(Daily) retroflection – Looking back regularly as a self-improvement tool

At the Coach Reflection Day 2016 in Fürth, Martin searched two hand full of volunteers to try a month-long experiment with Retroflection Cards together.

Short experiment description

Everyone took home 30 small cards with questions on working in an agile environment. These cards are called retroflection cards; you can find more information about them on Twitter or at www.retroflection.org. We started together mid of July with the aim to see what happens during 30 days of reflecting some minutes per day on a given question.

My first days: surprising & scary

The first days I took one card after the other. I was really disciplined, not “cheating” and looking to the next questions which are (for sure!) reserved for the next days. I read my daily card in the morning and took the thought with me during the day. Wen I returned home in the late afternoon or evening I took some time off to write my thoughts and experiences down.

At some days my thoughts in the morning were: “oh my … what should I do with THIS card today?”. Also I was really surprised that I had two days in a row where I had such a “what-should-I-do-with-you” card in the morning and in the evening I absolutely knew the answer. I had one or multiple moments during the day that perfectly fit to the card. Surprising!

It was like reading the question as an impulse for the day in the morning, then really not cognitively dealing with the question throughout the day but still something seemed to be working with it so that I knew answers in the evening. Quite scary – and surprising!

How it went on: belief-system on red alert

After around 10 days I skipped the cards two days in a row caused by a feeling of just-too-much-to-do and I-have-no-head-for-reflection-today. Then I worked on the cards again. Skipped another day. Now I was THREE cards “behind”. Oh my god! My belief-system shouted: “You should have more discipline!” Phew, this was not what I expected. I did want to make new experiences & wanted to grow personally. I also wanted to enjoy exchange with others from this retroflection experiment group. Shouting at me was definitely NOT included!

Working with the belief-system

So I asked myself what I would have to change so that I can benefit from this retroflection card experiment again. What to do to develop a sustainable retroflection habit for me? Nobody actually told me that the cards in the booklet should be followed one after the other. This was a product of my own beliefs. So I first allowed me to choose a card each day. Second I gave myself the allowance to skip a card if I felt this would be the right thing. Without punishing or pushing myself. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

Personal conclusion

As a conclusion this experiment was very valuable for me. The duration of 30 days helped me a lot to actually feel “ups” and “downs”. I was able to deal with them – either personally, by writing about them with Werner, another participant, or by discussing them with friends not involved in the experiment (but knowing me). I will stick to 5-10 minutes of personal retroflection a day – with my rules of being able to choose a topic and of being able to also skip it occasionally.

Yay! 🙂

(picture credits: Frits Ahlefeldt, license: CC BY-NC-ND)

What about you?

Do you have a regular retroflection habit? How do you practice it?