Episode 174 | The Formula for Effective Reflection

In this episode, Dr. Cari Wise provides a formula for effective reflection. 

The formula involves asking three questions, and then considering those questions through the lens of actions, priorities, and emotions in order to full understand one’s experience. 

Dr. Wise applies emphasizes the importance of intentional reflection as a tool in creating positive change and breaking the cycles that result in busyness but no meaningful movement toward our goals and dreams. 



Website: https://joyfuldvm.com



Music Credit: Music by Lesfm from Pixabay


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This transcript is auto-generated and may contain typos.

Hi there. I’m Dr. Cari Wise, veterinarian, certified life coach, and certified quantum human design specialist. If you are a veterinary professional looking to uplevel your life and your career, or maybe looking to go in an entirely new direction, then what I talk about here on the Joyful DVM podcast is absolutely for you. Let’s get started. Hello my friends.

Welcome to Reflection Friday. Today is March 8th, 2024. Today we’re going to be talking about the formula for effective reflection. And this is something that I was considering as I was trying to decide what was it that I wanted to talk about for this week, and really going through my own process of evaluating the week that has gone by and what would be most helpful for you.

And as I was doing this, I realized, you know what? I use a process pretty much every single week, and this is a process I actually use every single day and even sometimes on a quarterly or annual basis. And this process for reflection has been something that’s been so useful for me. I decided to share it with you. So there really is a simple formula for effective reflection.

So what is reflective effective reflection? Well, really it’s taking a look at whatever experience that we had and grabbing from that, the things that worked, so our wins, and then also identifying the opportunities to make an adjustment next time. So also called the lessons. And it really all comes down to just three questions. What worked well, what didn’t work so well,

and what can I do differently next time? Those three questions can help you really understand any kind of situation, any kind of experience that you’ve had. And I like to use this. What went well, what didn’t go so well? What can I do differently? I like to really look at those three questions through the lens of three different things. Whenever I’m evaluating,

whether it be a day or a week, a month, a quarter, a year, I like to look at, use those three questions through the three different lenses. The first lens that I use that for is a lens that I call actions, which is really just my to-do list. So the things that I had to get done that day, and keeping in mind that we never have to do anything.

We always get to decide, but many of us have a list of things to complete at any given time. Now, if I’m thinking about the veterinary profession specifically, if I’m at a day that I’m working at the clinic, then there are certainly things to complete that day. There’s appointments to see. There are probably labs to review and to call back.

There might be phone messages, there might be refills, there might be some training of my staff that needs to get done, or some meetings I need to attend. So there’s a list of things to get done, and so I can get to the end of my day and I can look at my list and I can see which things happened and which things didn’t happen,

or maybe they all got completed. But then I can look at those lists and think about how did that go today? If I ask myself three questions, well, what worked well today? And then ask myself another question, well, what didn’t work out so well as far as me getting through all those things that I wanted to get done? And then what could I do different next time to really maximize my efficiency to make sure that everything does get done in a timely manner?

Maybe everything got done, but I ended up leaving three hours late because I got behind, or my medical records didn’t get written. So that is where if we use a process to evaluate, we can really start to understand what happened. And most importantly, hang on to the pieces that worked really well, but then also be curious about the pieces that didn’t,

so we can make some adjustments to tackle it again, the next time. It comes up as we keep doing this evaluation, what worked well, what didn’t work so well? What can I do differently? We actually just keep refining our own process, which creates a much more enjoyable experience all the way around. So looking at my actions, that’s the first lens that I look at it.

The next thing that I look at, use these three questions to look at is really my own priorities. So if, again, if I’m using an example of a workday in the veterinary clinic, I have a few top priorities. My top priorities are getting to work on time. Priority number two is having a lunch. Priority three is leaving on time.

And then priority four is having all of my medical records done before I leave. I like to prioritize those things every single time that I work in the clinic, because what I have found is that if I prioritize those time, those things, and I’m able to then fulfill on those things, that I have a much more enjoyable day and it’s much easier for me to leave work at work.

So at the end of each day, I can just ask myself those, the same three questions, what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what could I do differently? So if I didn’t get to work on time, well that didn’t fall into the what went well, right? That fell into what could I do differently? So what didn’t go so well?

And then that question, the follow up I guess I should say is, what can I do differently? So it didn’t go so well. It starts me arriving on time. Okay, great. What could I do differently? Well, I might look at, at what happened that morning then, and be like, okay, why was it that I didn’t arrive on time?

Well, if perhaps I ended up behind an accident and they shut down the highway and I sat there for 25 minutes, well then that is not something that I could control, right? If I’m stuck there, you know, boxed in in traffic, that’s an uncontrollable. So I don’t need to beat myself up over that. I just wanna recognize, so in this moment,

like this time, that’s just what happened, and that I probably know that taking this route, that’s very much a rarity. So I don’t necessarily need to pick another route. Now, if I was gonna notice that maybe I was getting stuck in traffic like that on a very frequent basis, then over time, if I saw a pattern with that, then I might consider either leaving earlier or just finding a different route.

So that would be, what could I do differently in that kind of situation? Same thing with like going, if I didn’t get a lunch, okay, why didn’t I get a lunch? Did I not get a lunch because we had an emergency come in? ’cause that’s gonna happen sometimes. Or did I not get a lunch because we ended up so far behind throughout the day that everything just bled into lunch?

