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The 101 Guide on How To Do Self-Reflection

A super detailed guide on the how-tos to write a reflective entry for 2019

Our minds are very busy. Busy with the future, busy with the past and simply can’t stay still for the present. I am aware that I am as guilty as well. Therefore, my personal goal for 2019 is to reflect more (More on a personal self-reflection example below).

Over here, I have covered a detailed article on self-reflection and how to do an extensive level of self-reflection

A. Benefits of Self-Reflection
B. A Personal Self- Reflection Example
C. A Template for Self-Reflection
D. Quotes on Self-Reflection to Contemplate Over
E. Something Fun to Discover Your Inner Self!
F. Self-Reflect to Upgrade Yourself, Not Do More.
G. Summary

Benefits of Self-Reflection

According to this HBR article, leaders often stay motivated when they do self-reflection:

We found that on days when leaders took a few minutes in the morning to reflect and write about aspects of themselves that make them good leaders, they subsequently felt less depleted and more engaged, and they reported having a positive impact on their followers. These effects lasted until the evening, suggesting that leaders felt more positive at home too on intervention days.

HRR: How Self-Reflection Can Help Leaders Stay Motivated

A Personal Self- Reflection Example

I used to write diaries, such as accounts of what happened today, what I was angry about and writing morning want-to-dos entries. I tried out all kinds of journal methods such as freestyling, in a templated style… but the content is nothing more than recording the current happenings or planning for the future. As for reflection, it is often missed out.

When there is a problem, we are used to saying to others how this person is so wrong, why things are messed up but when the problem occurs on us, we will find a lot of objective reasons to excuse ourselves and avoid facing the problem. It’s really rare to reflect on yourself and find out what’s going on behind the problem. We often talk about life management, time management, people management, etc., but managing the details of life is often absent.

In 2017, I had the idea to reflect when I was looking at my physical appearance, I frowned on my spouting white hair, the new wrinkle but I stopped and asked myself why I am having such a critical conversation with myself on the surface but not working inwardly.

With this kind of thinking, my reflection diary started to materialize.  I started writing freely bit by bit… And interestingly, after my 10th writing, I developed a structure to do a reflective diary entry.

I will be using my reflection entry as an example.

A Template for Self-Reflection

1. Identify the 4 key areas in your life to do your reflection

Usually it will be in these key categories:

Family and Friends
Love and Relationship

I have pinned up a set of resources in Pinterest or simply google “Life Wheel” to get a sense of the different category. I took 4 as I find it is easier to focus with lesser categories on hand.

Sharing with you my key areas:

The key problems encountered
Gratitude Listing
The key problems encountered
Gratitude Listing
The key problems encountered
Gratitude Listing
Family and Friends
The key problems encountered
Gratitude Listing

2. Apply the 3 whys

Don’t worry if you do not know the 3 whys. I will give you an example to illustrate.

  1. Identify the surface problem(s): What you see as behaviors or actions that you disagree on
  2. Elaborate on what these surface problems are
  3. Ask “why” 3 times
  4. Uncover the root cause and resolve
  5. Raise awareness and recommend possible solutions
  6. Repeat process whenever needed

An example:

What key problems are encountered in 2018 <insert frequency>?
Surface problems: Procrastination, exhaustion (write the situation that you are able to notice)

Elaborate: I often spend my “free” time on mindless items such as playing the games for the whole afternoon, binge-watched the new Netflix series and simply doing nothing much. I felt exhausted and guilty at the end of the day for not doing what I set out to do.
Why do you think this is a problem?
This is deploying the use of 3 whys to identify the root of the issue. In the first place, is it an issue or are you too harsh on your definition of “Problem”?

For example:

(Why1) Why do you think playing the whole afternoon of games or TV is a problem?

A: I am not doing anything productive. I have a whole list of want to do things that are not done.

(Why 2) Why do you want to do the whole list of want to do things?

A: These are the things that I identified to be important in my life.

(Why 3) Why are you playing games or watching TV instead of doing the things that are important in my life?

A: Watching TV and playing games are entertaining and engaging but the things I have to do (e.g. budgeting) is just too dry to start.
Uncover and Resolve
Uncover: Based on the 3 whys, i methodically uncovered that the reason why I have been binge watching and feeling guilty.

