Self-Reflection In Your Career

Opal App
7 min readApr 30, 2022


By Ally Marecek

Every now and then, we need to slow down, look inwards, and self-reflect.

The simplest way to define self-reflection is: thinking about YOU. Self-reflection can involve thinking about your…

  • Past, present, and future
  • Identity and the way it has been influenced by external and internal factors
  • Character and actions

Self-reflection is important throughout our lives; as we grow and change, aspects of our identities will shift and new paths will emerge. With self-reflection, even negative aspects of your life can become positive through the lessons they can teach or the growth opportunities they provide.

Self-reflection can be applied to all parts of your life, including your career, which consists of the various jobs, internships, side gigs, etc. that you pursue and grow in throughout your life. Over the course of your career, there can be many opportunities to learn, create meaningful work, influence others, and develop into a better version of yourself!

Something so important will of course need a lot of introspective thought. Only when you understand yourself can you start to answer questions like, “What is my dream job and why? What do I want to accomplish over the course of my career?” In this article, we’ll explore three big topics to reflect on that can provide valuable guidance in your career.

Before we dive in, take note of these quick starter tips:

  • Set aside some time for your reflection when you won’t be distracted or interrupted. You can reflect for any period of time!
  • Your self-reflection process can be very informal; just let your mind wander and ponder as you go for a walk, complete a routine chore, or sit in a quiet relaxing space.
  • If you want your self-reflection to be more structured, you can try some form of journaling to record your thoughts and build on them over time. Your journaling can be as simple as writing bullet point lists, or as intricate as creating detailed mind maps. When I reflected, I organized my thoughts in a bullet point list in a Powerpoint presentation ¯\_ (ツ)_/¯ whatever works for you!

Now that you’re ready to roll, let’s explore a few simple reflection prompts and brainstorming activities to get you building your career with purpose and direction.


Hopefully this is an easy one! We all have things we’re interested in, whether those are topics we like learning about, activities we enjoy doing, or causes we’re passionate about. Your interests show you what to spend your time and energy on to feel happier. In terms of your career, your interests can show you what type of work you would enjoy doing or what company mission would help motivate you.

Start by brainstorming a list of potential interests. Some questions to think about as you form this list:

  • What were your hobbies as a child? What are your hobbies now?
  • What activities (clubs, sports, volunteering, etc.) have you been involved in over the years? Which ones did you enjoy the most?
  • What would you like to learn about for fun?
  • What have been your favorite classes? Are there classes you wish you could have taken but didn’t have time to?
  • If you had to teach someone else about a topic for ten minutes, what would you teach about?
  • When you have free time, what do you do with it?
  • What does an ideal day look like for you?

As you create your list, organize and develop it by considering the potential connections to your career.

  • You may find that some interests point to things that you would like to do as part of your job; for example, working with the community, being creative, or being physically active.
  • Other interests might point towards the type of organization you want to work at; for example, one that is centered around healthcare, education, or animal welfare.

Strengths and Weaknesses

These positive and negative traits come in many forms. Strengths can be skills and talents you’ve developed, or positive personality traits that make you shine! Your weaknesses could be bad habits, limitations, or even just skills you have yet to master. Strengths and weaknesses can change over time, and often are a matter of perspective. They can help you see which roles you might naturally thrive in, or show you areas for improvement.

A fun way to explore your strengths and weaknesses is through personality tests, ranging from lighthearted just-for-fun quizzes to more science-based in-depth options. Your answers probably won’t be 100% accurate (even if you answer everything honestly!), but inaccurate answers can be just as illuminating as the ones that match you perfectly. When you see your results, consider what you agree with and what you don’t, and why.

Explore some personality tests here:

  • 16 Personalities: this popular test will label you as one of 16 personality types based on the MBTI (Myers–Briggs Type Indicator) format. Bonus: this website includes a resources section with articles related to professional development, so you can gain some extra ideas from the community.
  • Big Five: this test uses a different well-known model of personality centered around five main factors.
  • Enneagram Test: in this test, people call into a combination of personality types (nine at most) with one as your “basic” personality type.
  • Hogwarts House Test: this version of the popular Hogwarts House Sorting Hat test uses psychometric items for a slightly more “scientific” twist.
  • Animal In You: a fun quiz that lets you discover your wild side.
  • myColor: our personalities can be quite colorful…but specifically which color?

Another insightful activity is asking trusted friends to share three positive and three negative traits they associate with you. You may be surprised to see what others notice about you!

You can also reflect on the following questions:

  • What qualities do you like most about yourself?
  • What recurring habits (good and bad) have you developed over the years?
  • What qualities or skills do you think you would have if you were the best version of yourself?
  • What situations consistently cause you to struggle or make you feel worse about yourself?

As you expand your list of strengths and weaknesses, you can once again make various connections to your career path. You might find that your list of skills helps you scan job descriptions with a more trained eye. Your list of bad habits could provide inspiration for ways to improve and stand out. You might realize there are strengths that you aren’t able to fully utilize, or weaknesses that can’t be easily overcome, putting your current career plan into more perspective.


This final reflection topic may be a little less straightforward than the previous topics, but it can also lead to some of the most important insights. Your values are the things you prioritize in life, and living according to your values will naturally lead to more happiness. They help determine your actions and decisions, and violating your values can lead to feelings of shame or distress. In your career, living according to you values can help you determine the various twists and turns of your career path and the goals you most want to fulfill.

Start by brainstorming some answers to the following questions:

  • What big moments have made you feel happy and fulfilled? What small experiences have made you feel happy and fulfilled?
  • Think of some important decisions you’ve had to make. What factors did you consider? Why did you make the choices you did?
  • Who do you admire and why?
  • Think of a time that you took a risk. What motivated you to act?
  • What are important qualities that you look for in friends or partners? What are important qualities that you look for in mentors or advisors?
  • What do you want to contribute to the world? What would you want to be remembered for?

With these initial ideas in mind, try to create a list of values that are represented in your answers. There are many values to choose from; check out this list or this list for a lot of inspiration! Ideally, you should have no more than 10 main values, since these are meant to be the things you prioritize most of all.

Once you have a better sense of your values, be prepared to highlight them in interviews or a personal statement. Core values can say more about a person than interests or strengths and weaknesses, and showing that you are in tune with your values can get you far. And don’t forget to explore the values of the organizations you join or inquire about the values of your coworkers, to see if they align with your own! As you make decisions and navigate the many possibilities on your career path, keep your values in mind and let them guide you to the best destinations.

Bonus: Reflecting Beyond Your Career

As you explore the above prompts and find ways to apply your interests, strengths, weaknesses, and values to your career, don’t disregard the connections to your life beyond work. No matter where you are in your career or what type of job you do, you are more than your work. Did you find an interest that you only want to pursue as a fun hobby? Are there habits you want to build to improve your relationships with friends and family? All of these insights are valuable and will help you actively and holistically become your best self!

Self-reflection is a skill that won’t come easily to everyone, but it is a habit worth practicing. When done both consistently (not a one-time journaling session!) and critically (looking at all parts of your live, even the parts that aren’t so pretty), it can give you important knowledge to guide your professional and personal development.

For more reflection ideas and prompts, head on over to our previous blog posts about spring cleaning your mind and fighting off job search doubts. We hope you continue to approach all aspects of your lives with curiosity and intention, and strive to keep growing!



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