Busy entrepreneurs and founders don’t often have a lot of time in their day for objective introspection, where they intentionally try to become more aware of aspects of themselves that either drive or hinder their progress.
However, it is especially important for business owners to reflect on how their behavior is affecting their relationships, the perceptions of those around them and, consequently, the outcomes of their own actions. Without taking the time to do this, you will miss opportunities to grow—not only as a leader, but also as a person.
The members of Forbes Coaches Council understand how important self-reflection is. Many of them encourage their clients to practice it to understand and improve the impact of their behavior and interactions at work and at home. Here are 15 self-reflective exercises that they recommend you try.
1. Regularly Review Your Goals And Health
Carve out time, at least monthly, not just to review goals and outcomes for your business, but also to assess your own mental, emotional and spiritual health. Then, based on your reflection, set personal goals for the next month and assess where you are once more. – Billy Williams, Archegos
2. Ask For Input From Others
Introspection after input is quite valuable. We all operate inside a particular view of the world. Taking time to ask questions about other’s perceptions and then being introspective about the input will allow you to grow as an individual and as an entrepreneur. – Janet Zaretsky, Empowered Women Enterprises, LLC dba Janet Zaretsky
3. Mentally Rehearse How You Will Show Up
Taking a step back to self-reflect on a daily basis is essential to leading and loving. Creating this space daily is key. One proven activity is to spend ten to 30 minutes rehearsing mentally how you will show up personally and professionally in the day ahead. Visualize it, feel it and you will move the needle on your influence, impact and ability to stay connected to your values and vision. – Bree Luther, Inspired Science Coaching
4. Have A Ten-Minute Weekly Meeting With Yourself
Commit to having a ten-minute meeting with yourself every week. Weekly, ask, “What did I learn this week that made me more effective, and how do I know?” Monthly, ask, “What did I do this month to improve my impact, and how do I know?” Quarterly, ask, “What one change can I make that will improve key outcomes, and how will I know it works?” Yearly, ask, “What barrier should I remove this year?” – Sharon Richmond, Richmond Associates Consulting
5. Use This Five-Point Check-Up
I have regular five-point check-ups that I call my “ABCs.” Alignment: Is the company still aligned with who I am and my “why?” Boots on the ground: Remember where I came from, personally and professionally. Communication: Self-awareness and clarity support clear communications. Care: My indispensable triad is self-care, staff development and business development. Creativity: Flexibility and innovation foster growth. – Keda Edwards Pierre, True II Soul
6. Give Yourself An ‘Hour Of Power’
Every day, I wake before dawn to spend an hour giving gratitude for everything I am and everything I have, resetting my intentions (personal and professional), refocusing my goals and remembering my “why”—the vital reason that I am driven to my calling. This one practice has single-handedly transformed my life. Starting each day with grace, I am centered and ready to serve my clients. – Faizun Kamal, The Franchise Proshttps://fafd465afe4bd6b14ae3756633033be3.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0
7. Ink What You Think About
I advocate for journaling. Allow yourself to slow down your mind by writing down whatever thoughts are running through it in a brain dump without filtering or editing. Journaling makes words tangible. Reflecting on your day and noting what you are grateful for allows you to park unproductive thoughts, discover insights and solutions and identify areas of growth. – Debra Kasowski, Debra Kasowski International
8. Work ‘On’ Versus ‘In’ Your Business Once A Quarter
Entrepreneurs need to recognize and accept the importance of introspection by prioritizing it on their calendars. Once every quarter, set aside one day specifically for working “on” the business versus “in” it. Conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis and do an activity that is unique to you. Doing something outside of work may clear your mind, giving you more space in your head to focus on the business. – Anna-Vija McClain, Piccolo Marketing
9. Practice Active Introspection
There are a number of ways to practice introspection that don’t require actual meditation. Activities like sports, hiking or just being in nature are ideal. Absent these opportunities, set aside even ten to 15 minutes before bed or when you first wake up to journal your thoughts and feelings somehow. For those on the go, voice recordings on your phone are a great alternative to an actual journal. – Dhru Beeharilal, Nayan Leadership, LLC
10. Have Fun Writing Down Desires And Outcomes
After getting clear on the impact you want to have, write it down, along with the actions and behaviors you routinely want to exhibit. Then, take 15 to 30 minutes at the end of every week to look back and write down your thoughts. Go-getters can be hard on themselves, so it helps to have a little fun and lightness in reflecting. I use these four areas: “Yay!”, “Oh No!”, “Aha!” and “Next Time.” – Tracey Thorsen, LAITHOS™ — The Leadership Impact Company
11. Consider Doing A Core Values Exercise
I was unfulfilled in my past role until an exercise revealed that I was at odds with my core values. By articulating three core values and acting on them, I’ve launched the business I was made to create. Now, I weigh each personal and professional decision against them, and when I align decisions with my core values, I show up my best in all areas of life. – Lisa Walsh, Beacon Executive Coaching
12. Read More Than Emails
Anytime I get out of my zone, it is often because I stopped or halted my reading. I don’t mean reading emails, but rather intentionally reading business books, key industry literature and optional books, such as biographies. Nothing allows you a quicker release from the world around you than associating with other experiences and stories. The best way, to me, is through reading. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
13. Take Daily Walks
The busier you are, the more important it is to set aside explicit time to be able to quiet the mind and practice meaningful self-reflection. For me, this most often takes the form of daily walks with my dogs around the neighborhood park. The fresh air and the beautiful views are the perfect backdrop for me to let go of the day’s stresses and recenter myself. – Jonathan H. Westover, Ph.D, Utah Valley University & Human Capital Innovations, LLC
14. Look At Where You Failed And Where You Prevailed
At the end of the day, I always sum it up by looking at where I failed and where I prevailed. Founders are often guilty of only celebrating the wins, but this gives you a chance to be honest, assess where you made a mistake and still keep moving! – Maresa Friedman, Executive Cat Herder
15. Observe Your Breath
Every mental state has a physical counterpart that’s inseparably connected. When you feel rushed or not able to stop and self-reflect, observe your breath. It is the first and most directly controllable aspect of your performance state. To reach emotional calmness, let your breath work as a guide.