It doesn’t matter whether I was working a full-time job and building my business before and after work hours, or now, as a full-time entrepreneur– I always place time on my calendar for stillness, thinking, and reflection.
Our bodies are intelligent machines. If you are constantly taking action without giving yourself the time to digest and apply what you have learned from that action, there is no value to be gained. It becomes difficult to recognize your wins, celebrate your successes, and find confidence in your action.
On the flip side, a lack of reflection leaves you blind to the weaknesses you have and unproductive actions you could be taking. Not to mention, without stillness you become disconnected from yourself. If you still need convincing, here’s why you should make time for reflection:
1. Reflection breeds learning.
Slowing down for me happens on a daily level. Every morning and evening I bake into my routine short bursts of reflection to practice gratitude and review the happenings of the day. I reflect on what was a win, where things went great or bad, and how can I show up better tomorrow. This time also includes a practice of gratitude for what I’ve accomplished and what is present in my life that holds deep value. The more gratitude I carry, the easier it becomes to walk into stressful situations with a calm mind.
I execute the same routine every Sunday evening as the week winds down, and then again at the end of each month. In the last month of the year, I spend the majority of it in a state of reflection. While this may seem like overkill, by doing so, I learn from mistakes immediately. I strategize how to move forward more effectively and am more aware of what skillsets or industry knowledge I need to focus on growing in the future.
2. Remove yourself to see clearly.
Every single week, there is a day where I work above the business, not within it. This looks like higher-level strategizing, reviewing a very specific and niche aspect of the business, or considering how to adjust the present priorities to meet the demands of the future. When you constantly take a step above your business, you will always have the long term goal consciously and subconsciously present in your mind.
There have been many times when small fires arise within the business that I can better handle knowing the larger architecture of the company. When you can see quickly how an incident could impact the future state, you can respond more appropriately and eliminate any rework or additional corrections later on. Had I never taken the time to step back, I wouldn’t be able to move forward as gracefully.
3. Slowing down increases your capacity to connect.
When you take intentional time to slow down, you can begin to listen to your body and follow your intuition. While this may seem far-fetched, your gut instinct is actually a collection of neurons firing off through your central nervous system to guide your brain. Although an often subtle human experience, this sensation can be a major indicator if something isn’t working in your life. However, you must become still in order to notice it.
The same goes when dealing with others. During a high-stakes meeting I like to become silent, sit back, and observe how others are physically and emotionally responding. Are people’s words simply reactions without thought? Is someone holding back a fact that isn’t appetizing, or does a team member have an idea they are nervous to share? Slowing down helps you see a whole new world, one that often isn’t verbalized.
Don’t let yourself get caught up in the hustle trend. Move strategically, and view slowing down as a means to speed up. This isn’t a sprint. It’s your life, and it’s going to last awhile. There is no sense in running in place for all of it.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.