5 Self Reflection Activities
All Perfectionists Need To Be Doing!
As a perfectionist it can be hard to know your personal limit, and what’s realistic when you are setting goals. You want to dream big, level up and expand your opportunities because after all, the sky’s the limit right?
Right! But you might not get there tomorrow, or even the next day...and while you are on that journey to pursuing your dreams and living your best life - self reflection can help you stay sane. This post gives you five great ideas for self reflection activities that are ideal for perfectionists.
There are several risks that pop up when you find the courage to set big goals: self doubt, self sabotage, fear, and burnout. As a perfectionist it can be hard for us to be honest with ourselves about when and why these feelings might pop up. Self reflection is a great tool to help you dig deep in these circumstances so you can gain some gain some great insight and learn about yourself as you travel on your journey to achieving your goals. Self reflection can help to identify triggers that may cause you to second guess yourself or even give up. Knowing what these triggers are helps you identify and deal with them so you can spend your time and energy on growing as a person.
Select one of these five self reflection activities below and give it a try. It will give you a better idea of where and when you need to limit your perfectionism so you can expand your possibilities. I go through each on in depth below - and don’t miss out on grabbing your free printable, 30 Journaling Questions to Spark Major Self Discovery:
- Activity #1 - Unstructured Journalling
- Activity #2 - Structured Journaling
- Activity #3 - The Wheel of Life Exercise
- Activity #4 - Take a Walk - and just be
- Activity #5 - Email Feedback Challenge
I like to think of unstructured journaling as a big picture view of your mind and behaviour. It gives you the chance to document what’s going on to you and in your life, without the restraints other people’s approaches or perspectives might place on your process.
Just grab some paper and write, when you want to write - about whatever matters most to you in that moment. It could be hopes and dreams, it could be debriefing your day. Just let your mind go and your thoughts fly.
Every once in a while, review these notes and see what you might be trying to tell yourself. Notice patterns in behaviour, are there any common themes to how you react to certain situations or what causes you stress? How about your happiest moments - what can you attribute to those positive feelings?
Document your observations and monitor your personal growth as you go along. Again - keep this as unstructured as you like. Growth doesn’t always happen upwards - sometimes you can grow outwards or grow by strengthening a connection to your past. Find a way to document these changes for yourself, and stay consistent - especially when you don’t feel like “true growth” is happening. When you look back in a few months time you may be surprised!
Be honest with yourself about how things are going and how you behave along the way. This is not for the world to read, and this is not a place to be judgemental about yourself. Try not to label your thoughts, feelings or reactions as good or bad. Think deeply about what caused you to react/choose/respond that way in the moment and search for clues. If you tend to jump to self criticism, this can be a great way to start practicing some self love and catch yourself before you get too mean!
Activity #2 - Structured Journaling
Structured Journaling is a great place to start if you just aren’t ready (or don't know!) how to lay it all out there yet. It uses the same paper and pen method as above, but with a bit more guidance. Structured journaling gives you a chance to interview yourself, usually using someone else’s questions. This can be really powerful as these questions might ask you something you wouldn’t be comfortable enough to ask yourself (as you aren’t willing to accept the answer). They also might highlight a certain blind spot, or emphasize a great strength you weren’t recognizing.
I think it's really important to balance your gut response with thoughtful answers when you practice structured journaling. Let yourself feel your initial reaction and then note how that sits with you when you are answering questions. Respond deeply and honestly to prompting questions, and give yourself a bit of time between questions to see if anything else pops up after your “initial response”. Sometimes that space holds some magical insites.
If you are looking for some prompting questions to get you started, you can download this free printable which includes 30 amazing questions for self reflection. I use a lot of these questions in my sessions with life coaching clients - and they definitely dig deep.
Activity #3 - The Wheel of Life Exercise
The wheel of life exercise is often used by life coaches when we are trying to get a snapshot of where are clients are in their lives at this moment. You will download and print a blank circle, which is divided into pie shapes based on different sectors of life. These categories include: family and friends, significant other/romance, fun/recreation, health, money, personal growth, physical environment and career.
For each category you rank your current level of satisfaction between 1 and 10 (with 10 being the most satisfied). You document your ranking for each category and then draw a line connecting these dots. For some people they create a smooth(ish) circle, with the dots being of similar levels. Others find their circle looks more like a connected series of peaks and valleys as they have great satisfaction in some areas of their life while others leave room for lots of growth.
You can download the Circle of Life Exercise to try on your own completely free via coactive.com at this link:
This is a great tool for perfectionists because here is no right or wrong answer with this exercise. I find it most helpful to do several times, over a series of months to see how you change and grow.
Activity #4 - Take a walk - and just be
Taking a walk “to just be” is harder than it sounds. I’m suggesting you leave your phone at home, don’t listen or read anything - and just allow yourself to be with your thoughts.
Let your thoughts come, and see where they lead you. Stay curious and try to look for cues hiding behind what pops up for you. Are you trying to avoid something by making lists and plans? Is your mind going a mile and minute while you try to sort through a difficult situation?
Sometimes we need space to identify what we are really feeling - and going for a walk is a great way to let this happen. So throw on some runners, grab some sun glasses and see where your feet lead you.
Activity #5 - Email Challenge
The last activity on the list for self reflection is a combination of personal reflection and outside input. I would like to suggest you challenge yourself to send an email to three people close to you in your life. In each email - you will ask the recipient to:
- Identify your biggest talent
- Tell you why they love having you in their life
- Give their opinion on what you do that holds you back from reaching your full potential
This activity can be uncomfortable for perfectionists because it asks you to forfeit control of the responses. You can’t dictate what people will write - even if you choose them very carefully.
Their responses might not be what you expect - or they might not respond at all. You will have reactions to both of these situations, and probably experience some emotions you aren’t comfortable experiencing. That is the point!
This experiment isn’t really about what people have to say about you, it's about how you react to it. Are you comfortable enough in your own skin to remain open to other people’s opinions while not taking their beliefs to heart? Can you see space to grow into - or do you just see others trying to tear you down? Why might this be the case? Again - don’t label your feelings and thoughts as good or bad - but do play the role of detective as you decipher your reaction to each email.
Chances are the emails will surprise you - but the biggest learning will come through observing your response to feedback.
What to do next
I hope this post has provided you with a jumping off point to explore self reflection - especially if you are a perfectionist. If you aren’t sure where to start - structured journaling is a really good place to begin. Even after you have closed your journal - some of these questions might pop up for you, and the ones that you really resonate with are clues for further self reflection.
Taking an accurate picture of where you are, what your strengths are, and what challenges might be ahead gives you the best opportunity to succeed on your own terms. Self reflection can help you set boundaries, let go of things that aren’t serving you and focus your time and energy on what makes you happy, joyful and fulfilled.
If you aren’t sure where to get started, download these 30 Free Journaling Prompts for Amazing Self Reflection and start diving deep!