As promised we’re set to sail on mobilizing good habits. Habit one? Commitment. Let’s go!
If your schedule is anything like mine, peace is harder to come by than a reasonably priced avocado. But existential peace has a prerequisite. Peace relies on purification of the mind and soul. And purification is built on a series of habits. One of them being commitment. A road map that with simple effort, can lead you and I both to serenity.
What does commitment have to do with Purification?
Purification is a process of buffing and shining. If you miss a spot and leave it untouched, that blot will only grow. Purification is a daily routine. Just like brushing one’s teeth. Purification gives better results over time. And it requires effort. Commitment equips us to uphold that effort.
It’s all about attitude.
Say it right now, “I will succeed. I will commit.” We are not going out to save the puppies of the world. We’re here to make an effort. An effort that will impact our well-being and self-satisfaction. And we don’t have to make leaps. Rather…
Commit to something that’s easy for you.
Choose a couple, simple life improvements/ changes that affect your day-to-day. Something as simple as waking up a little earlier. Or reducing your sugar in-take. Or becoming an avid reader. Choose 1-3 low-scale commitments that:
- aren’t overwhelming
- are applicable to you
- can be set into action immediately
Have a conversation with your commitment.
Hug these commitments. Talk to them. Okay not literally, but be aware of them. Actively respond to these commitments. My latest re-commitment (and I’ll talk about this term a little further down) is to stay up after morning prayers. Not only a practice of our Prophet (SWT), but also I find to be, by far, the most productive part of the day.
So, for the past couple weeks, I’ve had to have this mental conversation with myself about how productive and awesome my day will be if I avoid snoozing. I walk myself downstairs and get to work. It requires some focus and nudging, but self-talk or reminders really help us stick to our guns.
Commitment has a generous dollop of consistency
How many times have you stepped on a treadmill two days in a row; then come back to it two months later? Exercise is a great example of how consistency intertwines with commitment. You can practice a ridiculously lengthy and elaborate regimen once a month, but you’ll likely see little-to-no results. Whereas, consistent, 15 – 30 minute cardio exercises (like walking or bicycling), 3 times a week, bear better outcomes.
Give yourself a visual
Pull out a piece of paper or an index card. Fix up a small achievement chart. Map your success rate. A visual of accomplishments drives commitment. So despite wanting to keep mental track, try this visual mark-up. You’ll also have something to look back on when starting a new commitment project!
Give yourselves some incentives.
One of the things I do to rise early each morning is anticipate real-life rewards. Reaping a few quiet hours before my children wake. Planning an afternoon nap. Even thinking about a hot cup of coffee, motivates me to get my day started early.
And as you can see, incentives don’t have to be tangible. As long as they’re applicable and to your liking, you’re set!
Avoid kicking yourself if you slip up.
100% commitment to anything or anyone is impossible. Life is unpredictable. Changes in schedule, energy level and other factors can impact commitment from time to time. That’s why starting out with smaller, habit forming commitments, offer less of a challenge and guilt if you happen to miss a day or two.
The main point, I’ll make here is, whatever happens, steer yourself back on the trail and move on.
And this is where re-commitment applies.
Sometimes, we have long streaks of short-changing commitments. We either realize its not worth it at all or hope to revive that commitment down the road.
Earlier this summer, due to Ramadan (during which I’d wake up at 3:00 a.m. each morning) my sleep schedule was completely off kilter. And I took full advantage of sleeping-in most mornings. So, after a whole month of straying from being an early-riser, I had to re-commit.
I’ll admit, it is harder, because I’ve tasted the slip. But this commitment is valuable to me. So I am willing to re-commit.
Build on objectives by increasing their value.
So you’ve committed to lowering sugar in your diet. You’re down a teaspoon per coffee cup. It’s been a few weeks and you almost can’t remember having coffee any other way. It’s now time up to the anty, shuga’:
- (C) Find a way to make an existing commitment more challenging
- (P) Be resolved to overcome this challenge faster (pace)
- (V) Set a higher value to this commitment
Example: I will lose V amount of weight by reducing C amount of sugar in P amount of time
You can otherwise establish greater objectives.
Besides, increasing the value of an existing objective – create a new, more intense objective. Just one. Commit to something that might be a little more of a struggle. Validate it with a bigger incentive. Then share this commitment with someone else. Talk to your spouse or a friend.
Ask for help spiritually.
Human beings are made to make mistakes. We are also individually unique beings. This uniqueness comes at the cost of imperfection. So we need help. Not just from social support, but also God. So pray. Ask for His Guidance and Aide.
In the long run, a committed person, may not move mountains, but at the very least, will know how to get around it.
feature photo credit: Yusra Farooqui