Well, if that’s the case, then I’m gonna look at what could be be done differently. I’m gonna start to examine what were all the variables that played into everything getting pushed behind, because there’s likely some opportunities there to, to refine our workflow so that we get lunch. What we also might notice is that we’re believing we can’t have a lunch and we’re forfeiting our lunch,

and we actually could have left. So not every, you don’t, if you’re giving your lunch away in order to write your medical records, that’s your choice, but it’s not a have to. So just notice how, as far as your priorities go, are you sticking with your priorities? And even within those priorities, are there some things that you prioritize over others?

So if I’m thinking about my priorities, getting to work on time, getting a lunch, leaving on time, and getting my records done, there will be times that I will shorten my lunch. If that means I’m gonna be able to finish up my records. Because I know for me that having my records done at the end of the day feels amazing,

and I’m willing to sacrifice 30 minutes of my lunch sometimes if I need to, to make that happen. Not gonna say that I wanna do it every day. I really, I’m going to, as I, if I make that sacrifice, that’s not gonna become the norm. I’m gonna be looking at my priorities throughout the day, looking at my own workflow,

looking at how I’m leveraging my staff, looking at how we’re doing as far as people showing up on time, and what are we doing to reschedule if we need to. I’m gonna be looking all those things too, because all those things play in. But in the moment I can, what can I adjust for myself? Sometimes I’m gonna make that kind of decision.

The third lens that I look at when I’m thinking about the day and I’m reflecting back on the day or a week or a month or a quarter or whatever it is, I’m gonna ask myself, how did I feel? So what was my mood? How did I feel most of the time? And that’s a very interesting question because I’m going to look at that.

I’m thinking of, use my example again, of a work day. I’m gonna ask myself, how was I feeling before I ever got there that day? And then how was I feeling overall throughout the day? So what was my mood throughout the day? How was I feeling when I left that night? And then how was I feeling at home after hours?

I like to look at my, my days through that lens as well of how did I feel? And I’m gonna ask myself the same three questions. What worked well, what didn’t go so well? And what could I do differently? And I’m gonna understand then, as I ask myself those questions, why I’m feeling the way that I’m feeling, because it’s very important that we are creating this emotional wellbeing for ourselves.

And if we’re not curious about why we’re feeling the way we’re feeling, we’re just going to continue to repeat those patterns now with those emotions that are a little bit, maybe a little bit trickier to understand the why. So if I notice that maybe I’m feeling frustrated throughout the day as I’m doing my reflection, at the end of the day, I’m like,

man, I was really frustrated all day yesterday or all day earlier today. Then I’m asking myself, why? Why am I frustrated? Well, I’m automatically gonna answer that question with a story. And so then I’m gonna look at that story with curiosity. I’m gonna ask myself, is that an empowering story that I’m telling myself? Or is that a disempowering story that I’m telling myself?

Which story did I carry throughout the day today? And just to give you a little bit of a hint, if you’re feeling frustrated throughout your whole entire day, you’re carrying a disempowering story. So if I notice that I’m carrying around a disempowering story and it’s coming, maybe I brought it to me with work. Maybe it’s not even work related. Maybe there’s something that happened earlier in the day and I’ve carrying this disempowering story with me.

I took it to me with me to work, it hung over me all day long and pulled my mood down and changed my whole entire day. If I’m curious about what’s going on and I recognize, oh wait, I’m telling myself a disempowering story, then I can make a new choice. What am I gonna carry tomorrow? What’s the story I’m gonna pick intentionally to go into tomorrow that I can keep coming back to,

to bring me back to a place where I feel better throughout the day? So these three areas, your actions like the to-dos, if you will, your priorities, what matters to you, and then how you feel. Those three components all matter. And if you’ll look at your, whatever you’re evaluating, whether it’s a day or a week or a month or a quarter or a year,

and you’re looking at it through the lens of those three, those three perspectives, and asking the questions, what worked well, what didn’t work so well? What could I do differently? You’re going to have so much clarity about what you can do to change your experience for the better. And when you keep applying this concept of reflection and intentional interaction with your experiences,

you can’t help but feel better. You can’t help but increase the quality of your days. You can’t help but actually become even more productive or move closer to your goals and the visions and the things that you want for your future. It is when we don’t do any reflection that we just will find that time keeps passing, but nothing changes. And it all comes down to something very simple,

simple, which is if nothing changes, nothing changes. So my friends, for us to create something different for ourselves, we have to take a different reapproach. And so as I was considering what I wanted to chat with you about this week, I thought, you know what? This system that I use for reflection may be just exactly what you need to help you move out of whatever rut you might be stuck in.

So I hope that this has been helpful. I hope that you’ll consider applying it through the next days and the next weeks do some reflection of your own. What worked well, what didn’t work so well? What could you do differently? Consider that through the perspective of the things you have to do of your own personal priorities and how you feel. And I think you’re gonna notice all kinds of opportunities to make some tiny little changes that actually shift your total experience in a very massive and positive way.

All right, my friends, that’s gonna wrap it up for this week. See you next time. Bye for now.