Reason: The things I have set myself to do are not fun, not entertaining nor engaging. I procrastinated on working as my list as I deem what I am supposed to do as tasks.

Resolve: Is this something I want to resolve? Can I accept what I have been doing as a reasonable behavior? Am I expecting too much?

Answer: In this case, watching TV or playing games are reasonable. However, an excessive amount of screen time is harmful and I should cut down on the degree of watching and playing.

Raise awareness and recommend possible solutions
1. Set a timer: stop watching or playing when the timer ring

2. Have a breather and do a drastic action. Get out of the space. If you are in the living room, go to the washroom and splash water on your face.

3. Go out to walk around the park for 3 rounds before allowing yourself to get back to the living room. By then, the urge to play or watch TV would have reduced drastically.

Repeat your awareness and actions. Reward yourself everything you do an action. Every time you cut down your screen time, give yourself a small reward.

3. Identify at least 1 good thing you have done for yourself in the area

Not everything is negative and needs improvement! There must have been things that happened in the focused areas that have made you feel fuzzy all over or at least smiled. It can be as small as “I helped a kid who fell down” to as big as “I sold my house and donated 20% to charity”. If you are the opposite and have too many things, take 3 that you feel made the biggest impact in 2018.

If you would like to go very detailed, reflect with the 3 whys and uncover why such an action made you happy. This should be easier to uncover. Work towards creating more of such experience to accumulate a sense of happiness and fulfillment in life.

Listen to some music when you do your self-reflection: My recommended playlist

For more reflective questions:

Selfcareoverload.com |25 Journal Prompts For Self-Reflection

Quotes on self-reflection to contemplate over

Consolidating my 5 favourite quotes for self-reflections:

1. In all chaos, there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order

Carl Jung

And the secret order is self-reflection (my own thought).

2. Unless you learn to face your own shadows, you will continue to see them in others, because the world outside you is only a reflection of the world inside you.


Change yourself to change the world outside you (my own thought).

3. We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate it, it oppresses it.

Carl Jung

Be aware of your actions, what you have judged as wrong, negative, bad and reflect if it is truly what you have judged (my own thought).

4. It is always our own self that we find at the end of the journey. The sooner we face that self, the better.

Ella Maillart

We get over our fear when we face it. Self-reflection allows us to face ourselves and resolve inner knots embedded keep in ourselves (my own thought).

5. Honest self-reflection opens your mind to reprogramming, change, success and freedom.


Totally agree (my own thought).

Additional Resources: 

Enjoy these quotes? These are the references I took from. Sharing is caring after all 🙂

Fun Games to uncover your inner self!

Well, something fun to validate with your inner self and feel good. I am Seabiscuit!

Self-reflect to upgrade yourself, not do more

Life does not need to be as productive or task-based as what society has “taught” us to be. I used to be super guilty when I did not achieve the things I set up to do… This was my list of “Things To Do” previously:

  • Running 2.4KM
  • Doing a full range of 15 steps self-care facial routine
  • Cooking a sophisticated healthy meal from scratch in 30 minutes
  • Call up customer service to cancel my card as there is no use
  • Top up fuel for my car
  • Do that flower arrangement on the withering fresh flower on my table
  • Have a great foot soak with Epsom soak

All these with work, looking after 2 fur kids, and helping my mum set up her iPhone.

All to be done in a day (else you are kind of a loser).
You get the idea on where I am going.

We typically give yourselves too much to do and somehow think that we are Superman. It is like a bicycle, you can carry a maximum of 3 people, say 1 in front and 1 at the back, to go up a hill. You puff and pant at the end of the journey and review your experience with pride and happiness that you did it! Instead of working too hard and ineffectively, why not work on yourself and instead of riding a bicycle, upgrade yourself (i.e. your gear) to be a van to fit 5 people and go up a hill in an air-conditioned vehicle?


Regardless of your mindfulness level, be it that you are a total novice or a decade old practitioner, self-reflection is a journey on its own. Make it fun, make it rewarding. Get someone to make you accountable.

Revisit any sections anytime to help you in your self-reflection journey and a step towards mindfulness. Share to anyone who may need this. Would you like an infographic for this as I am thinking to do one for myself..? Comment over to let me know and I may be motivated to do one when there is interest (i.e accountability) :).