Chasing Your Goals – A Runner’s Perspective
by Asmaa Mourad
You set a goal for yourself, now what? Navigating how to follow through on a goal can be challenging but not impossible. Achieving a goal can feel so far-fetched at times that it can set you back or make you want to give up. But with discipline and tarbiya, you can genuinely achieve anything.
I know, I know, easier said than done, but if I can do it, I promise you, so can you. I grew up, not really doing a lot of physical activity because I had asthma, and I allowed it to be a huge roadblock. It wasn’t until after college, when I felt like I really wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone, that I started running. I never dreamed that I could ever get myself to run for long distances. I remember the first time I completed running a 5K, I felt like I could accomplish anything. I signed up for a race and kept pushing myself week after week, and eventually a year or so later, I ran several half marathons, and then on to a full marathon. When I think back on that part of my life, I always recall how grueling the training was but it was that training that helped me to not only follow through on my goal of running a marathon but in believing in myself and achieving other types of goals until this day.
What helped me in achieving the goal was following a few steps, dedicated time, set weekly mini goals, adjusting for roadblocks, and a lot of dua.
Accomplishing a goal, whether it’s spiritual, physical, or emotional, all require dedicated time every week with intention towards accomplishing that goal. Giving yourself that time every week will help strengthen and revive your intention. It may feel a little difficult at first to adjust your schedule in this way but always remember your intention and give your goal the proper time it needs to be able to win. After the first few days or weeks, depending on how lofty your goal is, it will feel completely natural to have that time to focus.
My biggest advice is try to set a dedicated time early in the morning. That was a big challenge for me, I am not a morning person at all, but I almost always regretted it and dragged my feet when I didn’t finish my mini goal in the morning and had to do it in the evening. Regardless though, even if it gets done in the evening, the fact that you did it is still a huge win. When you set time in the morning and get it done, almost always for the rest of the day, you are more energized, and ready for the rest of the day.
In setting aside time to work on your goal, you will want to start setting small wins on a weekly basis. These mini goals should be easily achievable. For example – if you want to start training for a race, set a weekly goal of how many miles you want to complete. In doing so, you are challenging yourself, but at the same time following through and chipping away at achieving your larger goal.
When you reach your mini goals every week, celebrate them! You put in the work and it paid off. Every mini goal that you reach is nurturing the ultimate goal.
As you complete your mini goals every week, you’ll find some days you are able to go far beyond your mini goal and others where you fall short or barely able to reach them. On the tough days, don’t despair of being able to reach the larger goal. Have compassion for yourself and try again the following week. There were days when I was training for a race, where I started running and could NOT keep going, and that’s ok, it just meant my body needed a rest. You may feel like you want to stop when you hit roadblocks but it’s all part of the process. Hitting roadblocks are natural, and it may mean that you need to adjust your goal or need to try again the next day.
Adjusting your goal can look like setting a smaller more achievable mini goal until you are able to reach them with ease on a weekly basis. It doesn’t mean you aren’t capable in any way, it just means your mini goal could have been too much. Throughout your goal journey, you will find that you may need to tweak your mini goals as you go. Being flexible and creative in how you complete the mini goals will add more variety and help you to keep the momentum of completing your ultimate goal.
I can’t stress enough how much dua has helped me when I feel like I’m stuck in a roadblock. My most repeated dua while training for a race was
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْجُبْنِ وَالْبُخْلِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ غَلَبَةِ الدَّيْنِ وَقَهْرِ الرِّجَالِ
“O Allah, I seek refuge in You from grief and sadness, from weakness and from laziness, from miserliness and from cowardice, from being overcome by debt and overpowered by men (i.e. others).”
I would repeat it as my feet hit the pavement, over and over again. It revived me and kept me moving throughout my whole journey. This specific dua helped me through running but for other goals I’ve had, I would find a dua that resonated with me and repeat it as I work through my objective whether I am flourishing or struggling..
Last but certainly not least, always give yourself grace and compassion throughout your journey. If you are having a hard time completing a mini goal, don’t be hard on yourself and participate in negative self talk. Accomplishing a goal can feel lonely and not fruitful at times but that’s why we celebrate the small wins and tweak when we need to. Being kind and motivating yourself will allow you to achieve your goal. Cheer yourself the whole time, write encouraging notes to motivate yourself, don’t allow negative talk to enter your heart and stay on track.