Let’s get specific (DW #930)

Three things to keep in mind when formalizing your micro goal or habit.
  • Make it specific: What exactly will you be doing, where and at what time?
    E.g. I will do 5 jumping jacks before I step into the shower in the morning
  • Make it an everyday thing rather than on certain days. Habit experts tell us it is MUCH easier to succeed if you plan to do something every day without fail rather than something you do occasionally.
  • Make it REALLY easy. So easy that Like crazy easy. Stephen Guise tells us we want to create "mini habits" that are "too small to fail." He offers the brilliant advice that we shouldn’t say we’re going to work out for 30 minutes a day, we should say we’re going to do ONE push up per day. We shouldn’t say we’re going to meditate for 60 minutes per day. We should commit to ONE minute per day. Don’t say you will write for an hour per day. Write for a minute per day.
In other words, go small. Go micro. Make it REALLY REALLY easy to win....
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What is your keystone habit? (DW #929)

While picking what to focus on and take baby steps on by making it into micro-goals, it might be wise to start with a keystone habit.

What is a keystone habit?
A keystone, by the way, is an important structural piece in in a building. It locks an arch in place and is essential for its strength and integrity.
And similarly, our keystone habits are important "structures" in our lives and super important in making other parts of our lives work. The benefit of working on a keystone habit is that the benefits accrued from installing this habit cascade into the rest of our lives.
For me, a keystone habit is intentional movement. (Many would call this exercise – I prefer the word movement – the reason why to be discussed at another time)
When I am focusing on moving my body, I eat better, I sleep better, I focus better. I feel (very) virtuous!

You get the picture? Daily intentional movement is my keystone habit. When I work on installing moments...
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Focus on one goal at a time (DW #928)

If you are anything like me and a ton of others who get easily inspired, your mind is busy thinking of the many goals you could use the domino effect on.

Please stop right now. Trying to change too much at once is a recipe for overwhelm and burnout.

(I remember a coach telling me once: Yes, Marzia, you can have and do anything you want, just not ALL AT THE SAME TIME!! - wise woman!!)
So how about making a commitment and going all out on ONE thing. Not one HUNDRED things. ONE thing.

Pick whatever you want. Research says that you would benefit from making sure that you do something you actually want to do. Not a "should do".

And, you may want to consider doing something that would have a really positive benefit in many areas of your life. (We will discuss this more tomorrow inshallah)
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Dominoes (DW #927)

Have you watched how dominoes fall when you line them up precisely? Quite fascinating isn’t it?
Do you know the physics behind the dominoes? Even more fascinating than watching them fall.
A domino can apparently knock over another domino that is about 1 1/2 times larger than it. (Do try this at home!!)
So, imagine setting up a chain of dominoes such that each one is 1 1/2 times larger than the prior one. Let’s say 13 dominoes. The first domino is only 5 millimeters high and one millimeter thick—so small that you need a pair of tweezers to put it in place. The last one is 3 feet tall and weighs 100 pounds.

Push the micro-domino over and BOOM!!! More and more power is amplified as each domino in the chain topples over.

I will take the scientists word for it that there is in fact, 2 BILLION times more energy in the last sequence than in the first.
WHAT??? Yes – 2 Billion!!
How does this apply to us?
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Baby steps and big goals (DW #926)

We have been talking about baby steps.

But what if we have huge goals? Would baby steps be helpful?

Well, let’s answer this by means of a story: some of us may have heard of Roger Bannister who was the first person to break the 4-minute mile. At that time, it had never been done. And many (very smart) people believed that it could NOT be done.
Bannister of course was not so sure. How did he train for this huge goal?
By breaking it down into mini goals.

First, he trained until he could run a quarter mile in a minute. Then he trained until he could run half a mile in two minutes. After which he trained until he could run three-quarters of a mile in three minutes. Only then he trained until he thought he could run the full mile in less than four minutes.

