realizations from my mini-sabbatical in Turkey

Realizations from my mini-sabbatical in Turkey

February 24, 2024
Assalamualaikum!

I got a little caught up in my travel plans and missed the newsletter last week! I didn’t plan on missing it, but I’m only human and I don’t always follow my plans to the T. Ahem 👀

Here’s my excuse…I was in Istanbul, Turkey, for a mini-vacation!

(this is taken in front of the Hagia Sophia)

I want to share a few things with you that I learned in Turkey…

I share my stories with you to inspire the idea of achieving work flexibility through an online knowledge business. “Freedom to work from anywhere in the world” as they call it. 

Honestly – it’s not hyped up, it’s not a faraway dream or fallacy that only the most successful people in the world can reach. Today, the internet makes it possible for hard-working individuals like you and me. 

Many of you are career professionals like me and probably grew up with the 9-5 employee mindset hardwired into our brains, guts, souls even…

…and if you come from a brown family like me, you had even limited career options with your parents drilling, “What do you want to be? doctor or engineer?” pick one. fast. 😀

(brainstorming 2024 goals from a hotel in Istanbul and creating a travel scrapbook for my husband (still in progress)

So looking over this view while responding to a few Slack DMs to keep my internet business running during the entire 2 week mini-vacation seems a bit incredible to me as I think about it. Allah SWT is The Greatest and can make anything happen if you ask for it.
Keep in mind, that this is not something I remotely envisioned for my life when I was in the hospital running around as a junior doctor 5 years ago. 

This brings me to the concept of a balanced Deen and Dunya lifestyle design. 

Now, before I write more, let’s establish one thing – Dunya is a part of Deen. agreed?

Surah Al-Qasas (28:77): “But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world.”

 

🔍 The Balance Deen and Dunya lifestyle is being satisfied with less and creating enoughness as a high-performing Muslim WHILE working on your FULL potential. 

 

Because less is not laziness. 

Doing less meaningless work and putting in your best hours of the day sharply focused towards doing meaningful work creates more results than the average person hustling 10-14 hours a day, 7 days a week working on random projects driven by “what I want to do or what I should do or what others expect me to do”. Emotions. 

Creating enoughness does not mean stopping/ slowing down the forward motion towards a more successful state of being as a Muslim, or replacing your bigger vision with a smaller one. Not at all! 

This beautiful Hadith explains it so well.

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, while there is good in both. Be eager for what benefits you, seek help only from Allah, and do not be frustrated. If something befalls you, do not say, ‘If only I had done something else,’ rather say, ‘Allah has decreed what He wills,’ for (saying) ‘If only’ opens the way for the work of Satan.” (Sahih Muslim)

In my understanding – Creating enoughness is a state of being to try and maintain at all times regardless of what’s happening in your life or around you. A state of being that’s about being at peace with your efforts and the results of your efforts while staying focused on your big vision for the Ummah and working towards your goals in a balanced way. This state of the empowered Muslim deletes all soul diseases such as comparison-itis, insecurities, low self-esteem, imposter syndrome, ingratitude, dissatisfaction, hustling for more, greed, and arrogance.

And I’ve learned that a digital career/ online knowledge business offers a perfectly fertile ground for designing your balanced Deen and Dunya lifestyle.

Think about it – most people spend a third of their life working!! That means choosing our career has a HUGE impact on your ability to create a balanced Deen and Dunya lifestyle.

And if your job and 9-5 lifestyle is such that you’re working Monday through Friday on a schedule designed by your boss/ company you work for and looking forward to 30 days of holidays in the entire year…that begs the question – is that really a life that can help you live your full potential for Dunya and Akhirah? No way!

 

🔍 Baking in the Mini-retirements, aka sabbaticals, with exciting work destroys the non-Islamic concept of ‘retirement’ 

 

Over the last 2 years, I’ve explored and practiced the concept of mini-retirements.
(I’ve been practicing this without knowing that this is a term coined by Tim Ferris in his book 4-hour Workweek.) 

You can call ‘mini-retirements’ anything you like – sabbaticals, breaks, seasons of rest, etc.  

Mini-retirements are for you to enjoy a season of vacation after a season of doing work that excites you (you can travel or stay home on your vacation). This is not a workcation… it’s a true vacation where you don’t do work AT ALL, while your business generates (at the very least, a sustainable) income to fund your living or beyond. 

I can say that working hard 5-8 hours a day for 6-8 weeks and then enjoying a season of mini-retirement has been the reason for me staying in the game 6 years later and not quitting like so many entrepreneurs do. (I started my blog in 2018). Every time I start feeling the tiredness from work creeping up on me and a need to reconfigure my thoughts and reset my brain…I start planning for a mini-retirement. I’ve been taking 4 mini-retirements per year that are 10-14 days up to 1 month long. My next goal is to delegate and automate much of the stuff I need to do so I can block two 1-month vacations every year from 2025 onward In Sha Allah.

This way you don’t have to wait until your young energetic life is over and you’re in your 60s to “retire”. My parents are both retired doctors, a pathologist, and a General Practitioner, Alhamdulillah but they worked hard for their children non-stop for 40 years and now with all this free time, as I observe them, I notice they’re experiencing inactivity and severe boredom. Even reading the Quran all day and doing Ibadah can be partly unfulfilling if you’re not using your God-given gifts for creative excitement and service. 

Living like a monk doing Ibadah all day is not the balanced way of the Prophet SAW anyway. He SAW and his companions served the Muslim Ummah till their very last day on this planet. Human beings, including Muslims, are not designed to do one thing all day, even if it’s a good thing. We’re complex with spiritual, psychological, physical, mental, and emotional needs. 

With mini-retirements, you get to enjoy extra time with your family so they never feel like you’re not fully present with them as well as alone time for contemplation AND you come back recharged with more energy to serve others and a laser focus to work on goals that excite you.

When you create a marriage between true rest, enjoyment, and work, you never feel the need to slave away in rigid work routines (designed by somebody else for you!) towards a faraway pot of gold – retirement. 

Bi Izinillah, I never want to be in a position of inactivity where you’re not doing useful work for others.

I truly believe the goal for a high-performing Muslim can never be ‘inactivity’ or ‘retirement’ (Retirement is a non-Islamic concept coined in 1889 by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. He developed it to avert an uprising by young unemployed Marxists, and decided to pay citizens aged 70 and older to leave the workforce voluntarily). 

The goal is probably not needing to work too hard to earn income. 

The ultimate goal can be to separate time from money so you can have more time freed up from the need to earn. This way you can dedicate more of your time to spend educating your family and children about Deen, studying and spreading Deen via dawah, doing service for the Ummah fi sabilillah, and ideally – also having the money to spend on supporting and empowering Ummah projects. Thus, the strive for the big win

Why do you need to wait until retirement to do that when you can do that, albiet on a smaller scale, as soon as you free yourself from 9-5 and can sustain yourself with an online knowledge business? 

 

🔍 What I’m up to right now

 

After hours and hours of frustrating conversations with my team and my coach (and myself in the mirror. ahem. 👀)…one particular conversation during my time in Istanbul sparked a jolt of energy in me to do something I’d been thinking about in the back of my mind for years… but never got around to doing. 

So In Sha Allah, soon there will be an announcement. 

This month we’re working on the BTS stuff including an exciting new way for me to serve you so I have something ready for you before I can start talking about it here! I know that’s vague but I don’t like to promise before I’m ready to fully deliver. We’ll pick this up later when I’m ready soon In Sha Allah! 🙌

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