need to be rushed. The time you put in will help you set patterns of self-reflection that will empower you to make decisions in college and beyond.

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