Want to learn how you can use self-reflection as a tool for achieving accelerated career growth? Here are 15 questions to help you gain clarity and flourish in your career.
When you take the time to reflect on your career growth over the past 12 months, did you manage to achieve your career goals, or didn't you get the momentum you wanted or expected?
What were your biggest successes? What about your biggest challenges or ‘failures’?
And importantly, what are you going to do differently to get the growth and success you want in your career?
If you haven’t thought about that yet, self-reflection is a powerful tool for achieving accelerated career growth.
It helps you to look at your progress and career from a reflective lens so you can identify what worked well and what didn’t, so you know where to focus your time and attention to grow your career next.
In this short blog, you’ll learn about the art of self-reflection for career growth so you can use these techniques to help you grow personally and professionally, and help you achieve your goals a lot faster.
Why is self-reflection important for career growth and success?
According to Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you want different results, you have to think and do things differently!
Self reflection and awareness precedes all personal and professional growth, so by using effective self reflection tools it will help you to identify what’s going right (and what’s not working), so you can change your approach accordingly to get the results you want.
Self-reflection is essential for career growth for so many reasons, including:
Personal growth and development
Self-reflection allows you to gain a deeper understanding of yourself, including your strengths, weaknesses, values and aspirations. As already mentioned, self-awareness is the foundation for personal growth and development. It helps you gain clarity on areas where you excel and areas where you need to improve, which helps you to make smarter decisions about your career path.
While you can come up with goals without self-reflecting on your previous ones first, it’s not recommended. By looking back on your past experiences and assessing your current situation, you can better identify and gain clarity on the direction you want to take in your career.
Learning from experience
Every ‘failure’ is a lesson! Reflecting on your past experiences, both the successes and the failures, helps you to see the lessons among them. By analysing what worked and what didn’t work, you can apply these learnings in the future. This is a big important part of professional and personal growth. So next time you ‘fail’ at something, it’s important to reflect on why that was: what worked, what didn’t and what could you do differently next time?
Identifying skills/knowledge gaps
Sometimes we are lacking skills and knowledge needed to be successful in our chosen fields or achieve our goals. Self-reflection will help you to see where there are any gaps in your skill or knowledge, so you can then ensure you prioritise these areas when setting your career goals.
Self-reflection can help you identify opportunities for advancement, whether within your current job or through external job changes. It allows you to recognise when it's time to seek new challenges or responsibilities, rather than just playing it safe.
Making informed decisions
Self-reflection helps you to make informed decisions about your career. It helps you weigh the pros and cons of various options, consider your long-term objectives, and align your decisions with your values and aspirations.
Reflecting on your achievements and setting new goals can boost your motivation. It gives you a sense of purpose and a clear path forward, making it easier to stay engaged and committed to your career.
So to wrap up – there are so many benefits of self-reflection! By reflecting often, it will help you navigate your career journey more effectively and increase your likelihood of achieving your goals.
Now that we’re clear on the benefits of self-reflection for career growth, let’s go through how to do self-reflection, and 15 questions you can ask yourself to get started!
How to do self-reflection
Use a journal and pen (or laptop if you prefer) to answer questions designed specifically to prompt self reflection.
Choose a time and place where you don’t be interrupted or distracted for at least 30 minutes.
Clear your mind beforehand – doing a short mindfulness meditation and breathing can help to relax you and get you in the right headspace for reflection.
Answer the self-reflection questions one-by-one, writing anything that comes to mind (don’t pass judgement) and don’t move on until you have nothing left to write.
After you’ve finished answering all your questions, read over them and take notes on what the themes are for what’s working well and what your challenges/roadblocks are.
Create a list of things to work on or do differently next time.
Self-reflection questions for career growth
Ready for some much-needed self-reflection of your career? Here are some reflection questions to get you started – but feel free to come up with your own, too!
What were my key accomplishments in my career in [INSERT YEAR]?
What were the major challenges or setbacks I faced in my career in [INSERT YEAR], and how did I overcome them?
Did I meet the career goals and objectives I set for myself in [INSERT YEAR]? If not, why?
What did I learn from the experiences and opportunities I had in [INSERT YEAR]?
How has my skill set and knowledge evolved over the past year, and how have these changes contributed to my career growth?
Did I take on any new responsibilities or roles in [INSERT YEAR]? How did these additions impact my career?
Have I received feedback on my performance? What were the main takeaways, and how have I applied them to my career development?
Did I build or expand my professional network in [INSERT YEAR]? If so, how has this network benefited me, and what can I do to further nurture these relationships moving forward?
What were the most fulfilling aspects of my career in [INSERT YEAR], and what aspects left me feeling unsatisfied or unfulfilled?
How well did I maintain a work-life balance in [INSERT YEAR], and what can I do to improve it?
Did I have a clear career progression plan in [INSERT YEAR], and did I make any progress toward achieving it?
What industry or market trends did I observe in [INSERT YEAR] that could impact my career or industry in the future, and how can I prepare for them moving forward?
What are my long-term career goals, and how did my experiences and progress in [INSERT YEAR] align with these goals?
Are there any new skills, certifications, or training opportunities I should pursue in [INSERT YEAR] to enhance my career prospects?
What changes do I need to make in my current job, or do I need to consider a job or career change to better align with my long-term goals?
Now that you’ve completed your self-reflection, it’s important to create a plan of attack for making positive changes in your career.
Look at all your answers and note down the following:
What are my 3x key takeaways from my self-reflection?
Set intentions: What am I going to do differently next to take control of my career and get the results I want?
How will I know I’ve achieved those goals/made changes?
How can I keep myself accountable and ensure I stay on track?
Are you ready for accelerated career growth through self-reflection?
Great! Remember that self-awareness precedes all personal and professional growth, so in order to get the accelerated growth you’re looking for, self-reflection is the secret weapon to help you get there.
Try not to judge yourself – we’re only human. You’re going to make mistakes from time-to-time, and beating yourself up for it isn’t helpful. What’s helpful is focusing on what you’re going to do differently next time, and trying to be 1% better each and every day!
How about getting help from a professional coach?
If you’re looking for support with achieving your personal and professional goals at an accelerated rate, I’m a life and career coach who specialises in working with ambitious career-focused women like you who want to have amazing careers AND amazing personal lives.
You can book a free 1-hour Career-Life Clarity Session with me to help get clarity on what’s not working in your career and life, where you’d like to get to, and how you can get there. Limited spaces available, so make sure you get in quick to secure your spot. Learn more here.
Thanks for reading! If you want more, check out my other blogs, follow me on Facebook: @Janellekeesue, TikTok: @janelle.keesue, Instagram: @janellekeesue. You can also book a free session with me here!
About the author, Janelle Kee-Sue
Janelle Kee-Sue is a certified life and career coach, accredited cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) practitioner, business owner, writer, speaker, and marketing specialist based in Wellington, New Zealand. She’s been to almost 50 countries, is a former professional bikini bodybuilding champion with a world title under her belt, and is passionate about helping women who are feeling stuck and unfulfilled in their careers and lives to get clarity on their next steps and start living the life they're meant for. In her spare time, you’ll find her at the gym, working on her novel, or hanging with her floofy Samoyed Zeus and her husband Ricky. Learn more.