The Final Countdown: Time to Reflect and Review

The Final Countdown: Time to Reflect and Review October 1, 2023

As we enter the fourth quarter of the year, for some, it becomes a time of panic.  The clock feels like it is ticking down and we are running out of time.  Out of time to complete the things we set out to do this year.  Out of time to get things done as the end of the year draws nearer.  Out of time because we know once Thanksgiving comes, the year is almost a wrap.  We spend so much time focusing on what we have left to do, that we fail to look back, reflect, and review what we have accomplished.  We fail to look back and review our wins, losses, and everything in between.

Running Out of Time.

Danish theologian and philosopher Soren Kierkegaard is regarded as saying “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”.  Kierkegaard basically states, if we are going to really understand our lives, we must take time to review the past.  However, if we are going to live life, we must move forward.  We can’t stay locked in the past.  The past is worthy of review, but act of living is in our forward motion.

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. ~Soren Kierkegaard, Danish Theologian and Philospher

Why is Reflection and Review Important?

Periods of time of our lives are important.  For example, currently, we are entering into the fourth quarter of the year.  In financial terms, we can understand this concept in fiscal quarters.  There are in 3-month intervals on a company’s financial calendar.  These quarters act as the basis for periodic financial reports and the paying of dividends.  In football, we understand quarters of the game, with the fourth quarter being the final quarter where the winner will be decided.  Each period of time has its own activity.  Its own highs and lows.  Its own key points that can be reflected upon.

Financial Review
Review of Financials.

Yet, we do not give much thought to the art of reflection and review as we do to the forward movement.  Some would say let the past be the past.  However, the past has significant keys for us if we are going to experience a productive future.  A review is “the act of considering something again in order to make changes to it, give an opinion of it or study it”.  To review also means “to study again something you have learned, in preparation for an exam”.  Like athletes, they review tapes to see how they performed, to make critiques and see where they can improve, the same is true for us.  Executive Coach, Jennifer Porter says “Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations and create meaning.  This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform future mindsets and actions.”

Reflection and Review serves critical purposes:

  1. It allows us to evaluate lessons learned in the process.
  2. It allows us to make necessary adjustments to our current plans.
  3. It allows us to take a step back to see the full picture and critical moments in time.
  4. It allows us to see our strengths, weaknesses and areas needing improvement.
Thinking Woman
A Woman in Reflection.

What are You Doing Here?

I think the idea of review and reflection is a biblical idea.  When we look at the story of Elijah running from Jezebel in 1 Kings 19, we see someone whom God is calling to pause, reflect and review.  On two occasions, God asks Elijah one question.  God says, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”.  Elijah is on the run from Jezebel.  He is weary and depressed because he felt like he was the only one who was still stood for God.  He felt like everyone else was forsaking God.  For this, he is now on the run because Jezebel wants to kill him because he has killed the prophets.  He is so worn; he wants to die.  Yet God asks him this important question – “What are you doing here, Elijah?”.

At that place he came to a cave and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 1 Kings 19: 9-10 NRSV

God is not surprised by Elijah’s location.  God knows exactly where he is and why. The question is does Elijah.  Is he so consumed with his present emotional state while being on the run that he doesn’t realize where he is and why.  Elijah needed to step back, reflect, and review what has happened.  He needed to see how he was able to prophesy about the drought.  How he was able to prophesy to the widow and resources came for her and her household.  He needed to see how he succeeded against the prophets of Baal.  He needed to see how the words he prophesied came to pass.  In other words, Elijah needed to reflect and review in this present moment.  He needed to see his present emotional and mental state was not where he needed to be.  There was no need for his depression, his fear, his anxiety at the threats of Jezebel.  As God was with him previously and had given him victories before, so would God be with him now.

Doing Our Own Review

As we are entering the fourth quarter, perhaps we need to take a pause to reflect and review the previous quarters of our lives, in our businesses, in our ministries.  We can use the time to check in with ourselves to see where we are mentally, emotionally, physically and in our goals.  We can evaluate where we have been and reflect on what we have been able to accomplish or maybe what we still need to do.


There are some questions we can use to evaluate where we are:

  1. What is our why? Are we operating and making decisions in line with our mission and purpose?
  2. What is our vision? We get off track when we do not have a goal for where we are going.
  3. Identify the wins. Sometimes it can be hard to celebrate ourselves.  The momentum we need to finish strong can be found in the review of our past wins.  Take a moment to reflect over the successes – no matter how big or small.
  4. Review the set goals. At the beginning of each year, many establish goals they want to accomplish in the year.  As time goes on, the goals may need to be adjusted.  If so, what changes need to be made either to accomplish the set goals or abandon the ones that no longer serve our why?
  5. Practice gratitude. In the press to reach the goal or finish what we started, we can lose sight of all we should be grateful for.  When we make time to review the past, we can gain a sense of gratitude for God has blessed us with and all God has allowed us to accomplish.  Equally, we can be invigorated to move forward fueled by the gratitude of our past.

When you press the pause button on a machine, it stops. But when you press the pause button on human beings, they start – start to reflect, rethink assumptions, and reimagine a better path. ~Dov Seidman, Founder of The HOW Institute for Society

Whereas this is usually a time of great pressure – pressure to get things done, perhaps we should take a moment to reflect and review the tape of this year.  In the review we can identify the lessons learned, learn from our mistakes, celebrate our wins, and make the appropriate decisions and actions for this quarter and the year ahead.

About Evita L. Smith
Evita L. Smith is the owner of Exceptional Living Empowerment Coaching and Training (ELECT). As a certified Leadership and Wellness Coach, she seeks to help leaders develop the tools to live holistically healthy lives in order to lead others well. Evita is a licensed and ordained pastor. She serves as the founding Pastor of Kingdom Seekers Community Church in Atlanta, Georgia. She currently resides in Lithonia, Georgia. You can read more about the author here.

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