Puritan Work Ethic and Entrepreneurial Burnout

This week I learned more than ever about my need to be KIND to myself. If I don’t take care of myself, and practice self love, I can’t do my best work. It’s so easy to stop taking care of yourself, eating healthy and exercising. Your mind and body are interwined but in the daily work, it’s hard to remember to eat at times!

Okay, so what happened? I totally burnt out.

Mental exhaustion from startup life.

The problem with burning out as an entrepreneur is you don’t even know it’s happening. I kept trying to tell myself that I just need to work more or that I was becoming lazy. Turns out, that you can tell yourself whatever you like but when your brain shuts down, it shuts down. At that point, you have to just give in.

I realized, after much research, that burning out is a symptom of being on the wrong track. When you procrastinate and can’t focus. It generally means you need to revisit your idea and start over from your initial assumption. It may be that you put too much on your plate, you were working on a project from multiple angles or maybe you were trying to do TOO much at once.

I decided to change things.

James Altucher, one of my most favourite bloggers, talks about the daily practice or his popular blog post: how to become the luckiest person in the world. Anytime you find yourself stuck or on the wrong path, it’s most likely because you are neglecting the following: your spiritual health, your physical health, your emotional health or your mental health. His argument is that one you get those 4 in order, your life will begin to change and get better.

Yesterday, I started a 66 day challenge based on the Daily Practice. 

I’ve been trying to be kind to myself:

1. Allow myself to sleep well
2. Stretch and do exercise every day! I noticed I sleep less but my sleep is much better.
3. Create a vision board and read a list of my incantations every morning
4. Read and watch what I want than being so task-focused.
5. Give myself permission to PLAY and LEARN

It made a HUGE difference in my productivity levels. You can’t run a marathon forever and it gets difficult being an entrepreneur trying to accomplish so much that you realize – I HAVE to give myself a rest.That may seem normal to other people – you know, resting and stuff. But as an entrepreneuer, your mind running all the time and as a founder, you are constantly thinking about strategy, projects, deadlines and other people.

Robin Sharma often recommends that for every 6 weeks of work, you take 1 week off or every 7 days, take 1 day off. Tim Ferris suggests for every 3 months work, you take a 1 month mini-vacation.

But why is this so hard?

After a bit of investigation, I realized that I have  A LOT of guilt around leisure. I learned that this is primarily a industrial-age puritical christian idea.

I have absolutely no idea what my own traditional and spiritual beliefs say about work, leisure and time but somehow I adopted these very old-age ideas into my subconsciousness.

It’s called the puritan work ethic.

So there were these people, Puritians, who made up the majority of industralists in the early 1900’s. Their beliefs about work was that you must suffer and it was regarded as a way to redeem our original sins(a Christian idea). These ideas trickled down into our concept of what work is today, at least in the modern Industrial world.

They believed that if you worked really hard you would recieve spiritual rewards and it was virtue. So much so that, the idea of charity came from Puritans. It was a way to give out money for feeling so guilty for working so much.

For my Muslim readers, charity for them isn’t the same as how charity is defined in an Islamic context. Islamic concept of charity isn’t simply giving out money, but it’s a structual component of Islamic society that is obligatory for everyone who has means; it allows those that are in need to be supported, not simply as a way to obsolve guilt.

What are the root causes of guilt around work?

These are some of mine, and I’m sure you can relate to it:

1. I need to work hard to make money 2. Working hard is morally good 3. Hardwork is something that is inherently valuable to society 4. Sleep is for suckers 5. Laziness means doing nothing

Let’s break these down:
1. Statistically, hardwork is not linked to wealth
2. Linking hardwork to morally is one thing. Linking being a moral person to working is a big stretch.
3. Most of us take from the society around us. Our society is a society of workers, so of course we will view it as something good when it’s constantly reinforced arond us.
4. This is so categorically wrong, it’s unbelieveable. You need sleep to be healthy and to function optimally. It’s fine if you don’t sleep for a while because of work you need to complete, but to to do this constantly? Over a period of time is misleading and unhealthy.
5. Laziness is actually doing busy work with no real productive results.

Now, when I refer to ‘hardwork’, I’m not talking about the concept of working itself. Everyone needs to work to get where they want to go. However, I am referring to the idea of work tied to the conception of redemption, so much so that it’s socially engineered to make you feel a certain way if you don’t do it.

