While in hot pursuit of career or business success, a person doesn’t often stop and reflect. In fact, you may wonder, why stop at all when things are going well? That is, if they are going well for you. But whether they are or not, stopping and reflecting periodically, while pursuing success in whatever worthy cause or objective you have set for yourself, is strongly recommended. It’s like the practice of a master carpenter, busy doing his or her job, who pauses to measure twice so that he only saws once; the extra measuring step avoids a lot of wrong cuts and wasted material. Or think of a wise builder who takes time to consult the blueprints on a regular basis to make sure that everything going up on the site is as drawn and planned. This must be done if the 50 storeys being built are to stand securely.

This stopping and checking is really an essential part in the building of anything. When it comes to your career or business, it involves placing your fully written sheet of goals and objectives—you’d better have one—on your desk in front of you, and going over it carefully to see whether you’re still on target and have reached your objectives by the timelines you had set. If not, then think of what remedial steps you need to take to get back on target. Of course, as part of your reflection, you should also rethink your original goals and objectives and re-confirm that they are still what you want to see realized. If you find this not to be the case, then this is the time for a new goal sheet to be written.

For example, you may have set your sights on becoming a surgeon, but as you study to achieve this, you conclude that flesh-cutting is really not your cup of tea. Or a hockey career may be the star you are reaching for, but as you become involved, your desire may wane. This will become clear as you stop and reflect. If so, it’s wise to change course. Likewise, if you’re starting a business, review your corporate goal sheet regularly, with its market penetration objectives and deadlines. Are you on target in these? If not, what needs to change?

Failure to stop and reflect is liable to produce unpleasant and costly surprises in the future that could otherwise be avoided. In sports, I’m told, successful managers review every game—those lost, to see what contributed to the loss and should be avoided in future, and those won, to see what could have been done even better and what should be repeated.

Most of us on a winning curve are loath to look at what we could or should have done better or check to see if there are possible market threats we need to be aware of and guard against. It’s the regular stops for in-depth reflection that help prevent setbacks and produce ongoing growth and prosperity. Had Blackberry—leader in the industry at the time—engaged in the stop-and-reflect routine, I doubt they’d have been relegated to the sidelines as they were.

Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.    —Peter Drucker (Management consultant)

But you did not consider these things or reflect on what might happen.    —Isaiah 47:7