I know who you are..
You are that person who scribbles a plan on your to-do list, then crosses it out, modifies it, crosses it out again, and then… Off flies the piece of paper, carrying all your grandiose plans, landing ever so precisely in your dustbin.
Or maybe you don’t have that much trouble planning.
Either way, you still need to set goals and plan your way into working on them or else you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of mindless work with no substantial results. *ouch*
- Why you need to set goals as a Muslim
- Problems with Setting Goals alone
- The Better Alternative to Goal-Setting
- The Goal itself is Not the Point
- Slow growth is Gold, Fast is Overrated
- How to set Purpose-Oriented Goals, Construct Planning Systems, Schedule Tasks & Track Progress
Let’s get started shall we?
The glorified value of goal-setting
Here are a few reasons why goal-setting is so freakin’ important:
So let’s say you have been learning Arabic of the Quran on and off for a while after you paid for an online Arabic course (with a lifetime access to the course materials).
Somebody asks you, “So when do you plan on completing the course?”
You confidently reply, “I haven’t set any plans and don’t really have a specific goal in mind. I just want to learn as much Arabic as I can with time.”
Now here’s my analysis of the above situation.
You will NEVER get around to learning Arabic of the Quran that way.
I can see your wounded looks through the screen.
Don’t be offended, young grasshopper.
I only say this because it’s your Nafs playing tricks.
Your Nafs will always win against you and never let you complete that Arabic course.
Why? It’s because you need motivation and willpower to win against your Nafs and complete the course.
And without an end-goal and a strategic planning system, where do you think you are going to get the willpower, that will stop you from procrastinating, and the motivation, that will push you to study Arabic consistently?
From the kind family in your neighborhood? Don’t kid yourself.
So here’s the first lesson:
Setting goals motivates you to work consistently and passionately in order to cover a milestone.
Let us accept the reality that the human mind works better when there’s a target in sight.
All of us harbor the need to feel achievements in our lives. We thrive on the good feeling of “self” that follows achievements. Sometimes even efforts alone can bring that great feeling of self.
So when we set goals, we work diligently in order to feel that sense of achievement, hence, bringing our minds to focus.
That brings me to the second reason why you need to set goals:
Goal-setting forces your mind to fully focus on the work related to your goal.
Now, imagine you studying Arabic on and off, taking Tafseer classes on some days, cooking classes some other days, driving lessons once a week or so and working on your day job.
You don’t have a solid plan on how to work on either one of those goals and you’re just going with the flow.
Out of all of those projects, what do you think you are going to end up completing?
My guess is: None.
That’s because if you don’t set goals efficiently, you make it much more difficult for yourself to manage your time between different activities in your life.
So as soon as we set goals efficiently, we begin to manage our time better.
Putting aside all those glorious reasons that highlight the importance of goal-setting, let’s not overlook…. *sheepish grin*….
Err.. A few problems with goal-setting
1. You will succeed in achieving your goal.
Success? That doesn’t sound like a problem to me.
But here’s the thing.. your success will be momentarily “celebrated” until it’s forgotten.
And the downside to your entire journey of running solely after your goal would be stress from overworking, failures along the way resulting in more stress and a constant state of dissatisfaction with yourself until you have achieved your goal.
So you just spend the entire time in misery/ anxiety running after your goal. And after you achieve it, what happens next?
Your feeling of “high” will vanish and you will be left with an emptiness inside of you.
Then to kick your energy stores into action and to regain the feeling of “high” that you lost, you will set another goal.
And you will start running after that until you either achieve it or leave it. Yet again, the same feelings of stress, overwhelm and worry will invade your mind followed by success and emptiness when the deal is sealed.
Do you realize what you are doing?
You are hardly living life chasing your goals like a cat chasing a mouse.
Plus you are putting your happiness in line with achieving goals.
Now, I know once you achieve a goal, you will feel happiness. That’s a natural normal human response.
BUT, when you focus on one goal without a larger purpose, you make an unhealthy association between happiness and achieving goals.
Each time, with each big goal, your mind will convince you that, “I will be so happy IF only I could achieve this goal”.
Like that “happy forever after” will ever come in this Dunya. *teheh*
Seriously we need to stop believing all the blabber jabber our mind feeds us!
2. In the second case, you might not achieve your goal.
You set a goal and work really hard solely on your goal without a larger purpose.
Here’s the problem with that: We all know what’s associated with hard work- Expectations!
So naturally, deep down you will expect your goal to become a reality.
During the journey, you might fail repeatedly till you either give up, or you continue pursuing it even if you fail, carrying some sort of expectations (of your dream becoming a reality) deep within you.
You keep pushing yourself, thriving on the mirage of you in a place AFTER you have achieved your goal.
What’s the downside to this?
Again. You may be driven, yes, but you are not really “living” are you?
Being under a constant burden of failures associated with your goal, fighting stress everyday and running from one point to another without a larger purpose is E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-N-G.
The better alternative to goal-setting
Is there another way to work with PASSION, be energy DRIVEN and cover milestones in life excluding the OVERWHELM? (Excuse the way too many capital-letter words in that sentence :P)
Wait for it..
The best way to set goals and achieve them for Muslims is by setting goals that are inline with our purpose of life as a Muslim (in the Quran), and by creating efficient planning systems for our long-term goals.
What is your purpose of life as a Muslim?
