The Teachings of Ramadan and the Power of 30-Day Challenges

I read an article recently by Tariq Ramadan, who is a professor at Oxford University, about the teachings of Ramadan. It was a beautifully written article, and an accurate reflection of the essentials of this holy month.  The reason it stood out for me was mainly that I felt I connected to it in its entirety. He says in the beginning sentences of the article that the “fasting month is a school of faith, of spirituality, of awareness…” I have been thinking a lot in the weeks leading up to this month about what I want to take away from Ramadan this year. I think self-awareness is how I would put it, or in his words: “Our task is one of self-mastery.”

A few weeks ago, I watched a short talk on TED about the power of 30-day challenges. Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google presented a neat and different way to think about setting and achieving goals. He encouraged viewers and audiences to pick something they have always wanted to do and do it for 30 days straight. 30 days is a perfect amount of time to adopt something new and be able to remain consistent at it in the future. As Ramadan was approaching, I realized that this year, I wanted to implement more than just fasting into my lifestyle.

To me Ramadan is about being spiritually connected, physically conscious, and mentally stronger. It’s about adopting a new attitude, one that is compassionate, tolerant and disciplined. It’s about implementing a different set of rules and guidelines in your lifestyle in order to adopt a more heightened sense of awareness and consciousness. In other words, it’s about being a better version of you, the person you would like to be year round. However, every year what tends to hit me after the month is over is why I fail to remain that person. Why do I lose sight of all I want to be when they make my life more worthwhile? And most importantly, what has stopped me from remaining that person throughout the year? The only answer I’ve come up with so far is that I never tried hard enough. At least not yet.

This time around, I have a 30-day challenge that I hope will remain with me throughout the year. I seek to turn inward, to recognize my shortcomings and reflect on my actions; it is a month of renewal, but I want it to be a starting point for a year and lifetime of renewals. This month, I want to focus on things in my life that hold meaning, significance and priority. This is my 30- day challenge. What’s yours?