Writer’s Note: You might remember Mina from our previous article How To Deal With The Pain of Change which you can read here


“I woke up today and I don’t have a reminder to know what to do,” my friend Mina expresses. “How do I remind myself of my passion every day? How do I remind myself that I have to do this, I have to do that, in order to reach my goal? How do I find the drive to keep striving for what I want? We drop sometimes, but when we drop, how do we carry on? How do we keep that passion in our hearts? How do we wake up and think “Okay, I have a goal today”? These days, I feel I've lost the purpose of doing things. Sometimes I forget that I want to be a writer. My number one thing is I want to be a writer but sometimes that goal disappears. Sometimes, I don’t remember that ambition. How do I keep that love alive? From the time I wake up...how do I keep that passion alive? How do I keep that burning fire inside me?”


Have you ever asked yourself a similar question? How do we consistently wake up with that fire inside of us? How do we keep the fire of our passion, of our purpose burning bright? Yes, generally speaking, we know that our purpose is to do things for the sake of Allah, to submit to Allah, to love Allah, to serve Allah, to serve His creation, that’s the ultimate purpose, but what does that mean practically


Most of us can agree that in life, not every day is a “good” and productive day for us. Our days are not always going to be ideal or perfect or the same. However, there are two habits that can help us to consistently wake up with our purpose in our hearts, our intentions on track, and the fire burning inside of us no matter the day. These two habits are:


Habit One: Planning Your Week In Advance Using “The Identity Approach”

Habit Two: Planning Your Day The Night Before Using “The Salah Times Structure”


In this article, I will guide you step by step on how to implement Habit One: Planning Your Week In Advance Using “The Identity Approach”. As for habit two, look out for our next Productivity article exclusively at Qalby. In summary, we will cover:


  • A Brief Overview of Habit One
  • Why Plan Your Week This Way? Why Commit to Habit One?
  • Step 1: Write Down Your Roles
  • Step 2: Write Down Your Goals And Intentions
  • Step 3: Schedule Everything
  • Step 4: Highlight And Evaluate
  • Step 5: Use Your Weekly Plan To Help Guide Your Daily Plan 
  • Key Takeaways 
  • Conclusion (The Two Questions)


IMPORTANT: Before we start, have a pen and a paper ready to take down notes or screenshot the steps and make a mental note to go through and apply the steps in this article later. Better yet, put a reminder on your phone.


A Brief Overview of Habit One


Planning Your Week In Advance Using “The Identity Approach” is a name I have come up with based on a concept introduced by world renowned expert Stephen R Covey in his famous book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. In his book, Covey emphasises that having an overview of your entire week helps you to prioritise what’s most important to you. He says that the first step to an effective weekly plan is to identify the various roles you have. For example, you could have the role of a parent, daughter or son, a spouse, a manager or an employee, a student, etc. By identifying the essential roles you play, you attach planning your week with the deepest values you have as a human being. This leads to more effective planning and helps motivate you to execute your plan. Furthermore, it gives a much more balanced view of all your responsibilities. In Habit One explained in this article, I adapt and add on to Covey’s concept based on my personal experience applying his approach. I also provide an Islamic perspective. 


Why Plan Your Week This Way? Why Commit to Habit One?


When you attach the tasks you have to accomplish to your different roles in life, you are associating all those tasks with your identity. In turn, those tasks become not just habits, responsibilities or burdens, but they become the very fiber of your being. They become a part of who you are. They become a part of your mission in life. 


Your motivation and drive can come and go. Your passion can have ups and downs. Even your iman (faith) increases and decreases. Your IDENTITY, however, never completely leaves you. Your identity is consistent. 


Will you take a moment to briefly write down the answer to these two questions? Your answers are essential as you begin to understand Habit 1. 

Question 1: Who do you really want to be in this dunya? 

Question 2: How do you want to make this world a better place? 


We’ll come back to your answers later. But first, let me share two Quranic verses that put Habit One into perspective: 

And those who were mindful of their Lord will be led to Paradise in ˹successive˺ groups. When they arrive at its ˹already˺ open gates, its keepers will say, “Peace be upon you! You have done well, so come in, to stay forever.” (39:73)

The righteous will say, “Praise be to Allah Who has fulfilled His promise to us, and made us inherit the ˹everlasting˺ land1 to settle in Paradise wherever we please.” How excellent is the reward of those who work ˹righteousness˺! (39:74)

If you identify as being a believer, a mu’min you will begin to internalize the role of being an a’amil, a worker of righteousness. You will wake up with the responsibility to contribute to humanity on your shoulders. You will not be able to fall asleep until you’ve asked yourself: “How was I a giver today?” Moreover, you will plan your weeks and days and prioritise your responsibilities over your desire to procrastinate or waste time. So are you ready to get started? Bismillah, let’s begin!


Step 1: Write Down Your Roles


Never underestimate the power of the pen. Writing things down holds you accountable. Your plan written down is a contract you’ve made to yourself and you are bound to that contract. If you fulfill that contract to yourself, you build your INTEGRITY- your ability to fulfill your promises. Integrity is a characteristic of successful people. As Allah says in Surah Al Mu’minoon: 


Successful indeed are the believers...˹the believers are also˺ those who are true to their trusts and covenants (23:1 and 23:8)


Step 1 is all about writing down your roles. For example, you could identify as being a: 

  1. Muslim. 
  2. Family Member
  3. Employee (e.g. real estate salesperson)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
  4. Community Member
  5. Student 
  6. Volunteer 


Once you have your roles written down, attach a positive character trait to your role. For example:


If you wrote down “Muslim,” what kind of Muslim do you want to be? A self-developing Muslim? A confident Muslim? A strong Muslim? An energetic Muslim? A disciplined Muslim? A dedicated Muslim? A submissive Muslim? A righteous Muslim? A growing Muslim?


If you wrote down “Family Member,” what kind of family member do you want to be? A kind/ loving/ giving/ compassionate/ patient/ understanding/ caring/ serving one?


If you wrote down “Employee,” specify your job, e.g. writer, engineer, teacher, etc. Then describe what kind of employee you want to be:  honest/ trustworthy/ proactive/ diligent/ innovative/ exemplary/ hard-working/ communicative/ collaborative. etc.


If you wrote down “Community Member,” what kind of community member do you want to be? A leading/ passionate/ serving/ active/ responsible/ innovative/ problem-solving/ empathetic/ kind/ generous one? 


If you identify as a “Student,” perhaps you want to be: diligent/ dedicated/ hard-working/ proactive/ timely/ passionate/ humble/ determined/ disciplined/ focused in your student role. 


If you are a “Volunteer,” you might want to be: respectful/ serving/ humble/ passionate/ creative/ giving/ guiding, or exemplary. 


Once you identify your main roles and attach each of them to a positive character trait, your page should look something like this: 


Step 2: Write Down Your Goals And Intentions


Attach specific weekly goals to each role along with a deeply thought out intention. For example, in order to fulfill your role as a confident Muslim, you might want to read a self-help book. However, that’s not specific enough. Specify the name of the self-help book along with the page numbers you want to read. For instance, you can write: Read In the Early Hours pages 23-28. Then write down your intention such as: “To develop myself mentally, socially, and spiritually.” 


Try to dig even deeper by adding more layers to your intention. Remember to focus on your WHY. Perhaps you can add on: “To develop myself mentally, socially, and spiritually and work towards the purification of my soul in order to be a good example for both my fellow Muslims and non-Muslims and in order to meet Allah with a sound heart.” 


Initially, you might find coming up with a meaningful intention difficult or time consuming. However, bear in mind that this will be a worthy investment. Firstly, it will motivate you to do your best during the week to achieve your goals. Secondly, if your intentions are sincere, Allah will help to facilitate your intentions in order for you to achieve them.  Thirdly, your intentions alone will weigh heavy on your scale of good deeds the day you meet Allah. 


