Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh!
Every January, there is one industry that makes a substantial boost in sales; the fitness industry. Mixing the regret and guilt from overeating at celebrations with a renewed commitment to change, people spend and subscribe to gyms and programs with a heightened sense of enthusiasm and carelessness for the costs.
That is naturally every person’s ambition at the start of an endeavor. Brainstorming ideas, researching solutions, and crafting plans are always enjoyable. That initial picture-perfect image of something we wish existed seems, in that point in time, just within reach.
Since these elaborate plans and goals are so common, it begs the following question:
Why is it so uncommon for such perfect plans and goals to not be achieved? At the start, everyone shares in the following essential characteristics:
However, what truly makes a successful endeavor is dedication and discipline. These two qualities separate the successful achievers from the less successful ones. This holds true in fitness as well as spirituality.
It is very easy to come up with a “perfect” plan, to start at a specific time (such as January 1st), or to purchase merchandise that will inspire you to execute this plan. However, if there is no discipline, then the chaos of this world and laziness will soon topple these campaigns.
Unexpected illness, temperament weather, social invitations, heartbreak, lack of immediate results, and many more messy realities distract people from executing their plans or make them give up all together.
Dedication is to push through the difficult times and keep the eye on the prize, while discipline prevents you from becoming complacent. The Prophet, peace be upon him, was also commanded to maintain discipline in his affairs just like us. Allah says,
فَاسْتَقِمْ كَمَا أُمِرْتَ وَمَن تَابَ مَعَكَ وَلَا تَطْغَوْا ۚ إِنَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ – 11:112
So remain on a right course as you have been commanded, [you] and those who have turned back with you [to Allah ], and do not transgress. Indeed, He is Seeing of what you do.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ – 46:13
Indeed, those who have said, “Our Lord is Allah,” and then remained on a right course – there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.
When you come to make your resolutions, here are some practical tips that could help maintain consistency and discipline.
Make your expectations realistic. Overburdening yourself with grand plans over a short term will only lead to disappointment.
Set your plan to short-term sprints. For example, having a 6-month plan broken down into 12 2-week objectives.
Have a friend or partner join you on your endeavor to maintain encouragement.
Have a physical calendar or whiteboard that you could check on a daily basis and not forget.
Document your progress throughout your journey (such as having a fitness journal)
Make the process fun and enjoyable. For example, while memorizing a Surah, learn its background and any stories that are related to it, along with interesting facts about it.
Most importantly, have the intention that whatever your resolution it is, one way or the other it is to worship Allah more efficiently.
For more information, I highly suggest reading the book Grit by Angela Duckworth.
May Allah help us in always pleasing Him, and keep our feet planted firm in this life and the next.