Q&A FRIDAY: EPISODE 02

How To Balance It All?

My Personal Insights on

How to Do it All

What if I told you there was a way to do it all? 

To keep up with all your regular stuff and follow new and exciting goals, without losing track of your Islamic responsibilities… 

In today’s episode, I want to give you personal advice from experience on how to do it all.

Being a Muslim means we can’t just pursue Dunya-related goals alone. We have to keep our Deen in mind while setting goals. Which only means one thing- MORE GOALS!

So sometimes, it can get a little crazy trying to keep up with all the different kinds of goals we have added to our to-do list. 

Is there a right way to balance it all?

I don’t know about the “perfect way”, but I do know what works and what almost never does, from my own personal experience as well as the experience of people much wiser than me.  

Scroll down and listen to the episode to find out what it takes for us Muslims to balance all our deen and dunya-related goals!

 

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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF Q&A FRIDAY: EPISODE 02

AOA, Aimen here! Welcome to the second episode of Q&A FRIDAY, where I answer self-development questions from other growth-oriented Muslims, just like you. 🙂  Thank you so much for being here.

Before we begin, I have a confession to make. After publishing the first QnA episode, I got some feedback from one of my friends and to make sure whether there was some truth in that, I replayed the episode over and over again and to be honest, it was true. I sounded stiff. More formal. Like I was delivering a lecture. Like I was reading off a script. You wanna know why? Because I was. And That’s my confession. I scripted it.

And so I have decided that I’m going to try and be more casual from now onward. Because I want these QnA sessions to be more casual, friendly even, like I would talk to you as if you were sitting in front of me. Not delivering a lecture. Blog posts, videos, training and workshops are for that. But podcast, here we are going to keep it casual or at least try to. Haven’t really done a podcast before, this is my first time. That’s another confession. But that’s probably something you already know. But hey, hey, it’s all about learning and growing. Alright. Okay. Now let’s get into it.

Today’s question is from Foodie, is that right Foodie, that’s a pen name obviously. And she writes How to balance your deen and dunya efficiently? Like… if we want to excel in one we (unknowingly) completely let go of the other. Is there any way to balance them the right way? To give you a brief & very UNNEEDED insight on where this Q is coming from: (Trust me Foodie, it’s not unneeded) My high school final exam is in 40 days inn shaa Allah; I still have to brainstorm about the degree I’d like to do + I’m very keen on doing an arabic course simultaneously + I’ve lately been fangirling about the online courses available nowadays + I’m trying to acquire healthy habits & be fit + etc etc etc! (Oh my God, loving the enthusiasm Foodie, this is great! :D)  I’m inn shaa Allah planning to do all this once I finish my exams…. & the reactions I’m getting from everyone is making doubts creep into my mind already. But I’m very determined to make it all work! It’d help me a great deal if you’d just gimme a few positive tips to handle all of them without compromising on my Islamic growth…

JazakAllah for reaching out, Foodie. That’s a really good question. Keeping the personal scenario aside, I think everybody is going through that problem… like how do we balance it all? How do we manage to everything on a daily basis? That’s a very common question.

You know how I would feel if I were in your place? I would be super-excited at first but then…. I’d be overwhelmed.

So if I understand correctly, your goals fall under the four categories we actually talked about these categories in the Plan-to-Action Bootcamp.

So taking an Arabic course would fall under the Islam category, brainstorming degree would fall under the career-related category. And taking online courses and healthy lifestyle would all fall in the self-related category. And I really don’t know behind the three etc. But let’s just stick to these four goals for now. 

Many Muslims are trying to work on these different areas of life simultaneously which is pretty great because not so many are even bothering to work on any one of those areas. So hats off to you for having so many exciting and amazing goals. But it sounds to me like you’re trying to do it all.

So let me start off with a quote by Ibn-e-Manzur. And he writes in his Arabic dictionary:

Every praiseworthy characteristic has two blameworthy poles. Generosity is the middle between miserliness and extravagance. Courage is the middle between cowardice and recklessness. Humanity has been commanded to avoid every such blameworthy trait. [Source: Lisan al-Arab 15/209]

It’s a praiseworthy thing- work ethic and enthusiasm to grow, you know. On the one hand, there’s the kind of people who don’t even bother putting any effort to become better, they don’t do anything to move the growth needle, right? On the other hand, there are those who put way too much on their plate and aren’t able to finish anything.

Now I don’t mean to discourage you or take away your extremely vibrant attitude, but I can’t just cheer you on without giving you my personal insight because that would be wrong.

