Let’s be frank with ourselves: every New Year we make promises that this year will be better, more productive and maybe less filled with regrets than the last. Considering the amount of positive reinforcement that we feed ourselves, the payoff is little to none. We still seem to sink into the same no-action rut we were we were a year prior. But why?
The truth is, promises are just words. Instead, ask yourself what actions you must take to make the changes you want. How proactive were you in setting out your goals? If you’re anything like me, you most likely were afraid to take chances and risks.
The changes could be as small as implementing a strict structural bedtime or as big as moving to an unfamiliar city with an established community of Muslims (as you can see, I have big goals). But the issue arises when we just wish or pray for things without taking proper steps to make our dreams come true. While prayer is good (and needed), nothing will come to you if you don’t tie your camel first.
Having said that, I’ve put together a list of seven actions you can take in order to create the life you seek for 2018.
I know I said we need to take action, but prayer should be first and foremost. It should come as a precursor to any action we take. Prayer brings us comfort in times of hardship, and it gives us the opportunity to thank God for everything that has come our way – for both good and bad.
I like to end my prayers with supplications asking for what I want, but I also add, “Oh Allah (SWT), if this is good for me, bring it with ease, and if it bad for me, take it away with ease and give me the patience to accept whatever is written for me. Only you know what is best.”
Weigh your options. What kind of change do you seek? How will it alter your life and the life of those around you? I always tell my kids, “While you say it is your life, remember that your family is a part of it as well.” The choices you want to make in life have the power to affect those you are closest to. Is what you want something that will hurt those who love you, or make them proud?
Once you have made a pros and cons list, the next step should be more detailed and thorough.
Goals do not achieve themselves, rather, you must take steps in order to get to where you want to be. Make a strategy plan to put things into action. Write it down and check items off the list as you go. Some steps might be smaller than others, and some might take longer to complete. Baby steps or not, each one will get you closer to where you need to be.
4. Execute! Execute! Execute!
Be like Nike, and just do it! Don’t procrastinate. Allocate a block of time every day or a few times a week dedicated to completing the steps outlined in your strategy plan. Throw caution to the wind and do what you set out to do in life. If not now, when? If not you, then who?
5. Stay humble
Being humble is a part of Islam, and a part of the prophetic tradition. You don’t have to be a millionaire to give charity. Even a dollar of giving will return to you back ten-fold.
Always ask yourself what your intentions are not only for yourself but for others as well. Don’t try to keep up with (insert rival family name here). Once you have executed your plan and start to see results of hard work being paid off, pay it forward.
Also, don’t brag about what you are doing. Bragging is not only ugly, but it attracts jealousy and envy.
6. Don’t be jealous of others and their success
Do I really need to say this? Jealousy is the green-eyed monster that eats you up inside. Believe me, I know. I’ve been that person. However, before I let it get out of control I prayed about it….hard! I didn’t like the kind of person jealousy turned me into, so I asked Allah (SWT) to cleanse my heart and give me the ability to be happy for those who appeared to have something that I thought I wanted in my own life. Once I was able to get that ugly sting of jealousy out of my life, I found it was much easier to be happy with what I have been blessed with.
7. Bring others up with you
Once you have made the changes you desired for yourself, show others the way. There is always room at the table for success and happiness. We must remember that this life is not a race against each other, but a stepping stone towards an amazing afterlife, God willing.