I consider myself a doer — and I consider myself to be someone who encourages others to be a doer. Hence why I end all my articles with ‘Now Do It’.
However, in all the ‘doing’, it can be easy to overlook better opportunities and forget to reflect on what you’re doing is worth your time and effort in the first place.
“To become a high performer requires thinking more before acting.” — Brendon Burchard
Of course, you can think, reflect, plan, and strategize all you want — but without action, you won’t create anything meaningful or get anything done.
That being said, if you don’t incorporate regular reflection and deep thinking amidst all the ‘doing’, you’ll miss out on many opportunities for improvement and might end up working on the wrong things.
Why Regular Reflection & Deep Thinking Is Essential
Taking action is like being in a maze. It’s hard to see the bigger picture. All you worry about is making sure the next path isn’t a dead end.
However, if you could instead take a top-down view every now and then, you’d gain a good perspective of the maze. You’d see more clearly which paths are dead-ends and which ones are more productive. It makes navigating the maze ten times easier.
Every time you sit down for a while — without distractions — to reflect and think deeply about your current endeavors and your desired future, you gain a clearer top-down view of the metaphorical ‘maze’.
“We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.” — John Dewey
These new views provide valuable insights, new ideas, and potentially life-changing breakthroughs. For this reason, it can be significantly more productive to spend an hour thinking and reflecting ‘in the clouds’ than working an hour ‘in the dirt’.
Peak Performers Make Reflection A Priority
As spending time thinking about your life, priorities, and endeavors can yield great results, many peak performers make it a priority to schedule reflection and deep thinking session.
Bill Gates regularly goes on ‘think weeks’ in nature, where he strategizes, thinks, and reads books. It’s how he gained some of the most valuable ideas for Microsoft.
And Warren Buffett even said, “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulsive decisions than most people in business.”
As Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are two of the world’s richest and most successful people, it indicates the value of frequently taking the time to reflect and think deeply. It shows that it’s truly a productive undertaking — even though it sometimes feels like you’re doing nothing.
Too Much Doing (Paradoxically) Limits Your Productivity & Success
So many people occupy themselves with too much ‘doing’, which is why they never have the time to think and reflect about if what they’re doing is necessary in the first place.
When you’re constantly doing — whether that means distracting yourself with social media or actually working on a project — you don’t give your mind the space it needs to reflect on whether or not other activities might be more valuable.
Therefore, you might think you’re being highly productive, but in reality, you’re not making the most optimal use of your time.
“Follow effective actions with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” — Peter Drucker
For example, because of spending a few hours in quiet reflection, I came to the conclusion that I had to drop my side-hustle and focus all my efforts on my main business.
I always assumed that working on this side-hustle was a productive use of my time. In reality, I was just being very busy without being very effective.
Therefore, I made the decision to quit my side-hustle in order to focus 100% on building Personal Growth Lab — eventually resulting in exponential business growth.
Thinking and Reflecting Might Feel Unproductive — It’s Not
Taking the time to reflect and think instead of taking action might feel like doing nothing. It might even feel like taking a step back. However, it enables you to take bigger and faster steps forward in the future.
“Sometimes you have to take a half step back to take two forward.” — Vince McMahon
In fact, Research demonstrated that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not reflect.
Furthermore, another study found a similar result when those who were prompted to use their commute to think about and plan for their day were happier, more productive, and less burned out than people who didn’t.
Never forget that your time is limited and you can only spend it once. You’ll never get any more of it.
This means that if you spend so much time doing and hardly any time thinking, you could find yourself spending weeks, months or even years working on the wrong things. There’s nothing more unproductive than that.
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” — Peter Drucker
Personally, I’ve experienced that for every hour that I spend reflecting and thinking deeply, I earn back at least 4 hours of time that would otherwise be spent on sub-optimal (or even useless) activities.
Even though spending time reflecting and thinking deeply may feel unproductive, it’s often exponentially more productive than taking action without having given it proper thought.
The Case For Taking Action
Even though spending time reflecting and thinking deeply is incredibly valuable, don’t use it as an excuse for procrastinating. If you have a strong idea, always follow it up with relentless action and experimentation.
If you come to the conclusion that an idea is worth your time and effort, make it happen through consistent action. Without action, your ideas and dreams would merely stay ideas and dreams. They would never come alive.
Then, on a regular and consistent basis, take the time to reflect on your actions and goals to ensure you make the most optimal use of your time.
Use both action and reflection to accelerate your path to success — but never lean too much into one of the two.
Now Do It
Incorporate regular reflection and deep thinking into your routine. At the end of every month, schedule a ‘cloud session’ in which you reflect on your performance of the past month and strategize about the upcoming month.
Furthermore, pick a fixed moment in the week (or, if you’re serious about this, every day), to sit still with a pen and a journal to think about any problem or topic that requires your attention. See whatever comes up and write it down. You might be surprised by what you discover.
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab