Push the reset button on your goals.Take a moment to revisit your niyyah (intention) and goals you set for this month. Evaluate your progress thus far. How many of your goals depended on getting that spiritual high from others (i.e., Mosque, family, friends)? How many of your goals were set based on what others are doing and not in tune with where you are spiritually? How many of your goals were too big and unrealistic to maintain? Now is the time to reframe your goals and expectations to focus on your relationship with Allah (SWT). Think about building habits to meet those goals, which can be continued beyond Ramadan.
Pick goals that motivate you and are important to you.Many of us pick goals based on what we see others doing or what we’ve been told to do— but this may not always match our reality and where we are spiritually. Perhaps reading the Qur’an is not realistic for you because your relationship with the Qur’an isn’t that strong right now, and reading it in Arabic doesn’t do it for you. But, you want to work on it so perhaps you focus on small amounts of tafsir (meaning of Quran) and that’s what gets you feeling the Ramadan high. Without motivation to meet your goal, it will be much harder to succeed. Take inventory of where you are right now and what you personally want to work on. Practice the pause and ask yourself:
Set SMART goals.
Learn more about SMART goals at the link above but here’s an example about applying this concept for a goal in Ramadan:
– Specific: I want to learn the meaning of the Qur’an so I will start with Surah Al Mulk.
– Measurable: I can do this by going through the tafsir/translation of 1 Aya (verse) a day till the end of Ramadan.
– Achievable: Based on my schedule, this goal is achievable because I will do one aya per day.
– Relevant: The tafsir of the Qur’an matters to me more right now because I feel more connected to Allah (SWT) when I connect to His words in a meaningful way.
– Time-bound: I have set my timeline as the end of Ramadan for this goal.
You can adapt the above example to any goal you have, as small as focusing on one prayer per day or as large as praying taraweeh every day. The idea is to make your goal specific to your reality, and ignore the pressure to set goals based on what others are doing.
Create an action plan.
Be intentional about planning out the steps that are needed to meet your goal. Work backwards from your endpoint and create your plan. Focus on small actions that you can do regularly!
The Prophet (PBUH) said:“…Allah does not get tired (of giving rewards) but (surely) you will get tired and the best deed (act of Worship) in the sight of Allah is that which is done regularly.” [Sahih Bukhari]
“…the most beloved deed to Allah’s is the most regular and constant even though it were little.” [Sahih Bukhari]
Tips for success:
- Write out your goal and plan so that it feels more real and tangible.
- Post them publicly somewhere in your home to serve as a constant reminder.
- Share your goal with a group of friends who can help hold you accountable.
Assess and adjust.Finally, be intentional about assessing your progress and adjusting if you need to. Take yourself back to your initial niyyah (intention) when you set the goal and action plan, and see what you need to adjust. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track and assess your progress. In the tafsir example above, perhaps the tafsir content you found is really interesting but takes you more time than you anticipated. You can readjust your action plan and learn 3 surahs rather than 4, as long as you feel like your goal of connecting to the Qur’an is still being met.
Pandemic or not, this month is our chance to learn from Prophetic examples and believers before us who became better and grew from moments of solitude and isolation: Yunus (AS) in the whale, Yusuf (AS) in prison, Hajar (AS) in the desert, Maryam (AS), and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the cave of Hira. Let’s use this month to set goals and create habits that improve our unique and personal relationship with Allah (SWT) so that we may grow spiritually beyond Ramadan.