Neha Awasthi

12 January 2020

When I got married, I had no idea how to cook. Anything. Then one day, I got married and moved to a new country a few days after with my husband. Now we had to work, and cook and feed ourselves and do all things in between. I really was thrown into the deep waters of not only learning about the new country, culture, new job, figure out living with this new person in my life, …and cook.


If you are familiar with making Indian bread – roti, you’d think it’s a simple act of rolling dough into a round shape and then cooking it on a flat pan. Well, in reality, it’s not as simple. The round shape and the perfect thickness, so it rises up when put on the pan, takes immense patience and practice. 


For a few months, I’d watch numerous youtube videos and learn to cook lentils and rotis together with my husband. 

I was really missing home food. My husband and I’d laugh endlessly at burnt curries, lentils and different fiascos in the kitchen. We’d make grand plans of elaborated meals and in the end, sleep after eating a pizza because we’d burn the food repeatedly.

I tried and made a few hundred rotis over the course of months and years, and eventually, I really mastered the art of rolling my pin on the flat surface. 

Move over, Jamie (Oliver!).

Like Jamie has mastered the art of home-cooked pasta.  I feel like I have figured out the art of turning flour into light flying rotis at lightning speed. Ok, clearly an exaggeration. 

But my point is, it was a challenging time, but we survived. We not only survived, we deem those years as some of our most memorable times.

I have often asked myself why.

The act of starting a new life, learning new skills and facing challenges together in love, made us feel invincible. 

Sometimes, creating goals at the start of the year feels like that too. You feel invincible at the beginning of the new year. When you are excited about things and new prospects new year brings, but soon the reality hits and excitement fades away.

Creating goals is fun exercise. Starting from a clean slate brings another hopeful opportunity to make it happen. When we begin to dream up about how our next year can be different from the last. We feel ready to write off the year gone by. January 1st and we are prepared to shoot off for our goals like a chameleon’s tongue goes out to catch the insect. So fast that we can’t see it happen.


Then rolls in February, when our steam has died off a bit already. What felt so good at the start like peeling off your socks at the end of the day, now feels like a failed attempt.


Today, that’s what I want to talk about. More than teaching you the tactics, journals, breakdown, strategy of goals, I want to talk about the 3 mental hurdles that you need to know and master first. 


People often ignore these things and then they get drawn to the million other things that pull their attention. Or their goals simply don’t give them the satisfaction they had hoped for.


1. Create goals based on your values

We often create goals in a vacuum. There is no synergy or context to where you are going, but you pick random figures to make, an arbitrary number of kilos to lose and random things to do. And we feel like those goals were never our own to start with. Ever had that feeling? We then wonder why we lose the steam soon after the process begins.


We are built to pursue things that have meaning for us. Our motivation comes from finding purpose in our aims. And if they are not particularly meaningful to us, we struggle to find the perseverance and motivation they need on an everyday basis. Then we find ourselves in the cycles of blaming and guilt, as we think there is something inherently wrong with us.


We must set goals based on our values and must define why we want to do them. We go about finding time for those goals, hunting for motivation but instead, we must start with finding meaning in your goals. Setting goals that supercharge us. We are all different. What drives someone to get out of the bed may not be the same thing for you. So someone else may be excited about a marathon, but you may be motivated by hikes with your family every Sunday.


What are values?

Your values are simply those things that define how you want to show up in the world, what you want to stand for (and not), and character of the person you’d like to be. They are not goals but your north-star guiding you where you’d like your life to be headed. They get reflected in all areas of your life because you use them as a filter for all your decision making.


If you have never taken the time to think about this, I’d suggest you start here and jot down a few words after reflecting on these questions. It is also essential to understand why do we not set goals that are true to us.


Why do we set those goals that we don’t even want then?

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and as soon as your friend orders a drink, you found yourself saying “I will have the same.” Later on, when you think back at your decision, you realise you never drink that particular thing. That’s because we as human beings are conditioned to fit in.


We are inclined to do similar things as other people around us do. Conditioned by society, our parents, friends, we come to believe that we want all the things that they want. We want the same careers, cars, bedsheets and handwash brand that they have.


But it comes at the cost of your own dissatisfaction, lost time in pursuing goals that you mistakenly thought were yours and frustration of sometimes not even reaching those goals. They were simply out of alignment with who you are and what your intrinsic values are.


