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If you've ever run a marathon, or know someone who has, you know that without training it isn't an easy feat. In fact, the discipline and efforts that go into preparing for a marathon not only determine if you make it to the finish line, but also in what state.
The month of Ramadan is your marathon. How well you perform boils down to how well you prepare. So how can we train for the blessed month? A good place to start would be to evaluate your spiritual, physical and mental 'fitness'. This will help determine where to place your greatest efforts throughout (and beyond) the month.
Here are some key areas you could focus on while you think about your plan:
1. Prepare Physically
2. Prepare Mentally
Remember, it is better to achieve & maintain 3 goals than to set 10 and not be able to keep up, because the best deeds are those done regularly, even if they are few.1
A great dua to begin with would be to ask Allah to grant you a blessed and accepted Ramadan, and one that you end on a higher state of emaan than you began.
3. Prepare Spiritually
4. Plan To Have a Plan "B"
There are going to be days where you feel like you aren't able to meet some of your goals. And that's okay. For days like this, have a Plan "B". Build cushion into your plans on some days to allow yourself to catch-up and recenter yourself. When we feel like we're falling behind we tend to lose motivation, so don't allow a few setbacks to throw you off your game!
5. Have A Post-Ramadan Plan
Going back to the analogy of a marathon, wouldn't it be an absolute waste if after training and making it to the finish line, you simply shifted into reverse gear? Sure, at the end of it all, you're going to be physically depleted, but that's what Eid is for! Give yourself some time to recuperate, but remember that you're in the best shape whether physically, mentally or spiritually! Take advantage of that momentum to sustain your accomplishments and build on them.
Finally, remember that unlike a sprint, in a marathon it's the slow and steady that win the race. Pace yourself because the potential to earn the greatest rewards lies in the final 10 days and nights.
May Allah allow us to benefit from the blessings of this month, and may He accept our efforts and our prayers to seek closeness to Him. Ameen.
1 Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few."
Source: Sunan Ibn Mājah 4240