Western society doesn’t encourage leisure and relaxation the way, say living in the East does. And leisure doesn’t neccessarily mean doing nothing, it means reflection or time away from focused work.Maybe because reflection and time to sit and meditate isn’t valued as much in the West(there is a whole load of studies now showing the benefits of meditation, however people who follow a spiritual path don’t need scientific studies to show the benefits of it) that any time of work is considered to be ‘wasteful.’

As an entrepreneur, it’s fundamentally an introspective process. You constantly have to unlearn and relearn.

Right now, I’m unlearning how I percieve work and on a bigger level, how I percieve time.

And that being a workaholic is actually a bad thing, not healthy and very much the antithesis of living a life where one grow one’s self.

I hoping that this generation really does change the definition of ‘work’ to something more holistic, more in tune with how we learn about ourselves, less driven into the abyss of this endless hole of ‘working’ and being ‘busy’, that surely, in the long term, can’t be good for people’s health

How To Set Goals To Create The Life You Want

It’s the last quarter of 2014 and we all have goals we are trying to accomplish before the years end.

Whether you want to hit your financial projects, launch a project or travel somewhere, it all starts with one thing: setting a goal.


I’ve had a few people message me asking me how do they set goals to create the life they want and I want to give you the exact formula.

I have had so much experience learning different ways to set goals. There is much research and science behind goal setting but instead of giving you an information overload, I want to just give you practical advice on what has worked for me and what hasn’t.

These lessons I am about to share have changed my life indelibly and I want them to change yours as well, insha’Allah.

I have to say upfront, there will be points in your life that you won’t be able to accomplish a goal. That doesn’t mean that the goal is impossible, it simply means you don’t have the right tools to execute the goal correctly. It may be that you don’t have enough understanding, a clear objective or even the resources you need to get to where you want to be.

But if you set correct goals: specific, measureable, and timed goals, nothing will be impossible.

Let’s dissect the various features of a goal:

Step 1: Clarity

You need to know exactly what it is that you want. Many people don’t accomplish what they want in life -not due to luck or misfortune but because they don’t plan for it. If you want to create a life that you want, you need to become deliberate about it. Everything must be planned.

You need to be so clear as to the end outcome that your vision will pull you, rather you needing to push yourself. One issue people ask me about is time management. “How can I better motivate myself to accomplish my goals?” I tell people that they are asking the wrong question. If you know what you want and are absolutely clear about where you are going, you don’t need to force yourself to carve out time. Your goals will be pushing you instead you of pushing yourself to accomplish the goals.

What does a unclear goal vs a clear goal looks like?

Unclear goal: I want to be a blogger.
Clear Goal: I will sit down at 10am every day and write 1000 words that I will easily publish on my blog for my readers.

Unclear goal: I want to make a lot of money.
Clear goal:  I will easily make $150,000 by December 31st 2015.

Unclear goal: I want to travel.
Clear goal: I will easily book a flight to Greece on Wednesday Oct 29th through my airline of choice and will have a receipt confirmation in hand.

Do you see the difference? It’s about being clear.

Get in the habit of defining what you want in detail.

In addition, being clear about your goals means that you focus on the process, not the event.

The process is what you have to do to get there. The event is the end outcome.

Committ to the process, not the event.

Becoming clear about this alone is enough to prevent you from quitting and indeed, it is the reason why people quit. I believe many of us look to the ‘end’ and that can only temporarily motivate you. The sooner  you understand getting to the ‘end’ is going to be a process of hard work and a slow process, the better.

Step 2: What do you want to do?

In our lives, many of us are searching for our purpose. What am I here to do? What is the ultimate purpose in my life? Being a colored person and a Muslim, there are not only multiple ways to answer this question but multiple factors that become apart of the equation. In other words, it’s not an easy task to answer this question. You are not going to figure it out in one go. In fact, I would dissuade you from trying to even answer such a question.

You will start getting confused if you ask yourself big questions like this. Focus on asking yourself questions about things you can immediately implement. What can do you do now? What experiences would you like to have now? What places would you like to go? What topics would you like to learn more about? And most importantly:

What do you want to contribute to the world before you pass away?

Finding your purpose means experimenting chronically, all the time and never getting stuck in a routine. But the topic of finding your purpose is another blog post that I will tackle in a later insha’Allah.

Start by answering these questions. The key is that you actually have to answer them. These were the questions that started to help me on my path to lifestyle design and they will help you too.

