New Year, New Hope
"A flower can only blossom if it has the right amount of air light and water. Don't expect your imaan to blossom without the rainy days."
2020 has undoubtedly been a challenging year that has pushed many of us to our limits. Cherishing what we have has never been more important. It's a perfect time to harness the power of gratitude and embed it in our daily routines. As the New Year approaches, it’s an opportunity to focus on what’s important, what perhaps needs to be more important and what can be cast aside!
A third of resolutions don’t make it beyond January. More often than not it’s because they’re not the right resolutions. So how does one make the right resolutions?
Fortunately there’s a wonderful blueprint to approaching New Year’s Resolutions to be found at the epicentre of the Islamic spiritual calendar. The Nights of Destiny in Ramadan form the chronological launchpad for many of our pledges, promises and plans to ourselves and to Allah.
Essential to the success of the process is to focus on core areas that constitute the tapestry of our lives.
- Spirituality & connection with Allah
- Purpose & Personal Growth
- Physical Body & Health
- Career & Finances
- Contribution to society and others
Your Jeem Journal has a Jeem Life Mapper section that serves as a toolkit to flesh out your plans for the year ahead and capitalise on the enormous power of introspecting with focus and purpose.
The beauty of the framework above is that it can be called upon at any time, not just the Nights of Qadr. Use it to create New Year's resolutions, to turbo-charge a poignant event or even when you're just feeling reflective.
So here are seven steps to help make resolutions for 2021 that have a greater chance of sticking.
Have a “Why”
Giving an action a “why”, a purpose, is the single most powerful way of bestowing it with resonance. Setting an intention (or niyyat) maps out the direction of travel and the destination. Crucially, it confers a resolution with meaning, thereby switching something from being mundane to meaningful. Read about the Magic Formula for finding more meaning here.
An ambitious, audacious goal or set of goals is likely to motivate not only you but those around you. It also serves to remind us of the art of the possible, our God-given potential.
Break Big Dreams Into Smaller Steps
Although the goal should be big, the steps to get there should be tiny. Small, achievable steps deliver momentum and motivation. Learning Arabic seems daunting. Learning the Arabic numbers seems infinitely more actionable. The aim is to get 1% better every day.
“If you get one percent better each day for one year, you'll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.” - James Clear, Atomic Habits.
Reminder, Routine, Reward
To embed better habits, we need to take a quick peek at the science of habits. Each habit has 3 stages: Reminder (the trigger for the habit), routine (the habit itself; the action you take), and reward (the benefit of performing the habit).
A new habit has much more chance of taking root and becoming established if it’s anchored or stacked upon an existing habit or trigger. You’ve got a greater chance of washing your face if you habit-stack it with the act of brushing your teeth. In a similar vein, connect the act of journaling with something you regularly do already, such as one of the daily prayers. Many Jeemers have made a special place for their journal beside their prayer mats for this very reason.
Rewarding oneself for the small and big achievements is key to creating positive feedback loops. Don’t be shy in patting yourself on the back.
Committing to something new is special. Telling others about your commitment is a potent means of ensuring you stick to it. It’s got to be easier to endure than any awkward silences when friends check in on your progress. Harness the power of the Jeem community by sharing your progress and promises.
Look in the Rear-View Mirror
By reframing resolutions that had to be gracefully retired in the past, we can derive very useful insights into what works for us and what doesn’t. Converting perceived failures into lessons to be learnt is in itself can be a powerful side effect of the whole process.
Last but by no means least, be grateful. Forget perfection. Be kind to yourself. Be grateful for the inspiration, the opportunity, the journey. You can read more about taking gratitude to the next level here.
Let's pray for each other to actualise our potential.