About a month ago, I traveled to the U.K. from Islamabad to visit family.
I’ve been here since, helping my sister after she moved from Ireland to the U.K. Here’s a cute photo of us at the beach (my nieces are a handful !)
In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my top 5 lessons with you as I grow my online course and coaching business. Of course, I’ll take the time to sprinkle this yummy post with facts, references, opinions, and stories – enjoy!
🎯Lesson #1: Self-doubt is the death of creativity.
The people who look so sure of themselves aren’t more skilled, more knowledgeable, or better experts at what they do.
They’ve simply mastered not letting self-doubt get in their way of getting better at what they do.
Do you believe the founders of revolutionary institutes, leaders of non-profits, or leading infopreneurs did not ever doubt in their abilities? Especially when they were new entrepreneurs? Or when they were expanding their business to a new level? I bet they still do.
Forget average people. Let’s talk about Prophets (May Allah be pleased with them). Even Prophets had fears and self-doubts. The biggest story is that of Musa A.S.
“There was certainly in their stories a lesson for those of understanding. Never was the Qur’an a narration invented, but a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of all things and guidance and mercy for a people who believe.” (Yusuf: 111)
Every time you begin to doubt yourself, think of Musa A.S. One story from the Quran is enough to give strength.
You see, self-doubt can be experienced by someone incredibly successful as well as someone less successful, who may be just starting out at something new.
If successful people can suffer from self-doubt, then the ‘amount of success’ must have nothing to do with it.
I’ve kept myself stuck because of doubting my abilities enough times to know that it does no good. AT ALL. It always delays the inevitable. That’s because later I always end up taking action on that goal anyway. I just would end up wasting months convincing myself whether I’m good enough to do it.
Self-doubt = LOTS of time wasted.
The problem is most of the time we don’t even recognize self-doubt.
When we’re fighting with those negating self-limiting thoughts, we convince ourselves that we’re just being ‘logical’ and thinking like this is good… That it will keep us from making stupid decisions and stop us from getting into something bigger than we can handle.
- Yes, logic should have a huge part in your decision-making process.
- There is logic in self-doubt as there’s likely some truth in the negating thoughts playing in your head. But there’s also logic on the opposite side of things.
- To overcome self-doubt, you MUST ignore the negative truth and build on the positive truth.
Maybe you want to share your knowledge and skill (e.g. helping people with their diet, career, performance, writing skill, personal style, business, etc.) with other people.
You may be doubting yourself: Am I good enough for people to listen to me?
Positive truth: You already have the proof of helping yourself get the results. That means you ARE good enough to get started on helping others get similar results.
Negative truth: You may not be as good as somebody else is or as you can be. [this is what we’ll call ‘being logical’ when we’re convincing ourselves to not do it]
You can choose to focus on the negative truth and let the negativity of life take over your important dreams and goals.
Or you can focus on the positive truth, get started earlier than later, and spend the time (you’d otherwise spend doubting yourself) to get better at that thing.
Every human has strengths and weaknesses.
Self-doubt just shines the flashlight on your weaknesses. Self-confidence shines the flashlight on your strengths.
🎯Lesson #2: Don’t talk about something you don’t know. Talk about what you know or learn what you don’t know before talking about it.
If you’re someone who wants to share your knowledge or skill with others, don’t make the rookie mistake of talking about what you don’t know.
New entrepreneurs may think they need to know and talk about everything new to stay relevant and important.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Ever heard someone in real life who has important info they ‘heard’ from someone or ‘read’ somewhere to add to a conversation about something they only just heard a few minutes ago?
People trying to sound like experts on something they have little or no real understanding of…?
Yeah. That can put off intellectuals very easily. People are not dumb.
This is an especially important lesson for new entrepreneurs. Don’t waste your time writing/ talking/ teaching something you have no deep understanding of. It can be superficial, unfair, and misguiding to the people who are listening to you.
That does not mean you can’t talk about something you are passionate about but haven’t fully learned yet. By all means, talk about it, but only after spending the time to understand and learn it to a teachable extent. (keep reading to find out what that is)
Until then, talk about what you know. Which I can bet is A LOT.
You may think you don’t know enough to teach others but I can promise that you do if you actually look back on how far you’ve come.
As career professionals, we spend a major part of our youth learning new things for our careers. Not to mention everything else you learn through Google and Youtube or books or experience simply because you love and enjoy learning about those things. Or because you needed to learn about something for a job/ family etc. and you got skilled at it.
