Mindset work focuses in on how powerful your thinking is in determining your actions, behaviours and ultimately your success. It’s human nature to seek improvement. But we struggle with change because old habits, thoughts and beliefs are well entrenched in both our conscious and subconscious mind. You need a process to help ‘retrain’ that existing thinking and patterns.


One of the first concepts we dive into deep in self-improvement and in leadership development, is Reflection. At its simplest, reflection is about careful thought. Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through experiences, consider other possibilities, interpretations, and create meaning. This meaning becomes learning, which then influences our future mindset and actions. This “meaning making” part is crucial for ongoing growth and development.


There are numerous studies that demonstrate that reflection – thinking about your thoughts – makes an impact. These are just two recent examples:

  1. At a stressful call center an employee study was conducted, where those who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not include 15 minutes of reflection time at the days end. 23% is a lot!
  2. In another study, this one for commuters in the UK. Travellers were prompted to use their commute to think about and plan for their day. Results showed that those who took the time and did the reflective work were happier, more productive, and less burned out than the commuters who didn’t.


I’d like to suggest three simple reasons:

  1. Don’t understand the process: Many people don’t know how to reflect. Shame on us as coaches to just say ‘reflect on that’. People don’t know what that means – Am I thinking? Am I writing? Am I clearing my head? DO I do this in silence, or with music or with an instructor? When it’s too unclear, it’s difficult and we just don’t do it…
  2. Don’t have a process: Reflection requires people to do a number of things they typically don’t like to do. Things like slowing down, getting comfortable with not knowing the answer or needing to solve everything right away. They need to be curious, and be open to exploring, and of course to take personal responsibility. The process can lead to valuable insights and even breakthroughs. And it can also lead to feelings of discomfort, vulnerability, and defensiveness, as you confront thoughts you might not ‘like’. At first anyway.
  3. As a society, we have bias towards action. People feel better and productive when they are “doing something.” Look at all the Instagram posts you see: push, drive, ‘massive action’. Reflection can feel like you’re missing the action. The reality is the reflection means you take thoughtful action…

Are you intrigued to get started on some thoughtful change? If you think about Mindset training in the same vein as body conditioning, you know that the best results come from a plan or a process. That’s what we will do next.

Stayed tuned for Part II of this blog article where I show you How To Start a Reflective Process.

In the meantime you can start the process by thinking about your thoughts…


  1. Read something of keen interest to you – whether it’s a travel article, an improvement book. When was the last time you read something for yourself; not work or news? Spark and feed your mind about a topic you are interested in or want to learn about.
  2. Observe more. Pay attention to what’s happening around you a little more and as an observer, not as a judge or in determining right or wrong. You will be engaging parts of your brain that we tend to ‘turn-off’ for the sake of speed and getting things done.

To be continued…

Heather Cavanagh

Heather Cavanagh

Mindset Ambassador

Heather is a communications executive and change management professional with an accomplished 25 year track record in advertising and marketing, spending the last ten years on Bay Street.

A high-energy, ingenuous, 'people-person', Heather is a natural leader, passionate about the outcomes of collaborative work, pride in a job well-done while seeking that glorious state of balance amongst work, motherhood, challenge and happiness.   She has parlayed her vast personal and professional experience into a successful coaching business, now focused on mentoring other high-achievers to shift their mindset and perspective to find their balance, uncover their resilience, improve their networking and ability to make critical connections -- allowing them to thrive!

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