Who doesn’t want a meaningful life? Any rational person would want a life with a purpose. Although the aim might differ from person to person, the drive to live a substantially beneficial life is desired by all. Whether you aspire to be surrounded by luxury or aim to reach a certain level of spirituality, the urge to attain any goal manifests in a person’s zeal and the hard work they are prepared to do to acquire it. However, any struggle is pointless without an effective goal setting.
In my personal pursuit of learning various goal-setting techniques, I have come across quite a few goal-oriented exercises. However, I found most of them to be tedious tasks. They might be ideal for people without a million responsibilities of a varied nature, but they are not suitable for me. Therefore, I settled only for those methods that I knew could work for me as an individual and alhumdullilah they do.
As mothers, it often seems like we do the same things over and over again. If you’re feeling like you’re not really getting anywhere, never really finishing anything, and going to bed only to wake up and put out the same fires again the next day, may I encourage you to consider setting goals?
Most women have great ideas and huge ambitions, but unfortunately very few actually turn those big ideas into tangible, realistic, doable goals. When you have objectives, however, suddenly you have a specific purpose. When you have a purpose, you develop a passion which gives you extra energy and zeal to perform well.
You might be thinking, “But I don’t have time to make goals or follow through with them! With my kind of routine, I barely have time to comb my hair or wash my face properly!” Here’s the thing: your goals don’t have to be incredible and farfetched. They could be something as simple as spending quality time with your children or writing articles as a freelance writer once in a while or being a good wife or starting a charity drive. Here’s what to do.
10 Ways To Attain Meaningful Goals
Have sincere intentions backed by ardent dua: No matter how organized you are or how meticulously planned your goals may be, your life will be devoid of barakah without sincere intentions to please your Rabb (Sustainer, Nourisher) with what you set out to achieve and without constant dua (prayer) for khair (goodness).
Visualize a bigger picture: First, you create a big picture of what you want to do with your life, or if that is too vast, then let’s say the next five years. Then, you break these down into smaller bite-sized objectives that you must meet to reach your larger goals. For example, you want to publish a book in five years time. Now, gradually break this goal down in months and then weeks. How much would you need to write and research every day to achieve this goal within the time limit?
Establish your priorities: Before you start a list of goals, write down five or six priorities, which will be your goals in life. Productivity studies show that you really can’t focus on more than five to seven items at any one time.
Categorize your goals
Try to set goals in the following categories:
- ‘Ibadah (worship). For example, I will complete all my missed fasts in two years.
- ‘Ilm (knowledge). For example, I will study the biography of Rasool Allah (salallahu alaihi wasallam) in six months.
- Muamilaat (dealings). For example, I will complete teaching the Quran tajweed to my children in three years.
- Personal growth (learning a skill or developing a hobby). For example, I will complete a creative writing course in two years.
Write SMART Goals: I will encourage you to write down your goals using the SMART Goals technique introduced to me by success coach, Bryan Tracey. According to him, goals must meet five criteria. These are:
Specific—your goals must identify exactly what you want to accomplish with as much precision as you can manage.
Bad: Memorise the Quran.
Good: Memorise ten juz (chapters)of the Quran.
Measurable—as the old proverb says, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. You want to know absolutely and positively when you want to hit the goal.
Bad: Memorise more Quran.
Good: Memorise ten ayaat (verses) daily.
Actionable—every goal should start with an action verb (‘quit’, ‘run’, finish’, ‘eliminate’) rather than a to-be verb (‘am’, ‘be’, ‘have’)
Bad: Be more consistent in memorization.
Good: Finish memorizing fifty ayaat (verses) per week.
Realistic—you have to be careful here. A good goal should stretch your limits a bit, but you have to add a dose of common sense too.
Bad: Finish the complete Quran hifz (memorization) in a month.
Good: Complete one juz (chapter) each month.
After writing your SMART goals put them in an obvious place like on your fridge or as the screensaver on your iPhone.
Set a deadline: Your subconscious uses deadlines as a drive to move towards your goals. If for some reason you don’t achieve your goal by the deadline, simply set a new deadline. Remember, there are no unreasonable goals, only unreasonable deadlines.
Write a list of everything you need to do: List every single step that you can think of that you will have to follow to ultimately achieve your goal. For example:
1) Obstacles that you will have to overcome. These can be internal as well as external, like laziness, over socializing or procrastination.
2) Knowledge and skills you will have to develop. These can be personal or professional like starting an online course or reading relevant books.
3) People whose cooperation you will require like your spouse, children, in-laws, friends or teachers.
Visualize your goals: A mental picture combined with an emotion has an enormous impact on our subconscious and our superconscious mind. Visualization is possibly the most powerful faculty available to help achieve goals faster than we ever thought possible. Visualize your goals, create a picture and associate an emotion with it so that the thought of achieving it motivates you to work harder.
Never give up: Realize that you are responsible for your life. In every study of successful people, the acceptance of personal responsibility seems to be the starting point. Before that, nothing happens. After you accept complete responsibility, your whole life begins to change.
Moreover, you must remember that no matter what happens, if you get knocked down in pursuit of your goals, pull yourself back up, dust yourself off and keep going.
Put complete twakkal (trust, reliance) in Allah: Realize that the One who has brought you this far will see you through to the end. If what you are doing is to please Him, whether it’s directly related to the matters of dunia or akhirah, He will bless you in it. You do your part and trust Him with His.
“Imagine with all your mind, believe with all your heart, achieve with all your might.” Anonymous