On May 6, 1954 at Iffley Road Track in Oxford, England, the time keeper looked down and saw these magic numbers: 3:59.4.

Banister had done it. He had done what many thought was simply not possible.
How? By...
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The spitting lizard (DW #925)

A significant distinction that enables conscious action is focusing on process rather than outcome. Keeping our sights on what we can do is empowering whereas focusing on the enormity of the struggle can create feelings of overwhelm and hopelessness.
Many causes and projects are so huge that it is extremely difficult to see the benefit of doing anything about it. Protesting terrorism, oppression, injustice, global warming all come to mind as examples.
At times like this it may be helpful to remember the legend of the little lizard:

It is said that when Prophet Ibrahim (as) was thrown in the fire by Namrood, there was a little lizard who was watching. The other animals saw that the lizard was filling its mouth with water and spitting at the great fire.

The other animals started making fun of the lizard. "What are you hoping to accomplish?" they asked scornfully. "Look at the fire and look at your...
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Actions and results (DW #924)

Yesterday, we spoke about being the "trimtab" to the ship of change in society.

The point was that if we focus on making small changes, the tide will eventually turn, and the ship will change direction.
Here is a reality that we do need to confront though: we never have any control on the outcome of what we work towards. NEVER. We may do our best and the harsh truth is that we may not be able to see results in our lifetime.
And thankfully, we are not held accountable for results – only our efforts. Only for the actions we take towards being a force for good and making this a better world for all.
And when we are feeling discouraged, let us remind ourselves that even the most beloved servants of God are not held accountable for results. The Holy Prophet (saw) is reminded over and over in the Quran that his job was to simply deliver the message. Getting people to believe and do good was outside his circle of control.
And similarly, we are not held...
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Being the trimtab for social change (DW #923)

We are using the metaphor of the trimtab to inspire us to affect personal changes in our lives.
However, it is very important to point out that the way Fuller first used it, he meant it as a metaphor for how a single individual can be a force for change in society.
In an interview, the interviewer asked him a question about how human beings can live with "a sense of the individual’s impotence to affect events, to improve or even influence our own welfare, let alone that of society," Fuller offered the metaphor of being the trimtab in society:

" . . . the little individual can be a trim tab. . . But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, "Call me Trim Tab."

The truth is that you get the low pressure to do things, rather than getting on the other side and trying to push the bow of the ship around. And you build that low pressure by...

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Call me trim tab (DW #922)

Years ago, I came across a metaphor for change that really stuck – the metaphor of the trimtab of a ship.
Before I share the metaphor, let me share the backstory which I only recently discovered while doing some research (got to love Google).
The metaphor was coined by Buckminster Fuller, reportedly one of the great minds of the 20th century. Fuller became famous for inventing the geodesic dome and for coining the word "synergy" but before he was famous, he almost killed himself . . .
He felt that he had wasted the first part of his life, struggled with addictions, with family conflict and with work. When he was 32, his only daughter died, and he was wrought with guilt and self-blame for not being home when the child passed away.
Severely depressed, he walked into the ocean intending to kill himself.
Before he could act on his thoughts, he had a moment of awakening. It occurred to him that he hadn’t really given his life a chance. He was failing...
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The power of baby steps (DW #921)

Do you have big ideas, plans and aspirations that you struggle to act on?

Me too!
During times when there is so much opportunity for inspiration (for example in Ramadan which already seems so far away!) I want to do more, do better, to make changes in myself and in my life and basically transform every part of my life . . . .
Until life gets in the way, that is! The best of intentions do not appear to materialize when I try to aim big.
I have come to the realization (through research on what works and from personal experience) that only thing that works is to take baby steps in the direction that I want to go towards.
So for the next little while, let’s talk about the power of baby steps and how we can make micro progressions towards the kind of life we want.
You in?

ps: If you know someone who could use a little inspiration in their lives to make changes, would you please share the sign up link with them? Let us grow the #DailyWisdom family!...

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