You’ve got to ask yourself- what do you want? Do you want to jump in everything and then leave it all a few months down the road. Or are you in this till the end?

So take the example of courses: Starting it is not going to be hard. Because right now you’re in the excited phase and starting is not going to be hard. But then do you want to complete it? Same with the healthy lifestyle. Do you just want to adopt it for a few months? Or are you in for the long-term? 

From where I stand I see that you want it long-term. You want to complete the courses. And you want to develop this healthy lifestyle and you want to stick to it obviously, anybody would. 

In that case, you’re going to have to take the stable consistent (#boring) approach rather than the all-or-none exciting approach.

Can you do it all simultaneously? Honestly- yes, yes you can. I completely believe that you can. And all those of you who are listening with a 100 million goals in your head, you can. You can do it all. 

But should you start doing everything all at once? Now that’s the real question isn’t it?

And the answer is no. Not at all.

What that means is: You need to get into momentum with one goal first. So you pick one for and you practice it till you’re in the habit of working on it automatically on schedule.

So if you’re asking for a timeline- I’d say personally you should at least invest 3 weeks MINIMUM, to one goal. Only one. So if it’s Arabic, then it’s Arabic. And if it’s being fit, then let it be ONLY THAT for the first couple weeks or three weeks, at least.

From my experience I’d say that a good litmus test to know when you’re in the habit is you don’t have to remind yourself to get up and work on that goal. There will be days when you’re feeling lazy, not so motivated, not enthusiastic or excited about the goal AT ALL- but you are still going to get up and just do it. You know. You’re going to have that kind of discipline to get up and work on that goal. 

And when you’re at that stage with one goal, I think it’s safe to say that you can move on to goal #2. And move on doesn’t mean you drop everything with goal 1. Now add another goal to your schedule and then you work on that.  

An example from my life would be the MYP-Weekly Newsletter. When I started this Newsletter last year, I decided that I would first get into the habit of publishing one reminder every week on Friday before I would move to another goal for Muslim Youth Programme. 

In the beginning it was hard. I had to get up and motivate myself to push a reminder every week. But then after a while, I got so used to that, that not sending the Newsletter was much more uncomfortable for me. Because even though on days that I was tired and lazy and I had too much on my plate, I would still do it.

And then I was ready to move to, now, this year, which when we started this QnA Friday episodes, so that’s the goal #2. And that’s when I started recording episodes. That too, I told you guys that we’d start off with one or two episodes a month and take it up from there. Rather then just telling myself that from tomorrow, or starting next month, or starting 2019, I’m going to be publishing an episode every week or every day of the week. I can’t do that. I take it slow because that way I know that I’ll minimize the chances of failing. And then when I’m in the habit of publishing QnA episodes regularly, then I can move on to goal#3- could be video, could be Workshops. Could be anything. Whatever.

Point is the most beautiful thing is doing one thing consistently rather than starting a hundred things and not finishing anything. 

If there’s anything worse than not starting, it’s starting and then leaving everything.

When you start and then you leave, it makes it so much harder for you to start again. And then you do it again, and the next time it’s going to be even harder for you to start again.

Because of your bad track-record of leaving things unfinished. It demotivates you every time, and your subconscious is shouting “I don’t think I’ll be able to finish this or continue doing this”. And that’s exactly why you should not start everything all at once. 

Another thing I want to mention is that there are two kinds of goals, right. The first kind would be goals with a beginning and an ending. (Like taking a course)

And the other kind are goals that are more like habits. Lifestyle changes that you want to keep for the rest of your life. Such as healthy eating habits or exercise, stuff like that.

I would personally advise that you should not add two intense short-term goals on your plate. Like taking courses, okay? Don’t keep more than one. Because the more short-term goals you add on your plate, the more energy they will suck out of you.

So it’s not only about time. You might have time, you might have a lot of free time in your day, but not every hour has to be packed with learning. Because it’s going to exhaust you. You have to keep your energy levels in mind as well.

The more your energy level is divided, your focus and attention is divided between different goals. You are not going to be able to accomplish any one of them to the best of your ability.

So put your entire focus and attention on one intense short-term goal at one time. Unless you really have to undertake more than one intense short-term goal, don’t do it.

And as for the long-term goals or goals without an ending or a beginning, such as eating healthy- you can work on those along with your short-term goals like studying Arabic.

So if you’re starting a healthy diet, start off by dropping something unhealthy from your diet like refined sugar or junk food or soda. So maybe for the first couple weeks, that’s all your healthy diet looks like- you not taking sugar. Your dinner, lunch, breakfast- everything else stays the same.

