Finding the balance

31 October 2011

It is related by Umar Ibn al-Khattab t that the Messenger of Allah r said:
“The actions are but judged according to intentions; and to every man is due what he intended.”
[Bukhârî and Muslim]

Having worked as a company director, Saiyyidah Zaidi, faced the reality of only having 2 minutes to pray dhuhr before rushing to a 2pm meeting. She planned meetings with chief executives, directors and key stakeholders; but questioned how she did all of this with excellence when she was not even praying with true ihsaan? She began thinking about the place her faith held in all of this, and this is where it all started. On the look-out for a 24-hour day of worship, she shares an exercise that has helped her find the balance and get a full 24-hours of worship!

I’ve always believed that success is a matter of opinion. For me, it’s being true to myself, in whatever way I define success, and number one is trying to please my Lord.

As Muslims we talk of success in a holistic sense, related to both the dunya and the hereafter. This is powerful because it is not a conflict between dunya and hereafter, but rather it’s a complimentary relationship.

What is your definition of success?

Many people are too busy to think about this question and often don’t reflect upon it until a lot of time has been wasted. It is your definition of success that creates balance in your life. As women, there are so many expectations upon us - from society, from ourselves, from work, etc., and with all of these demands, is it any surprise that we struggle to balance all the roles and responsibilities that we have?

One of our main drivers for balance is intention. Often we hear of ahadith alluding to the fact that all 24 hours in a day can be worship.

It is related by Umar Ibn al-Khattab t that the Messenger of Allah r said: “The actions are but judged according to intentions; and to every man is due what he intended.”

[Bukhârî and Muslim]

Yes, it is intention that makes it possible to have a full day of worship!

In taking the time to think about what you want in your life and defining it, balance will be easier to find. Everyone can achieve their own definition of balance, but few have the discipline to achieve it – you have it!

The Messenger of Allah SAW tells us to be balanced and harmonised between our worship and work. We have to remain constant in our acts of worship and work hard to earn a living and support our families.

“Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately. Always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course, whereby you will reach your target (of paradise)”

(Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadith 470)

With Ramadhan around the corner, the balancing act between work and faith is even greater. We have to cook meals for the wider family, entertain the children, focus on worship, look after the house, go to work... it can all be too much! To give you a smoother Ramadhan, let’s get you started on finding balance:
The Balance Workout

Step 1:

What are your roles in life?

Jot down all the different roles you have in the form of a brain dump. Write down everything that comes to mind and don’t be embarrassed or regard anything as unimportant. Psychology research shows that it is often the 3rd thing that creates the most resonance with the reality for us. So write it all down.

Step 2:

How are you really spending your time?

The key here is not about pretending that you can fit in all the things that you want to do (been there, tried it and failed!) but to be honest with yourself. Work out your priorities for now and set aside times for worship, work, relaxation, kids, husband, family, etc. Once you have a time plan, the burden of “I must do everything right now” will be lifted and you will feel much less stressed.

Step 3:

Identify the things that are disrupting your balance.

What are you doing that you don’t need to be doing? What tasks can you delegate to others in the team? What is your manager delegating to you that someone else can do? What can you leave until later? How much time are you spending at work? Are you going to meetings that are unnecessary?

Now that you know your roles and where you are spending your time, you can assess whether you are spending time doing the things that are right for your definition of balance. You will find things that are not, so make a decision as to whether you will drop, delay, delegate or do them!

The first time I did this exercise I was blown away at how much time I spent doing things to please other people that were not pleasing my Lord. Whatever your definition of success, this exercise will help you get there, insha Allah.