5 Golden Rules When Making and Sticking to Your Resolutions

5 Golden Rules When Making and Sticking to Your Resolutions“Judge yourselves before you are judged, evaluate yourselves before you are evaluated and be ready for the greatest investigation (the Day of Judgement).”Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)
Every new year kicks off with a whole lot of New Year’s resolutions which sound like:

  • “2013 is going to be a fresh start.” That’s the spirit!
  • “No being quiet and shy; this time I’m going to get my voice heard.” Good for you!
  • “From now on, I shall stop writing in text language- coz u no dats jus soo unprofessional.” Maybe leave that for next year?

New Year’s resolutions are a worldwide practice for people to critically evaluate themselves, pinpoint something specific that they would like to change, and then try their level best to implement that change. While it all sounds so easy and awesome, every year there is probably only a handful of people who, a few months down the line, are still actively trying to stick to their resolution. Why? Because our approach to what our resolutions should be is rooted in far- fetched and broad ideas which are impossible to work towards.

Furthermore, while New Year’s resolutions are an excellent way to make a positive changeshould we as Muslims really wait a whole year before we think about renewing our lives and character? Shouldn’t we make time now to look deep within ourselves and see how our character compares to that of the pure and compassionate, the best of creation, our Beloved Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)?

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: 

“Everyone starts his day and is a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.”[Muslim]

This is why I have come up with 5 golden rules which, if followed strictly, will help you set practical, realistic and achievable life-changing resolutions TODAY in sha Allah:

Golden Rule #1: Identification

“Wise is the one who continually assesses himself and performs good deeds for the life after death. Foolish is the one who follows his desires and entertains very high hopes from Allah.” [Tirmidhi].

This is the first step of your New Year’s resolution journey – it might be the most time consuming but, if done properly, will make the remaining 4 steps quick and easy: identify something about yourself which needs improving. This could be something as straightforward as “time management” or something as specific as “mastering the art of making biryani”.

If you’re really stuck, maybe this short activity will trigger something: think of a time in 2012 when you were in a difficult situation. From hindsight, what would you advise someone to do if they were in that difficult situation? Now, the killer question: how close were your actions to the advice you just gave above? Close or far from it? If they were far, then we might be getting onto something here! Remember, identifying things you need to change is the basis of your New Year’s resolution. If you don’t think about this carefully, you risk laying a weak foundation that will not withstand the following 4 rules. In other words, mess this up and you risk messing up the entire thing.

Golden Rule #2: Be Realistic

The difficult bit is done, now all you need to do is take your findings from part 1 and come up with a realistic target. For instance, it’s futile to say that you’ll do ten hours of school/university work a day when you know that when you come back from school, you only have 5 hours before bedtime. It just doesn’t make sense. No one knows you better than yourself, so don’t set yourself up for something that you know you’re not going to be able to carry out. It’s good to be optimistic but don’t kid yourself.

Golden Rule #3: Practical Measures

“The World is three days: As for yesterday, it has vanished, along with all that was in it. As for tomorrow, you may never see it. As for today, it is yours, so work in it.” Hassan al-Basri raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)

Think of the practical measures you can take to help you implement that change. This is the “make or break” stage, as it is these little steps which will slowly, but eventually, lead to your New Year’s resolution coming to fruition. For example, the keen chef could try brainstorming ideas on how to realistically master the art of making biryani. Watching online tutorials; reading recipe books; watching mum while she makes it; or even attempt to make it themselves. Whatever these measures are, ensure they are practical in helping you get closer to fulfilling your resolution.

Golden Rule #4: Deadline

As much as we all hate deadlines, New Year’s resolutions are incomplete without them. This is the part that a lot of people overlook, but by setting yourself a deadline, you boost your chances of actually fulfilling the resolution in the first place. Set yourself a reasonable deadline and a penalty in case you go over – sounds like an extreme idea but if you really want to implement that change, you’ll be prepared to go that extra mile.

