Revising your life through self-growth and self-reflection

As human beings, we’re ambitious, occasionally so much to the point that we end up crashing and burning and not knowing how to get back up. A process known as self-reflection is what allows us to find “what’s next.”


Not too long ago, I witnessed one of Mrs. Lauren Eubanks’ conversations regarding visiting another high school to observe other teaching methods. Eubanks explained that she was doing this in hopes of finding areas in which she could improve her own teaching. This sparked the idea of how important it is for us to seek out self-improvement and how that’s festered through self-reflection. 


So what are the steps to self improving, and how do we utilize self-reflection to do them?


Step One: Surround yourself with those who are more seasoned than you

Eubanks explains that she built a habit early on of speaking often with other teachers, especially in the English department. Making friendships with people who were further along in their careers allowed her to receive a fresh perspective from people who reflection and hindsight came easily to. 


Eubanks shares, “It was great, but I found myself comparing myself to these people who were much more seasoned than me.” Eubanks explains that a big part of making sure she wasn’t overly self-critical was leaning on these same people that she trusted and looked up to. These people will “keep your self-critical cycle in check” and remind you that you can’t fix everything at once.


Step Two: Acknowledge what you’ve already accomplished

When you have several things in mind to improve on, something which can be helpful is creating a to do list. But don’t sell yourself short by excluding what you’ve already accomplished from the list. “I’ll make a to do list and start with a couple things I’ve already done just so I can check it off,” Eubanks shares, “it’s like a little psychological trick to acknowledge you have already accomplished things before starting what you are planning on doing.” Even if they are small, taking a moment to acknowledge what we have already done reminds us we are making progress. Remember that simply making the list and trying to get organized is a step in itself. 


Allowing the goals we want to accomplish to just kick around in our heads can quickly cause us to lose track of what we wanted to accomplish. Not only does writing our goals down keep our thoughts organized, it adds a sense of accountability to our goals. “When you write it down, it’s almost like a contract you make with yourself… You’ve put it in writing so it feels like it has more weight instead of just kicking around in your head.”


Step Three: Eat the elephant one bite at a time

When faced with overwhelming tasks, we often get stressed and as a result don’t do anything, causing us to get even more stressed because nothing is getting done. Eubanks compares this vicious cycle to being “like a broken record.” She explains that if you have a task that seems far too daunting or rigorous, it’s vital that you break it up into smaller, more manageable pieces. This is when it can be beneficial to take some time to identify the first specific area you’d like to focus on. “Give yourself a time frame where you don’t try to change something immediately,” she shares, “just sit on it for a period of time, and then at the end of that, decide on one small change you would like to work on for the next thing.”


Step Four: Ask yourself “What’s Next?”

Keeping track of your desired areas of improvement not only tells you where you are, but where you go next. After you’ve decided on the first area you’d like to improve on, all other goals can be put aside for “What’s Next.” 


Eubanks explains that she keeps what she calls a “What’s Next Folder,” which she has both a physical and digital copy of and is constantly editing. “The ‘What’s Next’ Folder is my challenge to myself,” she explains, “it’s where I would like to be next.” By having a place to record what comes next, you can ensure you always have an area for growth, even after accomplishing one of your goals. This ensures you’re always self improving.


Improving one’s self won’t come overnight; self-improvement is a long process festered by constant hindsight and reflection. Think about where you are, then think about where you want to be; what’s your next step to get there?