by Safiya Arif
RasulAllah (S) said, “The most beloved of deeds to Allah are the most consistent of them, even if they are few.”
As Muslims we do the best we can to worship Allah (swt). Everyone is at different levels when it comes to faith, and that’s perfectly okay. What might be a struggle for you may not be difficult for someone else. What you might find easy may be the hardest thing for your friends. Everyone is unique in their knowledge and experiences, so it makes sense that everyone is at different locations on the path of Islam.
With that in mind, we should always try to increase our knowledge and become better people. As we continue to grow, our abilities will also change. Just think back to who you were 5 years ago. Your strengths and weaknesses were completely different, and the best you could do then is nowhere near the best you can do now. Your standards and goals for yourself are higher now, and with time you’ve become more capable to reach them.
Something to remember as you strive to become a better version of yourself is the need for consistency. Real change doesn’t happen overnight. You can wake up one morning and try to reach all your goals at once, but what will most likely happen is you’ll be successful for a couple of days, struggle for a couple more, and then after realizing how exhausted you are from all the effort, you’ll stop. And your change will end just as quickly as it started. If you want your improvements to last, you need to be consistent. Here are some ways how:
- Make your intention for the sake of Allah (swt). Spend some time thinking about who you are. Are you the best version of yourself? Set out to increase your strengths and decrease your flaws. Reflect on your character from time to time, and inshaAllah you can continue to build on top of your improvements. As my sister says, life is a constant recalibration of the self. There’s always room to grow. Ali ibn Abu Talib (R) said, “Meet people in such a manner that if you die, they should weep for you, and if you live they should long for you.” Strive to be the best you can be inside and out. Strive to make a positive difference in the world. Strive to be rewarded with the highest level of Jannah. And ultimately, strive to please Allah (swt).
- Form a daily routine. Now that you’ve made your intentions, implement them as actions in your daily routine. Try to do things around the same time and place every day and it’ll be harder to forget. For example, if one of your goals is to read Qur’an every day, you can decide to read a couple pages right after school. That way, there’s less of a chance that you’ll get busy with homework and forget. For certain actions like praying salah and reading Qur’an, I would recommend using a chart (like our prayer charts at HSYC!) to keep track of your progress. With our phones nowadays, you can set up alarms or reminders too. There are even specific apps designed to help! Keep in mind that it takes about 30 days to form a habit, so make sure you consistently work on your goals. If you set aside just a little bit of time every day, inshaAllah you’ll get to the point where your changes are permanent parts of your life.
- Be patient. Oftentimes when someone’s trying to work on a goal, they expect to see results right away. When they’re disappointed, they decide that their actions are not working and give up. When it comes to change, however, you have to realize that it takes time. Be patient with the process and be patient with yourself. Don’t lose hope. You may want to do as much as you can, as quickly as you can, but keep in mind that you’re trying to become a better person for your whole future and not just a couple of weeks. Realize that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Find a comfortable pace, and don’t be afraid to slow down if you feel like you’re becoming overwhelmed. The purpose is to sustain the changes you make. InshaAllah they’ll be a part of you for the rest of your life.
“Everyone is going to be making progress and everyone’s going at their own pace. No matter how fast or slow they’re going, as long as they’re making progress they are successful.” –Nouman Ali Khan
- Motivate yourself. Think about why you want to make the improvements you’re working on. When I decide to make a change, I usually write down why it means so much to me so that on days when I need an extra boost of motivation, I can remind myself why I began. It’s important to know the significance behind your actions because it adds meaning to the progress you make. For example, if you’re working on your prayer, try to learn the meaning of some of the surahs you recite. With any journey, you’re going to experience some struggles along the way. Don’t let that discourage you. Instead, take a look at how far you’ve come, be proud of yourself, and use that to drive you forward and continue toward success.
- Support each other. Everyone has something they want to work on. Find a buddy with similar goals and help each other out! You can share your strategies and ideas and inshaAllah make it easier for each other to succeed. Praying dhuhr in high school was a big concern of mine. Alhamdulillah my teachers were extremely supportive and happy to help, but the person who really made a difference was my friend. We used to pray together after fifth period every day, and subhanAllah having her there helped me become more confident as a Muslim. This is also why it’s important to surround yourself with good company, because their good traits will automatically rub off on you and help you become a better person. Another way to build a support system is through your family. Tell your parents and siblings about your goals and inshaAllah they’ll find a way to help you. When the whole house is working toward something, it’s hard to go off track. When you work with others, you become invested in their success as much as you are in your own. They will give you more strength inshaAllah.
“Perfection is not demanded of us. But sincerity, integrity, honesty, and our best effort is what Allah (swt) and His messenger (S) have asked of us.” – Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda
- Beware of Shaytan. As you build on your character, Shaytan will become concerned that he’s not doing his job well enough. While you continue to succeed in life, he’ll think of ways to point you in the opposite direction. That’s when you’ll start to experience some difficulties in your progress. Recognize that it is Shaytan who is trying to pull you back, and decide not to let him get in your way. Don’t give in to his whispers and keep moving forward inshaAllah. Every time you feel like giving up, Shaytan is getting ready to celebrate another victory. It’s up to you to defeat him, and the best way you can do this is by asking Allah (swt) for protection against him. Which leads me to my final (and most important) point…
- Ask Allah (swt) for help. In any and every one of your endeavors, Allah (swt) is the only one who can grant you success. Thank Him for all that He has already given you, and ask Him to help you grow in every aspect of your life. Remember Him and He will remember you.
“Oh you who believe! Seek help in patience and in prayer; Allah is with those that are patient.” Surat Al-Baqarah, Ayah 153
May Allah (swt) help us accomplish our goals. May He purify our intentions and put barakah in our actions. May He help us become better children, siblings, and friends to those around us. May He allow us to implement positive changes in our lives and continue to grow as Muslims. May He be pleased with our efforts and reward us with the highest of Jannahs. Ameen.
That’s all I have for you! Have you used any of these tips to work on your goals in the past? Do you have any strategies of your own that have worked for you? Share your experience in the comments below!