When was the last time you took some dedicated time for yourself - time for yourself to just be? Not time to update or scroll through social media, watch movies, play games, go shopping or go to a salon, massage, or any other appointment. When was the last time you consciously chose to spend time with yourself and just experience yourself as you are?

Even though we have an increasing awareness of the value of activities like yoga and meditation today, most people are still leading very busy, hectic, and noisy lives. Even when a yoga class or meditation session is scheduled in, often, it is done with a mind that is busy analyzing, planning, or dwelling. Very few people still understand the importance of giving themselves unstructured time just to be and experience states of silence, conscious thought, and guided reflection. We complain that there is not enough time, too many things to do, not enough money, too many bills and problems, etc. All the while, we miss the opportunity that we are provided with each day to take charge of our minds and be conscious life creators. Instead, we settle and put up with the constant mind chatter, endless to-dos, and slaving away through life to keep up with society’s neverending pressures and demands. If excuses run your life, consider reading the book Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits by the late Wayne Dyer.

Become the Artist of Your Life

So, where do you start? How can you make effective and lasting changes?

The most important place to start is to give yourself time to take inventory of your life by reflecting on your choices and the results they have created. Get honest with yourself about what is working and what isn’t. Such guided reflection can allow us to address areas of our lives and our approach to life that has been holding us back or sabotaging our highest good. Consider how many choices you make are out of obligation or pressure that you put on yourself or think others expect of you? Of course, there are specific tasks that we must fulfill as responsible and compassionate human beings, like certain parenting duties. Still, more often than not, the things we do and the choices we make are done for no other reason than to try to fit in with society and those around us. We try to make others happy while making ourselves miserable, which in turn reflects back onto our relationships negatively. Sure, we should be kind, generous, considerate, and compassionate, but also have healthy boundaries. You cannot satisfy others, especially while sacrificing yourself.

Next, use your reflection time to outline your priorities. Most people go through their lives as they do, being swayed in every which direction because they are not grounded in their own confidence and lack a clear vision and priorities. A lot of us allow fear and insecurity to run our lives. We are often afraid to take a stand for what we believe in because it means having some difficult conversations with those who are close to us. We worry too much about what other people think and lead lives that lack authenticity and integrity. The only way to remedy this and walk through life with confidence and meaning is to ensure that you know what you stand for. Make a list of your present priorities. You don’t have to commit to them for life because they will change as you and your needs change, but you do need to know what is best for you and what you will and will not put up with in your life.

Of course, your dedicated time to be could be a form of meditation. Most people are well aware by now of the value of meditation, but many people are still intimidated by this concept and do not know where to start. No problem, this is not what I am advocating for at this time. The most important thing first, is just to make conscious time for yourself to be comfortable with yourself, in the space of silence, where you can pay attention to your thoughts and take time to assess your life. Otherwise, the result is living haphazardly, as some things go our way, and others do not go our way. This leaves us oscillating between highs and lows in life, not realizing that our life is a reflection of the choices we make each day.

Self-Reflection Creates Ripples of Benefits

Today is New Year’s Eve, and it is one of the best times of the year to take some time out and reflect on the year we have just experienced. The best growth and learning come when we can reflect on our successes and challenges and take action to make effective changes in our lives to experience them with contentment, meaning, and wellbeing.

However, we do not need a new year or a new month or a new week to experience a meaningful life reflection. It can be done anytime you choose, anytime you make the time for it, and anytime you specifically need it. To be of most value and benefit, it should also not be just an annual event, but something we do regularly throughout the year, throughout our lives. When we make life reflection a routine practice, which we make time for regularly in our lives, this is when we are most equipped to catch problems before they arise, to solve problems that have surfaced adequately, and to clear away emotional blockages that accumulate in us throughout life due to unprocessed, suppressed, and repressed emotions. Again, nothing special needs to be done to reflect on your life. You don’t need to go anywhere special or listen to any specific content. You just need to take some time to be with yourself in a safe, pleasant, and quiet space.

To become the artist of your life, you must take steps to create your life consciously. Push aside other tasks that bring you little or no value to be present for yourself. The more you reflect on how you are, how you react, and respond to life’s various experiences, the more you can enhance the quality of your life. You will be a better partner, parent, friend, coworker, and friend. You will live with more meaning, purpose, and creativity. The more you reflect on what you want and don’t want to experience in your life, the more you will be enabled and empowered to make choices that are in alignment with your highest good.

Imagine, then, what the result would be in our world if everyone, or at least more people, started to take such personal responsibility and accountability for their choices, their thoughts, words, actions, and behavior, and their lives. We would create a more harmonious and pleasant world for all.

I wish you a lifetime of meaningful self-reflection.