Is success fixed, or is it something you can develop? This is the question that might be running through your mind as you anxiously stand on the doorsteps of your future and give your mind the permission to wander ten steps ahead. Anxiety and stress begin to cloud your mind, as uncertainty makes its way through the doors. For one second, you think about giving up, but something or someone tells you it will be okay. Despite the fears that tug at your sleeves, you hold on.
This could be you. It could be that you are a university student. Maybe you are a struggling parent. You could also be a fresh graduate attempting to get your startup business up-and-running. In addition to the inner pressure, obstacles are found in multiple corners throughout your path. These hurdles have the potential to dim your journey, forcing you to forget that faith is one of the most important components that light your way.
Overcome the ‘fixed’ mindset
There are two types of people. There are those who have a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset.
People with the fixed mindset tend to give up quickly, lose faith when circumstances do not go as they please and they become discouraged if they are not immediately successful at something. Their mindset tends to be limited and, as a result, it also becomes easy for them to blame their lack of happiness and success on a lack of love from their Creator. People with a fixed mindset forget that obstacles are not meant to prevent success, they are meant to be conquered in order to make the bigger picture even more satisfying when achieved.
Develop a ‘growth’ mindset
The people who have a growth mindset view the glass as half full. These are the people that take failure as a lesson, embrace challenges, have faith in the best of times, and they know how to acquire faith from their adversities. Even when life gets difficult, they constantly work hard to become successful. People with a growth mindset know that intelligence is something that you can always achieve and develop, because it is unlimited.
To put it into perspective, imagine the pressure that comes with being a university student. On top of taking a full course load, there is the requirement to attend all classes, study for all classes, and then it is equally important to do well in these classes. Aside from this, it is mandatory to impress your family by getting high grades so that they can tell all of your extended family what you’re doing and compare you to your siblings and your cousins. Not to mention the need to get into a good graduate program, and find a stable job, whilst struggling with questions like: did I choose the wrong course, wrong university or even the wrong path?
If you do that, bear in mind that this is only one aspect of your life. It can be so easy to succumb to the stress and simply give up. Sometimes all it takes to lose inspiration is one bad grade or the inability to understand what the professor is saying. Failure to do well becomes an excuse to become helpless, allowing you to be blinded by the lesson you were meant to learn. Eventually, you begin to lose faith in God.
However, this is not the route you have to take. A lot of the stress and unhappiness is not from the circumstances you are put in, but from how you choose to deal with them.
The road can be much easier, and here are some tips to help you along the way:
Do not neglect “yourself”
When life gets difficult, it becomes easy to lose your sense of self. If you are a university student, you trade self-care for extra last minute studying. If your career or parenting becomes hectic, you also forget that your wellness matters. The solution to this is a fixed-commitment calendar for some “me time”. Taking time out to do something that relaxes you and frees your mind of stress is important, whether it’s reading a book, exercising, baking or just having a meal with friends.
Make the most out of your prayers
With all the chaos that takes place, your prayer can be the one constant that allows you to relax and breathe. This is your opportunity to get away from the hectic atmosphere and obtain the positive energy you are in need of. You immediately feel refreshed, and you are able to acquire a sense of calmness that cannot be found anywhere else. Allah says so eloquently
“Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” [Qur’an: Chapter 13, Verse 28]
Remain ‘in the present’
If you want to be stress resistant, it is important to remain present. Be in the here and now by giving yourself reminders. Do you happen to feel as if you are drifting far off into the future? Create sticky notes that remind you to stay present. While it is good to think ahead, it is not good to live ahead. These reminders help you focus on what needs to be accomplished right now, rather than the unwanted stress of false predictions over the future.
Remember that change takes time
Having a fixed mindset is the easiest way to prevent yourself from having a growing relationship with Allah . It might be that you fail a test or much worse, lose a family member. Instantly, you stop thinking positively. You lose faith in Allah , rather than appreciate the lesson as an opportunity to get closer to Him. When you take the perspective of a growth mindset, you realize that these lessons are meant to benefit you. It becomes essential for you to focus on having trust in Allah , because then you find no need to become dependent upon anyone else. This does not happen overnight, but the beauty of the growth mindset is that the best of results happen over time.
Invest in yourself
Focus on your strengths, rather than your weaknesses. Tap into your inner strengths. Try to push yourself one step further and see what happens next. Chances are you are more than capable of taking even more steps towards your goal. Think what skills/talents Allah has blessed you with and work on honing those. Whatever your weaknesses are: whether they’re a trait pertaining to your character or a skill that you’re lacking, work on bettering that whist remembering that knowledge can be acquired and it is unlimited. Just because someone else is good at something doesn’t mean you can’t be too. Remember every expert started off as a beginner.
Know how and when to make dua
Try not to feel helpless. Feeling helpless is the first sign of quitting. When you do feel this way, simply ask yourself: “Why do I feel helpless?” Then, think of what it is you can do to resolve your problem. One method is consistent dua in tahajjud prayers. Remember, if you really want something, then you should be praying for it, and this is something that Allah said,
“And your Lord says call upon me, I will answer you”. [Qur’an: Chapter 40, Verse 60].
If you do not see the results you want, then it could be that you either have or will be given something better or you should renew your intentions and pray for what will bring you closer to your Creator. What brings you closer to Him is also what will offer you permanent happiness. In the darkness of the night, you can find the solace and comfort in knowing you are having a private meeting with your Creator with no distractions. As Allah says in the Qur’an
“And from [part of] the night, pray with it as additional [worship] for you; it is expected that your Lord will resurrect you to a praised station.” [Qur’an: Chapter 17, Verse 79]
Sometimes our hearts can be so fixated on something; whether it’s a job, a university, a house or even a future husband/wife, and we start questioning. We wonder: Why didn’t Allah give me what I want, I made so much dua, I have been so steadfast in my actions, couldn’t Allah give me this one thing? Don’t I deserve it? That’s when we need to remember
“Perhaps you hate a thing, and it is good for you, and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 216].
Sometimes your life takes an unexpected route that completely throws you off, but we don’t know the future, only Allah does. So rather than make dua for material desires, why don’t we put our trust in our Master and make dua to be guided to what is best for our dunya and akhira?
Finally, write down the reasons why you should be grateful. It could be that your mind is so full that you have no room to remember the good in your life. It helps to jot the good in your life down and put the note in the place you sit the most. Having the opportunity to look up at this simple reminder makes it easier for you to focus on the good, instead of the temporary bad. Remember that the good is meant to lift you higher each time you take a look at that note. I once was sent a reminder that had a simple question on it. “If one day all of your blessings were to disappear except for the ones that you said ‘alhamdulillah’ for, how many blessings would remain?”
It was the right and most needed message.
It is the quality of your hard work that leads to permanent results. The best of outcomes always take time to achieve. It is easy to go into anything with the mindset of “I have to be successful,” and it is just as easy to say “I was not successful, I give up.” However, it is so much better to go in with the mindset of “I will become successful, insha’Allah.” Every synonym of “struggle” is a part of the journey towards success; you will discover obstacles, struggles, difficulties and even hardships. This does not mean it is impossible to get through them all. Everything becomes that much easier when you remember that throughout this all, the support of Allah is always with you. The future might be uncertain, but the present is as certain as you allow for it to be. You know quite well by now that Rome was not built in a day, which is why your relationship with Allah will take time and dedication to become as beautiful and rewarding as you dream for it to be. This is also why you cannot stop here and you cannot give up on yourself. Take a look at the complete picture you are aiming for. Your struggles are meant to one day blossom into accomplishments.