A few years ago, I was chatting with a friend and we were talking about the projects and activities I had to do. At the time, I had two kids under the age of five, I was studying, working part time, active in a Muslim youth organisation, and my husband’s long working hours meant I had to run the household needs; the list of goals I had, yet wasn’t working towards, was much longer!
I was stressed and tired. But I brushed it off by saying “It’s just that I have too many things to do now”. My friend’s response illuminated my situation with much-needed clarity! She explained, “But you will always have too many things to do!” She was right.
Every Muslim wants to succeed in this life and most importantly in the hereafter. Many people, however, allow the “too many things to do” attitude to block the real pathway towards being productive. There is a difference between ‘busy-ness’ and productivity which brings with it a sort of bliss from your chosen lifestyle.
Being Productive vs. Busy…
You will feel content when you are productive, but that is not necessarily the case when you are just ‘busy’. As a success coach, I worked with many people who aspire to be high achievers, but in aiming for that they sometimes allow their activities to become a burden on them. It starts becoming a part of a person’s false identity; ‘the more activities I sign up for, roles I take on, then the more productive I am’.
The PRAISE model
I use this model in coaching as a ‘productivity reality check’; this helps people renew their commitment to productivity and progress forward, and move away from any state that is holding them back from the ‘Real Deal’.
Plan your day around the most beloved things to Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala). Such things are the path to eternal success. The rest of your activities must have a good intention (i.e. work, study, projects, house chores, etc) but should all fall between your top priorities (salah) and compulsory acts as a Muslim.
Taking a rest is to re-set you! A productive Muslim must have timely breaks in the day where rest is in making Du’a (supplication), Dhikr (remembrance of Allah (swt)), and Tafakkur (reflecting). The idea of a good rest to many people is to stretch out on the couch and do nothing (while simultaneously idly think/worry about stuff!). It’s OK to recline on your couch, but why not do dhikr or tafakkur during that time? Nothing is as simple, beneficial, relaxing and energizing as resting while doing the above mentioned beautiful acts of worship.
Some goals need to be maintained (i.e. reciting a chapter of Quran everyday, for life!) other goals must be finished (i.e. submitting an assignment). Either way, if your goals are not being achieved in the standard and time you set yourself, then you must investigate…
Be curious. This is where you ask yourself powerful questions. Why are you not achieving your goals? How can you change your results? What is not working? The key is to acknowledge that you make your choices – consciously or unconsciously.
Getting support from family and friends is valuable, but having a mentor can be very beneficial too. A mentor is the person that helps you become aware of your blind spots, holds you accountable for your commitments, and supports you in times of challenges.
As Muslims we must aim for ‘_Ihsan_’ (excellence) in what we do. I believe it is easier to achieve ‘Ihsan’ when a person truly loves, understands and enjoys what they are doing. If you are not enjoying an activity you do, find a way to motivate yourself to enjoy it!
I believe it is beneficial for a productive Muslim to go through the above ‘productive reality check’ on a regular basis. When things just seem too much, take a pause to reflect – most of the time it’s not exactly the events themselves that cause us to feel stressed, tired, or anxious; it is the way we perceive those events that makes the difference.
About the author
Dalya Ayoub; a wife, mother, life Coach and trainer living in Australia. Her company ‘LifeMatters’ aims at empowering Muslim women to be, do and have the best. Dalya is currently writing her first book “Pathways to ultimate Success: An Islamic Perspective” to be released in 2013 insha’Allah.