“Don’t dwell on the past.”
How many of us have heard that recommendation—especially after something bad has happened to us? Many times we would be wise to follow it, shifting our focus to present and future goals. After all, an unhealthy obsession with past failures can paralyze us.
But like any good advice, it shouldn’t be taken to extremes. I’m a huge believer in moving forward, but I equally recognize the huge value of spending a short amount of time reflecting on past errors in a productive way. Why? Because it’s the only way to learn from them.
Related: Why Failure Is Good for Success
I’m not talking about throwing a pity party for your poor self. I’m talking about examining failure with an eye toward future success. I call that reflective thinking, and it’s a discipline that I practice regularly. It is thinking with the purpose of growing.
Reflective thinking allows me to process the events in my life and improve myself afterward. By examining what worked and what didn’t, I’m able to mine the best takeaways from my successes and failures, and use the knowledge to push myself forward. Because I am always trying to get better, I’ve found reflective thinking to be a vital part of my growth process.
Here’s my five-step reflective thinking technique: