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Closing the Circle: Why Reflection is an Important Part of the Whole Life CHallenge

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The Whole Life Challenge didn’t always include a daily reflection as one of the scoring components. When we first created the Challenge, the scoring categories were simple: Yes or no. You either did something or you didn’t.

And it worked really well that way, too. People who played become present to the choices they were making. The simple act of asking whether a choice would be worth a point was enough to make people totally reevaluate many of the choices they made every day. And just addressing the black-and-white fact of the matter eliminated reasons and excuses. People discovered that even valid facts and excuses didn’t do anything to help the changes they wanted to make in their lives, health, and well being.

And then one day I had a conversation with someone that changed a lot. A player in our second challenge was telling me about what made it such a powerful tool for change for him.

He said, “It’s really nice to sit down each morning and reflect on what I did the day before.”

It hit me right in that moment: this guy had struck gold. More than just saying “yes” or “no,” he was taking an extra moment to have a conversation with himself about his choices. He was getting real with his commitment to himself.

See, you won’t always do what you say you will do. But acknowledging that made a promise to yourself and that you didn’t follow through closes the circle. Think of it this way: Your parents didn’t keep every promise they made you. And if they didn’t, and they ignored it, the broken promise stung even more. If they acknowledged it, and made sure you knew you were worthy of their promises, the circle was closed. You built trust.

That’s exactly the relationship you want to have to the commitments you make to yourself. You’re not always going to do what you say you are going to do. If you pretend a broken commitment doesn’t matter, you’ll start to feel pretty crappy about how much you can trust yourself.

Reflection can help connect your word to your actions. Did they line up? If they didn’t, close the circle. Reflecting isn’t about making excuses or justifying anything. You don’t have to make excuses: You’re human, and just being here means you’re working really conscientiously. Reflection is about getting to heart of your choices … so you can make the ones that line up.

Just committing your attention to your daily choices plays an irreplaceable role in shaping and changing them. Taking a moment to be with them, deciding if they served the changes you want to make, and closing the books on them gives you the freedom to make new choices each day.

Without that accounting, you often just drag around their residual effects. That gunk affects how you make choices the next time. If you consistently fail to close the circle, you will start to believe you aren’t worthy of keeping promises to … or that you’re not likely to. Your daily reflection gives you a chance to account for your choices and establish your word with the person that matters most: you.

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Michael Stanwyck
Michael Stanwyck is the co-founder of The Whole Life Challenge, an idea that developed during his seven years as a coach and gym manager at CrossFit Los Angeles.

He graduated from UCLA with a BA in philosophy as well as a degree from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, and feels food is one of the most important parts of a life - it can nourish, heal, and bring people together.

Michael believes health and well-being are as much a state of mind as they are a state of the body, and when it comes to fitness, food, and life in general, he thinks slow is much better than fast (most of the time). Stopping regularly to examine things is the surest way to put down roots and grow.

He knows he will never be done with his own work, and believes the best thing you can do for your well-being starts with loving and working from what you’ve got right now.