Setting Goals

To each is a goal to which he turns; then strive together (as in a race) Towards all that is good. Wheresoever you are, Allah will bring you together. For Allah has power over all things. H.Q. 2:148.

Setting goals is important as they give direction, meaning, and purpose to life. Most people do not set goals. Therefore most people are mediocre in the six major areas of life. One should set simple goals in all the six major areas. On the other extreme are people who over obsess about their goals. For example; they set several goals for their financial and work life, but neglect the social and spiritual life. These individuals often experience burnout and unhappiness.

Furthermore one should not set too many goals. How many of us set numerous goals year after year but end up not succeeding at most if not all? They then fall into a state of depression over being a failure. Furthermore when one sets too many goals, this adds tremendous pressure and stress and leads to goal fatigue quickly. Do not be overly ambitious in the goal-setting department. Keep it SIMPLE. Many goal-setters are on what I call the goal setting treadmill. This is the personality that always set goals, have elaborate charts, spreadsheets, notes etc. They then have these broken down into daily small/smart goals, then hourly goals etc. I recommend setting no more than two goals for the six major areas of life. Once these are accomplished then move on to more. The six major areas are;

1. Physical
2. Intellectual
3. Spiritual
4. Social
5. Emotional
6. Financial

Setting goals in each of these areas should ensure that you lead a balanced life. How many times have you seen businessmen and professionals work on their jobs or businesses seven days a week. What about their family/social life? What about their health or physical life? Of the people that set goals, most only set financial goals. It has been ingrained in us since grade school to grow up, finish school, go to college to get a good job so we can live a luxurious life. But what school didn’t teach us is that most who take this perspective have marital problems, health issues with no social life.

One could even set too many goals in the Spiritual department as evidence from this hadith, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “ Have I not been informed that you offer prayer all the night and fast the whole day? I said,”yes.” He (SAW) said, “ Do not do so; offer prayer at night and also sleep; fast for a few days and give up fasting for a few days because your body has a right on you, and your eye has a right on you, and your guest has a right on you, and your wife has a right on you…” Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 8.155 narrated by Abdullah bin Amr (RA)

In other words, our life must be balanced. We cannot pursue one goal so excessively and to the detriment of other areas of our life. These other areas have rights!

Why I Exercise 7 Days a Week

The Prophet (peace be on him) once wrestled with a man called Rukanah who was well-known for his strength, throwing him down more than once. (Reported by Abu Daoud.) In another report of this incident, the Prophet (peace be on him) started wrestling with him. As the fight was hard, Rukanah said, “A sheep for a sheep.” The Prophet (peace be on him) then threw him. The man said, “The same again.” The Prophet (peace be on him) threw him again, and the man said, “The same again.” The Prophet (peace be on him) threw him a third time. The man then said, “What shall I tell my wife? One sheep was eaten by the wolf, one ran away, but what about the third” Then the Prophet (peace be on him) said, “We are not going to defeat you and take something from you as well. Take your sheep!”

I enjoy working out and eating right with a passion. I am addicted to that healthy clean feeling that comes with the discipline of self restraint and the sacrifice of putting my body through sweat and struggle on a daily basis. Jack Lalane (96 year old health guru) said; “Nutrition is King and Exercise is Queen, put them both together and you have a Kingdom.” If you see Jack Lalane today, he does not walk bent over or very slow like the typical 96 year old. In fact to hear him talk, you wouldn’t think he was this old. His mind still seems sharp and he walks with great speed.

Many Muslims for whatever reasons become very unbalanced. Surprisingly many think that working out and staying super fit is body worship. My response to this mindset is; “A strong believer is better than a weak believer.” I thank Allah that I can jump up out of my bed everyday with lots of energy and vigor. I don’t need the coffee and teas to get started.

The reason I work out daily is that I like to set a context for myself. Most people have in their mind that the “experts” say you should workout daily because your body should rest to repair muscle. So with this, most will take and run with it. I set the context that I must exercise daily even if it is for just 20 minutes. I think this is better than saying, “I will work out for four days per week, three on four off or whatever.” So for me, I know that if say that I will work out every day, I am setting the context that exercise is a way of life for me and that I don’t feel like my day is complete until I accomplish my workout. I run half marathons quite often. When I am not training for a marathon, I run an average of 6 miles four days per week. The other days I am lifting weights or doing calisthenics. I know with my workout routine I can cheat every now and then on my diet and still not feel or see it in my physique. I believe another important part of my diet and exercise routing is fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. This has really helped me not to focus on food so much. I even lift weights or run on days that I am fasting. Last week I was doing some business travel, so my schedule was disrupted a bit. For the four days I was traveling, I took advantage of the hotel work out facilities at the Hyatt. On one of those days, I had to do pushups for 15 or 20 minutes. I had spent most of the day on a plane. If I had set the context that I will work out for four or five days per week only, I would have done what most would do and that is to skip working out altogether.

It is easier to find excuses that it is to stick with it. I know for me, the benefit is greater if I go ahead and sacrifice and push through the workout. I am not saying this routine/regimen is for everyone. It does take considerable discipline to manage. But if you can manage, your physique, confidence, and overall output levels will be through the roof. People will wonder how you are able to accomplish so much within a 24hour period. During the time of the Prophet (SAW), the Sahabah (men and women) had what I would call “applied” fitness. Everything they did throughout the day was a workout. They didn’t own TV’s, waterbeds, vehicles and all the other comforts that make us lazy. I workout daily and I don’t loose muscle or feel fatigued all the time. On days that I have a long run, my legs may thumps for another day or so. But it is never anything that makes me feel like I need to rest and do nothing.

If you want a program that gives great results, I think the P90 X program is an excellent program for in home workouts. The program does give results if you stick with it. I have never used it myself, but I know people who have and it has worked wonders with in a very short period of time. From what I have seen from the infomercials, there is a heavy focus on calisthenics. The most important thing is that you have to get your body moving now and everyday. Going for a brisk walk or jog is better than sitting at home doing nothing. Alhamdulillah, I am fortunate enough to be able to exercise in the middle of the day during the lunch hour. If this doesn’t work for you, then workout right after fajr for 30 minutes. Insha Allah there will be future posts about what the Prophet, the scholars and experts say about living a healthy and fit life. At the end of the day, by being more fit, you will have more strength to worship Allah without feeling lazy. We should thank Allah for the good health he has blessed us with. Thanking is not just done by the tongue. We also have to show our gratitude by using this great favour that Allah has bestowed upon us the way Allah wants us to use it. So in the meantime make the resolution to be a healthy Muslim!