Side Note: Tyrese Gibson once said something that changed my life. He said: “Take control of your life and how you experience things emotionally”. Most of what happens in your life may not be under your direct control. To create the life that you want, you need to look at the different aspects of your life: relationships, health, finance and specific experiences in your life: the daily conversations you have, the way you wake up in the morning, the people you constantly interact with and you need to control how you experience these in your life.

Key: Don’t hold yourself back. Just keep writing when answering these questions:

1. What does your dream life look like? 
a. What does your ideal financial situation look like(remember, don’t say things like I want to be make millions of dollars. Be specific)
b. What does your ideal health/body state look like?
c. What kinds of people do you have around you?
d. Where are you living? Talk about the how your rooms look like? How do the streets look like? Who are your neighbours? How is your home designed?
e. What is your dream profession? What do you see yourself doing full-time? What do you wish to be doing? A full time writer? A full-time entrepreneur? Do you want to own a company? Is your dream job being a travel writer?

2. What is your dream day look like?
a. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, how do you experience the world?
b. How do you want to wake up? What do you do immediately after you wake up. Do you have a ritual? Is it a health ritual? An incantation ritual? A prayer? You need to control how you wake up to the world and how you are effected by it in the morning.
c. What kind of food do you wish to be eating(the kind of food you eat has an enormous affect on your mood and your productivity). Read ‘6 Daily Success Habits that ensure Growth, Happiness and Success‘ by Ryan Moran.
d. How do you plan out your day? Write down what activities your ideal life would consist of. Make sure to note that everything you are doing is feeding into the larger goal of what you wish to contribute in life.

It’s called lifestyle design for a reason, you are the one shaping how you interact with the world and only interact with the world the way you want to.

If your life isn’t the way you want it to be, it’s because you are allowing those things into your life. You are where you are in life because you choosing to keep yourself there.

Action Step: Once you write this down, for a solid week just keep reading this to yourself over and over again.

Step 3: What do you need?

To start creating goals you will need the following:

  • A Journal: Most studies on the habits of successful people will almost always note that they journal. Journaling is not just a way to get your ideas out, but helps you map your life. When you physically write down your goals, it is as if you are manifesting them into the world in physical form. Another key observation is that I feel that when you journal, you are actually accelerating your life. You are able to keep track of your thoughts, learn and implement them at a faster pace than if you don’t write anything down.
  • A Calendar: OH DEAR LORD, why didn’t I start scheudaling earlier. My pro tip: Scheduale everything. Scheduale your damn life. Use your calendar religously. Plan out your days. I would start by simply plotting important dates to get some momentum and just keep adding. You can’t accomplish your goals by keeping everything in your head.
  • An Education: To set proper goals, you need to keep your own self-development at the forefront. Committing to a life of self-development will allow you constantly set better goals. The only way to refine your decision making skills is to continue to refine yourself. I would recommend starting with Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy and Zig Ziglar.

Step 4: Start with Why?

What is driving you to accomplish your goals? When you write down what you ultimately want to contribute, start with why.

Is it for your family? Is your freedom? Is it hating where you are currently at in your life? Is it the powerful vision that drives you?

Believe me, there are days where you will not be able to get out of bed or even go to sleep out of the sheer amount of work you will need to do. If you do not have a strong enough reason to wake up in the morning, creating the life you want will be difficult. This is hard. Not impossible. But it’s hard.

So write down in 3-4 lines, WHY the goals you set are so important to you.

Step 5: Working backwards

Now that you have a clear vision of where you want to be, the key to accomplishing your goals is working backwards.

Per year, write down the following:

1. What goals you want to accomplish for that year. Don’t overwhelm yourself but I would pick 5-10 goals that you feel you wish to acheive for that year. Imagine the year is closing to an end, what would you have wished you accomplished.

i.e. I will start my own non-profit organization dedicated to helping empower women entrepreneurs in developing countries.

2. Analyse how each goal will be bringing you closer to your ‘Master Vision’ for your life.

ie. My goal of starting a non-profit organization will contribute to my passion of supporting the economic development of women and will lead me to more opportunities with which I can help more women create successful businsses.

3. Figure out what you need to do every day to get closer to your goal. If it doesn’t bring you closer to your goal, don’t do it.

Month 1: Registered my organization formally and wrote up a clear planning document outlining the vision of my org.
Month 2: I spent every day looking for appropriate team members and board members.
Month 3: I put together, designed and launched a website. I worked everyday to create hype of the launch and get it into the hands of many people etc.

Step 6: Setting a Timeline

Time is a valueable asset that you need to account for. You need to understand how to create a time-frame to appropriately calculate how long it will take you to accomplish your dreams. You don’t have forever to become who you want to be. You need to figure out where you want to be, by when and then work backwards to get there.

