With being halfway through Ramadan 2014, I’ve been giving a lot of thought towards bettering myself this month. One of the things I’ve learned more than almost anything else is how we are very fragile people, and we need to easier on ourselves. It’s important that we do our best to be better ourselves, but when we fail or fall, we shouldn’t give up.

Before Ramadan began, I wrote out a list of goals I had set out for myself. I was determined to let go of some bad habits, develop some new ones, and establish a stronger relationship with Allah. I have to say, it has been a lot tougher than I had anticipated. I figured that if I gave myself a strict schedule, or if I wrote a list of tasks every day and worked on every task one at a time, I’d reach my goals very easily. Then, reality punched me in the face. And for that, I am thankful. You see, I realized that those approaches to reaching my goals were great, but I had to be prepared for the journey of accomplishing them. That meant that I would fall, that I would mess up, that I would make mistakes, and that the key was that I didn’t let that stop me from trying again.

Often, especially considering we live in a time of the need for instant gratification, we become upset with ourselves and get discouraged when something doesn’t work after our first attempt at it. That can be self-destructive, as I’ve learned through my last two weeks’ experiences. See, I would be pumped, ecstatic to reach my goals, but upon having a single hiccup in the process, I would get discouraged or pulled back from wanting to try again. This was a huge reminder to me, especially since I often tell clients, “Allah doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He expects us to simply try to be our best.” Looking back, I can’t believe how true that statement rang for me. I needed that reminder that we are capable of anything in our lives, and we are here for the journey.

I remember hearing a lecture, in which the speaker mentioned a story about Umar ibn Al-Khattab, one of the Prophet (SAW)’s closest friends and the second Caliph of Islam. The speaker mentioned that Umar never concerned himself with the end result of his supplication, whether or not it would be answered, or would be in favour of his desires. Instead, he focused on constructing his dua (supplication) in the best way that he could. This concept made me think, not only in regards to my need to be better with my dua, but also in regards to how I lead my life and strive to become a better man and a better Muslim. I learned that in our lives, it’s important that we keep moving forward, no matter how many times we fall, because it is those same fallings that strengthen our character, as well as our drive and connection to our goals.

Life is something that we cannot always plan for. We plan and Allah plans, and He is the best of planners. What we should focus on is how we react to our experiences. Do we take a optimistic and positive approach to it, or do we wallow in our grief and give up? Remember that Allah has promised us in the Quran that He will not burden us with more than we can bear, so take His Promise as your security blanket, and then go out there and take risks to accomplish your goals. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. And when the fear of failure presents itself, push it aside and go after your goals.

This Ramadan has been great so far, Alhamdulillah, but with only half of it left, I hope to go above and beyond what I’ve been doing so far to make the most of every moment. I pray that Allah grants all of us ease and success in our goals, and that He allows us all the opportunity to see the next Ramadan with stronger hearts, more faith-enriched souls, and with success in new goals that we never even thought we could consider pursuing. Ameen!