What is a life worth living?
A life worth living is all about making choices in life and living with no regrets. Our time is limited – there is just so much we can do with our time. Hence, we need to make smart choices that will make every day count and so we won’t have any regrets when we are on our deathbeds.
What is a life worth living according to the Qur’an & Sunnah?
It is all about connecting it back to our living purpose. What is our living purpose? It is in the Qur’an:
مَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” [Ad-Dhariyat 51:56]
So everything that we do, every goal we set, must be aligned to our bigger purpose in life, which is to worship Allah SWT.
One of the most common misconceptions that Muslims have is the thinking that the dunya is bad. But it is not the dunya that is bad but al-hayat al-dunya, the comforts of this world that distracts us from our living purpose that is detrimental. We need to remember that we are both Allah’s slave and successor. Hence, we need to live a life that goes according to His laws as well as be someone who contributes and value adds to the life on this earth. We must not forget that we have a responsibility to fulfil on this earth, and we must not live a life where we simply “go with the flow and see how things go.” It’s not simply about following your dreams, following your passion, and you can achieve whatever you want to achieve, but it’s about setting goals for yourself and constantly ensuring that these goals align to our living purpose.
You know why we hate death? Because we have built our dunya and we have grown to be so attached to it, to love it, that we have unknowingly destroyed our akhira. So it’s only wise that we build both our dunya and akhira. That’s the goal of having a life worth living, and worth leaving.
Importance of having life goals
A life worth living starts by having Life Goals. A life without goals is boring, don’t you think? Goals give us directions and happiness; it gives us a reason to live. Goals also help us improve ourself. A life goal is not just a single mountain, where you overcome it and, well, that is it. It should take you through your entire life – it’s a life mission, it is continuous, it goes beyond you even after death.
Why do some people not have life goals?
- Everything is fine! But they forget that everything might be fine now, but not later. Will I have the same energy and health 20 years down the road? Will I still have a stable income 40years on? If you don’t take consistent action starting today… you will face undesired consequences later when it will be too late to change.
- I never achieve my goals! Well, we all have a choice. Do you want to be a defeatist or a go-getter? Ultimately the choice is in your hands. You either (a) give up, or (b) keep trying, and continue trying using different ways this time.
- It’s all written… This is the excuse that destroys us as an ummah. First, we must debunk this misconception that everything that happens to us is absolutely due to the qadar of Allah. Yes of course, we have to believe in that but we need to remember that we play a huge part in the course of things that happen to us too. Consider this equation:
Free will + Allah’s laws + Allah’s permission = Outcome
It requires thinking and planning and discipline in taking action on our part. Aligning that to Allah’s laws, and Allah’s permission (which is where our du’a comes in)… and finally we arrive at our outcome. Hence, it is important to begin with sincere intentions, work hard, work smart, make du’a, and never worry about the outcomes. For even if the outcome is not what we expect (haven’t we all been there before?), well, then we must remember that what Allah decrees for us is good! There is always good in everything – no matter how undesirable we might deem it to be.
Setting our vision
Our vision must encompass both the dunya and the akhira. And when we set our vision, we must remember to not be selfish – it should not add value to yourself only, but to others as well. We must also ask ourselves these questions:
- What do I want to experience out of life?
- How do I want to learn, grow and develop?
- What do I want to contribute to the society?
We all take on different roles to play in our lives. Our roles can mainly be classified into two: Mandated Roles and Elective Roles. Mandated Roles include our biologically defined roles like being a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister, a nephew, an aunt, a Muslim. Elective Roles on the other hand refer to roles that we take up in our lives, like an employee, a friend, a boss, a student. We must remember that whatever we take as our elective roles, we must keep in mind not to neglect our mandated roles. We have a set of responsibilities which we will be asked about in the akhira if we have carried out our roles well. So whatever life goals we have set for ourselves, we must ensure that we do not compromise the rights of others in order to achieve our set goals.
