SMART Goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. I recommend that as the year 1438 of Hijrah starting, we get our acts together and indulge in short and long-term goal planning. It is essential to plan goals in light of the Qur'an and Sunnah, with the reality check that Allah is the Master Planner and we cannot make big claims. Always say insha’Allah.
Significance of Goals in Islam
Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) message was bestowed with a goal-oriented agenda delivered to him from Allah. The long-term vision of the Prophet was to spread Allah’s Word of Islam, a harbinger of monotheism – belief in One God. The long and short-term goals that the Prophet made were flawless because they were revealed to him by Allah through Divine Wisdom. So when we study the Sunnah, we know that it is Allah’s goal making process that we are observing through the life of an exemplary human being.
The Messenger of Allah began with short-term goals of bringing members of his kin to the fold of Islam, and then people in the vicinity. Long-term goals extended to writing letters to kings and rulers of foreign lands. Warfare was added to the long-term agenda when threats emerged from enemies that sought to eliminate the believers. Apart from Islamic goals, we also find goals to improve social and personal life apparent in the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). His time was divided equally between his wives and his children. We observe him as being a tradesman and a shepherd who set goals of trade and making profit to earn a living. He had goals of social achievement as an Imam, a teacher, and a judge. Additionally, his personal goals were to pray, set examples for the Ummah (Muslim community), and memorize the Qur'an and dictate it to the scribes for safekeeping.
Creating Your Vision and Mission Statements
You need to think like a visionary for yourself. Take some time out to reflect on your life; note your Strengths and Weaknesses, and the Threats and Opportunities that await you. It is called a SWOT Analysis in business terms, and you can utilize this method to take control of your life. Think about what you envision for yourself, i.e. how you wish to see yourself in the distant future. For example, my vision statement is: “To become an ideal Muslim woman and make a positive change in my niche.” A vision is your destiny, the very purpose for which you are born.
Support this long-term view of the future with a strong mission statement. For example, my mission is “To achieve excellence in religion, emotional and social intelligence, and creative abilities.” This is how I expect to achieve my vision. A mission is your plan of achieving the vision.
Categories of Goals
Once you are set with the two main ideologies, you are ready to devise short and long term goals to accomplish them. It is wise to categorize goals for better control over various areas of life. The most widely acclaimed categories are Physical, Spiritual, Intellectual, and Social. Other categories can be added to customize categorization according to your needs.
The categories can include a wide range of goals. A few examples are:
Physical Goals for health and fitness: setting up an exercise routine, planning a balanced diet, planning annual doctor’s and dentist’s exams, and avoiding injurious eating and lifestyle habits.
Spiritual Goals for religious development: setting strict prayer routines, fasting schedules, daily Qur'an recitation and Tafsir reading, seeking repentance, and seeking religious learning opportunities.
Social Goals for family, friends, and community: organizing a family reunion, making new friends, volunteering in community activities.
Other categories that you can create to cover pursuits of your life are:
Personal Life Goals: getting married, having children, finding a job, and buying a new home.
Once the categories are clear, you can start jotting down goals ensuring that they are SMART. Goals should be Specific, for example instead of planning on finding any job, plan to find a job as a computer engineer. Your goals should be Measurable so you can track achievement and set reasonable limits. Ensure that goals are Action-Oriented, meaning they can be acted upon. Do not set a goal to be an astronaut when you have not studied physics. Keep your goals Realistic, because when you keep it real you can motivate yourself better. For example, a lot of women set unrealistic weight loss targets of attaining a size zero figure when that is not possible considering their physical framework! Time is of prime concern, so your goals should be Timely in order to set deadlines for yourself. Do not rush, unless there is a necessity, such as completing course revision before the mid-term exam.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) exercised moderation in every walk of life. His Sunnah and Hadith present him as being Specific in conveying the message of Allah the exalted to an audience of the ignorant. His goals were Measurable by the burgeoning numbers of believers who reverted to Islam. His vision and mission were Action-Oriented whether it was preaching, planning a battle, giving alms to the poor, or devoting time to family and friends. He was Realistic and that’s the reason why millions embraced Islam. They could relate to him and his ideology. Unlike other ideologies in the society at that time, his speech was not pompous and fake. Conclusively, he always recognized the importance of being Timely and that is what led up to the victory of Islam and Allah’s Name and Message spreading through talk, through battle, through communities, and ultimately throughout the world.