For 10 years goals, think about what you wish to be within that period of time. Who do you wish to be?

For 5 year goal, think about where you wish to be within that time period?

For your 1 year goal, think about what does your life look like?

For today, ask yourself: What do I need to to today to get to my 1 year goal?

What I normally then do is break down my goals for the year into month goals and write down what I want that month.

Working backwards is another way of saying, set short term goals. Those short term goals will help you figure out what you need to do next.

Alternative Method 1:  ‘Dream Line’ concept by Tim Ferris, author of the 4 hour work week

If my method doesn’t work for you, then use this. Personally, this hasn’t worked for me but don’t listen to me unless you’ve tried it for yourself.

His premise is:

Step 1: Every 6 months and every 12 months determine what you want to have(material items), what you want to be(example: fluent in Chinese) and what you want to be doing(example: backpacking through Europe).

i.e. I want a Range Rover

Step 2: Figure out your TMI(Target Monthly Income). What do you need to be making to make that happen(hint: a lot cheaper than you think). Then divide that amount by 30 and that is your TDI(Target Daily Income).

Step 3: Write down the answers to the following for each part of Step 1:

Steps to take today: Make a list of dealerships in your city and give them a call to book an appointment
Steps to take tomorrow: Go and test drive the car you want
Steps to take the day after: Determine how much you will need to pay off the car, exactly how long it will take you and where you will get the funds from and budget accordingly.

Alternative Method #2: RPM(Rapid Planning Method)

In summary, Tony Robbins, a prolifiic peak performance coach developed a Life Planner to take any idea you have and make it real. It will help you with creating extraordinary results.

“When somebody has attained an extraordinary life, they have found a way to maximize their resources; their time, their physical energy, their health, the people they know, and the concepts they’ve learned. They’ve learned to not only maximize what’s available to them, but they’ve also learned to maximize their level of enjoyment.” -TR

Step 1: Go through this workbook. Read about what RPM is all about print this out or open up a word document and get started with going through this booklet.

Step 2: Once you go through it, you will have a clear understanding(or at least start to) have a clear idea for the results you want and a massive action plan to get there. With Tony Robbins, it’s all about taking massive action towards your goals. If it doesn’t scare you, it’s not important enough of a goal.

I can probably take you through other goal setting methods such as David Allen’s Getting Things Done which is much more complex and sophisticated. They are all incredible and amazing but these are what I’ve tried. My 6 Step Method works best for me and is an amalgation of different methods I’ve tried over the years. Please don’t settle on what I’ve done until you’ve figured out what works best for you.

Comment below if you have any questions or concerns or need me to help you clarify your goals and give you any advice you need. If this has benefited you, is there someone else you feel it can help too? Send it over to them!

I really want to see people taking ownership over their lives and making big impact with their life and vision. But it can’t happen until you have goals to get to that vision. So get started!

with love,


Self-Employment Challenge: Reject the tyranny of being picked. Pick yourself.

Bismillah-in the name of the Most Merciful

Seth Godin was right. Reject the tyranny of being picked. Pick yourself.

And that’s exactly what I’ve done.

After deciding that I’m really not corporate employee material(but a damn hard worker who would rather do what’s right and think for myself–something that doesn’t boast well in the corporate world), I’ve decided to go self-employed.

What does that mean?

If you can’t find your dream job, create one. And that’s exactly what I am doing. God willing.

Am I scared? No because I understand that wealth and provisions are something that come from God. You are merely a recipient. I’d rather be paid for performance based results rather than an hourly wage and works well for me.

Why do people work for others?

Is this how it’s always been? 

Jim Rohn mentioned in his lecture “Walk away from the 97%” that when it comes time to retirement only 5% of American(let’s pretend he’s talking about N/A) can afford it and be independent. 95% of the population is dependent on some sort of government assistance.

What does this tell us?

1) People don’t to think for themselves.
2) People want to be taken care of by someone else
3) People haven’t been show how to be independent
4) Security, comfort and a steady income may be more important than following your dreams and creating a system-based business to help you fund it.

Most of us have been socialized that we MUST get jobs and work 9-5 hours. But who made this all up? Is it not true that we are living in the reminence of the Industrial Revolution and our ideas around work and income need to be MASSIVELY disrupted?

Why do we think in terms of ‘working income’ and not ‘net worth’?

Why do we sacrifice money for time instead of having money work for us?

