By Fayez Khwaja from Atlanta
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
We are in the middle of the month of Ramadan. It is about now that some start to lose their enthusiasm, and start to derail their planning efforts. How can you stay motivated to stay in optimal form so you keep progressing quickly on achieving your plan that you set for the month?
Below are some tips to keep you motivated during the middle portion of the month. Usually, as we get to the last 10 nights, the energy comes back due to the search for Lailat Al-Qadr. If we lose our motivation during the middle days, we may possibly be in a position of failing to meet the goals.
Now is a good time to check how you are doing on achieving your goals. We are at the one-third mark for Ramadan, so it may be easy to check if you are on schedule. Have you fallen behind in some goals? Are you able to adjust slightly to realign yourself? Do some of your goals looking daunting or overwhelming?
As you review your goals, also look at the “Why” for each goal. Are the Whys still motivating? If not, you may want to reword or rewrite them.
Check your schedule. Does it still have the changes you incorporated to your time for work on the goals? Have you slipped back into your old habits? Bring your new habits or processes back, and see if there is a way to keep them in place.
Check how you are spending your daytime hours, while you are fasting. Have you added some time wasters into your day? Are you spending more time sleeping now that you are not so busy or are maybe lower in energy?
Much of the above falls under the concept of holding yourself accountable, but in a nice way. If you can get into the habit of checking on these regularly, the chances of your success go up dramatically. God Willing.
Celebrate small victories. Another nice thing to do is to set mini-goals for a day or an afternoon. “I will do X before sundown.” This can help you make progress on a goal that you may be stuck on or struggling with. This can also help you push yourself harder if you find yourself cruising through some of your goals. Maybe the goal was too easy, and you want to crank it up a notch or two. Once you meet the mini-goal celebrate the victory, reward yourself.
If you feel some of your goals are starting to feel overwhelming, consider breaking them down into smaller more easily achievable goals. “I have a plate of food that I don’t like, but I have to finish. If I turn it into 10 smaller pieces, I can finish these 10 morsels.” It’s a mind trick that can help get you over the hump.
Another thing to consider is how your energy level is. You probably don’t feel as energized as you did at the beginning of the month. That is understandable, the initial burst of excitement at the start of the month is gone, your diet and has changed, and your schedule has changed. Your body may not have adjusted yet.
There are other things you should also look into to make sure you keep yourself with good energy to keep pushing forward. Look at your food intake. Are you eating healthy foods, in healthy portions? Are you eating a balanced diet which includes fruits and vegetables? Are you getting a good mix of nutrients to supply your body for the extra demands you are putting on it? Are you getting some exercise to help keep yourself fit and get the benefits of exercise? Are you drinking sufficient amounts of water?
Your goals and your energy are two top items to look into to keep yourself going for the long trek of the month. Ramadan is a type of worship that forces us to modify our lives in order to gain maximum results from it.
Ramadan is the month of Quran. The recitation of the Quran privately, and the recitation of the Quran in the Tarawih prayer should in itself be a motivator for us this month. One of the problems is the lack of understanding we have of the Quran. Think, when was the last time someone started crying during a prayer due to the words of Allah, the Exalted, the High being recited? Take some time during this month to study and understand the words of our Creator. What you learn will, God willing, stay with you beyond the month.
Lastly, some of us may get sick during this month. That is out of our control. There are a number of ways to react. Is this a mercy from Allah, the Exalted, the High, He is giving us time to rest before the final push at the end of the month? Is this a mercy in the He is clearing sins from our records?
Umm Al-Alā reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, visited me when I was sick, and he said, “Be cheerful, O mother of Al-Alā, for when a Muslim becomes sick, Allah takes away his sins just as fire takes away impurities in gold and silver.” (Source: Sunan Abī Dāwūd 3092)
According this hadith, we may still be getting rewarded for the goals we had set due to our intentions.
Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, related from his Lord the Blessed and Exalted, “Verily, Allah has recorded good and bad deeds and he made them clear. Whoever intends to perform a good deed but does not do it, then Allah will record it as a complete good deed. If he intends to do it and does so, then Allah the Exalted will record it as ten good deeds up to seven hundred times as much or even more. If he intends to do a bad deed and does not do it, then Allah will record for him one complete good deed. If he does it, then Allah will record for him a single bad deed.” (Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6126, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 131)
Getting sick during Ramadan is not necessarily a bad thing. It means that you may miss out on activities you enjoy. If you do get sick, make sure that you use the downtime productively as much as you are able. Part of that may mean skipping a fast so you can recover faster.
As the month moves along, try your best to stay motivated. The rewards in this month demand that we stay as much on top of our game. Use your goals, the whys behind your goals to keep yourself going, also pay attention to your energy levels.
May Allah, the Exalted, the High grant us the ability to maximize the rewards we are able to obtain during this month, and give us the ability to make permanent changes to our lives going forward.