Reflective practice is neither counterproductive nor counter to productivity and success. Reflective practice (and it does require practice!) is key to deepening our self-awareness, to building our resilience, to gaining self-knowledge and perspective, and to being emotionally attuned and flexible. Reflective practice helps us stay connected to our lives, to our emotions and experiences. It helps us balance the imbalance of hyper busy-ness that we have come to equate with productivity and success.
We are saturated with narratives about productivity and linear success. These narratives are all tales of productive, successful, fulfilling careers (and therefore lives) that unfold sequentially and move continuously upward. In addition, hyper-busy-ness is now an “added value” to both productivity and success.
All of this creates more rigidity and less flexibility in our lives. These narratives influence the expectations and assumptions we have of our own journeys, how we gauge our own productivity and success, and often have a hand in influencing and shaping the choices we make. They leave us uncomfortable with our own successes AND with the uneven paths of our lives. They contribute an additional layer of unease and discomfort when we do feel unfulfilled, dissatisfied or faced with a heavy issue.
I see how these larger narratives are internalized by many of my clients. For those who are experiencing burnout or for those who feel unfulfilled in the work they do, the burden of busy-ness without personal purpose coupled with the inflexible expectations of what productivity and success should be, creates an internal (existential) crisis of authenticity and meaning.
In light of the pervasive narratives of ever-increasing productivity, success and busy-ness, reflective practice may seem to be the very antithesis of a productive, successful life and career. The regular practice of taking time to pause, to reflect, to gain and develop deeper awareness, to better understand and contextualize our feelings and experiences and to integrate our insights back into our daily lives may seem laborious and counterproductive to the hyper-busyness we are told to revere.
But our real lives in fact follow far more circuitous routes and they are no less productive, successful or fulfilling. Our real lives are rich, full and encompass multiple contexts. They are not always tidy and cannot be completely organized and executed in sequential steps. The problems we face cannot always be fixed or eliminated expeditiously, and solutions often appear outside our carefully constructed plans. Disorder and struggle often walk alongside a harmonious and thriving life.
The regular practice of reflecting upon and integrating our unique experiences allows us to acknowledge this and profit from that knowledge. Reflective practice keeps us vibrantly and purposefully productive each and every day. Reflective practice allows us to shift the emphasis from hyper-busyness to a larger perspective on our lives. A little less busy-ness and a little more reflection gives us time to recognize and value our unique expertise and abilities, to build and then draw upon our resilience, to feel confident in our choices and decisions, and to create and re-create relevant and meaningful paths for ourselves. This is the kind of time we require to be fully engaged, emotionally flexible and attuned. Reflective practice keeps us focused on the multiple and authentic successes we experience in our daily lives.
Britt-Mari helps clients create personally empowered solutions to career transition, burnout and building meaningful careers. She is an integrative career counselor with an extensive background in existential psychology, career counseling and teaching. To inquire about a free consultation contact her at email@example.com