Author : Amina Shaikh

“There are no big promises, just small things to let go of in 2024. It’s not about perfection but making little improvements for a more exciting journey. I started jotting down the stuff that’s got to go – a simple list for a better me in the coming year. It’s like planning my adventure, one step at a time.”

As I found myself immersed in the endless scroll of the internet, observing the flood of yearend photo reels that encapsulated people’s major trips and significant events, I couldn’t help but feel compelled to join this trend. The digital tapestry of memories had everyone pouring their hearts out, reminiscing about the highs and lows of the year – a collective expression of gratitude and, for some, a poignant acknowledgement of losses.

So, I decided to sift through my collection of photos from the past year, attempting to curate my version of this visual journey. As I traversed the moments captured from the year’s inception, a realisation struck me like a fleeting breeze – the year had passed in the blink of an eye. Days melted into nights, leaving me dumbfounded and prompting introspection on the inevitable march of time and the subtle alterations it brings.

While scrolling through these snapshots, I pondered the external events and the internal landscape – the evolution of my being. With each passing year, the question of personal transformation looms. As I confronted the reality of my increasing age, I couldn’t help but wonder: Did this year mark any change in my personality, or did it simply slip away, leaving my character untouched?

The annual ritual of celebrating the end of the year is a universal affair, often marked by resolutions and promises of self-improvement. Yet, in the whirlwind of festivities and reflections, do we truly seize the opportunity to groom our personalities and reflect on the essence of who we are becoming? Resolutions are made, but how often do they withstand the test of time?So, instead of making a fancy video, I thought about what I wanted to change for the next year, to be a better me.

There are no big promises, just small things to let go of in 2024. It’s not about perfection but making little improvements for a more exciting journey. I started jotting down the stuff that’s got to go – a simple list for a better me in the coming year. It’s like planning my adventure, one step at a time.

Here are some habits to let go of in 2024.

NEGATIVE SELF-TALK

Self-negative talk is like a continuous loop of discouraging thoughts we direct toward ourselves. That inner voice undermines confidence, highlights perceived flaws, and magnifies shortcomings. Often, this toxic dialogue becomes ingrained in our daily lives, affecting our self-esteem and overall mental well-being.

Constantly criticising one’s appearance, fixating on perceived imperfections.Believing one is not smart enough or capable of achieving good grades.

Measuring self-worth based on comparisons with others, especially on social media.
Expecting the worst outcome and doubting one’s ability to succeed.

Drawing broad negative conclusions from isolated incidents, such as a single mistake defining one’s worth.

Islam encourages believers to replace self-criticism with self-compassion, acknowledging

Allah’s mercy and guidance.

Practical Tips: :

1. Positive Affirmations: Counter negative thoughts with positive affirmations. For example, instead of saying, “I’m not good enough,” affirm, “I am capable, and I can improve.”

2. Gratitude Journaling: Cultivate a daily habit of listing things you’re grateful for. This helps shift focus from what’s lacking to what’s present.

3. Seek Refuge in Prayer: Turn to Allah in prayer, seeking refuge from negative thoughts.

Establish a connection through supplications for mental strength and positivity.

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “Allah says, ‘I am as My slave thinks I am, and I am with him when he mentions Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws to Me a hand-span length, I draw near to him a forearm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him in a hurry.’” (Sunan Ibn Majah 3822)

4. Surround Yourself Positively: Engage with people who uplift and encourage. Positive company can have a profound impact on changing negative thought patterns.

5. Professional Help: If self-negative talk persists and affects daily life, consider seeking professional guidance, such as counselling or therapy, to address underlying issues.

 Strategic goal-setting involves planning achievable objectives that align with personal capabilities and circumstances. It’s about steering away from setting unrealistic expectations that may lead to frustration and embracing goals that inspire growth & success.

Instead of setting a goal to achieve perfect grades in every subject, a more realistic goal could be a consistent improvement and understanding of the material.

Rather than aiming for an extreme weight loss target in a short period, setting a goal for a sustainable and healthy lifestyle change is more practical.

Instead of expecting perfection in relationships, acknowledge that conflicts may arise & set a goal to communicate openly and resolve differences.
Setting realistic expectations for personal interests, such as learning a new skill and recognising that progress takes time and effort.

Avoiding the goal of being perfect at multitasking and instead setting achievable objectives for effective time management.

Islam encourages believers to set realistic goals, recognise individual capabilities, and seek Allah’s guidance.

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly, even if they are few.”

Practical Tips :

1. SMART Goals: Formulate goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and
Time-bound, ensuring they are realistic and within reach.

2. Break Down Goals: Divide larger goals into smaller, manageable steps. This approach makes the journey more achievable and less overwhelming.

3. Regular Self-Assessment: Reflect on progress regularly, adjusting goals as needed. This allows for flexibility and adaptability in the pursuit of objectives.

4. Seek Allah’s Guidance: Turn to Allah in prayer, seeking guidance in setting and achieving goals. Trusting in His plan can bring a sense of peace and purpose.

5. Balanced Approach: Embrace a balanced lifestyle by setting goals that consider all aspects of life, fostering a holistic approach to personal development.

PROCRASTINATION :

Procrastination delays or postpones tasks, often leading to unnecessary stress and missed opportunities. It’s a common challenge where individuals put off essential activities, choosing momentary relief over long-term benefits.

It involves :

Delaying the start of an assignment until the last minute impacting the quality of work and increasing stress levels.