So how do we get out of the rut of doing the things that other people want? If you want to live a life truly that’s a reflection of your heart’s desire, and is satisfying for you – you have to stop and think what your own real goals are.


The best benchmark or pointers to develop those goals are to decide what your values are. Are you an adventurous person or is being caring more vital to you? You may be wanting to give growth a priority or freedom? Or is family your priority? Do your goals reflect that?


When you decide goals based on your values, you have a better chance to pursue those goals because you start with more steam in your belly, and more meaning attached to them, more motivation to go after them for the long run.


2. Noticing the patterns from last year.


Whether it is the curl of a chameleon’s tail, the spiral of a pinecone’s scales and the humungous waves created by the ocean – nature is an excellent example of showing us there is a beauty in recognising patterns. Patterns have the power to catch the eye and intrigue the mind. They have lessons for us. 


As we approach the new year, we must take some time to look back and learn from our patterns. We must stop and reflect on the situations that you are carrying out the momentum of past and you don’t know how to stop that. 


When we stop to reflect and pay gratitude to all the lessons we have learned, we create room for fresh energy, and new patterns of thinking and acting emerge. 


Spend some time reviewing these questions:

What did you accomplish? 

What felt great and not so great? 

What were the things that weighed you down? 

What things lit you up? 

Did you step into big things or did you live humdrum basic survival life? 

What else happened last year that changed you as a person?

Have you grown, learned and changed? 

What lessons did you learn from challenging things that happened last year?


In answering these questions, you’d notice your patterns. Where you tend to shy away, get lazy or always turn up with high energy. Use those patterns to your advantage. 


It could be that you are not showing up for your commitments, or procrastinating. You set the intentions but don’t show up. Just noticing them but not judging them. It is important to note that when you see these patterns, stay gentle and kind with yourself. Don’t start beating yourself up. 


The patterns that have not been very helpful have been a result of protection of yourself. 


We develop them over the years. When we are overbusy, taking on way too much and dealing with overwhelm. We develop these ways of acting to simply cope with all of that. When we feel we might be rejected, we don’t show up. We procrastinate and hide when we are in the middle of doing something stress. We try to escape from uncertainty and discomfort. So simply note down where have these things felt real in the last year, and how will you shift them?


3. Imaging the failures in advance. 


Who wants to fail, but it is inevitable in the pursuit of our goals. One of the things I like to reflect on is: What obstacles will get in my way to achieving this goal? 


When we pre-empt failures, we begin to use our mind as an ally who goes out looking for solutions. When it feels prepared for certain things, we tend to feel more in control. There is so much uncertainty attached to our goals that we need to do everything we can to bring in that certainty. 


It also helps us to reduce our self-judgements when we do fail as we had anticipated some of those in advance, and we feel prepared to deal with them. 


It is a bit like mental training before you go for the actual journey. On a trip, tyres could go flat, you could have issues with your booking. Pre-imagining those failures, and situations can give you mental resilience of how you might deal with some of these things and take somethings along with you.


If we plan ahead, we don’t get too surprised by things that come our way. You must take the right mindset, the right tools on this journey. 


One last thing I’d say, at any time of creating goals, values and reflections – approach with a sense of child-like curiosity. We are who were last year, but we also have to let that version go and create a new one to move forward. Being curious (and not judgemental) about who you were, and who you want to be in 2020 will give you a new sense on that person. Have a fabulous new year and share your goals with me on Instagram or Facebook. 

“The Dusty Tracks” 

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They think you are crazy. Crazy enough to start this journey on the dusty tracks of freedom. To throw yourself into creating something from nothing. Some call it business. You call it Freedom. They say “This is a ridiculous plan. It will be exhausting.” You say “Some of us find normal …quite exhausting.”

You started the trek the dead centre of a seed of a crazy idea and now you know it will lead to the glorious ending of freedom and fulfilment. The winding road will be full of awkward, stumbling, messy points along the way. And very few people will be able to appreciate the beauty of trekking through this utterly barren land. That’s ok. As long as some people do. 

I am one of those crazy adventurers too. Because I see your fire, and the daredevil inside you. I see that person who refuses to shrink and valiantly pursues the calling of her heart. I do too.

So join me, and others who scream that failure is normal, pursuit of purpose is liberating and dusty tracks are exciting.

I think we’d have a great time sharing our journeys, exchanging maps, sipping some tea around the fierce campfire along The Dusty Tracks