In our personal lives we have markers that cause us to pause for reflection and goal setting—whether it be the annual set of New Year’s resolutions, or a milestone birthday or anniversary. These rituals give us direction and motivation to grow and develop, and it follows that the act of reflection is immensely valuable in our professional lives too.

Amidst the pressures of small business ownership it can be easy to write off reflection as too trivial, but practicing reflection ensures we don’t get bogged down in the day-to-day details and let our businesses stagnate or sour.

The act of reflection gives your brain the opportunity to pause and untangle your observations and experiences into something meaningful that you can learn from, ensuring you operate with awareness and clear objectives. The numbers back this up.

Recent research into the role of reflection in a call centre setting demonstrated that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not reflect.

Another study on UK commuters found that those who were prompted to use their commuting time as a window for reflection and planning were happier, more productive, and less burned out than people who didn’t.

Reflection isn’t just for upping staff morale and productivity—it also helps you identify new opportunities. In fact, it was a process of reflection that led us to take one of our biggest risks to date—putting everything on the line to launch Prezzee Business (the commercial arm to our eGift card marketplace Prezzee) within our first year of operation.

We had proof of concept, so we calculated what we could afford to risk, reflected on what we hoped to achieve, and jumped in. Thankfully this has resulted in a strong return on investment and put us in the right position to leverage partnerships that have helped us grow.

Prezzee was honoured to win the 2017 Start-up of the Year iAward recently, and the process of applying for this accolade forced Claire Morris (Co-Founder) and I to critically reflect on our business achievements, and solidify our short, medium, and long-term goals for Prezzee. The win itself has given us invaluable exposure, but applying for industry awards is a worthwhile endeavour in itself for any fledgling (or evolving) business to reflect on their business model, no matter the outcome.

If you want to be proactive and goal-oriented in your business rather than reactionary, reflection is the starting point from which all good things flow!

Here are a few steps that helped us implement a routine of reflection at Prezzee.

Pick a reflection process that aligns with your style

Writing in a journal isn’t for everyone. Perhaps you untangle concepts better in a conversation, or perhaps you need a certain environment to access your reflective self. Pick what works for you.

Identify your key questions

What you are avoiding? How are you helping, or hindering, a project/colleague/process? How could you have been more effective in a recent situation?

Lock it in the diary

Put it in your diary and attend to it the same way you would a meeting or deadline.

Start small

If your attention span is notoriously short, or you simply don’t have an hour to set aside each week, then don’t give yourself an unattainable time commitment. A reflection period of 10 minutes is better than no reflection at all.