Career development and personal growth are incredibly important, both for the company and for your personal well-being.
As humans, we want to grow and continuously get better at what we do. Mastering a skill, or moving up in the corporate ladder is rewarding for us.
But, of course, this is easier said than done.
For many of us, we become so caught up in our day-to-day that it’s hard to really find the time or energy to boost your career in a systematic way. Planning your career development takes time, and also takes knowing where you want to go. Sometimes, we simply don’t know where we’d like to be, we just know we want to be better.
There are also many societal pressures. The cost of living keeps going up, while many of us don’t seem to be keeping us with that pace.
Also, because technology is so accessible, there’s a certain feeling that people around you are moving up faster than you are.
You need to understand that the secret to boosting your career is quite easy, and requires very little effort.
The secret: Self-reflection.
It’s important to take a step back, and reflect on what you’re doing. It sounds so simple, but it’s a critical part of the development process that often gets forgotten in our busy lives.
We focus on the outside world in education and don’t look much at inwardly focused reflective skills and attentions, but inward focus impacts the way we build memories, make meaning and transfer that learning into new contexts – Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, Professor of Education, Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Southern California.
Research Shows Self-Reflection Helps You Learn
Research shows that when children are given the time and skills necessary for reflecting, they often become more motivated, less anxious, and perform better on tests.
The research shows that learning is more effective if it is deliberately paired with time to think about what was just presented.
In “Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance,” a team of researchers from HEC Paris, Harvard Business School, and the University of North Carolina describe what they call the first empirical test of the effect of reflection on learning. By “reflection,” they mean taking time after a lesson to recall and write out the most important points.
As part of their study, they took groups of newly-hired customer-service agents during their job training. One of the groups was given 15 minutes at the end of each training day to reflect on the main things they had learned and write about at least two lessons.
Those given time to think and reflect scored 23 percent better on their end-of-training assessment than those who were not. And these improvements lasted over time, the researchers found.
How Self-Reflection Affects Goal-Setting
When we set a goal, it usually requires us to change our behavior.
Psychological research shows that change requires two things: a goal, and an awareness of where one currently is in order to assess the discrepancy between the two.
Most of the time, goals aren’t achieved because people lack self-awareness. Without monitoring where you stand currently over and over, you won’t know how you’re progressing.
In order to achieve a goal, you need to constantly be aware of how far you’ve become; self-reflection can help with this.
Monitor Your Progress
I would recommend keeping some sort of a journal or log to monitor where your career currently is and where you want it to be.
An important distinction I want to make is that when you’re working towards a goal, instead of asking “why”, ask “how”.
For example, instead of saying “why do I have so little time to dedicate to taking classes online”, change that to “how can I make more time to dedicate to taking classes.” This will help you focus on specific things to do to achieve your goal.
Companies can help their employees achieve their goals using employee survey software to understand if they’re developing properly. Once they see these things start to slip, they can help employees get back on track by monitoring their goals.