Golden Rule #5: The Checker

Lastly, assign someone the role of being “The Checker”. This could be a sibling, parent friend etc. The Checker is someone who will keep a track of your progress, tell you when your deadline is approaching and celebrate with you when you’ve achieved that resolution.

If we made it a habit every night to run through our actions of the day, identify something to improve, set a realistic target with practical measures and a deadline and get someone to check that we stick to it, imagine the effect this would have on us!

Will you really wait another year to begin purifying your heart, mind and character or will you start today? I will! Who’s with me?

About the Author:

Safina Shaukat is a 19-year-old English student with a burning desire to become a writer and serve the Ummah. She teaches young sisters how to recite Nasheeds twice a week, where she also gives short talks on a range of Islamic topics, ensuring she makes learning about Islam fun and exciting. She is part of the Regional Charity Week team: www.onecharityweek.com

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24 thoughts on “5 Golden Rules When Making and Sticking to Your Resolutions

  1. Great article Masha’Allah. I really like the idea of having a checker. May Allah reward you for this helpful advice.

  2. Allhumdulilah a very useful and well written article. May Allah make it easy for you and increase you in ability so you can write more Islamic-based literary for many more years to come inshAllah! Ameen.

    1. Ameen Jawad Bhai! Jazak’Allah for the Dua, I will ensure I carry on writing and contribute to the development of other people’s lives insha’Allah :)

  3. Every Muslim has a good behavior but under one circumstance, he must have a SELF DESPLINE which control PERSON.

    1. Awesome Bro Rajaa!! Remember WHY you’re setting this resolution in the first place, keep reminding yourself, and insha Allah that will motivate you to reach your target! :)

  4. Wow subhanallah, Sister Safina what a profatic article. May Allah (swt) fulfill all of your dreamsdesires to spread the deen inshallah. You are such an insiration to have to do it. Its all about determination an faith in Allah (swt) go well my child Khuda Hafeez from sunny South Africa wassaam

    1. Ameen! Jazak Allah Khair for the nice comments Sunny Bhai! I’ll try my best to follow my own advice and you try to do it too insha Allah! Allah Hafiz :)

  5. Aoa,

    This has been so very helpful. May Allah reward you for writing for the ummah. We don’t realise the power of a word written or said, it has the power to change the life of masses.
    Keep writing such good articles

    1. W/Salaam! JazakAllah! I’m pleased to know that you found it helpful. I agree with you, writing is extremely important, no one quite understands the power it has to make people understand things and rectify their ways. Insha’Allah I will continue writing and try my level best to firstly implement that change within myself before advising my brothers and sisters to act accordingly. :)

    1. Ameen! Jazak’Allah khair for the beautiful Dua! I pray that Allah (swt) guides us all to the straight path and we follow the example of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sal Allahu Aleyhi Wasalam) so that we can gain His pleasure insha’Allah :)

    1. Jazak’Allah! I try my best to motivate myself, seeing all these nice comments is in itself enough to motivate me to carry on writing insha’Allah! :)

  6. Thank you so much sis, it is just what I needed right know. I just made a list of things I wanted to learn about Islam yesterday, like the tafseer of Quran, seerah of our Prophet SAW, seerah of the Sahabas RA, a series on all 99 attributes of Allah, memorizing supplication & even a bit of Arabic grammar….. & the list just went on & on. And even though I was so excited at the start of making the list, I became overwhelmed by the end of it, because I didn’t feel like I could accomplish it all. But seeing this article pop up in my e-mail today was the perfect boost to help me get started on that list & stay on track!! I’ve already completed part, which, as you said was the hardest part!! So excited. Jazakallah Khairun sis.

    1. Alhamdulillah that’s great news sis! Remember its the little steps which make the big difference, even if you reach half of your target this year and the rest next year, its still okay! Keep the motivation levels high, if you have friends/family who have set the same resolution, then have a competition with them to see who can reach it first! A bit of healthy competition usually helps with these things! All the best! May Allah (swt) make it easy for you :)

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