December 20, 2019

After Thinking About It

By Marybeth Norcross

If I had to pick one phrase that has defined my life, I think it would be, “After thinking about it.” I have said that phrase so many times! Sometimes it was because I’d done something foolish, and after thinking about it, I had to go back and make amends. Occasionally, I’ve looked at a situation and, after thinking about it, I was able to make a good decision.


Taking the time to think about something is called reflection. Reflection usually alters your perspective. This is why reflection, thinking about it, is the key to growth. When you take the time to seriously reflect, you are able to see things in greater depth, and accept other points of view. It can help you better find the best and most appropriate way to act, and leads to better decision-making.

Most of the mistakes I’ve made in my life happened because I didn’t take the time to think about things before I acted or spoke. I tended to react, usually impulsively, and as you might expect, it didn’t work out well for me. Once I’d settled down, I’d take the time to think, which led to reflection, and I could see things clearly and saw where I had been wrong. I shudder to think about how much of my life I’ve spent apologizing and trying to make amends. Things would have been so much easier if I’d thought before I spoke, or measured my actions before I made them. Life would have been so much easier on the people around me too. I’m lucky my family is forgiving, and that my friends are naturally gracious and forgiving people. If you only reflect after a conversation or event, it’s easy to see what you could have done better, but it’s painful too.


Things work out so much better for me when I think before I speak or act. My response is always more measured and appropriate. It’s a small victory for me that I do that far more often now than I ever did in the past. It’s growth, but it is small growth.  I become better when I think before and reflect after I do something or have a conversation. While most problems can be avoided by thinking before, I truly become better as a person, professional, or friend, when I reflect afterwards and then make changes for the future.  That’s where the real growth happens.



Do you take the time to think before and reflect after you do or say something? Life is so much better when you do.  Might it be a good time during break to reflect after last semester and think before next semester?