Again, because we’ve been SOCIALIZED that way. Yes, you’ve inherited from your environment a very passive worldview that you have the ability to change right now.

Now, the question becomes: Do you have the desire to escape this?

An amazing real estate investor and someone I look up to once said:

“An EMPLOYEE trades his time for money. Regardless of the shift, he effectively trades his time for money. He then SPENDS the money and repeats the cycle so he will have to work forever to keep that cycle going. An ENTREPRENEUR invests his time in a way that will REWARD him many years from now. An Entrepreneur knows that TIME is the most valuable commodity, and to spend it wisely on strategies that will keep the cash flowing in whether he’s present there or not.”- Jeff Kowalczuk

I’m not advocating giving up your jobs but to THINK. Why do you live the way you live and have you consciously chosen to live that way?

In other words:


What gives you the idea that the way you are living right now is the ONLY way to be? Can there be another way that puts YOU at the center of deciding what you want to experience and get out of life?

Working for myself isn’t something I choice because I was bored of working for others or because I didnt want to put money in other people’s pocket–although it was definitely a part of it.

My time overseas taught me two things:

1) Most wealthy people I met didn’t do anything good to help their fellow (albeit, very poor) citizens. Throwing money at a problem doesn’t work and isn’t considered philanthropy(at least in my books).
2) Being Canadian gave me the opportunities some people would only dream of receiving. And the more you have, the more responsibility I had. It was an obligation for me to help others.

But the real reason?

I realized that I was unemployable.

Not that I couldn’t do the job,  but that I just was incapable doing things that I thought could have been done better. I always had better ideas but no one wants to listen. But like most entrepreneurs, I needed to be passionately invested.

So, if I can’t find my dream job, I decided to create it

That’s a scary prospect. No job=no steady income. But it’s incredible how you start to think more creatively when most conventional options are shut off. Now you HAVE to make it work. You NEED to do something. You are no longer relying on someone else to make decisions for you.

But I want to clarify, working for working sake is wrong. Tim Ferris, in his book,  The 4 Hour Work Week, described laziness as just being busy and doing a lot of things without truly being productive, not sitting around all day.

However, to get paid to learn is necessary. Avoiding jobs that suck the soul out of you is the point. But, needless to say, taking on jobs that can help you gain experience and learn more about your passion is a must.

Again, a tip: work at jobs that paid you to learn. That’s key.

How did I know that, perhaps, entrepreneurship, has been my calling?

The status quo tries to keep you in line but I always end up just going the other direction. I have a very strong sense of what’s right and what can be done–better. It’s a psychotic personality–bordering on manical. I am sure most entrepreneurs are like this.

Here are some of my traits (Do you share some of these?)
1) Control. This is the unwillingness to be controlled by others. But will only be led by competent people. I love competent people.
2) Wanting to do things a certain way because you know(you don’t think) it’s better
3) Autonomy— You need the space and chance to be able to make decisions
4) Independence– the need to know you decisions are being trusted
5) No respect for authority– You probably view authority has being the main obstacle for stagnation. The status quo is only upheld by those too afraid to innovate and take risks. And that brings me to…
6) Risk tolerance-– You win some. You lose some. You feel that you will get over it and know you’ll just give it another shot. You can kill a business but not your passion. If it doesn’t work out, so what? It was for a reason.
7) Ambition– You have no shortage of it. You will purposely pick the tallest mountain to climb–every time
8) Confidence-– You have total belief in yourself and your abilities.
10) Breaking rules–It’s part of your DNA. As soon as someone tells you that you must do something, it’s effectively inviting you to go the other way. We prefer for people to talk to us, not to talk at us. And you have no problem defending yourself.

The idea of being self-employed has to do with creating a future based on lifedesign. It’s about freedom.

It’s being able to do what you want, when you want and how you want.  

It’s about independence and control over your own life.

Sure, this doesn’t work for most people because not every one can be in business. But for those who can easily handle the stress and the initiative of hustling in the real world rather than hiding ourselves in years of unnecessary schooling, then all the power to you. Because this is the route I’ve chosen to go. Alhamdulilah.

Being in Egypt has made me realize that many of us North Americans have opportunities to build and grow so that we can provide opportunities for other who will never get the chance. I believe it’s our duty not to waste that opportunity and create business that can create jobs and bring benefit to many others around the world.

I’ll leave you with a video that completely changed my life and I hope it will do the same to yours. “Working will not make you rich” by Bishop Renato.