Saturday, March 31st, 2018 marks the birth anniversary of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (p),…
In life, it is essential to recognize our ultimate objectives and destination. Thus, it is important to set goals in almost every phase of our lives, including health, fitness, career, academics, and of course, our religion and spirituality. Having goals also makes our efforts feel worthwhile as we know what we are working toward, and we have a sense of accomplishment on the path to reaching that success. Naturally, it is important to always include God in the equation and seek His support as we set an intention, and show Him gratitude at the achievement of our goal. God states, “When the prayer ends, disperse through the land and seek the favor of God. Remember Him often so that perhaps you will have everlasting happiness.”1
To live our life meaningfully, we need to do things to better ourselves in all aspects. It does not make sense to sit back on the couch and watch life go by without working towards something. Setting goals for ourselves has many benefits. Firstly, it makes us realize the things we want to accomplish in our life and helps us focus on the things that are most important to us. This enables us to take control of our life as we carefully plan out the steps for success. Imam Ali (p) states, “The clearest sign of abundant intelligence is good planning.”2 Though we do not have full control over what events may take place in our life, planning gives us a sense of direction in terms of how we will get to our destination regardless of what life may throw at us. Despite any roadblocks, we will still know what we are working toward.
Furthermore, goal setting allows us to manage our time in a more efficient manner and helps us stay focused. If we so badly want that A in class, we will make time daily to study no matter what. We will cancel or reschedule plans that we made with friends so we can take that time to do the work that will help us achieve this goal.
Finally, it gives us a feeling of personal satisfaction, as, “Setting and reaching your personal goals help you appreciate your capabilities, and gives you an idea of your full potential.”3
There is no feeling that can compare to the satisfaction we experience when we accomplish our goal and meet our objective. Think about that feeling the moment when we completed an exam, a degree, a long run, or anything else that we worked hard to achieve!
The most important goal that we should always aim for, no matter the circumstance, is to strive to improve our connection with our Creator. This does not necessarily mean we should add more acts of worship that could make us feel overwhelmed, but rather we should improve the quality of that which we offer. We can start with our daily obligatory acts. For example, we should work on increasing our focus in our daily prayers so that we really feel connected to God while doing so and are not thinking of other things . This will slowly help build up our spirituality, allowing us to feel contentment in terms of our closeness to the Almighty.
Bits of Advice
1. Make time to do what will get you closer to success: No matter what it is, it is vital to designate a part of our day (even if it is just for a few minutes) to work toward improvement and ultimate success in that which is important to us. Every time we do this, we are one step closer to that success.
2. Do not be afraid of failure: When we refuse to work towards something important to us because we fear failing, we do not get anywhere. Failure teaches us many lessons. When things do not work out the way we want, we take a lesson from it, do our best to improve, and work harder the next time. Whether is it working to get that A in class or running a marathon, it may take a few tries before perfecting it and finally achieving the goal. Hard work always pays off, and eventually we will see hope.
3. Assign target dates: It is important to set realistic target dates to achieve our goals so that we can stay motivated and work hard to take small strides towards success. This helps us stay focused and in control of our work until it is complete.
4. Celebrate our success: God states, “and proclaim the bounties of your Lord.”4 We did it! All the hard work has paid off and we have finally achieved our goal. It is important to take the time to celebrate this success and to thank God. By doing so, we cement a sense of achievement for a job amazingly well done and the source of our ultimate support for it. This will also help stay motivated when planning our next goal.
1. The Holy Quran 62:10. Both quotes from the Quran in this blog are from the Muhammad Sarwar translation.
2. Al-Amudi, Ghurar al-hikam, wisdom 4820.
3. “Benefits of Goal Setting,” The Peak Performance Center, accessed March 10, 2021, https://thepeakperformancecenter.com/development-series/skill-builder/personal-effectiveness/goal-setting/benefits-of-goal-setting/.
4. The Holy Quran 93:11.
1. قال الله تعالى: ((فَإِذَا قُضِيَتِ الصَّلَاةُ فَانتَشِرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَابْتَغُوا مِن فَضْلِ اللَّـهِ وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّـهَ كَثِيرًا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ))
2. روي عن الإمام علي (ع): ” أدَلُّ شَيْء على غَزارَةِ العَقْلِ حُسْنُ التَّدْبيرِ.”
4. قال الله تعالى: ((وَأَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ))