My, oh, my. It's January 2019. It's that time of the year when people make New Year's resolutions, start new habits and/or drop old unhelpful ones. But for some of us (okay, most of us) the beginning of a new year is a big, flashing reminder that we haven't achieved all our goals and resolutions from 2018, 2017, 2016 and so on and so forth. It's a horrible feeling. The kind of feeling that makes you want to scroll through your social media feed and distract yourself from what's going on in your mind and heart.

Stop right there, ma'am/sir. This is a teachable moment. This right here is what will take you from where you are to where you want to be.

Write down everything you're feeling. Get it out of your system, your mind, body and most of all, your soul. Breathe. Then, say this out loud: I am rising in this moment. 

Everything you were feeling was real but not everything in your thoughts, especially the self-deprecating and self-denigrating beliefs, are true. While the 'modern' world is quick to judge a person by material and physical factors, you — your soul and the strength of your character — are ultimately defined by your humanity (which includes your relationship with your Creator) — not your physicality and material possessions and especially not by your mistakes, flaws or shortcomings.

Anyone who doesn't agree that there's more to who you are than the external is not living your truth, but that doesn't make them your enemy. I've learned that you don't have to be your own enemy, either. You may have habits or moments you're not proud of and you have to take responsibility for them but every minute you spend beating yourself is a minute you could have used to do something cool, constructive and beneficial. All you need is to keep rising from moment to moment. That includes shedding identities, habits and beliefs that are not helping you to serve your purpose.

“Never have I dealt with anything more difficult than my own soul, which sometimes helps me and sometimes opposes me.” - Imam al-Ghazzali (رضي الله عنه)

Writing down your thoughts and beliefs is going to help you discipline yourself, especially your soul, and to let go of what is unhelpful, recognise what is useful and figure out what you're going to do to start putting action into your goals in the next 10 minutes. Yes, the next 10 minutes. Why the urgency? Why not? What could be more urgent than your one and only life and all the good that is going to result from you being healthy, optimistic and empowered? What you do in the next 10 minutes is just as important if not more important than what you intend to do tomorrow or next week.

“Take benefit of 5 before 5: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death." - Prophet Muhammad 

At this moment, you or your life may not be perfect (and the truth is, it will never be and that's okay) but believe it or not, it is exactly what you need to achieve your goals and ambitions.  Be it a goal that seems unambitious like, "I want to be happy" or "I want to read more books" or a goal that scares the daylight out of you like "I want to make $10 million dollars a year and help solve poverty in my community".

Whether your dreams are small or big they're important to you for a reason. Acceptance and at least a little gratitude for who you are and what you have now will raise and transform your energy from difficultness and defeatedness to 'just do it-ness' 😎 and enable you to harness everything you have to get you from where you are to where you want to be.

And... that's my cue to wish you a meaningful, fulfilling and happy 2019! May you rise like Khadija (رضي الله عنه) when Prophet Muhammad  needed her to strengthen him and his ummah (community) and may you rise like Maya Angelou who turned her pain into wisdom.

What will you do in the next 10 minutes to start making 2019 your year? 

Even when it's a little unnerving sometimes, I'm going to continue discovering and doing what I love (and get better at it), like sharing what I recently learned about empathy and being a creative storyteller, as I did in my latest vlog about adapting to life in New York city.