In the last month, like many Muslims, I have spent 540 out of the 720 hours (75%!) observing the Holy month of Ramadan – a fasting period from dawn until sunset.
This month comes once a year and is a month when many like to spend time bringing themselves closer to their faith, whilst still carrying on with their daily activities such as being a parent, a sibling, a project manager and a leader.
While there are several physical benefits (my decreasing waist line for one!), I came to some more specific realisations during this month that are closely aligned to our daily lives and which I was keen to share.
- Clear goals: Starting the month with a clear idea of what I wanted to accomplish spiritually and physically definitely helped to ensure I was going in the right direction. It helped me stay accountable for what I wanted to achieve and in instances when I was slacking or feeling demotivated, I could go back to these goals to keep me focussed.
- Preparation is king: With long fasting days and highly charged client landscapes, it was key for me to set expectations with my client and my team, helping people identify times when I would be available and where I was going to be.
- Pace yourself: We all start off with gusto but Ramadan, like life, is a marathon. I’ve found by making small regular efforts, I developed habits which led me to make greater progress, as opposed to one-off grand gestures. Now that these habits are embedded in my daily routine, my progress is more steady and sustainable. Equally, finding ways to control my fluctuating energy level was key – a walk in the sun or a few minutes out helped considerably. It’s important to find some time to replenish yourself so that you’re able to give your best.
- Simplicity is king: The first few days of fasting are difficult. Your body and mind are trying to adjust to this period of sacrifice; hunger hides in disguise behind frustration and grumpiness. However the absence of life’s ‘luxuries’ helps to redirect focus on what is important and re-evaluate priorities. I found myself dedicating more time to matters that are of importance to me, such as spending time with my kids and making more time to visit the mosque. It’s important to reassess priorities and ensure that we don’t clutter our days with things that ‘get in the way’. The month is a period to promote good will and to engage with people; I’ve found myself spending more time with the team, embracing new ideas and further enhancing our environment of openness.
- Strength in numbers: Being open with people throughout the month also helped with understanding why I may skip that team lunch or client dinner. When motivation wanes and the days seem never-ending, having people around to help pick me up during these times proved to be invaluable. It can be as simple as walking around the city with me or chatting away to help distract from the loud grumbles coming from my stomach. A role we all play in our teams providing support in those challenging times.
Salam Aleykum – may Peace be upon you.