Link between spiritual, physical and social aspects and our goals
We need to see the link – the closer we get to Allah, the closer we get to achieving our goals. Just look at our Prophet Muhammad SAW who completely changed the map of the world in just 23 years, Ibn Jawzi who wrote over 500,000 pages in his lifetime, Ibn Taymiyyah who wrote 40 volumes of tafseer… all their stellar achievements boil down to their nearness to God, their strengthened spirituality.
How to achieve goals spiritually
1) Plant your niyyah (intentions)
Everything we do needs to start with our niyyat (intentions). We must first ascertain our intentions for actions are according to our intentions, as the hadith by Bukhari & Muslim goes. Having the right intentions will boost our productivity for the clarity of our intentions give clarity of our actions, and we are reminded to have them aligned with our living purpose. It is thus important to write down our intentions and review them often.
2) Develop taqwa (piety)
To have taqwa means to be constantly conscious of Allah SWT. Having taqwa increases productivity as it develops our discipline, strength, builds trust and dispels procrastination. To build on our taqwa, we have to constantly engage in his remembrance, learn about Him, and make taqwa-based decisions. A man, working as a hotel manager, decided to quit his job, his only rice bowl, because his hotel wanted to approve the consumption and selling of alcohol in the vicinity. He was jobless for months until one day, he receive an offer to be a hotel manager at a well-known hotel in Madinah. Subhanallah. All because of his taqwa. Allah will always make a way out for you, so don’t be afraid to stand up for your values and never compromise them if they will displease Him!
3) Always having shukr (gratitude)
Allah has promised that He will increase us if we are grateful. Having shukr will increase our productivity as it fuels progress, improves our mindset and removes greed. We must practise showing our gratitude by recognizing the gifts you have inwardly, outwardly, thanking people and asking Allah for help.
4) Practise sabr (patience)
“Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affair is good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something of good/happiness befalls him he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him he is patient and that is good for him” (Saheeh Muslim)
With sabr, it will aid us a lot in handling calamity, in giving us energy to persevere, and to have positive patience. To practise this we need to always remember God, think well of Him, push your goals and keep going!
Acts of worship that will help to achieve our goals
1) Remembrance of Allah
The remembrance of Allah is our spiritual food and it gives us physical strength. We must develop our taqwa, utilize idle times and learn specific du’as for every situation.
2) Salah (prayers)
Salah does amazing things to our productivity levels. It manages our time, emotions, focus, energy and ego. Interestingly, John Fields, in his book titled Uncertainty, mentioned that every one of us are in need of certainty anchors (several pockets of time throughout the day to recalibrate and regain our focus and energy) in our day, in our schedules, in our lives. And how beautiful it is that we are blessed with our fail-proof certainty anchor – our 5 daily prayers! We should plan our life around salah, ease ourselves into salah, and don’t rush afterwards. Stay, engage in the disconnection, connect with Him and confide in Him all that weighs heavy on you. He’s always ready to listen to you and help you, if only you’d spend the time to talk to God.
There are so many benefits of giving and volunteering. We should not be withholding our money (or time) in carrying out acts of charity. If you have a business, you can develop your own CSR and plan a CSR charity day.
How to achieve goals socially
1) Build a supportive team
Ask Allah for a team of supportive people. Your vision should be compelling enough for it to attract willing volunteers, and you must know how to manage your team fairly and professionally.
2) Win your family’s support
Work on your idea and let it grow first without telling the whole world what you are doing. Then, when you have small wins, you can showcase your successes to your family members, and then let them in on your plans.
3) Build your tribe
Share your journey as you build a life worth living. You are someone else’s hero, even if you don’t know it. Your tribe can either be online or offline. Take care of your tribe and be there for them, and they will do the same.
How to achieve goals physically
In this segment, most of the techniques are similar to the ones I have written in detail in my previous post on his productive Ramadhan talk in Singapore last year. Brother Mohammed Faris also talked about SMART and STRETCH goals, which I have included in there as well. Check out under my ‘Writings’ tab – Takeaways From Talks – High Performance Ramadhan by Productive Muslim.
Note: The notes here are points taken from Brother Mohammed Faris’ talk. I merely paraphrased them. All credits to him and his team. Wallahua’lam.