As 2018 comes to a close, let’s take the time to reflect our way to a better version of ourselves. In this blog post, I talk about how reflection has helped me improve and also appreciate my progress thus far:

Reflecting Your Way to a Better You

With the New Year around the corner, I’m really reflective lately.

When I was in grad school, my TA supervisor required us to write a one-page reflection after each class we taught our first year. At the end of each semester, we submitted them in bulk for a small percentage of our total grade.

At first, I was happy to do this. Being so new to teaching, I found writing down the way I felt – what I did well and what I needed improvement – after each class those first few weeks was pretty freeing and actually really helpful. I’d always sit down to write one thing that I noticed during class, but I’d end up adding about two more pages on top of that without realizing it.
But as the semester progressed, I grew more and more comfortable with my students, lesson planning, and grading, that I didn’t feel the need to reflect on these things anymore. It didn’t help that my supervisor was also my instructor for a couple other classes, during which we had to reflect on various projects as well.
I was tired of reflecting.
I started doing it simply for the grade.
It was only 1-2 pages. Although my composition students would complain about it, the length requirement was nothing compared to the 10- and 15-page research papers I had to complete. Plus I enjoyed writing, no matter what kind.
Pffff I could handle one page.
But no matter how tedious I felt these reflections were at times, I always ended up writing too much, thinking about things that hadn’t previously occurred to me,  and learning new things about myself.
Through it all, I noticed I was growing, as a teacher and person.
I learned a lot about my habits, teaching and other. I learned a lot about myself as a person, good and bad that went beyond how nervous I get when speaking in front of a crowd no matter how many times I do it, how I constantly second-guess myself even when I just need to order lunch, and even how unsure I am of my writing.
I realized through my reflections that I was doing better than I thought – I could see my growth when comparing reflections from the beginning of the semester to the ones at the end. I could tell I was getting better at thinking on my feet, that I could fill the last few minutes of class if my lesson didn’t go as long as planned. I could tell I improved my grading and second-guessed myself a lot less by the time I started my second semester. It was all eye-opening.
By the time I left the wonders that was grad school, the reflections I was required to do didn’t feel like a requirement. The practice is something that actually stuck with me, even now over a year and a half later.
Even if I don’t always write it down, I reflect on everything – my workouts, my writing, even my Instagram posts. How am I improving? What growth can I see? What weaknesses do I still need to address, and how?
This blog is an outlet to continue reflecting on my writing, which is a major part of my past, present, and future. It’s part of my day job and hobby. The reason I get out of bed most days. The reason I have a pulse.
I’ve spent the last year furiously writing and working on various projects with one large goal in mind – to be a romance author.
I’ve learned a lot this last year through reflecting on it. Reflecting on the good and bad, just as I learned in grad school, and as the year comes to a close, I’m left feeling happy and beyond grateful for the progress I’ve made.
Normally around this time of year, I start feeling glum and anxious, believing I didn’t do the best I could that year. Believing that I was in the same place as I was the year before that because I didn’t feel any differently.
But the truth is, I never used to stop and really reflect. Instead, it was too natural for me to look at what I didn’t do or accomplish than focus on what I did accomplish.
Reflecting on both the good and bad has helped me appreciate the good a lot more and not even consider the other things as bad – rather, they’re ways to improve. To become a better me.
I think 2018 has been the most productive year yet, even though it didn’t start off that way. But I’m ending strong with an optimistic attitude, focusing on everything I did do this year instead of what I didn’t during those first few months.
I started a new job in May.
Got married in June.
Met some of my favorite authors in July at Book Bonanza.
Started beta reading for one of said favorite authors.
Traveled quite a bit – Vegas, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Denver.
Completed my manuscript.
Started this blog.
I’ve made tremendous progress toward reaching my writing goals. I’ve laid the foundation for an even better year next year, all through hard work, consistency, and reflection.
Reflecting paves the way for better versions of ourselves, and I wholeheartedly believe in its importance. No matter how chaotic our lives may be, the good that stopping and reflecting on yourself for even a few minutes a day – it can do so much good in opening your eyes to where you are in your life. Where you’ve been. And where you’re going. You don’t have to write it down – confide in a friend, say it out loud to yourself in a mirror while you do your hair, think about it while you drink coffee in the morning.
Just reflect.
It’s been a fantastic year full of laughs, good memories, and promise for 2019. Let’s have a good one y’all!

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