Here’s what Allah says in the Quran our purpose of life is:
“I have not created men except that they should serve Me.”
[Quran Surah 51: Ayah 56]
When we align our goals with our purpose of life as a Muslim, Allah instills in us the energetic drive that pushes us to work on our goals with consistency without harboring major expectations for the end-results.
So what I’m saying is…
The goal itself is not the point
The best way to set and achieve goals in life is to not achieve them.
Oh yes, you read that correctly.
Let me rephrase it: As Muslims, our belief system compels us to work towards “working on our goals rather than achieving them.”
Allah (S.W.T) has the complete power over the results of our efforts. Allah only expects us to put in the effort with a clear intention.
The reality of life is: No matter how awesome your goal-setting is, how well-structured your plan is, how hard you’ve worked towards achieving your goal, and how confident you are, you might still end up failing hard.
It’s because Allah (S.W.T) tests some of us with failure and others with success.
Either way, the results are part of the Qadr that we have no control over. But our efforts? We have been given control over our efforts.
“Man will not get anything unless he works hard”
[Quran, Surah 53: Ayah 39].
Slow growth is gold, fast is overrated
Fast growth is highlighted as something really cool, isn’t it?
How many times have we (including myself :P) wished: (Fill in the blanks with goals)
“I wish I could get better at _____ already”
“I wish I could have learned that skill _____ in 1 week instead of taking a whole month to learn it”.
“I wish I could fast-forward my life to 6 months from now when I would have achieved _____”.
We are so impatient with life that when we set out to do something, we want it to be perfect right off the bat.
Slow growth is seen as faulty. Something to avoid, like the plague.
Anything that requires slow growth is seen as “not worth the effort”.
Even Allah (S.W.T) says in the Quran:
” Verily, Man was created very impatient…”
[Quran, Surah Al-Ma’arij, Ayah 19]
However, that does not mean we don’t possess the ability to be patient. Even though we are naturally impatient, Allah goes on and says (after the above Ayah) that we can learn to be patient and control our Nafs if we are steadfast in prayer. The desires of the Nafs are a test from Allah (S.W.T).
Now let me tell you the sweet truth about slow growth.
All good things in life grow slow. All great relationships, babies, trees bearing fruits, successful businesses, even the muscles on your body take their time after months of regular strength training before becoming visible!
So whenever you wish to fast-forward the time to when you can achieve “___ (fill in the blank with your goal)__”, think about how this time of slow growth is strengthening your wall of patience.
By now, there should be a question itching away at the back of your head..
If the goal itself is not the point, then we can’t have the end-reward in our mind to motivate us.
So how do you keep moving forward on a path of slow growth and work on your goals without the end-reward to motivate you?
I mean.. it’s really hard to motivate yourself to keep doing something consistently without a reward of some sort, right?
Here’s my answer:
You create a rock-solid Planning system that will help you work on your goals in a step-by-step manner. Because with a fool-proof planning system in place, you won’t worry about the results of your efforts or fret over how slow you’re growing. You will know exactly how to move forward and will be able to motivate yourself by your daily progress.
Exactly how to set goals, construct planning systems, schedule tasks & track progress
The first thing you need to understand is what exactly are planning systems?
When you set a goal for yourself, the next thing you need to do is lay out a plan that will help you move forward from the start point of your goal-journey.
That “Plan” is not something you jot down on a bland to-do list. It’s much more detailed than that.
But you can’t just make a plan and expect your lazy self to follow it, can you?!
So you create SYSTEMS. You will have to schedule the tasks you’ve written down in your plan, decide on a method of task-execution, review your progress, create a mechanism of self-accountability & self-motivation, repeat the whole process etc. All of these are parts of a great system.
Here’s what your carefully constructed SYSTEMS should comprise of:
- Creating fool-proof methods of task execution
- Practicing/ Repetition
- Reviewing your progress results
- Self-accountability and self-motivation etc.
This might look confusing because I tried giving cool names to very simple things. *guilty look*.
When I say “task-execution”, let’s be real, I only mean “getting work done”. *teheh*
The real question is, HOW?
How do you create a Rock-Solid Planning system for yourself using the teachings of Islam?
And the answer is you don’t.
Because I’ve done it fo’ you 😉
I have created a 3-part video series, called the Plan-to-Action Bootcamp, in which I will teach you how to create a unique purpose-driven plan for your life, set goals using my 3-phase goal-setting process, and schedule tasks in a way that pushes you to take action on your goals!
And the best part is… it’s absolutely FREE 🙂 *happy jump*
[ You on pinterest? Then give this PIN a quick save and other young Muslims like you will find us too 🙂 *Oh I rhymed.. tehe* ]
- How to think BIG (bigger than yourself) and live a purpose-driven life
- The number 1 weapon of productivity
- How to set goals the right way
- How to dig deeper into those big goals
- How to map out and schedule tasks using strategic planning systems
- How to go from procrastination to taking action
- My top tips for Review, Self-accountability and Self-motivation
Plan-to-Action bootcamp is created for you to jumpstart your productivity in less than a week.
Are there any other goodies inside the bootcamp?
Glad you asked! I’ve also created a complete planning workbook (with 20+ pages) in which I’ve laid out my entire planning system covering all the steps.
That’s A LOT of good stuff I’m giving away for free y’all, because I’d love to see you go from “thinking/ dreaming/ procrastinating” (like I was in my medical school) to actually getting things done in an exciting way!