At the end of every day or experience we know the power of taking time to reflect on what happened, how we behaved, what decisions we made, and how everything turned out so we can learn and grow from our experiences, but there is an equally powerful exercise that can help you start your day with a new power – preflection.
Many people give me quizzical looks when I tell them that I rise regularly at 5am to start my day, partly because I am also not the first one to bed every day, but partly because they haven’t discovered the power of preflection so the thought of rising an hour or more before you need to seems like a waste of sleep. I’ve also had more than one person tell me they couldn’t do it because “they aren’t a morning person”. I have an easy response to that one… Neither am I!
The reason I started rising early was actually a direct result of the fact that I’m not a morning person. If I awake just in time to start dealing with family, children, or the days activities I can be as grumpy as the next guy, so one day I decided I’d simply get up an hour early to give myself a chance to shake the rust off before I needed to deal with other people. It worked wonders for that, but I also discovered that by getting up an hour early and taking the time to preflect on my day I not only was nicer to deal with when people started to rise around me, but I was also able to be significantly more productive in my day.
The art of preflection is basically the opposite of reflection – instead of thinking back through the events of the day you are thinking forward through the opportunities ahead, considering the situations you might face and preconsidering how you might react to them. I take the time to look at my calendar of scheduled events for the next three days (with focus on the day to come) and think through those opportunities – what outcomes do I want to see from my meetings, what messages do I expect to hear, what messages do I want to deliver, and what reactions might I come across. By prewiring my own mind for the events to come I can be prepared for the expected, and better able to process the unexpected.
Once I’ve thought through the known events of the day I take time to think about the unplanned opportunities that I might come across – what else do I want to accomplish, what haven’t I included in my action plan for the day, and what can I add to my day to fill in the cracks with positive outcomes. Even a full schedule will leave holes and if you’ve thought forward in your day you can have positive activities at the ready when those opportunities present themselves.
The final thing I do to set myself up for a day is to do a little positive reinforcement which may include reading through some of my favourite motivational quotes and passages or putting out some positive energy into the digital world through my Facebook or Twitter feeds. I’ve found I get back a surprising amount of positive energy when I share my morning preflection with my friends and family on social media which gives me a steady flow of positive reinforcement through my day, something I am particularly grateful for when things don’t go as planned.
By preflecting on my day I’m able to better process the good and the bad, and make the most of the opportunities I come across. Try it one day – set your alarm an hour early and take the time to preflect on your day to come. You’ll be amazed at the power it will have on your day!
Tim Empringham, MBA
Tim Empringham is a passionate advocate for Innovation in organizations of all sizes as a mechanism to drive growth, create uncontested market space, create new customer value, and drive efficiency into the internal organization. His focus is on disruption of thinking and markets through integrative thinking, structured Innovation frameworks, and leadership development of Innovation and Change leaders within the organization.