Ramadan: A huge opportunity to overcome the challenges in your life

Spirituality
Corporate business in the Middle East. Photo for illustrative purposes only. Getty Images/GCShutter

The spirit of Ramadan is in the air. The mosques are getting full, charity organizations are gearing up for their busiest season, and the sweet scents of your favourite Ramadan sweets are coming from every Muslim household and Ramadan food stall.

With so much excitement and energy in the air, it’s easy to be enthralled by it all and not harness this excitement and enthusiasm for your personal development. But this would be a huge missed opportunity for true self-development.

Ramadan provides the type of self-development environment that helps you overcome any motivational challenge you may face in developing yourself. It is a challenging month because of fasting and late-night prayers; it allows for many moments of self-reflection through Quran recitation and the extra time you spend in the mosque; and it brings families and communities together to support and encourage each other to do good.

Your job is to harness this powerful self-development atmosphere to become a better version of yourself spiritually, physically, socially. Here are some tips:

1. DECIDE TO RESET YOUR LIFE THIS RAMADAN

Make a resolution that you’ll hit the reset button on every aspect of your life this Ramadan. Take a good look at all your roles and areas of life and ask yourself, “If I were to start over again, what would I do differently with my [spirituality, family, work, etc.]?

2. DESIGNATE A SACRED SPACE FOR SELF-DEVELOPMENT

Have a corner in your home (or in the mosque) that you can retreat to every day to take stock and self-reflect on how you want to improve and what actions you can take during (and beyond) Ramadan that would help you become a better version of yourself.

3. REMOVE EVERYTHING THAT DISTRACTS YOU FROM YOUR BEST YOU

What can you delete or eliminate from your life that would help you take a step closer to becoming a better you? Is it the addictive social media apps? Are there WhatsApp Groups that create stress for you? Is there a project you’re not interested in pursuing further? Say no to them and simplify your life.

4. CHANGE YOUR DEFAULT SETTINGS

Reflect on your habits and routines and think about what you do that’s not helping you become the best version of yourself. It could be the food you eat or how you react when your children drive you nuts. Try a new habit or routine that enables you to become a better person. Notice your default adverse reactions and choose positive ones.

5. PLAN FOR FAILURE

This might sound counter-intuitive, but we’re human beings, and we’re bound to fail at our self-development goals (even during Ramadan). Have a plan in place for those days you wake up late, or get angry at work, or eat unhealthily, or snap at a family member, or binge watch Netflix. What will you do? How will you trigger yourself to get back on track and not fall under what psychologists call the ‘What-The-Hell effect’ (for example, you eat a scoop of ice-cream, and that triggers you to say “What the hell; I might as well eat the whole tub!”).

By harnessing the spirit and environment of Ramadan towards improving yourself, you’ll be setting yourself up to grow as a person and bridge the gap between who you are and who you want to be.

Mohammed Faris is an international coach, author, and speaker who helps executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs rebalance their lives spiritually, physically and socially to achieve peak performance and live meaningful lives. He’s the founder of ProductiveMuslim.com and author of The Productive Muslim: Where Faith Meets Productivity.

(Writing by Mohammed Faris; Editing by Seban Scaria seban.scaria@thomsonreuters.com)

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