August 9, 2021
We are in part 2 of the Mindset Series: Ways I Changed my Thinking to Hit $10k Months in My Photography business and today I want to show you how to use reflective thinking in your life for personal growth.
Here’s the thing, I’m just going to be honest. It’s a challenge for me to sit still. I mean, if you’re listening to this on 2x right now (or even reading the transcript because even 2x is too slow haha) you’re my people, ok? That is SO me. I’m like, “JUST GET TO THE POINT!” My personality is such that, I feel like in order to be effective in the world and for myself and my family I have to be DOING something. And reflective thinking is really kinda the opposite of that.
However I’ve experienced about all the benefits that come along with doing this…so I want you to hang with me. Maybe even slow my voice down to 1.5x or even normal speed and really hear what we’re talking about today!
Reflective thinking can be used in many different ways, but one of the most popular ways is using it as a tool for self-reflection and building on what we already know about ourselves. It’s important not just for personal growth, but also for our relationships with others because it helps us understand them better too, which allows us to have more open conversations or work together more effectively. So let me show you how reflective thinking might look like in your life by walking through some examples of how this technique could be applied to everyday situations.
For example, if something good happens to you (e.g. your ideal client books you), I would sit down and try to figure out what specifically I did that contributed to the result and how I can replicate it for my next booking. If something bad happened (e.g., no inquiries or bookings for a week or a month), I would do the same thing in an attempt to figure out why it happened.
Reflective Thinking can revolutionize the way you do life and business. It’s basically analyzing your thought process to think about why something happened, what could have made it better or what you might be able to learn from it in order to make decisions in the future.
We’re going to break down two specific types of reflective thinking I’ve identified over the years: Passive and Active Reflective Thinking.
This is similar to meditation. You’re just sitting or walking. You’re just being. You’re not on your phone, you’re not talking, you’re not watching your kids play, you’re just being.
1. Slows down time
I love my life. I love my career, I love my husband, my kids, my friends… and the older I get the faster it seems to go, right? Like, have you ever heard your grandparents tell you to savor time because it goes by so fast? I remember older women saying this to me all the time when my kids were babies.
In our busy culture when we’re just go go go go go – time moves extra fast. Reflective thinking is a way to slow down time. I know that sounds crazy, but when we’re kinda bored, our brains slow down and (to me anyway) it feels like time slows down. And what a gift that is!
In fact, my son was having a birthday party a year or two ago. And he said, “Mom, I feel like when I do fun stuff, time goes by so much more fast than when I’m doing something else.” And I told him, “You know how whenever you’re eating something that you really like and you don’t want it to go away? You just want to savor it—just take smaller bites and savor every bit of it? What of you do that to your birthday party? What if you just intentionally slow down and look around, seeing the sights and hearing what you hear and smelling the smells? That way, you can savor it in a similar way that you can savor food.”
I love that conversation because it brought it to my attention as well when it totally happens to me on vacations or when we have friends over and time just seems to speed up. What if we can use something like Passive Reflective Thinking to kind of slow down time?
Another example about how passive reflective thinking slows time …. My 1st job when I was 16 was being a hostess at a nice restaurant in town. My shift would be from 11a-4p. Lunchtime was always super, super busy and time would FLY by from 11-2pm. But from 2-4 it was super super slow, and those final 2 hours would just draaaaag on and on. It seemed like time was moving at a snail’s pace. I’m sure you can relate, and probably have a similar story too right?
2. Allows your brain to sort and file
Here’s what I mean: When I practice PASSIVE reflective thinking my brain starts to “file” my thoughts. In fact, sometimes my husband will walk into my office and I’ll just be sitting in my chair, no phone, not typing or talking. And he’ll say “uhhh whatcha doing?” and I tell him I’m letting my brain file. It’s normal for us now but it used to be so strange for him.
I’m not intentionally thinking or not thinking, I’m just sitting and being.
3. Gives you new ideas!
What often ends up happening is I will start to come up with insightful and helpful thoughts. PRT helps me come up with new ideas because it provides a mental break that enables me to focus on things that I may not have thought about before… almost like a mental pause button.
When you practice PRT, there is no one to tell your brain what to think. How powerful! Let me say that again! When you’re practicing PRT there is no one to tell your brain what to think. So what oftentimes happens is my thoughts will wander off into new areas that I hadn’t thought about before.
“But what of I have children and/or babies?”
I bet listening to this some of you are like, “Cool Tavia – this sounds so great, but when will I find the luxurious time to just sit in silence with my own thoughts!? I have children and babies around me (what feels like 24/7)?”
I’ve been there FOR SURE. And yes, my kids are older now and my husband is home to help with them, but I did this while he was at his 9-5 and I was home with the kids, homeschooling and working, so it definitely can be done!
Here are some ideas to find the time to practice PRT as a busy working mom:
I’m sure you’ve heard people say, I have my best ideas in the shower right?! This is why! They’re silencing their brain long enough to hear their own brilliant thoughts.
So even a few minutes a day can increase your attention space, help you focus, improve your mood, give you great new ideas and reduce stress and anxiety!
If passive reflective thinking is like meditating, active reflective thinking is like brainstorming.
I think about ART like this: if you plant a lot of seeds in the ground, not all of them will grow. However, it’s worth it to plant seeds because even if only one grows, that seed is worth more than gold because now at least one other person has access to its fruit! It’s the same with ART – not all the things that come up will be great or beneficial, but when it clicks you’ll know!
1. It’s thoughtful and methodical.
I like systems and processes to follow in just about every part of my life, so I love this part of active reflective thinking … there is a methodical process to follow to be creative (I’ll share more about this in a moment).
2. ART allows you to make better decisions in the future by learning from your mistakes or successes.
3. Helps remove negativity from life by analyzing disappointments with an eye toward the future rather than dwelling on what has already happened and cannot be changed now (aka learning from your mistakes and finding the lesson in it, right?)
So, one way that I do ART is with my weekly review. Every Sunday, I think about the previous week and ask myself a few questions:
Then I do a quarterly active thinking session of all those questions for the previous 3 months, as well as an annual thinking session for the previous year. I’m sure you can imagine this is quite beneficial!
Now, when will you find the time for ART?
I like to do this weekly, on Sunday evening. It can take as little as 5 minutes or as long as you’d like. And don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do it “perfectly” every week. Done is better than perfect.
So hopefully this has opened your eyes to the difference ways you can use reflective thinking in your life and the differences between passive & active are a bit more clear. Remember, PASSIVE is letting your brain pause, file, and savor, whereas ACTIVE you’re asking my brain (yourself) to think about specific things, actively.
When you practice both types of reflective thinking on a regular basis, you become much more thoughtful, you learn to be less impulsive and you will find yourself leading a happier and more fulfilling life and business.
I have done a lot of reflective thinking over the years and I believe that if you think about it, you will find that everyone does it to some degree in their daily life. It’s just about getting better at noticing when you are doing it and learning how to get the most out of it!
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My friend, if you have a passion – it’s not an accident. Not everyone loves photography, or event planning, or real estate… whatever your passion is, it’s there for a REASON. What are you going to do with that passion? Get out there and make it happen! Have a great week y’all!