How to Set Goals Effectively

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The blessed month of Ramadan is just around the corner and in a matter of a few days, many Muslims all around the globe will be striving to do their best and make the most of this month. Ramadan is an opportunity for every Muslim to earn an abundance of rewards for the reward of each deed is multiplied as mentioned in the hadith:

Abu Hurayrah reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

Every action a son of Adam does shall be multiplied—a good action by ten times its value, up to 700 times. Allah says: With the exception of fasting, which belongs to Me, and I reward it accordingly. For, one abandons his desire and food for My sake.

There are two occasions of joy for a fasting person: one when he breaks his fast, and the other when he meets his Lord, and the (bad) breath (of a fasting person) is better in the sight of Allah than the fragrance of musk. (Al-Bukhari)

It is a time for people to have all their sins forgiven; it is a chance for people to turn their life around and strengthen their emaan and taqwa, to become closer to Allah.

“O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for people before you so that you attain Taqwa.” (2:183).

One could go on about the blessings of Ramadan but our knowledge regarding it is only as good as our actions. We may have studied all the hadith and ayahs related to Ramadan, but it is of no good if we don’t take action to prepare for it.

Can one just go with the flow in Ramadan? Is it necessary to take out our planners, make lists, meal prep etc beforehand?

Before answering the above, we must ask ourselves what am I hoping to get out of this month?

If you’re reading this, chances are you probably have some idea, at the very least, of what you expect from yourself this month.

Perhaps the answer is as simple as I want to earn lots of rewards or I’d like to have my past sins erased. It could be something a bit more specific such as wanting to increase your knowledge in a particular area of the deen or developing a better understanding of the Quran. Whatever your answer is, it is something you have hopes of expectations of attaining in this month.

In order to truly meet your expectations, you must make consistent efforts. One of the ways of doing so is setting goals to achieve daily, weekly, monthly and so on. Many people recommend setting goals for Ramadan in order to make the most of it. From a psychological perspective, goal-setting is proven to be beneficial as it can increase happiness Krueger (1998) and motivation (Locke 2001) and it can also boost our self-confidence.

Many of us start the month of Ramadan with a lot of hopes and determination but over time we may find ourselves slipping and eventually giving up on these goals and we often wonder where we went wrong.

Perhaps it was that we failed to develop our own understanding and skills required to successfully achieve our goals. Yes, there are certain skills that are vital to goal-setting such as:

Planning –Low-quality planning negatively affects performance in relation to goals (Smith, Locke, & Barry, 1990). Proper planning and organizational skills are a fundamental part of the process. If we plan properly, we can prioritize on the task at hand and stay focused, while avoiding distractions that can hold us back from our goal. Hence, it is crucial that we know what we want to achieve by the end of Ramadan and plan beforehand.

Time Management–it is essential if one wishes to successfully accomplish a goal. If we fail to consider the timescale needed to attain a goal, we will inevitably fail.

Furthermore, the time we devote to planning our goals affects our performance – the more time spent on the planning stage, the more likely we are to succeed (Smith, Locke, & Barry, 1990).

Self-Motivation – If we lack the desire or motivation to achieve something then any effort we make to achieve a goal is useless. Motivation to achieve a goal encourages us to develop new techniques and skills in order to succeed (Locke, 2001).

Adaptability– More often than not, things don’t exactly go as we planned them and when that happens we tend to put ourselves down and eventually get discouraged, thereby affecting our performance. Being flexible and able to adapt to the changes enables us to persevere to carry on and hence is essential to the process of achieving a goal.

Commitment– Perhaps the most important of all the skills mentioned so far. If we are not committed to our own goals, then we will certainly not be able to achieve them which is why it is necessary to have goals that are important and relevant to us on a personal level, goals that we know we are capable enough to accomplish.

If done properly, goal setting can allow us to maximize our productivity and not only have a fruitful Ramadan but continue to grow and make progress even after. Let’s make sure that we set the right intentions and prepare ourselves to achieve our goals successfully.

I ask Allah swt to accept all of our efforts and deeds in this coming month and allow us to spend our time in the best way possible. Aameen

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