|Imam Zijad’s Corner: HOW TO START “SMART” GOAL SETTING: A MUSLIM PERSPECTIVE
If you are not in the habit of setting resolutions and goals, you should review the direction of your life and assess how your actions are contributing to your betterment and to your loved ones and the larger community in accordance with the teachings of your Creator?
Setting goals and resolutions therefore enable you to step away and analyze the clutter in your life; they let you rise above the daily chores that keep you busy …
The process is therefore about prioritizing and highlighting what is more important to make your life more meaningful. How to do it?
It is about self-assessment and self-evaluation – The Prophet Mohammad has said: “He whose two days (of life) are equal (in achievement/accomplishment) is at loss.” (Hadith)
The Second Caliph, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab said, “Criticize and appraise yourselves before you are criticized and appraised….”.
Therefore, setting goals and making resolutions is all about self-improvement and to instill that attitude within ourselves.
Abraham Lincoln once commented, “I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”
The truth indeed is that you can not be better today if you did not set out to become better yesterday and took the necessary actions for that betterment.
It is about “actions” and execution – Setting a resolution is much more than dreaming, thinking and planning about what you want to change.
It is about real execution – about doing something – about undertaking a course of action that actually starts bringing you closer to what you want to achieve.
Many a people, organizations and countries fail in their lives and in their pursuits simply because of lack of execution. They plan but then can’t follow through; they talk but they can’t perform;
Even in the religion of Islam that emphasizes asking your Creator and Sustainer about your needs, there is an equal and parallel importance of your personal actions and deeds. Dr. Aaidh Al-Qrani in his famous book, “Don’t be Sad” says that once Umar bin Khattab got very angry with youth who were simply spending time in the mosque and told them: “Go out and seek sustenance, for the sky does not send down rain of gold or silver.”
How many times have you planned but failed to execute? Isn’t it time to actually get on with a sustained course of action?
It is about using time wisely – Setting resolutions helps us maximize our time in life instead of squandering the valuable moments away.
We all know how time flies but unfortunately many times we do not make full use of our time and life in general.
Mu`adh ibn Jabal quotes the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, as saying: “A servant of Allah will remain standing on the Day of Resurrection until he is asked about four things: his life and how he spent it, his youth and how he used it up, his property and how he acquired and managed it and his knowledge and how he utilized it.”
We should therefore remind ourselves that we too have an end that is approaching. So, why squander our time away on nonessential pursuits?
It is about focused actions and tasks – Resolutions and goals help you focus on the right actions and tasks.
Think about when you are about to take a long trip away from home.
Our productivity in the number of tasks we complete before we take a trip is phenomenal simply because we have a deadline to meet and our energies are extremely focused.
The closer you get to your time of travel, the more you ensure that you utilize each and every second available to you.
Can you imagine how much you will be able to accomplish daily only if you became half that productive and efficient?
It is about behavioral change – Setting goals and resolutions involves completely stepping away from behaviors you want to change – In Islam, this parallels the concept of “Repentence” or “Tawbah” because the psychological, spiritual and physical dynamics is almost the same.
Repentance in Islam entails stopping bad behavior, regretting past indulgence in that behavior, understanding the need to shy away from the bad behavior, making a strong intention not to return to the old behavior and finally substituting bad with good behaviors (better deeds).
Why not then apply the same dynamics to change any of your undesirable behaviors and habits, and embark on a major journey of personal progress?
It is about clarity of vision – Setting goals requires that you are clear about who you are and what you want to achieve. A confused mind cannot set meaningful goals.
A person not confident in his beliefs and values is rarely successful in charting out a meaningful course of action.
The best example in this regard is Muadh (r.a). He was able to get that clarity at such a young age where he was chosen by the Prophet (S) to lead a group of mentors and teachers to a foreign land. Why we should not get clearer on who we are and what are our goals?