30 Days to Develop a Reflective Mindset, by Kira Downer
Today we have a guest blogpost from Kira Downer. She works at our shared co-working space, The Projects. She’s an undergraduate studying Business at the University of Brighton. This ace article is about reflection, wellbeing and setting yourself challenges.
You can follow Kira's selfie project on Instagram: @totallykira
Recently, I started up a yearlong personal challenge.
The premise of the challenge was that I would venture out into the streets of Brighton every day and get selfies with strangers… (and sometimes people I knew 😉).
I call it #selfiewithkira.
It’s my link between two of the things which I’m currently very passionate about. Gamification and personal branding.
(Sorry, but we should probably get some definitions out of the way.)
- Gamification is described as “the process of making activities more game-like”. [Werbach, 2014]
- Personal branding is described as "the process by which we market ourselves to others." [Schawbel, 2009]
This project has become a hobby for me.
So far I’ve featured over 100 people in the project and I’ve almost reached day 100.
(Not every selfie has just one person, sometimes it’s two or three.)
So why did I start this challenge?
1) To get out of my comfort zone.
2)To meet new people.
3)And to learn new things.
Girl, have I learnt some new things.
One of the most important things I’ve realized is the absolute value in daily storytelling.
How this daily selfie made me realise certain trends in my daily life
Weekends are what surprised me most.
They were a weakness of mine.
At the beginning I had a few bad days.
During the early days, the only times I ever didn’t manage to get a selfie were the weekends.
You see, when you don’t leave the house the whole weekend (+ living alone lol) you don’t tend to have the chance to meet anyone.
Who’d have thunk?
So it sort of occurred to me that maybe not leaving the house most weekends wasn’t the healthiest of behaviours.
So now I make sure to leave the house every day. (Yay!)
And this has motivated me to pick up some other habits too.
Like waking up at 6am everyday.
(And I’m totally going to start going to the gym regularly again…)
How I’ve found this daily reflection apply to other aspects of my life
So, I used to have a caffeine habit.
(Tbf most people do.)
However, my body really isn’t too groovy with caffeine. Gives me an anxiety spike.
So, recently I picked up the habit again… and for the following days, trying to get a selfie was almost impossible.
I could barely speak to anyone my anxiety had rocketed out of control!
I wouldn’t have realized this if I wouldn’t have been taking these selfies.
I didn’t realise that caffeine had quite that effect on me.
So, this trend-spotting became invaluable for making realise that any amount of caffeine will set me off.
How I plan to continue applying this practice (and how you can too!)
Essentially, I’m going to carry on doing this project for the next 9 months.
I’m counting on realising loads of things about myself.
Really, #selfiewithkira has become a diary of sorts.
I spend a fair amount of time writing copy for each of the posts, anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour.
I’m not expected anyone to spend as much time on their own personal projects.
But I’d love to advocate you to try something similar.
It doesn’t have to be a selfie project where you go out and meet people every day.
But maybe you want to try every vegan place in town and let Twitter know.
Does your town have some awesome graffiti that Instagram would love?
It doesn’t have to be a project on social media.
You could add your daily activities to a scrapbook.
I heard of someone who challenged themselves to request 10% off every purchase they made for a week.
Now that’s another level.
By finding some way to record your daily activities you’ll be surprised at the things you find out about yourself.
The link between well-being and daily reflection
The time in which we reflect can have a positive effect on wellbeing.
This is supported by a literature review completed by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and is effectively summarised in this article by the Association for Psychological Research:
“…when children are given the time and skills necessary for reflecting, they often become more motivated, less anxious, perform better on tests, and plan more effectively for the future.” 
There’s a power to engaging in a daily project which you create yourself.
It allows you to more deeply understand your daily rituals and vices, to see where your plans fall flat and why.
My challenge to you
Find something to challenge you, which you can conceivably do over daily over 30 days and do it for those 30 days.
Keep yourself a record of the project and your tendencies may just expose themselves to you.
I started making my own discoveries just a week into #selfiewithkira, but the examples I’ve described above appeared a little later in my journey.
Let me hear what you’ve done
I’ve been fascinated with what I’ve learnt about myself so far, and I’m interested in hearing about your journey and what you’ve learnt.
I’m very active on social media, so tweet me, leave me a comment or DM me with your successes.
You can find me on:
References & Bibliography
Association for Psychological Science. (2012) ‘Rest Is Not Idleness: Reflection Is Critical for Development and Well-Being’. [Website] phychologicalscience.org Available at: https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/rest-is-not-idleness-reflection-is-critical-for-development-and-well-being.html Accessed on: May 05 2019 Immordino-Yang, M H. (2012) ‘Rest Is Not Idleness: Reflection Is Critical for Development and Well-Being’ [Article] Perspectives on Psychological Science. Vol.7(4) pps:352-364 Schawbel, D, (2009) ‘Me 2.0: Build a powerful brand to achieve career success.’ Kaplan Books: New York Werbach, K. (2014) ‘(Re)Defining Gamification: A Process Approach.’ In: Spagnolli A., Chittaro L., Gamberini L. (eds) Persuasive Technology. PERSUASIVE 2014. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 8462. Springer, Cham