Year-end Review 2021
In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Kindest
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Allah’s Messenger (may a multitude of blessings be upon him) said, “An hour of contemplation is better than a year of worship.”
“Arouse your heart to contemplation,” bade Imam ‘Ali (may Allah ennoble his countenance).
I began this year with a Battle Board (see Brendon Burchard for more on this) and wanted to accomplish the following:
#1 Pay off most of my debt
#2 Reach a B1/B2 level in Arabic
#3 Weigh 130 lbs
#4 Meet my friend Najdiyyah in the KSA and go on Umrah
#5 Be happier, healthier, more productive, and positive
Now that the year is almost over, I can say that I crushed two out of five goals. I hit my target weight in November and (by God’s grace) am happier, healthier, more productive, and jubilant!
My debt is something I’ll carry over into 2022 without taking any tension since I have a plan for paying it off.
Although I didn’t reach a B1/B2 level in Arabic yet, my Quranic reading has improved, thanks to working diligently with Shaykh Ismail! I also have a one-of-a-kind Duolingo accountability partner who is helping me be more consistent in my studies, which I’m confident will pay off this coming year.
We looked into booking an Umrah package, but several factors have deferred that aspiration for the moment. Our intention (niyyat) is alive and well and will come to fruition in the fullness of time, Insha’Allah.
These experiences taught me that if one attempts to quantify success by reaching a specific goal at an exact time and date, it will often lead to depression and disappointment. Why? Because the date and time will come and go while our state is still in limbo. The time and date are only there to help you focus and keep your eyes on the prize. What’s more, some goals/dreams take longer than others to realize or pose unforeseen challenges and setbacks. For instance, knowing that I want a happy, slender body took me more than a year to achieve and feel. Feeling good was my primary focus in 2021, so #3 and #5 were #1. Everything else was secondary. I wanted to reach my target weight in May. It took me five more months to get there. Imagine how discouraged I would be if that date were my gold standard.
“That person is brave,” said Hazrat Inayat Khan, “who in the face of a thousand failures can stand up and say, ‘Now I am not going to fail. The failure was only a preparation for my success.’ That is the right spirit.”
The second lesson I took from 2021 is to be wary of self-help gurus who promise you “Level 10” success in every area of your life. I’m not sure that’s humanly possible or realistic, as our time and energy are limited and life’s demands on us great. It is far easier to focus on 1 to 3 things that truly matter and do as much as you can for the rest. I am paying off my debt, for instance, albeit slowly. But being debt-free is not a primary concern at present, and yet it is something I cannot afford to neglect.
Instead, I learned to focus on what matters most while keeping other responsibilities within my peripheral view. When we give one-pointed attention toward specific projects, it necessitates that we give less attention to other aspects of our life (not neglecting it, but rather putting it on the back burner until its time has come).
Also, celebrate your other achievements, things you didn’t anticipate doing this year that caught you by surprise! For me, that’s writing the Productive Wisdom newsletter, which began as something else. I had to lay the original idea to rest in January 2021, not a happy way to start the New Year. But it was reborn on March 26, 2021. Forty-two newsletters later, it’s going strong and has given my life greater purpose and discipline. Let adversity galvanize you and make you smarter. Step up, not down to life’s obstacles, and play full out!
In closing this special edition, I would like to thank you for being part of this journey and for subscribing, opening, replying, and guiding me in the unfoldment of this year and work. The newsletter exists for you, my friends and readers. You give it life and inspire, encourage, and delight me through our conversations, collaborations, and your little love notes that come in. Thank you for being there for me and keeping our family in your heartfelt prayers.
With deep and abiding love,
PS. What have you learned from 2021?