I can honestly not remember how many times I have sat down, excited and eager with a pen in hand and big goals in mind. Hurrying to write them down, as though they would escape, without thinking about my journey to get there. My mind was primarily focused on the end goal, from wanting it so badly. The result? Little progress, followed by a complete burnout. The end goal wasn’t the problem. Dreaming big is always a great thing alhamdulilaah, it was my own lack of preparation for the journey towards that goal, that was the cause the recurring burnout.
In eagerness to achieve a close relationship with Allaah ta’ala, we can often set goals that, on paper look exciting and easily achievable, but in reality, they can be a hindrance to *real* progress.
In our enthusiasm to strive for the akhirah, it is incredibly easy and tempting to try to do it all. Dive completely into everything. Whether that is tahajjud, sunnah fasts, hifdh etc. Although this is praiseworthy and our efforts will never be wasted in the sight of Allaah ta’ala, starting small and perfecting the basics can be more beneficial.
There is a da’ee that once said the reason people go from ‘practicing’ the deen to not even doing the basics, is because they did not have a firm foundation, to begin with. How true is this? Perhaps we can all relate to it, one way or another at some point in our lives.
I had a realisation ever since returning from a Qur’aan retreat I attended, that if I continued setting goals with only the end goal in sight and ignoring the stepping-stones I need to tread upon to get there. I would be in the exact same position I am now, again and again with little progress.
The reality is, success is a series of small wins. Every little progress deserves to be celebrated and embraced. Any progress you make sincerely towards Allaah no matter how small is a step forward towards that big dream you so desperately want to see come to life.
I’m sure you have all come across the hadeeth “The most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if it is small” [ Bukhaari & Muslim] at one point or another. I really feel this is a hadeeth that should be on display in every home as a reminde (Which is why I created a free printable of it. Downloadable link at the end of the blog post). A reminder to slow down and focus on the journey and your series of small wins. After all, is it not the love of Allaah that we are so desperately trying to earn? The Prophet alayhi salaatu wa sallaam has already told us how to achieve it, so why do we make it hard on ourselves?
As time passed, I learned to be sensible about my goals. Taking into consideration that life isn’t always going to go how I expect it to and so I need to be flexible and be aware of my pockets of time. Understanding that I have responsibilities and so may not be able to achieve as much as I want to in a short amount of time, but working towards it a little every day in pursuit of my Lord’s love and pleasure means more to me.
Whatever it is your heart is yearning to achieve for His Sake, slow down and ask yourself, what is it you can do to avoid burning yourself out, resulting in prolonged stagnation? What steps can you take to ensure that you are striving daily in small doses for the pleasure and love of your Lord?
A mountain does not form over a weak foundation.
Hadeeth poster printable: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3A-txWP7yYsaXFGMHlXTENRZnM/view?usp=sharing