And even if there are only a few things you may be really good at, your potential to learn is limitless.
So you can simply learn something that you’re completely NEW to or that you’ve never experienced yourself before you talk about it intelligently.
But be careful not to fall into perfectionism or self-doubt. Don’t hold the information you have about something you may know more than others. Don’t keep the information or skill to yourself. Share. Teach. Coach.
If you’re asking the question: How would you explain ‘gaining knowledge of something to a teachable extent?’
I’d say it means having more knowledge of something than the people you’re teaching.
You don’t need to know everything about the topic. Nobody except Allah SWT knows everything about anything.
You just need to know MORE than the people you’re teaching/ helping. To be at least a few steps ahead… then 10 steps… then over time, a 100 steps ahead of someone who is just starting to learn about that thing.
And you just need to know something about it from real-world personal experience. Not just from the experience of others.
A good teacher teaches from real-world facts and their own experiences.
A great teacher teaches from real-world facts, their own experiences as well as the experiences of other people they’ve helped.
Personally, whenever I want to learn about something new, I simply add it to my knowledge expansion system.
Because design-thinking has a big role to play in the way I create content, free or paid, I must keep learning new things to stay on top of my game. If you don’t know what design-thinking is, you can learn about it here.
This is a bird’s eye view of what my learning and creative process looks like:
CONSUME CONTENT [READ/ LISTEN/ WATCH]
* You can also bookmark articles or store them using the Notion Web clipper to come back to later.
CAPTURE INFORMATION BY TAKING NOTES –
* Take notes in your main digital notepad or if that’s not possible, just jot them down anywhere, even on a physical notepad. The key is to take them as you learn. You can also take faster notes by copy-pasting, screenshots, or pictures.
* Transfer to your main digital note-keeping app (I use the notepad on my desk, notepad in my phone, google drive and Notion)
* Give each note a title
* Organize notes under the relevant tags/ categories
* As you start writing/ creating content around a topic, surf through your notes and extract relevant info around that topic.
* Copy-paste references/ images, etc. into your creative output, aka, your content piece.
* Use the notes as starting points to spark inspiration and nudge your writing/content-creating process.
For reference to how lesson #2 applies to me, I’d have never talked about knowledge management here in this blog post or anywhere else if I hadn’t learned and didn’t know what I was doing.
Same thing with the blog – I don’t write about anything and everything to sound smart. I only write what I know, which is very little, but it is still something worth sharing.
🎯Lesson #3: You can dream about the end outcome of your goal, but you must fall in love with the process.
A vision shows you the bird’s eye view of where you’ll start and how far you can go.
Your Mission is your WHY. Why you are doing it.
Now you need the end outcome of your goal.
Without clear tangible outcomes, you will find your attention flirting with many different ideas and goals. You will find your focus fizzling out.
This is especially important for new or growing entrepreneurs who are already highly prone to developing Shiny Object Syndrome. (see the screenshot below to learn what it means)
This is an excerpt from the free balance deen with work starter kit. You can download it for free here.
Here are a few examples of measurable outcomes vs unmeasurable outcomes:
|UNMEASURABLE OUTCOMES||MEASURABLE OUTCOMES|
I believe the best way to plan and execute your goals is by taking a balanced approach, and I teach what is called the ‘Goal-Digging Framework’ in my program Balance Deen and Dunya, where you learn the whole process of planning your projects step by step. So if you want to use this framework, I’ll be opening up the doors again to my email list. If you love this blog but you want more, you want more access to me, my coaching calls, and my lessons, I’ve got an exclusive opportunity, but you have to be a student of mine. You can learn more here.
Once you’ve set tangible, measurable outcomes for your goal, you’ll find it easier to channel all your best resources, focus, and energy towards achieving the goal.
While setting clear end outcomes is a great way to stay motivated all the way to the end of the goal.
But if you focus on the end outcome as you’re working on your goal, you have a very long, difficult, painful, and stressful journey ahead of you.
You can dream about the end outcome before you go to bed.
You can wake up in the middle of the night praying for it to happen.
But you CAN’T fall in love with just the end outcome (that sure makes me sound like the haram police).
You must also fall in love with the process.
It’s kind of like marriage.
You can dream about the wonderful outcome of marriage. Love. Security. Comfort. Happiness.
But you must also fall in love with the process of building and working on the marriage to achieve those outcomes.
