(Correction: The second “A” above is meant to read simply “assessable.”)
There is something about the month of Ramadan that makes accomplishing goals seem super easy. Either it’s the high level of motivation because of the rewards mentioned in Quran and ahadith that eases the process of goal accomplishment, or because it’s in the air.
Whatever the reason, Ramadan is a great opportunity to set and achieve goals, so I invite all of you to embrace this opportunity and become better versions of yourselves. I also invite you to grab a pen and start setting goals as you read this article and do some brainstorming, because once you close this window, this article will become history. So, let’s take action— right here, right now.
I’ve been writing about Ramadan and my Quran memorization journey for quite some time now, but this time I have decided to share with you, how to set your Ramadan goals and break them down into a tangible action plan.
Research reveals that 95% of those who lose weight by dieting regain it, and that a significant percentage of the weight goes back on even faster. Why such a high percentage?
After a heart attack, only 1 in 7 patients makes a lasting change around eating or exercising. Why so few?
Because people set goals without learning the how and why of goal setting. Goal setting is an art and you must learn it. Insha Allah, in this article we’ll learn to master this art.
My Ramadan memorization challenge this year is to commit Surah Kahf to my memory. I am not getting into the details here because that would be beyond the scope of my article, so if you like you can do a little bit of research to find out the importance of Surah Kahf.
Let’s directly jump into the do’s and don’t’s of goal setting.
1. Set a goal and write it down
Writing is a strange phenomenon, something that probably cannot be explained, just experienced. It actually helps you to see what you really want rather than just imagining it in your head.
A study on goal setting was conducted by a psychology professor at Dominican University in California. She had 267 participants in the study and she concluded that one is 42 percent more likely to achieve one’s goals just by writing them down. Writing crystallizes the goals and sets everything in motion. It also gives a chance to review your goals and create an action plan accordingly.
You can write your goals in a goals journal or use a white-board (I use both).
My Goal: Memorizing Surah Kahf
YOUR TURN: What one goal would you like to achieve this Ramadan (yes, you can have more, but for now, just think of one goal)? It can be memorizing the Quran, understanding it, or having more khushu in salah. Whatever it is, please write it down, right now.
2. Use the R.A.M.A.D.A.N tool.
Recently, I learned about using the acronym RAMADAN for goal setting. This was my biggest take-away from the course I attended. While I never had any issues with using the acronym SMART, RAMADAN made it’s way deep down in my heart in no time.
The instructor who taught this acronym was of the opinion that SMART focuses too much on being specific. Whatever the reason might be, I now use RAMADAN for goal setting. I feel as a Muslim, I can own it and have a special relationship not only with the acronym, but with the entire process.
So, let’s put Surah Kahf in the framework of RAMADAN (of course, you will have to customize it according to your goals).
Ask yourself: is my goal relevant to my vision and mission? How will this goal help me to achieve my ultimate purpose or objective? For example, “I want to travel the world in 80 days from this to this date” is a perfect goal but completely irrelevant to the spirit of Ramadan.
Ask yourself does my goal excite me? The goal should be aspirational, something that really inspires and motivates you to take action. If it’s too easy, make it a little harder because it won’t excite you. If it’s too difficult, shrink it so it doesn’t become a burden.
For example, memorizing Surah Kahf. Does that excite me? Very much. I have been aspiring to memorize it for years. Is it a burden? Not at all. I can divide and chunk it and make it sallow-able.
- Measurable and Assessable
A major mistake people commit while setting goals is that they make vague and fuzzy goals. Example of such a goal, I will memorize Quran. Very nice goal indeed, but very vague. How much Quran? How many days will you assign to memorizing it? What is the deadline? How much time will you take every day to do it?
You must set your goals in a way that’s measurable. It should be quantified so that you can track it. Remember, whatever you track you improve. Also, it must be something we can assess or review at a weekly level. This provides a balance to our workload. Don’t forget to set http://touringgreenland.com/online/ a deadline. Setting deadlines gives you a sense of urgency.
My Goal: Surah Kahf
Total no. of ayaat – 110
Deadline/Total days – 28th of Ramadan/ 28 days (to be on the safe side)
How many ayaat per day? – approx 4
How much time every day? – 15-20 mins
Weekly review—How many ayaat per week? 28 (approx)
So, I can not only measure my goal everyday but can also assess it on a weekly basis.
Your Turn: Make your goal measurable and assessable.
Another relevant mistake is to set too many goals. When we set too many goals, measuring each of them becomes very difficult and hectic. Remember, if we are not measuring it, we are not going anywhere. For example, I will memorize Surah Kahf, understand and memorize its meaning, learn the tafseer of multiple scholars, teach it to my students and conduct a webinar on its importance.
There is a proverb that says,
A man who chooses two rabbits, catches neither.
Setting too many goals that can’t be measured or assessed violates the law of focus, and if you can’t focus on it, you can achieve it.
- Definite – clear cut
Your goals must be definite and clear-cut. We must know when to achieve something and when not to. Is it the right time to achieve this goal? For example, if it’s Ramadan, one might not expect someone to have some recreational goal and accomplish them. Another example can be that if there is a pregnant woman, she must not have weight- loss goals.
Getting an appointment with yourself on your agenda is the third A of RAMADAN. Schedule it in a calendar. Keep it visible. Otherwise you will never get round to it. Treat it like an important meeting on your calendar.
E.g. my calendar would look something like below
Get rid of the “same old same old” ways of accomplishing goals. N in the RAMADAN acronym stands for Novelty, which is doing exciting new and different things from what you have always been failing at. For example, if you are trying one thing over and over again and failing at it, try some new ways to get it done. The reason is to avoid the damage to self esteem because of constant failure and to build momentum. For example, if you are trying to memorize the Quran by looking at the text of Quran and you find it hard to do it and you forget it easily – then try a new way of getting it done. Try to memorize it by listening to it etc.
Your turn: What are some of the new and exciting ways that you are going to try to achieve your goal?
3. Memorize by listening.
Personally, this technique has helped me a great deal:
4. Get an accountability buddy.
“Allah’s hand is over the group.” Tirmidhi
One and one make eleven. If you can find someone who has the same goal as yours and can help you in your endeavor by holding you accountable, it will become way easier to accomplish it. Pair-up, share your strategy with your partner and hold yourselves accountable to each other every day. This technique has worked miraculously for me.
5. Make a public pledge.
Now it’s a difficult one and may need us to recheck our intention again and again, but making a public pledge does help. If you think that it should be between you and Allah, great. Public pledge is not a must, it’s just an option. On a lighter note, you can very well imagine that now when I have publicly shared my goal, there is no way for me to escape.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bela Khan is a life coach, author and speaker. She is the founder of Muslim Women Empowerment, an institute that empowers women to overcome their challenges and make a difference in their lives and the world. Bela is the author of “Know Thy Values, Know Thy Self” a book that helps you become a powerful decision maker. Her forthcoming book is “How Riches Come To You – A Muslim’s Guide to Spiritual and Material Abundance and Fulfillment”. She can be reached at www.belakhan.com