For each role, try to limit your goals to 2 to 4 tasks per week. Consider reducing your tasks and goals the following week if you find yourself struggling to cope with the amount of goals you specified the previous week. 


Once you’re done with Step 2, your page should look something like this:



To save time, you can shorten your intentions by only writing the keywords, so it will look something like this:



Step 3: Schedule Everything


Now that you’re done writing down your roles, goals, and intentions, it’s time to schedule EVERYTHING. Say your goal is to swim for 30 minutes in the morning, 3 times a week. You may block out one to two hours every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday for your swimming. You block out one to two hours and not half an hour because you have to take into consideration the time it takes to get ready, get to the pool, and shower, and change after your swim. 


You can also make a “note” reminding yourself that you may have to adjust some of your other habits to fit in your goal. For example, if you’re planning to organise your cupboard on Sunday from 9 am to 12 pm and you normally eat lunch at 12:30 pm, then you need to remember to either plan for a quick lunch, get take-out or cook your meal the day before and refrigerate it. 


Once you’re done, your weekly schedule should look something like this (due to the space limit of this blog post, intentions have been omitted in the example below):



Step 4: Highlight And Evaluate 


As the week progresses, highlight the tasks you have accomplished in one colour (I usually highlight mine in blue). Then at the end of your week, note whatever you did not manage to accomplish in another colour (I use purple). (See image below to get a better idea).


Now reflect on and evaluate your week. What did you manage to do? What didn’t you manage to do? Why didn’t you do those tasks? Was your weekly plan realistic? Is there something you should adjust in next week’s plan? As for the tasks you did not manage to complete, can you carry them over to next week’s plan? Or should you just cancel them out entirely? Take a moment to thank Allah for enabling you to get through your week. Renew your intentions to stick to the promises you made to yourself. Make the intention to fulfill next week’s personal written contract (your weekly plan) to the best of your ability. 



Step 5: Use Your Weekly Plan To Help Guide Your Daily Plan


Use this weekly plan to then schedule your goals and block out time on your daily planner. The next article on this topic (How To Start And End Your Day With Passion And Purpose Part 2) will explain more about this. 


Key Takeaways 


I know this might be a lot to take in at once. But I want you to know you’re not alone. You have Allah and a community who loves you. You have power within you. Grow WITH your community. Heal WITH your community. Take ONE step at a time. FORGIVE yourself when you slip up. Never stop taking ACTION. Whatever you didn’t manage to do today, chances are you won’t do tomorrow. You are on a mission through this dunya, you are racing towards the next life and you are losing time. The seconds of your life are trickling away. Reach the finish line with the victory of Allah’s pleasure and mercy.  Make use of every precious breath you have in this life before you have to leave. Aim for consistency. The best actions are those done consistently even if they are small. 


If you fear having trouble implementing Habit One in your life, refer to my tips in the article How To Deal With The Pain of Change. Lastly, you have to see what system works best for you. If not every step in Habit One suits your style of planning, then take what does and leave the rest. You know yourself better. However, the key is to be firm in your decision to implement a planning system regardless of how you choose to approach it. 


Conclusion (The Two Questions)


Remember the two questions I asked you at the beginning of this article? 


Question 1: Who do you really want to be in this dunya? 

Question 2: How do you want to make this world a better place? 


Your answers to these two questions summarise your personal mission statement. Ask yourself these two questions regularly and remind yourself of the answers to help motivate you and hold yourself accountable. Knowing human nature, at least 99 percent of people will skim through this article but do nothing to change. Will you be the 1 percent who makes a decision to implement what you learned? If your answer is “YES” then get started. Bismillah. You got this! 


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Covey, S. R. (2013). The seven habits of highly effective people. New York: Simon and Schuster.