by Bashir Oyetunji (in collaboration with Team AYEINA)
What you repeatedly do is what you become! The research shows the best way to make a resolution and stick with it is a system called S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding and Trackable/Timely Goal setting. Hence, here are 9 tips you could utilize beside setting SMART goals to make those new habits stick in shaa Allah:
1) Know your WHY!
Know the who, what, when, where, how and most importantly, the WHY of your vision. Have a greater purpose behind a habit that you are working towards. Is it to please Allah? Or is it to please people? The second won’t last long. The former reason will keep you coming back to it until you stick to it – even if you lose your track amidst the whole process every now and then.
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “People will be resurrected (and judged) according to their intentions.” [Ibn Majah]
2) Start slow & specific
Take baby steps. Choose a habit (or part of the habit) that’s incredibly easy to start and focus on ONE new habit at a time. Going easy on yourself will ease the stress surrounding the goal. When you over pack your timetable/schedule, you may not be able to cover everything. Which may end up in a feeling of disdain for yourself – making you label yourself as lazy and a procrastinator. When your vigor is down, do whatever little you can and move on. Complement your weak times with your active times.
3) Map out a realistic (attainable) expectation
It’s ok to dream big but to make it practical, break down the goals into attainable steps. Here is a scheme you could use for your timetable – Write down your full list of goals and divide them into the following categories:
- Top Priority
- Medium Priority
- Low Priority
To make your timetable work, shuffle it so that you intermingle hard tasks with the easy ones. Create “micro quotas” and “macro goals.” Your goals should be the big picture items that you wish to someday accomplish, but your quotas, are the minimum amounts of work that you must get done every single day to make the bigger goal a reality. Quotas make each day approachable, and your goals become achievable because of this. You cannot rise overnight; you must work. Do not mind the number of years you’re going to spend learning or working towards a goal.
4) Journal it all (Use a Habit Tracker for consistency)
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Take on only as much as you can do of good deeds, for the best of deeds is that which is done consistently, even if it is little.” [Ibn Majah]
A reminder that triggers and helps you initiate the behavior is an important part of building any new habit. Associate a new habit with an old habit so it automatically reminds you to take an action. Commit for a MINIMUM of 30 days. If you can make it through the initial conditioning phase, it becomes much easier to sustain.
5) Erase distractions
This is the bitter truth which we all must accept for the sake of productivity. If any explicit leisurely activity is wasting your time, then remove, delete or deactivate. Restructure your environment so it won’t tempt you in the first thirty days. Set trackable and timely goals so there is a sense of urgency to complete them and you stay focused as a result.
6) Reward yourself
Rewarding yourself for the small achievements within your big goals can help you stay motivated. It could be anything tangible that compliments the habit change. An intangible reward would be a reminder of why you started and how the reward of your efforts is not lost with Allah.
7) Rest instead of giving up
If pushing yourself feels overwhelming and is affecting your morale – making you think that you are incompetent, then take a break instead of giving up on it altogether. Believe that you are a human being – prone to err. Rise up and bounce back afterwards – whenever you are ready. You’re not a machine but a human being (even machines knock out). Be patient while chasing your dreams, do not allow hastiness to make you discard all that you’ve acquired so far.
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “….One of you should pray in good spirits. When he is lazy or tired, he should sit down.” [Abi Dawud]
Remove despair from your dictionary when chasing your goals or working towards a new habit. Do not get worked up by the forerunner’s achievement; keep going with the belief that there will always be space for you too.
8) Find Good Companions/ Accountability Partner
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Good companions will assist you in chasing your goals and dreams. They will serve as an antidote for you anytime you feel down and keep you motivated to keep going.
9) Believe & Pray hard
Believe that Allah will aid you in achieving your goals, in shaa Allah, as He is the All-Mighty, All-Wise. And most importantly, seek His help. He is the one Who has the power to do all things. So, seek Him by different means of acceptable supplications.
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ، وَالْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ، وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْبُخْلِ، وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ، وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ
The Prophet (ﷺ) used to say, “O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by (other) men.” [Bukhari]
BIO: Bashir Oyetunji is a Muslim who loves to speak through his pen. He loves to tell stories & share experiences that’d impart minds and souls. Some of his inks are splashed at oyebash.wordpress.com – He can be reached out on social media here: Twitter & LinkedIn