My Reflection On 1500 Days of Daily Reflection

After 1500 days of daily reflection, I was able to look back and appreciate how much I've grown and a few things I've learned along the way.

My Reflection On 1500 Days of Daily Reflection
Lotus position not required. 😄 (Photo by Dorota Dylka on Unsplash)

I started my daily reflection spreadsheet on January 6, 2020, and on February 13, 2024, I passed 1500 days. 

I have written about the importance of reflection at length, including:

And regularly share my reflections on different areas of my life, like in:

To name just a few. 😉

Whether it’s journaling, stream of conscious writing, daily reflection, daily gratitude, or daily intentions –  different kinds of reflection have different benefits. Ultimately, they serve the same purpose: to learn, grow as a person, and cultivate the life you want through intention.

For me, reflection is a combination of:

  • Processing my thoughts and experiences through writing
  • Exploring complex feelings
  • Making note of the daily minutiae

Together, they provide a history of my life through moments, experiences, thoughts, and feelings.

Reflection is meant to be a stopping point in the unending tasks of your days, where you notice the banal and beautiful. It’s a way to identify patterns so you pay attention to things that might be missing or neglected in your life. It helps you pay attention to daily joys that are otherwise overlooked and mark experiences that might slip through the cracks of memory. 

Reflection builds self-awareness and encourages thoughtful change.

In honour of all that, here is my reflection on (more than!) 1500 days of daily self-reflection. 😀

It’s important to mark the passage of time

I have always had a mind for dates. I remember events of all kinds: birthdays, anniversaries, deaths, starts and stops. I am good at guessing when things happened and regularly surprise my husband in the “What year did this song come out?” game. 

Don’t ask me to remember the names of things, though!

I like to make note of these things in my calendar, journal, and, of course, my daily reflection. 

These notes act as reminders of what has been and allow me to remember and reminisce. They are markers of another me who made decisions and did the best she could with the information she had. They are reminders of people and places I miss or friends I need to reconnect with.

Amongst the bustle of the day-to-day, or even in the quiet reaches, it’s easy to get caught forever with your eyes on the horizon. The reflections help me maintain a tenuous balance of being more present in my days while also learning from the past and preparing for the future. 

The storms will come. (Photo by Peter Albanese on Unsplash)

This is not for always

This time last year, my brother, Elliot, was in the intensive care unit on a respirator with bacterial pneumonia. We were in the middle of a house renovation. Our cats were freaking out. My husband's work schedule was brutal. I was in the middle of my first MS relapse.

It was a hard time.

Now, my brother is well and fully recovered. Our house renovation is finished. Our cats are their usual trouble-maker selves (but a little less kitten-like 😸). Work is challenging but steady for both of us. I am settled into a new MS medication and stable. I am in a completely different head space.

Good or bad, I am reminded how much things change over the course of a year. Over and over. 

How you feel now, what’s happening now, is not forever.

Growing up, one of the things my Dad would say when things were tough was, “This, too, shall pass." At the time, this was an aggravating notion, akin (in my mind) to telling someone who is upset to calm down. But the older I get, the more it sinks into my bones. 

The variation that lives in my mind is, “This is not for always.”

Looking back through my daily reflection at this time last year, I was struck by how different I feel now versus then. The words I used to describe the things that were happening, the exhaustion, fear, and frustration that permeated that time, are so opposite to the energy, interest and calm I am experiencing now. 

Not to mention looking back over when Covid started, when I first decided to shift to consulting full time, when my beloved senior cats died, or any number of things that have happened over the last few years.

I’m reminded:

  • Life is not about enduring the hard things but also finding the snatches of light when things are hard. 
  • It’s doing what you can to prepare for the inevitable storms. 
  • It’s controlling what you can and doing your best to let go of the rest.
  • It’s being grateful every day while still leaving space to grieve and be upset.
  • It’s paying attention to and celebrating your wins.
  • It’s acknowledging pain and being able to sit with it.

Life is not binary. It will always be a mix of ups and downs, and neither are for always.

Eventually, the sun will come out. (Photo by Justin DoCanto on Unsplash)

There is so much beautiful in the banal

Over my 1500 days of daily reflection, I mention:

  • Pancakes 268 times
  • Playing video games at least 300 times
  • Painting my toenails while watching a basketball game 54 times
  • Snuggles with my cats 77 times
  • Listening to my audiobook while I work on a puzzle 22 times (it’s a new hobby!)
  • Runs in the sunshine dozens of times

I talk about hanging out with Dana, watching shows with my SIL, good writing days and tasty dinners. Average, ordinary, everyday things that don’t matter to anyone but me. But they matter. They are the banal happenings that make up what I know to be a beautiful life.

It’s a gift to be able to look back and appreciate them.

Some things change, and some stay the same

1500 days is a long time, but also not a long time.

It’s just over four years. As I look back at the types of things I recorded in 2020 and what I record now in 2024, it’s neat to see that there are parts of me that have changed and parts that are the same.

The words I used to describe experiences and what commanded my attention have shifted. For example, in the early days of my daily reflection, I regularly mentioned how effectively I was at getting work done each day. A good day was measured by how productive it was. I often spoke of feeling bad about not getting enough done and feeling guilty about rest

The evolution of my perspective and satisfaction as I shifted to consulting full-time was evident in how I described my days. Over time, I actively started to frame my days less around my productivity and more around the joys. As I taught my clients, I, too, learned so much. I have reaped the benefits of letting go of the “shoulds” and appreciating the joys of my days.

I still love pancakes, cats, and video games; that will likely never change! But I know myself better and understand what matters (to me) more than ever. That growing awareness continues to change me in ways I’m still discovering.

How to start your daily reflection

If I haven’t convinced you how powerful daily reflection is yet, I’m unsure what more I can say. 😅 

The most simple and easy version to start is:

  1. Get a notebook and pen and put them by your bedside

  2. Open a spreadsheet or notes on your phone if you prefer digital
  3. Before you go to sleep, ask yourself: What was notable today?

I do a variation for my daily reflection that asks four questions and tracks things like my mood and sleep (you can access the free template here). The format you use and the specific questions you ask yourself matter less than taking the time to do it.

A few days ago, my husband told me,

“You are the best version of yourself every day.”

For me, there are few greater compliments than that. I genuinely believe the work that goes into being that better version of myself is supported by doing a daily reflection.

My challenge to you is to give it a try. For two weeks, do a reflection at the end of each day. See how it feels and if you learn anything. I would love to hear about it!