While outcomes keep us focused and driven, they can NOT be the only driving force for achieving your goal.
The reason is simple – what happens when you don’t achieve the outcome in the timeframe you planned for?
If you only fall in love with the outcome, your heart will break every time you don’t achieve the planned outcomes.
As entrepreneurs, we can’t let our emotions affect our performance. It’s called Resilience. You are allowed to feel those emotions. But you can’t let them build-up to the extent that they may severely damage your performance.
Heartbreak hinders performance.
And as an entrepreneur, your emotions will be tested ALL. THE. TIME.
So fall in love with the work you do and the process of making things happen in your online business.
And even if you don’t achieve the outcomes, you’ll be fine. There are more things important than money, happiness, fun, comfort, etc. And those are being alive, having Imaan (Faith), practicing Deen, and serving others. If you’ve got those going on, you’re good.
Plus, when you do achieve the outcome bi-iznillah, it’ll always feel great.
The fruit of labor is meant to be sweet. Savor it when the time comes. But don’t depend your happiness and sense of achievement on it.
The process of growth is meant to be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. Attach your self-worth to the growth process and you’ll find joy and fulfillment in it.
🎯Lesson #4: Your day-to-day matters including your relations (family, social, workspace) affect the output in your Ibadah and work. And vice versa.
While it’s so easy to shut yourself away from the world to solely focus on your important goals, fortunately it’s not the Sunnah way.
You can be the most successful in terms of health, and wealth but if your relationships (with Allah, the Quran and people) are suffering tremendously, then chances are your work is lacking barakah and blessings of Allah SWT.
When you set out to help others for the sake of Allah, Allah helps you.
“Whoever relieves a believer’s distress of the distressful aspects of this world, Allah will rescue him from a difficulty of the difficulties of the Hereafter. Whoever alleviates [the situation of] one in dire straits who cannot repay his debt, Allah will alleviate his lot in both this world and in the Hereafter. Whoever conceals [the faults of] a Muslim, Allah will conceal [his faults] in this life and the Hereafter. (Muslim)
If someone creates problems for others, they will suffer more problems in their own lives as the blessings of Allah SWT will be removed from them.
In my own life, I’ve noticed every time I give charity, share more of my time with my family especially when they really need me, soothe the pain of others, help anyone who needs something from me, I feel more barakah and a greater fullness in my heart.
And when I become so absorbed in my work or my own problems, and end up not sharing/ giving/ helping – I feel a tightness in my heart.
I’ve learned that if you want to protect the outcomes of your hard work in your goals – protect & invest in your relations. Your family relations. Customers, students, clients relations. Workspace relations. People who reach out to you for help.
The Prophet (S.A.W.) also said, “We (Muslims) are the last (to come) but will be the foremost on the Day of Resurrection.” The narrators of this Hadith said: Allah said (to man), ‘Spend (in charity), for then I will compensate you (generously).’” (Bukhari)
Because when we die, our success will not be measured in terms of money.
On our grave, our net worth or credentials will not be displayed.
We’ll be remembered by people for our character and behavior towards others. And to Allah SWT, the only thing that matters is our good deeds and intentions. And in the end – that’s what really counts.
🎯Lesson #5: If you lack clarity and are unsure about your goal, it’s likely because you don’t have an aligned vision or strategy.
Let me take you back a few months in my life.
For quite some time, I’ve wanted to expand my work by adding another program to my product suite. FAt the moment, the only program I offer that’s available publicly is Balance Deen and Dunya.
That’s because I believe there’s an advanced way I can serve Muslims and I’ve been getting emails from some of my best readers. I couldn’t help them or anyone else. All because I was overcome by my self-doubt. I had the knowledge. I had the skill. I had the vision and mission. I had the passion and drive for it.
But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. From March 2022 to May, I’ve been limiting myself to a box of self-doubt around my new goal and I couldn’t see it.
When I went back to the drawing board to figure out why I was so desperately stuck, I realized it was because the next program idea I was thinking about was not aligned with my company’s long-term vision and mission.
To figure out my next moves, I attended classes to get unstuck, did deep-dive calls with some of you from my audience to discover what you need, ran a survey, immersed myself in my audience, consulted my peers and entrepreneur friends, and spent a few weeks recalibrating my company’s vision and mission to make room for expansion.
The result is that I now have a brand new program (*shhh*) in the making with committed, driven clients who are loving the experience bi-iznillah.
