Not many of us crave change. In fact, many of us will try to avoid it and even resist it. But change is a constant in life. We are born as tiny helpless infants and if Allah (SwT) wills, we grow into active children and youth, then ambitious adults, and finally we grow old and become frail and weak yet again. We change not only physically, but emotionally. Allah (SwT) tells us in the Quran: “And that it is He who makes one laugh and weep” (Surah Al-Najm: 44). One day we are happy, and the next may bring sadness, but then again, Allah (SwT) also tells us: “With hardship there is ease” (Surah al-Sharh V. 5-6).
If change is a constant in our life, then I wonder why we always try to avoid it and resist it? Why don’t we instead embrace it and use it to improve our lives? It is when we step out of our comfort zone, or in some cases are pushed out of it, that we really grow. Does not a caterpillar have to go through metamorphosis in order to become a butterfly and flutter across the sky after crawling on the earth?
So my invitation to you would be to look into your life and see which situation may be making you uncomfortable, or at least challenging you and making you feel not as competent as you usually would like to be. Maybe it’s a new course or job you have taken up, maybe it’s a new city you have moved to, or maybe it’s a new good habit that you’re trying to adopt. Perhaps you will find that in that struggle, you are growing, you are learning, and you are reaching new horizons that you would have otherwise never reached.
Stephen Covey defines habits as “the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire”. In other words, knowledge is the ‘what’ and the ‘why’. Skill is the ‘how’, and desire is the ‘want’. In order to change a habit, all three have to work together. For example, if someone has the bad habit of procrastinating, they may know that they shouldn’t leave things until the last moment, and they may know how to do so by finishing their tasks in a timely manner, yet they may not want to do so for reasons that they may or may not be aware of. In some cases, it takes some courage to dig deep and find the real reasons for a bad habit, and yet again, it takes courage to overcome those reasons and drop the habit.
On the other end of the spectrum is having enough courage to take a stance that could affect your family, your school, your city, and even the world. In many cases, in order to improve or excel, we may find ourselves challenging the status quo and being met with resistance, doubts, and discouragement. Even those closest to us may fail to understand or support us. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to a people that worshipped idols, buried infant girls alive, and treated each other based on colour and clan, he called them to surrender to One God. What was he met with? He was insulted, abused, forced out of his city, fought, and nearly killed. Yet, he carried the most profound message for humanity.
Examine your life and decide what changes can you make that will bring you closer to Allah (SwT). What changes will make you happier, more successful and more productive? What changes will allow you to fulfill your goals and aspirations? Once you have identified those changes, ask Allah (SwT) to help you and give what is best for you, and simply, make it happen. You are the only one who can fulfill your dreams and experience the joy that comes from accomplishing your goals.
Raghad is the founder and director of Destination Excellence, a professional development coaching and training practice that specializes in career and leadership excellence. For more info, see www.DestinationExcellence.ca.