Developing career resilience
Developing career resilience

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5 Reflection and reframing challenge

People with a high degree of self-efficacy often reflect on difficult situations and emotions or unsuccessful activities and identify changes they can make. Rebecca Fielding in Activity 3 of Week 5 described doing this on the drive home each evening. The athletes in the videos you watched in Activity 2 this week identified this as one of the ways in which they kept moving forward. But what is good reflection?

When you reflect, you consider deeply something that you might not otherwise have given much thought to. Reflection could be described as:

  • thinking with a purpose
  • being critical, but not negative
  • analysing how effective your learning is
  • questioning and probing
  • making judgements and drawing conclusions.

Typically, you would do this by asking yourself questions about what you did, how you did it, and what you learned from doing it.

Activity 9 Time for reflection

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

You know yourself best. When might you find time to think with a purpose or reflect on a regular basis?

Julia Cameron, who works with artists, novelists and scriptwriters, advises quickly writing three pages (‘artist’s pages’) first thing each morning, just downloading what is churning in your head or going on for you, turning the soil before you start the day (Cameron, 1993). Others reflect on their day while having their last cup of tea, walking the dog or brushing their teeth.

How and when might you build this into your own life? Note down your thoughts.

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As your answer to this question will be personal/only applicable to your own circumstances, there is no discussion for this activity.

More formally, Gibb’s reflective cycle (Figure 1) illustrates the different stages in reflection – starting with experience.

Described image
Figure 1 Gibb’s reflective cycle (adapted from Dye, 2011)

The key is spotting the patterns and links that emerge as a result of your experiences. Reflecting on specific situations and your responses may make your personal beliefs, expectations and biases more apparent.

Resilient people have been shown to use reflection to reframe difficulties and challenges – they often describe problems or challenges as ‘learning opportunities’. Everyone reframes some events without difficulty – for example, coming to see the funny side of an event, such as dropping a pudding, which might have felt like a disaster at the time. But reframing is also a frequent tactic in careers work, because individuals frequently draw inaccurate conclusions, over-personalising what has happened.

Useful questions to use to reframe difficult events can be:

  • What do you think other people in that situation might do?
  • What do you think the person you were talking to thought?
  • What would you say or think if you saw someone else in that situation?
  • What would your best friend say to you about this?
  • How do you think you’ll see this five years from now?

Activity 10 Reflection in practice

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

In the timeslot you identified in Activity 8 (writing some early morning artist’s pages, or reflecting while walking the dog, brushing your teeth, drinking a cup of tea or just sitting), use it as a hook to reflect on one new situation or challenging experience you have recently had.

You could use the cycle in Figure 1 to think about one new situation or challenging experience that you have recently undertaken.

  1. Briefly describe the experience (what was the situation, what did you do, what was the result?).
  2. Work through either the questions in Gibb’s reflective cycle or the reframing questions directly above for this experience.
  3. Create a small action note for what you might do next time.
  4. Take one action you have identified during the next week.
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  • How did that process work for you in reframing the situation and how do you feel about it?
  • Which aspects worked well?
  • Which aspects worked less well?
  • To what extent did that help you feel more positive?
  • Is this something you might be willing to try out regularly over the next week?

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