PLANNING FOR SUCCESS

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Evaluating and assessing is very important to improve ourselves. If we’re unsure of what we should, or want to do, we cannot analyse and measure whether or not we were successful.

Our level of faith (Iman) fluctuates depending on our actions, efforts and intentions. To keep our Iman high we need to work to increase our knowledge, belief and good deeds. Deep down we all know what needs doing. Make that change and strive to improve today! إن شاء الله

Prepare. Make effort to plan, live and prioritise our lives and find the right balance of what truly would give us happiness and everlasting success.

Islam encourages us to ponder, question, analyse, plan and prioritise. Writing things down, and having a vision which includes specific – measurable – attainable – realistic – time-bound (commonly abbreviated as SMART) targets is one way of planning which can be applied to many aspects of life; so that we improve, come closer to Allah and also so that our worship is accepted إن شاء الله.

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We can plan our time and decide what we would like to eradicate or implement. This could be more charity, Dhikr, fasting, night prayers, or being more helpful to our neighbours, friends and family.  We must be specific about what we want to achieve –  thinking clearly about why and how. Our targets should be measurable e.g. knowing how much of something we consider to be successful. Targets should also be realistically achievable. Giving ourselves a time frame with clear deadlines for each task makes us less likely to falter and allows for regular self-evaluation.

Time and life is precious and fleeting, and we want to fill our lives with the tasks we are happy with. Prioritise effectively by evaluating each action from the moment we wake up, to the moment we sleep. We can divide our actions into the 3 following categories:

SHORT-TERM GOAL WITH SHORT-TERM GAIN

Examples include having hair coloured or preparing a beautiful healthy meal. The effects of these actions last a short amount of time but they may be very important to us, so that we can live our daily lives feeling confident and staying well. Having these kinds of short-term goals is fine, and in fact — depending on our intentions — they can contribute to our larger long-term goals.

SHORT-TERM GOAL WITH LONG-TERM GAIN

An example of this may be attending school, college or a course. Although this may be a relatively short-term goal, it contributes to our goals in our larger scheme. Offering Tahajjud, Dhuha, daily Adhkar, giving charity and ensuring we excel in learning, worship, reading more and pleasing Allah are all examples of this.

LONG-TERM GOAL WITH LONG-TERM GAIN

This is where many people stumble and don’t have a fixed direction. Unless we know the reason why we are doing something and we are content with that reason fitting into our bigger picture – we stumble – struggle – and wander emotionally lost and confused – at the first sign of hardship. Living for temporary instant gratification is not only illogical and unproductive, but it also distracts us from our true end goal of Paradise —which needs constant daily effort and strategic striving. For a Muslim the answers are crystal clear in terms of their long-term vision of achieving Paradise; and—with Paradise in focus—all the other matters rest beautifully within that context. When we get lazy in our worship and regarding our true purpose in life, then we find ourselves off track…

Goal Focus Plan

Seeing life in perspective and within the wider context, is crucial to being content and satisfied with our lives; this helps in making the right choices and laying our individual foundations for success and stops us from getting overly attached to the many temptations and desires in life.

By recognizing every action – pondering on why it is being done – establishing and purifying the intention – we can plan according to our grand scheme of direction in life. We can then decide if we would like to continue, modify or discontinue with every action.

True success spanning from this life to the next comes only by the mercy and will of Allah, and to Him is our return.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us all true satisfaction, barakah, prosperity and eternal success.

For those that find praying too hard…

The Qur’an describes this exact situation…

“And seek help in patience and As-Salât (the prayer) and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khâshi’ûn [i.e. the true believers in Allâh – those who obey Allâh with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise,) and in His Warnings (Hell, )].” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 45)

Why don’t people pray?
Why do they find it difficult to fast?
Why do some of us do these things, but we do it as a chore?

The Quran tells us why, with accuracy and simplicity; they can’t because they find it too hard. Unless a person’s belief is firm and sound — it is difficult to pray.

Who are the Al-Khashi’un being mentioned in the above verse?

These are the true believers, in Allah: the one true God. They obey him with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise  of Paradise, and in His warnings of Hell.

So, without doing all these things first, it is difficult to pray, fast, give zakah or do hajj.

How can we increase our submission and beliefs? The cure is simple: to increase the belief.  But, this requires sincere intentions.

How? Knowledge! Yes, it’s that simple.
Knowledge provides the reassurance and answers to strengthen our belief – If we seek it with a pure heart and intention. Only someone who is willing to search for, and strive for the truth can benefit from it.

There are many benefits for those who obey their lord; but the sincerity has to be there to obey him in the first place.

The five daily Prayers teach us many lessons in life including time management, self-discipline, harmony and unity. In fact, it could be argued that each verse and method of worship passed on to us by the final Messenger (SAW) of Allah (SWT) benefits and improves our daily lives, our characters, and leads us to a more wholesome meaningful life. Writing things down is one of the best ways of remembering and teaching ourselves and others, and we can see that this way was chosen to preserve the Qur’an as a book. Its recitation, repetition and propagation is encouraged to increase our understanding and encourage the acquisition of knowledge and truth. This effort of seeking nearness to the Qur’an leads to remembering to stay on the prescribed path.

Giving Zakah (obligatory charity) and Sadaqah (voluntary charity) purifies our wealth. It also purifies our hearts from many evils, temptations, desires and attachment to this life. The act of giving charity benefits the one giving it as well as the recipient.

Fasting cleanses and benefits our body and soul. It teaches us the ability to control our desires, and doing this purely for the sake of Allah teaches us the importance of sincere intention in all our actions.

The Hajj pilgrimage teaches us invaluable skills including self-discipline, humility, unity, patience, courage and the importance of planning and preparation. Planning and preparation are key to performing a successful Hajj, and both these skills are key to general success in many aspects of daily life. Planning and organising our time and thinking about what we want and how we will achieve it can provide us with much needed reassurance.

Approaching life in a wider context, with a pure heart and with an open mind can unravel our confusions and unearth more emotional strength and fuel to help us achieve goals. It can help put our minds at rest knowing that there is a greater purpose that we are working towards.

Focussing and visualising our end goal is the first step to achieving it.
What is the end goal we have to visualise? Paradise, what else?
Paradise is worth striving for!

This life is temporary and human beings are not immortal. Living for temporary instant gratification is not only illogical and unproductive, but it also distracts us from our true end goal of Paradise—which needs daily effort and striving.

We know from the Quran that this life is a test:

“Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe” and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false” (Al-Ankabut, 29:2-3).

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to Al-Sâbirun (the patient)” (Al-Baqarah 2:155).

When we get lazy in our worship and regarding our true purpose in life, then we find ourselves off track.
Prioritising everything in terms of the wider context stops us from getting overly attached to the numerous temptations and desires of this wordly life.

Allah reminds us — to remind ourselves:

“And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers. And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me”

    (Al-Dhariyat, 51:55-56).

Our lord warned us,“Satan makes them promises, and creates in them false desires; but Satan’s promises are nothing but deception.” (4:120)

We are responsible and accountable for our actions, and remembering that each action is being watched by our creator and recorded by his angels can help motivate us, so that our own actions don’t become our own worst enemy and testify against us on the Day of Judgement.

Seeing life in perspective is crucial to being content and satisfied with our lives; this helps in making the right choices and fighting off our inhibitions, desires and heedlessness.