How Self-Reflection Can Make You Better At Life (4 minute read)

There are 4 questions you should answer every week in order to become better at life. 

What did I do that was right?

What did I do that I can improve on?

What lessons have I learnt or reinforced this week?

What should I focus on for the upcoming week?

For the last two months, I have set aside time every week to answer these 4 questions. The results are very promising.

My answers are based on the 3 areas of life which I believe are worth continually developing: PERSONAL, SOCIAL and PROFESSIONAL.

Personal – How can I become a better human being?

A conscious effort to reflect on all things Gihan. I essentially audit my character. I recall all the things I am proud of from the past week; complimenting the waiter for epic service and awesome food, helping a friend’s friend get into Medicine, being accountable and sincerely apologising by saying “Sorry”. I will celebrate these things. Emphatically.

On the flip side, I recall the things that are still a work in progress.  For example, I may think that I was overly judgemental towards someone. So I ask myself “What can I do to stop being  judgemental?”. I draw on the wisdom I have gained from friends, family, past experiences, books, even TED talks and then formulate a plan. It may be something as simple as “Every time you judge someone negatively, remind yourself of the quote ‘Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbour’s lawn when your own lawn is covered in snow’ “. In other words, I remind myself that I am not perfect either. In a week, I reassess whether its worked (which it did to a certain extent) and refine as necessary.

Investing in myself is important to me. As a good power punch in boxing comes from the hips, a happy and successful human being stems from someone with an undying commitment to the right ethics and values.

Social – How can I cultivate the important relationships in my life?

This comes down to making myself the best husband, son, brother, uncle, friend and even stranger that I can be. Story time!

I am a good son. Some would even say I am the favourite son. Conveniently, my brother is not active on social media and thus you will not a see a rebuttal to this statement. Anyway, one thing I wasn’t the best at was being a good son over the phone. It sounds trivial but, let me explain. When they called (I don’t live at home anymore), I often acted like they were interrupting me. As if I was always in a hurry. As if they called me at a bad time. “Yep….ok….alright no problem I will do that…alright bye”.

This behaviour is clearly justified because as you know, I am kind of a big deal. Some would even say a gift to modern day society.

Jokes aside, my wife noticed it. I noticed it. Even my sister in law noticed it. “Hey why is Gihan so weird on the phone with his parents?”.  During one of these self-reflection sessions, I knew I had a prime suspect for something to improve on. My plan of attack; “Be more present and engaged when on the phone with parents (nothing else matters in those 5-10 minute chats).” BOOM! The usual sh**ty, superficial 2 minute conversation turned into 10-20-30 minute epic catch ups which covered anything from family matters to all things Masterchef. I even made an additional rule that I wasn’t allowed to end the conversation. Funnily enough, the conversation would become awkward and my parents eventually end up saying something like “urrrmmm, hmmm we should probably go now”. Ahh how the tables have turned.

Professional – How can I make a difference?

Are my actions in line with my long term goals? Whether it be to become an excellent GP or even with regards to informal independent projects such as this very blog, I am continuously looking at ways to optimise.  A lot of my issues in this realm of my life comes down to three things: STARTING, PERSISTING and BEING PATIENT. For example, let’s say I analyse whether I am closer to being an excellent GP today than I was a week ago. If the answer is NO, I consider whether I am applying the above principles. If it’s a problem with “starting” for example, the upcoming week I may focus on “Spending 15 minutes on GP related study EVERY DAY”. If this works (which it did), I will continue it. If it didn’t, the strategising would continue until I strike a winning formula.

 

Remember, we are not perfect and we will never be but, we can be better than the week before. The power of self-reflection awaits!

As always don’t do drugs, stay in school and don’t be a chump over the phone to your parents.

RELATED POSTS

Morning ritual: The compounding effect of gratitude

Meditation used to suck

 

Much love to all of you and of course, to myself.

 

Dr G