Learning to reflect on your experiences is crucial for developing your skills and learning from your experiences. Reflection is the process of looking back at something that has happened, and thinking critically about what happened, why it happened and what learnings you can take forward from it. Reflection is relevant to all the skills mentioned in this guide and in the podcast.
In the podcast, located in the resources section, I interviewed Head of the Library John Hill about the benefits of reflection, and Senior Skills Officer Naomi Bowers-Joseph about different approaches that you can use to reflect on your experiences. Below is a summary of the key points raised in the podcast.
The first key point is that you should make time to reflect after doing something new, or after doing something that challenges you. Whilst you can reflect on anything, somethings are more important to reflect on and should be prioritised as these are crucial to your development. Other things to prioritise are things that make you feel positive, negative, challenged or frustrated.
When reflecting it is crucial that you reflect fully on an experience. Look at both the positives and the negatives, to ensure that your action or learning improves the weaker aspects without removing or affecting the stronger aspects negatively.
You may find it useful to create a regular time period to reflect, either daily or weekly. I have a regular calendar appointment to reflect on my progress towards my projects, and write a daily reflection to think back on the key events/experiences of the day.
Naomi discussed a 3 part method to reflection. Here is a brief summary from the reflective writing guide. The first stage is a descriptive stage where you describe the experience on which you are reflecting. The second is a critical thinking stage, where you ask yourself key questions about the experience to further your understanding or explore your emotions. The final stage is a future focused stage where you consider what you might do next time you are in a similar situation.
During each stage, it can be helpful to consider questions beginning with What, Where, When, Who, Why and How. You can find suggested questions for each stage in the 'Resources' box of this guide. There is also a personal reflection activity, a blank reflective worksheet and a blank reflective action plan that you can download and complete to help you develop your skills.
For further information about reflection, reflective writing and electronic tools for reflection see our reflection guide.