Every now and then I go through a phase where a phrase gets stuck in my mind. For example, the phrase ‘There is no failure, only feedback’ struck a chord with me. It wasn’t the right note though. I had to tweak it before I could embrace it. I found posing it as a question, made the concept a powerful one: ‘What would you do if failure mattered not?’. I could see that written as a huge neon light sign outside my window!
My current one is ‘If you aren’t driving your life, someone else is!’.
Feeling like your time is not your own. Waiting on others before you make decisions or take the next step. Having achievements to your name that in your heart you don’t feel they are yours. It could be because you’re not really sure where you’re heading to so any direction will do. Or perhaps your life is being driven by other people’s expectations and plans or your own fears and limiting beliefs.
Let’s see what you can do to reclaim your car and your journey back and take charge of your life.
What is your reality?
The best place to start a journey is to find out where you are on the map. Get acquainted with yourself: your likes and dislikes, interests, strengths and weakness. Do you work better alone or with groups? Ask yourself specific questions about your circumstances in relation to your health, family, finances, relationships, your imaan. Use some kind of a scale to help you identify where you are. Write it down. You may be surprised that certain areas are better than you had imagined and others not as good. Other ways include asking others to give you feedback. This works well with work colleagues and many do it for their annual performance reviews. It gets a bit tricky when we get to personal relations. Our friends and family may not be as objective as we’d like them to be. Maybe a select few who you consider to be mature and wise could give you feedback. Take action and pay attention to your response. Do you get quickly angry or frustrated when things do not go your way? Do you find people coming to you for a chat when they need someone to talk to?
Where are you heading to?
The ultimate destination a Muslim hopes for is nearness to Allah in Jannah. The question is what is the post code (zip code) you will enter into your satellite navigator to help you get there? Curing the ill? Eliminating poverty? Making education accessible to everyone? Providing clean water to all? Looking after orphans? What gives you butterflies? Excites you so you hear cheering all around you? Paints a beautiful smile on your face when you think of it? Be specific: what is it in detail, the things you see, hear and feel.
Step out and identify what do you need to do just before this amazing dream? Take a step back and identify what you need to do just before the step you identified earlier. Keep stepping back until you arrive at the present time. Other than helping you with your pedometer step count, this exercise will help you in gaining clarity and being better able to prioritise. What do you need to be, do and have now to equip yourself for the journey. When you have a decision to make, you decide based on how the expected outcome could help you reach your destination.
How will you get there?
Review – No journey is ever smooth so take the time to review where you are relative to where you expected to be and adjust accordingly.
Reconnect – in the hustle and bustle of life it is easy to lose your heart and connection with Allah. Use the opportunities of acts of worship, supplications and remembrance during your daily activities to clear your heart and find your peace.
Learn to say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ wisely – both are needed. ‘Yes’ to what will help you fulfil your purpose holistically and ‘Yes’ to opportunities and stepping outside your comfort zone. ‘No’ to what takes you away from the pleasure of Allah, fulfilling your duties as per your roles in life and derail you from your path. Say them wisely and respectfully because what you say and do is a reflection of whom you are, not the person you are dealing with.
The journey matters. It’s not just about the destination.
Granted, that at times you have to do some hard grafting. If it starts to become too much change what you’re doing or change your thinking about it. Flexibility and creativity are amazing things. Use them to improve your situation: what can you do differently? Who can you speak to?
Changing your mindset is vital because instead of making the change you may just end up making excuses. What are the lessons you need to learn from this situation before you could move on? What are the blessings here? What is this preparing me for?
So why does the journey matter? Because the destination and outcome are not guaranteed. You could do so much but some things like death, illness and even unexpected world and life events happen that you have no control over. Trust that Allah accepts what you do with pure intention and permissible means regardless of whether you made it to your destination because of circumstances beyond your control. Nothing is ever wasted unless you decide it is. And everything is a gift if you receive it with open hands.
This whole ‘take charge of your life’ stuff will take time.
Be brave, be kind and take the wheel!