New Year’s Resolution #1 for Introverts: Self-Reflection – Know Thy Strengths

by | Jan 9, 2024

Last week, I shared 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Introverts: Planning for Professional Triumph in 2024 in which I talked about the monumental opportunity that introverts have to kick off the year with a (quiet) bang. Many of us have seen louder voices and “shmoozier” personalities gain more professional traction and recognition while introverted assets such as thoughtfulness, depth of expertise, and profound empathy are overlooked in decisions about promotions, pay raises, and other recognition.

As we kick off the new year, there’s no better time to hit the refresh button with resolutions that can change that all-too-frequent reality for introverts. For the next 10 weeks, I’m going to explore each of these resolutions, and how you can tailor them to your introverted strengths and goals.

For easy reference, here’s the full list of 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Introverts:

  1. Self-Reflection: Know Thy Strengths
  2. Set Clear Goals
  3. Build Strategic Networks
  4. Leverage Strong Listening Skills: The Introvert’s Secret Weapon
  5. Cultivate Thought Leadership
  6. Master the Art of Preparation to Shine in Meetings
  7. Embrace Stretch Assignments: Challenge Yourself
  8. Develop a Personal Brand
  9. Advocate for Yourself: Boldly Communicate Your Achievements
  10. Prioritize Self-Care: Recharge to Excel

Let’s dive into #1: Know thy (introverted) strengths.

The Power of Self-Reflection

Your 2024 journey to professional triumph begins with self-reflection. Before you can truly and fully share and spotlight your gifts with others, you must recognize them yourself. We introverts are known for our introspective nature, making this step a natural starting point.

But this isn’t just a “one and done” task. For introverts, self-reflection is a journey.

Begin by carving out dedicated time for introspection. This could be a quiet moment during your morning routine, a daily journaling practice, or a weekly review session. The goal is to create a space where you can genuinely connect with your thoughts and feelings, allowing you to recognize and appreciate your strengths. Some approaches that tap into the environments, spaces, and approaches that often fuel an introvert’s energy include:

  1. Quiet Contemplation: Introverts thrive in solitude, so capitalize on this by incorporating moments of quiet contemplation into your routine. Find a comfortable space where you can be alone with your thoughts, away from the noise of the external world.
  2. Journaling: Writing is a powerful tool for introverts. Maintain a journal – either written or digital — where you document your achievements, challenges, and the lessons learned. (I keep a written journal with a cover that’s purple – my favorite color – to add just a little extra joy to the experience.) Over time, your journal becomes a valuable, mainstay destination for self-reflection and a tangible record of your professional journey.
  3. Mindful Practices: Integrate mindfulness techniques into your self-reflection routine. Practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or mindful walks can help you stay grounded and connected with your inner self. Experiment with the time of day that these practices best meet your needs. For example, some people feel most connected to their inner selves at the start of the day and use a morning meditation to set them on a positive course for the day ahead. Others use these practices to decompress at the end of a stressful day. You might prefer one (or even both) on a given day and find that you need it differently the next day. Follow what your mind is telling you it needs.

Approaches to Identifying and Reflecting on Introverted Gifts

In the spirit of self-reflection and recognizing our individually unique gifts, introverts can take cues from the school of Appreciative Inquiry, or AI. This framework, with roots in the organizational development and leadership world, focuses on exploring an individual’s or organization’s strengths and past successes – the best of what they have been, are, and can be — to create a foundation for positive change.

  1. Ask Powerful Questions: Channel your introspective nature by asking powerful questions that lead you towards recognizing your introverted gifts. For instance, ask yourself, “In what situations do I feel most in my element at work?” or “When have I successfully leveraged my deep focus to achieve a professional goal?”
  2. Reflect on Peak Experiences: Recall moments in your professional journey where you felt exceptionally accomplished or in sync with your work. Analyze these peak experiences to identify patterns and elements that align with your introverted strengths. This reflection can serve as a guide for future endeavors.
  3. Conduct a Strengths-Based Analysis: Use the AI framework to conduct a strengths-based analysis of your professional life. Identify moments when your analytical thinking, deep focus, or strategic planning contributed significantly to positive outcomes. Recognizing these strengths provides a solid foundation for building your self-reflection practice.
  4. Consider what your “dream” is for professional success in 2024, and then which of your gifts you can leverage to achieve it. If you determine, for example, that writing is one of your introverted gifts, think about writing a narrative about your dream future in the workplace, and then think about what steps you can take to bring that story literally to life. If forming deep, one-on-one partnerships at work has been a key to your past achievements and fuels you to perform at your best, identify individuals with who, such partnerships can make your dream a reality.

(Spoiler alert: Later this winter, I will be launching a coaching program that helps introverted professionals identify their positive core, dream up this ideal future, and make a plan for how their introverted gifts can help them achieve that. Send me an email with the subject line “I-Factor Leadership” if you want to learn more.)

Strategies to Stick with this Introvert’s Resolution

With the average time of sticking to a new year’s resolution at less than four months, here are some ways to buck that trend and keep to this one going throughout the year:

  1. Consistency is Key: Make self-reflection a consistent habit. Set aside specific times in your calendar dedicated to introspection. It really doesn’t matter when; just consider when you generally can carve out the time, or when you know your brain is most receptive to this type of practice (for me, it’s when I first get started in the morning). This routine will not only help you stay committed but will also serve as a reminder of your commitment to personal and professional growth.
  2. Take Advantage of Technology at Your Fingertips: Leverage technology to support your self-reflection journey. There are various apps and tools designed for goal tracking and habit formation. Choose one that aligns with your preferences and use it to monitor your consistency. Or go to low-tech root, like I do, and use a paper planner to literally check the box each day that you stick to it.
  3. Accountability Partners: Share your resolution with a trusted colleague or friend who understands and appreciates your introverted nature. Having someone – especially a person who “gets you” – with whom you can to discuss your reflections, and who is willing to provide you with insights and encouragement, can definitely keep you on track.

Be Open to Making Course Corrections and Adjustments

While consistency is key, in some cases the course your charted for yourself at the start of the year make need some tweaking, or even an overhaul, as you go along. To flag these needs and consider potential new routes, I recommend:

  1. Maintaining flexibility: Understand that your self-reflection journey may evolve. Be flexible in adjusting your methods if you find that certain practices are more or less effective over time. Your goal should be progress, not perfection.
  2. Feedback Loop: Seek feedback from yourself and others. Regularly review your journal entries, revisit your goals, and assess your growth. Additionally, consider seeking feedback from colleagues or mentors who can provide valuable insights.
  3. Celebrate Achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. This positive reinforcement not only boosts morale but also strengthens your commitment to the journey of self-reflection.

Self-reflection is the bedrock upon which we introverts can build our path to professional triumph in 2024. With this first step, introverts can leverage the power of introspection to gain clarity, set meaningful goals, and navigate their professional worlds with authenticity and purpose. Stay committed, embrace the process, and let your introverted gifts propel you towards success in the year ahead.