I was about ten years old when I decided that I wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. At the time, it was just a childhood fantasy; I’d seen a documentary on TV and somehow decided that it needed to be included on my ‘wish list’. And so the item remained on my list (item number three, to be exact) - I want to climb Kilimanjaro. I would never have guessed that nearly two decades later, that dream would become a reality, and the mountain would be conquered. I often look back and wonder what kept the dream alive for so long and I realize this: with faith, hope and determination, anything is possible if you want it badly enough.
The road to achieving your goals is not always smooth and straight – I am sure you can relate to this! Sometimes the obstacles that come our way seem insurmountable. It is indeed hard work to reach your destination. In retrospect, I’ve realized that these six crucial steps have helped me reach my goal. I’d like to share them with you and I pray that whatever goal you’ve set for yourself falls within your grasp, Insha’Allah.
1. Dream your dreams…
The human mind is a miraculous thing – Subhanallah! The ability to conceive and process thoughts and ideas beyond our understanding, are clear indications of Allah’s favors upon mankind. He has given man the amazing gifts of knowledge and wisdom, and the ability to dream. “And when he reached his prime, we gave him wisdom and knowledge” [Surah Yusuf, Verse 22]. So let your imagination loose, but remember to always be mindful of Allah (glorified and exalted be He). Set goals that are worth achieving, and they should be good for you.
2. Ask Allah (glorified and exalted be He) to guide you
Having an idea of what you want to achieve is excellent, but know that we can achieve nothing without Divine Intervention from our Creator. Ask Allah [SWT] to guide you in reaching what you have set your mind to achieving: make duaa that if your goal is good for you, then Allah [SWT] will make it easy for you to achieve. “These depend on guidance from their Lord. These are successful” [Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 5].
3. Have a plan
A traveler in ancient Greece met an old man walking along the road. The traveler asked the old man how to get to Mount Olympus. The old man, who was actually the Greek philosopher, Socrates, pointed out the way and said: “Just make sure that every step you take is in that direction.”
It goes without saying that you need to have a plan of how you are going to achieve your goal. Being able to articulate in detail what it is that you’d like to achieve is the first step. Set timelines for yourself and try to stick to them. However, be conscious of Allah (glorified and exalted be He) and know that His plans for us are always better than ours. “Although they plan, Allah also plans. And Allah is the best of Planners” [Surah al-Anfal, v 30]. Know where your “Mount Olympus” is and ask Allah (glorified and exalted be He) to guide your steps to reach it.
4. Work hard
If you work hard towards achieving your goal, Insha’Allah you will be successful. Be warned though – success does not come easy. You need to put in the time and effort. Sometimes, your efforts might seem in vain, but never stop trying. If you fall, pick yourself up and try again, but don’t stop trying. “Say (O Muhammad): O my people! Work according to your power. Lo! I too am working. Thus ye will come to know for which of us will be the happy sequel” [Surah Al-An’aam, Verse 135]. Remember that Allah only tests us to make us stronger and to bring us closer to Him. Work hard and you will reap the fruits of your labour.
5. Prepare for success
Before I’d even set foot in Tanzania, I’d have visions of myself standing at Uhuru Peak, waving my South African flag. I knew that the journey to the summit was going to be a tough one, so I needed to be mentally and physically prepared for it.
During the many grueling hours of endurance training, running in the rain and training on bitterly cold winter nights, there were many times when I was ready to quit – but that vision stayed clear in my head and kept me focused.
Keep your eye on the prize. When you feel like you’ve had enough and you’re ready to throw in the towel, visualize how you’ll feel if you were to succeed at reaching your goal. That should be enough motivation to keep you going.
6. Be patient – good things come to those who persevere
On the night we set out to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. I had no fight left in me, let alone any strength to take on the intense final ascent. I remember praying and asking Allah [SWT] to guide me and make it possible for me to summit. The night was cold and energy levels were dwindling. The hike was arduous – literally one step at a time, “pole-pole” (which means ‘slowly, slowly’ in Swahili), and the summit, at that point, seemed out of reach. Then came the moment that I’d been living for…ten long hours later I stood at Uhuru Peak, the highest point of Africa – and I was elated. I also realized that this moment might have been missed, had I given up.
My advice to you is this: the road will be long and the journey will be tiring, but do not lose hope and don’t despair; “O ye who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer; for Allah is with those who patiently persevere” [Surah al-Baqara, Verse 153].
There are no age-limitations to achieving your goals; there’s no rule that you have to be six to learn to ride a bicycle. I read once about a woman who was 83 when she obtained her first university degree. When asked why she chose to study when her life was nearly drawing to a close, she responded, “You’re never too old to dream.” So dream your dreams, set goals for yourself and make sure that what you put into it will culminate in what you want to get out of it. “Set your goals high enough to inspire you and low enough to encourage you” [Anonymous].
Know of someone who’s done something outstanding at an unexpected age? Are you that person? Share your story and inspire others below!
About the Author:
Faiza Dean is a vibrant young professional – her field of specialization is adult learning, and she is employed as a Learning and Development Consultant for a multi-national company based in South Africa. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology, as well as qualifications in Project Management and Business Administration. One of her favourite pastimes is reading about Islamic History. Faiza’s motto is PURPOSE, and in an effort to fulfill her purpose, is actively involved in community upliftment projects and youth forums.