Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Importance of Reflection

One of the biggest behavioral mistakes I see among trainers and trainees alike, and people in general for that matter, is a lack of reflection following experiences. There is no asking "What went well/poorly?", "What good/bad decisions were made?", or "How can this be improved?".

Money - When was the last time you looked over your receipt from department store, read through the itemized list and said to yourself "Hmmm, that was a waste. I didn't really need that." or "That yogurt ended up uneaten and in the trash.", or "I wear that shirt a lot. I should buy more like it.". Until recently, I NEVER did that. Sure, I might have looked over my bank statements or balanced my checkbook once in a great while, but I had never gone down an itemized list of expenditures, scrutinizing each purchase. Since starting this practice, expenses have been much more manageable. I don't do it all the time, but when you're spending much more than you think you should, it's a good place to examine more closely.

Training - When was the last time you looked over your training log and thought to yourself "That really worked for me. I'll do it again and tweak it because I'm a little stronger in these areas now.", or "The last two weeks haven't been very impressive numbers-wise, but considering I had that big presentation at work, it's not bad. Let's see how I could improve this training plan to be more effective even while under a lot of work stress."? Most kids I know don't keep a training log and reflection never goes much beyond "Damn! That was hard!". A coach I had when I was 13 stressed the importance of keeping a training log - I haven't always been consistent about it, but I have logs from over 20 years ago, and just about every training session over the past 10+ years has been logged and looking them over is always educational.

Diet - I'll admit that I don't keep a food log. I have no interest in counting calories and calculating macros... In general, I'm not a picky eater and my diet is pretty clean. I do jot down notes from time to time about foods and restaurants that I really enjoy. When I dislike a food or restaurant, believe it or not, I try to understand why I don't like it - "Because it sucks." just isn't good enough for me. Is it the texture? Is it the smell? Is it the color? Is it the consistency? Especially when discovering "ethnic" foods that are unappealing, I think to myself "Millions of people eat this. Why don't I like it?".

The key to reflection is making every experience, good or bad, a learning experience. It ISN'T a self-flagellation session, nor is it high-fives all around. It is deep thought with a purpose, an eye toward future decisions and actions.


Aaron Friday said...

Especially when discovering "ethnic" foods that are unappealing, I think to myself "Millions of people eat this. Why don't I like it?"

I share that experience, while continuing to notice that the food is unappealing. I can train through some pain, but I don't want to train through food choices.

A friend of mine has his worldly success to blame for the fact that he was faced with a live monkey brain to eat one time. That's just nasty no matter what. He had to eat it. He really had to eat it. Damn! Not me, Boris.

Boris said...

Actually, I've 'trained' my way through quite a few foods - a lot of raw foods, fermented foods, etc. and grown to like many of them. I think that your tastes (can) grow and change just like anything else.

BUT, I don't think I could ever eat 'live monkey brain'... that's pretty, umm, challenging! DAMN is right!

Thanks for commenting!