The Power of a Reflection Practice
Developing a regular reflection practice is central to growing our abilities and skills. Think about upleveling into not simply a good life and practice, but a great one. Pause to thoughtfully consider after completing a project or a meeting: What worked? What could have gone better? What did you not see coming? What would you like to do differently next time?
Through open, nonjudgmental curiosity about how effective (or not) your actions, strategies, or plans have been, reflection helps ensure that your actions align with your goals, priorities, and values. It is the fastest way to learn from your or other’s mistakes and successes, and to determine the next steps that support your long-term aspirations. Finally, taking the time to learn from our experiences enables a thoughtful architecture of our career and life path, rather than repeating the same mistakes or wandering aimlessly into our future.
A central area for career and life planning and development is wealth, both its creation and management. What can it mean for you to see yourself as a wealthy individual in the broadest sense?
An Expanded Definition of Wealth
Think about it. What does wealth mean to you? Most of us define wealth as an economic measure of real and personal property along with cash reserves (liquid or not) in various holdings. A basic balance sheet of our economic worth. Increasing dollar amounts of value leading to increasing wealth.
Economic wealth certainly is an important piece of our wealth picture. And yet, it is incredibly limiting to view our lives as merely economic units of production. I invite you to go deeper than this superficial understanding of wealth and reflect on your overall wealth from the perspective of a worthwhile life. Where can your humanity fit into the wealth calculation?
Patricia Reddish, a financial consultant and wealth coach at Clarity Systems & Coaching, helps her clients connect with their overall wealth and explore how wealth viewed in the broader sense can be revitalizing and illuminate life areas that may be in need of additional resources. Patricia explains that wealth is a felt sense, appreciation, and awareness of all our resources. And, those resources are all of the ways that life supports us through love, experiences, basic needs, and connections with self, others, and beyond. Wealth can include freedom of time, choice, and options. It also includes your relationships, connections, emotional and community support, creativity, optimism, and hope of future possibilities.
Interestingly, according to Patricia, we experience ourselves as wealthy when we appreciate the wealth in our lives from this broader perspective. In the awareness of where our lives are rich and abundant, we feel better about our lives and ourselves. This broader experience of wealth allows a connection to our inherent value and worth. Similarly, if our lives are lacking in an area or we experience loneliness or lack of authentic connection, we end up feeling impoverished regardless of a larger bank account balance.
Ultimately, truly wealthy individuals find their value is so much more than their economic spreadsheet. Connecting to this broader understanding and experience of wealth allows you to develop a more accurate accounting of your progress in your career and life. Below are a series of questions to reflect on to support you in assessing your lived wealth experience in 2023 and planning for an even wealthier 2024.
Wealth Reflection Questions
Evaluate your wealth on a scale of 1-10 (one being the lowest) in the following areas. I encourage you to write down your numeric responses as well as initial thoughts for further comparison and reflection when you turn your attention to 2024. Initially, do not put too much thought into the process. Write down what comes up. If nothing does, then move on and you can always circle back. The questions provided are merely suggestions and a way to begin your reflections.
Your Wealth Generation in 2023
- Were you engaged and excited to get up and go to work most days?
- Did you have a reasonable degree of autonomy and control over your schedule? If not, did that lack of autonomy make sense to you?
- Did you find the work you do interesting and engaging?
- Did you meet your professional goals for the year – objectively and subjectively?
- Were you fairly compensated for your time, effort, expertise, and the value you delivered?
- If you worked closely with others, do you like them? Are they supportive, encouraging, and welcoming of different opinions?
- Were you learning new skills and active in growing your professional potential?
- Anything else you want to consider, or wish was different or better professionally?
Relationships - Family and Friends:
- Did you feel connected and supported by those closest to you to be your authentic, best self?
- Did you have at least one individual who “gets you” and you can rely on?
- Did you spend quality time with your family/friends over the year (dinners, holidays, unscheduled downtime, etc.)?
- Did you play with your family and have some fun?
- Were you able to escape the ordinary routines and vacation with family and/or friends?
- Were you able to take the time and energy to support your family or friends when they needed you?
- Did you have any pets or house plants? Did you want those for yourself?
- Were you comfortable at home? Did you feel safe and is it a place to relax and rejuvenate?
- What else matters for you in this area?
- In general, was your income greater than your expenses?
- Did you meet your economic growth plans through retirement, college savings or home ownership, etc. avenues?
- Were you able to continue to pay off your student loans or complete those payments?
- Did you buy a home or invest in an additional property?
- Were you able to feel secure this past year and know you had enough monetary resources to allow you to enjoy life?
- What else impacted your fiscal/economic experience?
- Were you happy with your life choices and general career trajectory?
- Did you take care of yourself physically (mostly healthy eating, working out, getting outside, etc.)?
- Did you usually get enough sleep?
- Did you take time for hobbies or doing things that you really enjoy?
- Did you make time for a vacation or two?
- Did you have enough fun?
- Were you able to participate and/or enjoy the arts (symphony, theater, a museum or concert, etc.)?
- How many books were you able to read for pleasure (i.e. not entirely work related)?
- What else matters for you to enjoy your life now?
Your Wealth Generation in 2024:
How does your 2023 wealth picture look from this perspective? What went well and added to your experience of a wealthy life? What went wrong? What was ok, but you would like to do better? Are there one or two pieces that seem neglected? How can you do better to increase your wealth experience in those areas in 2024?
In turning your attention to the New Year, what increased wealth would you like to create or continue to create for 2024? Go through the inventory above again, but this time think about what you would like to create. Initially do not censor your ideas. Write them all down. In later passes, you can eliminate those that are out of reach or need scaling back. Those that are not the most important can also be noted but not struck.
Ultimately, try to find one achievable goal for increasing your wealth in each area of your life. The key is to make it achievable and if it is too much for one year, break it down into steps so that you can begin the journey.
Write down your commitments to yourself. Put those commitments somewhere where you can revisit them on a quarterly basis. Then calendar those quarterly reviews now – so that you have the time set aside to see what may need adjusting and to celebrate your ongoing wealth progression and achievements.
Happy New Year – here’s to a wonderful and prosperous 2024!