There are a great many advantages to good life reflection and planning, as a means of discovering positive (and negative) things to learn from as a platform for the future. Once we get the reflecting/planning bug i.e. once the habit has been nurtured, we can scarcely live without them. At least that’s my enjoyable experience.
In relation to something I’ve written on quite recently, that of practicing awareness, reflecting and planning fit exquisitely, but quite separately. They can be a means of scheduling thought of the past and future in dynamically positive and productive ways.
This is important because simply our undisciplined minds want to skip tracks incessantly from past to future to present and so forth. Staying grounded in the present is the wisest thing to do; it’s a most important habit to develop.
When we schedule our reflecting and planning activities it helps us compartmentalise those parts of our life, so they’re not forgotten. They can be important channels of foci directly related to living life, without encumbering the process of living now.
Once we’ve scheduled to reflect on our previous day(s), perhaps for the following morning or even for the evening of the same day, and we find that quiet time and place, we’re on our way; free to immerse ourselves in what factual issues developed and how we responded to those things. Some like to journal, others pray, and others still simply doodle or draw--it’s an outlet and a learning and discovery tool for re-connection.
I have discreet planning periods during every single day. This is time to create ‘to do’ lists, order events, plan calls to make, and reconcile previous days’ activities done (or not done) with what’s coming up. I find planning an absolute necessity in bringing form to chaos, especially in my busy life. I’d prefer to wing it, but I can’t afford to--I don’t think anyone could.
If we save specific times for reflecting on the past and planning for the near future, we can free up cognitive space and opportunity for thought processes in the present. This helps us focus on reality--what is actually happening in the here and now--devoid of constraining emotion such as guilt, envy, rage, shame or lack etc.
Our reflection time should also include time for dealing with concrete items related to emotion.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
 I use a FranklinCovey Planning system that helps me get to those ‘Quadrant II’ (important but not yet urgent) activities better.