Postponing the initiation of a healthier lifestyle, such as exercise or balanced nutrition, with
the intent to start ‘tomorrow.’

Avoiding the pursuit of hobbies or personal projects due to a constant delay in taking the
first step.

Delaying important conversations or expressing feelings, leading to misunderstandings and unaddressed concerns.

Procrastinating on making crucial life decisions or setting long-term goals, hindering personal and professional development.

Islam emphasises the value of time and the consequences of procrastination, urging believers to seize the present moment for productive actions.

“By time, indeed, mankind is in loss, except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.”
(Surah Al-Asr 103:1-3)

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emphasised the significance of timely action:
“Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth before you become old, your health before you fall sick, your wealth before you become poor, your free time before you become busy, and your life before your death.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Practical Tips :

1. Set Clear Goals: Clearly define tasks and break them into smaller, manageable steps, making initiating and completing them easier.

2. Use Time Management Techniques: Employ techniques like the Pomodoro Technique or the Eisenhower Matrix to structure time effectively and overcome procrastination.

3. Create a Productive Environment: Designate a workspace conducive to concentration, minimising distractions to enhance focus and productivity.

4. Establish Priorities: Identify and prioritise tasks based on urgency and importance, tackling high-priority tasks first to avoid unnecessary delays.

5. Invoke Allah’s Help: Seek Allah’s assistance through prayer, asking for guidance and motivation to overcome procrastination and utilise time wisely.

Excuses are explanations or justifications we offer to avoid taking responsibility or completing tasks. It’s a defence mechanism that hinders personal growth and accountability, preventing individuals from acknowledging their role in various situations.

Offering excuses for not completing school assignments, such as blaming external factors instead of taking responsibility.

Using excuses like “I’ll do it later” or “I don’t have time” to justify delaying important tasks.

GIVING EXCUSES :

Making excuses to evade challenging conversations, such as avoiding expressing feelings or addressing conflicts.

Offering excuses like “I’m too tired” or “I don’t have the right equipment” to avoid engaging in physical activities.

Justifying a lack of effort in pursuing career goals by blaming external circumstances instead of taking proactive steps.

Islam encourages believers to be accountable for their actions, avoiding the habit of offering excuses and embracing personal responsibility.

“And do not be like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient.” (Surah Al-Hashr 59:19).

Practical Tips:
1. Self-Reflection: Regularly reflect on personal actions and decisions, fostering self-awareness and accountability.

2. Set Realistic Expectations: Establish achievable goals and expectations, reducing the
likelihood of resorting to excuses due to overwhelming demands.

3. Own Up to Mistakes: Acknowledge mistakes without offering excuses, recognising them as opportunities for learning and growth.

4. Effective Time Management: Plan tasks and allocate time effectively, minimising the need for excuses related to time constraints.

5. Seek Support: Instead of making excuses, seek support and guidance from others when facing challenges, promoting collaboration and shared responsibility.

COMPLAINING :

Complaining involves expressing dissatisfaction or grievances about life’s circumstances, often focusing on challenges rather than seeking solutions. It’s a common habit that can contribute to negativity and hinder personal well-being.

1. Academic Challenges: Constantly complaining about the difficulty of school assignments instead of seeking help or approaching the tasks positively.

2. Social Dynamics: Ranting about peer relationships or family dynamics only if actively working towards understanding and resolving issues.

3. Personal Circumstances: Complaining about personal circumstances, such as financial constraints or environmental factors, without appreciating existing blessings.

4. Comparison with Others: Expressing discontent by comparing oneself to others, focusing on what is lacking rather than acknowledging individual strengths.

HABIT OF COMPLAINTS :

Workload and Stress: Complaining about the pressures of daily life without exploring effective time management or stress coping strategies.

Islam encourages believers to practice gratitude and patience in facing challenges, fostering a positive mindset even in difficult situations.

“If you are grateful, I will surely increase your favour; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.” (Surah Ibrahim 14:7).

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affairs are good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something good befalls him, he is grateful, and that is good for him. If something harmful befalls him, he is patient, and that is good for him.” (Sahih Muslim)

Practical Tips :

1. Gratitude Journal: Keep a journal to note down daily blessings and positive aspects of life, fostering a habit of gratitude.

2. Positive Affirmations: Replace complaints with positive affirmations, focusing on strengths and potential solutions rather than dwelling on challenges.

3. Open Communication: Instead of ranting, engage in open and constructive communication with friends and family to address concerns and work towards solutions.

4. Mindful Reflection: Pause before expressing complaints and reflect on whether the situation can be approached with a positive mindset or if it requires a practical solution.

5. Seek Support: Rather than complaining, seek support from friends, family, or mentors when facing challenges. Collaborative problem-solving can lead to positive outcomes.

From overcoming negative self-talk to breaking free from procrastination, embracing strategic goal-setting, and avoiding the pitfalls of complaining, each point offers an opportunity for positive change.

As we strive to improve our personalities, let us remember that the path to improvement is continuous. It requires self-awareness, resilience, and a commitment to align our actions with values that elevate our character. With its profound teachings, Islam serves as a guiding light, urging us to seek Allah’s mercy and embody virtues that lead to personal growth.

“O My servants who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of
Allah.” (Surah Az-Zumar 39:53).

“And do not be like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves.” (Surah AlHashr 59:19)

In our pursuit of positive change, let us invoke Allah’s guidance, for He is the source of strength and the ultimate guide on this transformative journey. May Allah bless us with the resilience to let go of negative habits, the wisdom to set achievable goals & be grateful.

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