Then when you feel like you’re ready to drop something else or add something else to your diet such as lemon water detox daily or I don’t know, a vegetable salad everyday, then do that.

Don’t change everything about your diet all at once- that’s what good dietitians are going to tell you. Or you’ll get sick of it. Then you’ll go back to your bad eating habits and that’s the last thing in the world you want.

Our bodies and our minds need time to adjust to new things. So although you may think that you’re going to be able to do everything differently, starting tomorrow, or in your case Foodie, after your exam. BOOM. You press the button and everything changes. Yeah. For a day or a few weeks but it’s not going to last.

Trust me, I’m the living proof of that. Throughout my entire teenage years, that’s exactly what I used to do. And I can even put in some screenshots of my plans of fixing everything starting tomorrow, or starting — particular date, or after this Ramadan, or the New Year. I wanted to change everything all at once. And it never worked! 

SubhanAllah as I grew mature, I realized that it’s never going to work because that’s not our bodies and minds work. 

We just have to understand that and accept that. 

You want to change things fast. So I get the enthusiasm you have of doing all these different things all at once as I’ve been there. I’ve been so many freakin’ times. Can’t even count those times. And you know what would happen? I’d be overwhelmed with the amount of things I had to do. And the funny thing is- I didn’t have to do any of them. 

So back to the question: to balance it all- don’t start it all at once. Start working on one goal, make sure you get into the habit of it, then move on to goal # 2, get in the habit of that, practice, repeat it until you get the hang of it, you’re doing it automatically whether you want to or not, you don’t need motivation to drive you. And then goal #3.

So maybe Insha’Allah a month or two from now, you’ll already be balancing your career-related goals with personal development goals. You’ll be in the habit of eating healthy, will be studying Arabic regularly and at the same time, taking these spicy online courses while also taking out time for your family and you’re excelling in your career.

But how did all of that happen? It didn’t happen all at once.

Set your anchors. That’s how I’d say it.

Hold a firm grip on one thing before grabbing another because remember you only have two hands. If you’re going to hold ten new and different things all at once, it’s going to get heavy and some things are just going to drop on their own. 

So to sum it up- think about how you’d transform over the next 6 months, 9 months or a year. What goals do you want to accomplish in this time? Conserve your energy and divide it equally over time. Don’t let it all out in the beginning and then be drained after some time.

Although the picture of you doing so many wonderful things right now is so very appealing, it’s not very long-lasting.

That’s it. So there you have it! A few of my personal insights on how to balance different Deen and Dunya-related goals.

This is, BTW, a very huge topic with many many different limbs and we’ll be covering more of this topic, Insha’Allah in the later episodes. 

For now, How do you balance it all? You don’t start it all at once!  

And Allah S.W.T knows best! 

Foodie, that was my A to your Q.  

I really hope you got something useful out of this Friday’s episode. 

For the rest of you who’re listening, if you have a question you’d like for me to answer on the QnA Friday podcast, just click the button on the top yellow bar that says “ASK ME YOUR QUESTION” & it’ll redirect you to the page where you can send me your Q.

I pray Allah S.W.T helps us all balance our Deen and Dunya most efficiently, Ameen.

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SALAM! I’M AIMEN.

I help Young Muslims on their journey of Personal Development. I believe it’s always the right time to make ourselves better, what do you think?

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Now I’d Love to hear from you…

1. If you were to pick only one long-term goal/ habit and only one short-term goal right now for the next 3 weeks- what would they be?

2. And what are the other goals that can wait a few weeks (or months) till you start getting in the habit of the two goals you choose first? 

Tell me about it in the comments section below. Insha’Allah the best discussions will happen after the episode. 🙂

So many readers come here looking for inspiration to dream big and work on their goals. Your personal tips or insights in the comments may be exactly what they’re looking for to start working on their goals! 

Finally, remember to keep both your Deen and Dunya in mind when you’re setting goals: 

“But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world…”  [Quran Surah Al-Qasas 28; Ayah 77]

JazakAllah for listening, reading and adding to the conversation. It means more to me than you know! 🙂

I’ll talk to you in the next episode of Q&A Friday, Insha’Allah!

BarakAllahu Feek. Assalamualaikum warahmatullahe Wabarakatuhu.

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Founder & Author l Muslim Youth Programme
Aimen is a Medical Doctor who teaches self-development to young Muslims struggling with the fitnah of this century. Her aim is to educate and empower Muslims with practical advice on self-development, productivity, studies and health, with insights on Islamic psychology. Jumpstart your productivity and take action on your goals by signing up to her latest FREE productivity Bootcamp for Muslims.
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