To get to my goal outcome, I needed to get the clarity by starting from the long-term VISION, and how it fits into my lifelong MISSION. From there, attracting, educating, and offering service to the right people becomes easier.
I know it’s not always that simple. But it begins like that.
Most entrepreneurs do it the other way round. They write about anything and everything, create a product they want to create, and then, at some point, they’ll think about WHY they’re doing what they’re doing and what’s their life’s mission.
But as Muslims, I believe we can not dare to afford to spend years or even months of our life on something that does not align with our lifelong mission and our values as Muslims. That’s why I’m really big on alignment (goal aligns with the mission) and working on our goals with a balanced approach (goal aligns with values as a Muslim and your unique values as an individual).
Lack of clarity around your goal/ idea is by far the BIGGEST reason for overwhelm.
When you’re uncertain of where you’re headed, you have no idea how much work or how long it’ll take you.
So obviously, you cannot plan and strategize for the goal in terms of action steps and timelines.
And when you do not have an action plan in hand, you can not schedule tasks on time and fit them into your routine in a doable stressless way to reach the end goal.
As a result, your mind is in a state of frenzy with a haphazard mesh of things to do and no structure.
At the best, this means you can not execute your goal-related tasks properly with full focus.
At the worst, this means you may have to try a bunch of things just to KNOW what to do. That’s ADDITIONAL work that adds to the overwhelm.
Now, do you see how the lack of clarity around your idea can be the cause of overwhelm?
It’s the fear of the unknown which drives us to overwhelm.
I don’t know about you, but if I knew how much work I’d have to do to achieve a goal, I could simply schedule it out and stretch it over a longer period of time if I’m strapped for time. Or squeeze it into a shorter period by cutting other things out if I need to get it done urgently.
In other words, I’d have some CONTROL over how I execute it.
To get yourself out of the overwhelm, get the clarity you need by researching, learning from books/ courses, and talking to other people who’ve executed the goal before.
Decide WHY you’re doing it. Have a clear vision for where you’re headed (be flexible as your vision and strategy can change over time with more experience).
Then either take a step-by-step strategy from someone experienced in that particular goal or design it yourself with a step-by-step action plan.
And only THEN, take action. And take it one step at a time.
People do it in the reverse order and find themselves in overwhelm. They dive in without a clear why, a vision, or a strategy.
As for my work at Muslim Empowerment, I’m working on recalibrating the company’s vision and incorporating it into the website in the coming months as well. BTW, this is not a thing you get done with once and never have to worry about again.
As online entrepreneurs, to expand and stay relevant in the fast-paced digital world, you must keep evolving to the next level within yourself as well as within your work.
For entrepreneurs, I believe alignment is an evolutionary process that will reignite every time you are on the brink of expansion. or creation.
I hope that by sharing these lessons with you, they help you become a more faith-empowered professional.
If you enjoyed this post, please let me know by taking a screenshot of your favorite part and tagging me on IG stories. (don’t forget to tag me @muslimempowermentofficial)
If you feel this post may help another professional transitioning into the entrepreneurial life in need, please share it with them!
My mission with these blog posts is to show you the evolution of a professional to an entrepreneur, especially as I aim to solve my biggest problems with the growing impact of this work.
I hope you got a lesson out of this post that you can relate to and that will help you!
As for me, ever since leaving the comfort of my home and traveling for nearly a full quarter, my next exciting (albiet scary) steps are gaining momentum!
There’s something about traveling that pushes you to take action on your next big thing. Maybe because it moves you out of your comfort zone and as a result, taking action on the things lying outside the comfort zone becomes inevitably easier.
I have already begun the process of streamlining the front end of my website and the backends as we prepare to launch the next big thing for you whenever we’re ready!
I’m excited, and grateful to you for joining me on this crazy ride!
As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read, and love you for it. I can never take it for granted.
ALL my best,
✅ Balance Deen and Dunya: https://balancedeenanddunya.com/bdd-waitlist/
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More from Aimen:
➡️ Watch my FREE trainings from our private Free Trainings Vault on increasing your performance and creating impact: https://muslimempowerment.com/free-trainings/
➡️ Learn More and Join my step-by-step course on planning and executing goals with full focus and balance: https://balancedeenanddunya.com/bdd-waitlist/
➡️ Learn How to Get Clear on Your Priorities, and Set Your Deen and Dunya Goals With the Free Starter Kit: https://balancedeenanddunya.com/starter-kit/