Self-Reflection and Doubt in an Academia

What is the value of Self-Reflection?

Change is constant. Whether this be in our personal lives, the focus of our clinical practice, research practices, the culture of the student body, and overall experience. Taking the time to appreciate these factors and put your life in perspective is a valuable use of your time, or so I would like to think.

I like to think that by taking this time to meditate and ruminate on daily activities we as individuals can evaluate our work and put it into perspective. 

Personal Reflection on a Daily Basis

Some of my thoughts include:

  • Did my student understand the topic at hand? Did I evaluate them correctly? Did they actually comprehend what I was trying to teach?
  • Did that patient appreciate what I was trying to accomplish? Did I convey the right message? Did I do the right thing? What can I do better?
  • Did I live up to my expectations for myself today? Did I fail myself or someone?
  • How can I improve my knowledge? What should I study or read up on? Where did I feel frustrated most with my knowledge base recently? Did a student, colleague, or patient ask a good question?

At the end of the day, my duty to my students and patients demands I take the time to invest further in my abilities. Otherwise, stagnation would be dangerous for all involved and would not help those around me.

However, at times, I feel that I am being negative and beat myself up. I have caught myself wondering if this is a natural habit, or something ingrained. We strive to be better, but perfection is an irrational attainment in any endeavor (thats the cynic in me) that may see nothing accomplished I often feel. 

Going beyond Self-Reflection

Mentorship, advisors, peers have helped ground myself in my work. They help put my life in perspective, and I am so grateful for it. However, structured engagement with others on the topic often feels forced. I find the best time is to just talk with someone, and go over my feelings about my reflection, and build upon their personal experience to help me learn as well.

Writing and keeping personal notebooks has proven beneficial. I choose to use specific personal notebooks and pens (i.e. fountain pens) to help concentrate on the activity an letting me concentrate my thoughts more. In some ways, it's more therapeutic than productive at times.

So what about others?

This is something I always wonder. How do others become introspective and review their activities, and learn on a daily basis to make themselves better in their work? I would love to hear from you, and see if I can use it in my own growth.