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How to learn from your past experiences
Discover how incorporating reflective practice in your everyday life can help you learn from previous experiences.
What you will learn
- Identify what reflective practice is and the benefits of adopting it in everyday life
- What the Gibbs Reflective Cycle is and how to use it
- How to evaluate your experiences effectively and learn from them in future
Throughout our lives we go through experiences in both our work and personal lives, whether these are positive or negative and it is undeniable that we can learn from them. However, many of us don’t take the time to reflect, consider what we could have improved or how can we apply our learnings to future endeavours. Incorporating reflective practice into our way of thinking can change the way we view our previous experiences and how we react to them.
What is reflective practice?
When reflecting on previous experiences, especially negative ones, we often feel deflated and upset when things haven’t gone as expected. Take care not to adopt a fixed mindset: one that holds us back from trying new things, challenging ourselves or having a positive outlook on our current situation. Changing a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, can encourage us to use reflective practice in action. With a growth mindset, you believe you can continually develop your abilities through hard work and dedication. By incorporating reflective practice, you can learn from your current situation and move on positively through work and personal life.
Reflective practice is essentially thinking about what you have done. It is an essential part of developing new skills, making a conscious effort to think about events, and gaining insights into them.
How to make reflection work for me
Reflective practice increases self-awareness, a key component of emotional intelligence, and helps you develop a better understanding of others as well as yourself. It can also help you to develop creative thinking skills and encourages active engagement in work processes. By developing a regular habit of reflective practice, you will have more ability to tackle challenges, make decisions, manage your feelings, become more productive and cope with stress levels.
Think about a situation where you made a good decision and handled well in either your job or at home. What actions did you take? Did you work with anyone directly? Why was it a good decision? By beginning reflective practice on a positive note, you can consider your choices and put them into action in the future. Enhancing your ability to reflect and learn from your previous experiences can encourage you to explore your options and find solutions to problems. Noting what happened and reflecting on your experience can help you consider what you have learned and what you could or should have done differently. It’s not just about changing; reflective practice can also highlight when you’ve done something well.
Putting reflective practice in action
A circular diagram showing the 6 stages of Gibbs' Reflective Cycle Reflecting on our past experiences helps us to acknowledge our role in a situation, no matter what stage you’re at in your education or work. You may have just left college and have begun to look for work, you may be returning to work after taking some time to care for children or family, you could be attending regular interviews or even reflecting on your experiences in work: these are all situations you can learn from. Using the Gibbs Reflective Cycle can be particularly useful when putting reflective practice in action.
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