2015 to 2016

I promised myself last year to write an annual reflection post at the end of the year and on my birthday, so here it is- my year in review.

My religion is spirituality. I was never religious, always thought of myself as spiritual. This year, I’ve been fortunate to read Swami Vivekananda’s books, and boy have they transformed how I think! I’ve gained clarity on my WHYs and have come to discover practices that have sworn me to sanity (or insanity, as it may seem to many). I meditate daily, without fail, and believe in cosmic intelligence and the Infinite One. I have been able to develop strong reasons to not support or believe in a particular religion, for I’ve studied material that talks about evolving the human body as it is, and reaching a higher state of being. I’m not against anyone or any religion, I’m just stating my personal views: that all religions lead to the same truth, and one God. Ignorance is not healthy, holding a particular worldview without knowing why is lack of self-awareness, and religion is meant to help you get past the layers and lift the veil to ultimate self-realisation.

God, family, business- in that order. I watched this movie in which a footballer always talks about three things that he holds sacred: God, family, football- and that made me think about my three core reasons. For me too it is God and Family, and then there’s business, for one and one reason only, to impact lives. Bhagavad Gita made me realise that because of the position/family/circumstances you’re born into, you have certain duties that you need to fulfil to elevate your being to the next level. As someone born into financial security, I feel my duty is to create value and prosperity for others- and my background is most suited for business because that’s what I’ve been raised around and all I’ve ever wanted to do.  While many people view business is selfish, I am greatly opposed to that for the core essence of a business should lie in helping others, and that is where I get my passion for social enterprises. I often meditate on ‘love and abundance’ for the words fill me with a sense of purpose.

Finding love. This is the decade when all my friends will be married, most of them already started with it this year. To all my friends looking for love, I only have one advice: Your life needs to already possess and be abundant with the love that you are seeking. It won’t be new love when you find it, but a reflection of the love in your heart that you will share with a partner. Stop feeling like you always need a significant other to validate your presence, you need to learn to enjoy being single too, and that way you’ll be able to attract and build a healthy relationship. Needy and lonely are states we impose on ourselves, because of how we perceive our external surroundings. Value and cherish your life as it is, believe in grand possibilities but love every single bit of the present, and that’s when you will attract a partner that deserves you: when you are at your highest state of self-esteem and self-love.

Nothing in life is an accident, but everything is a miracle. I can’t exactly explain how deeply meditation has changed me but I can confirm this: I often dream, wake up to, or realise certain truths that I feel come directly from my heart. You have to learn how to acknowledge opposites- there’s good and evil, pessimism and optimism, evolution and involution, and that’s just how the cycle works. There can never be one without the other, where there is life, there is bound to be death. There are only two ways to live life: you believe that nothing is sacred OR everything is. Everything that happened this year has turned me into a believer of the law of cause and effect. Good attracts good, just focus on good, and you will learn how to escape evil and return to good, every time. There will always be negativity around, but you have to find a place within you, the place that’ll keep you safe, where you can re-introduce yourself to the good. I don’t mean to come across as a preachy-hippy, but I can tell you this: I’ve seen how my thoughts affect the quality of my day.

Work incessantly, work to live life to the hilt. While a lot of this post is turning out to be about trusting the timing of your life, and believing in the higher power- it doesn’t mean that I’m asking you to take a backseat until its all done. Yes there are things beyond your control, but you have to find your own meaning through your efforts, and you must put in the work without caring about the consequences. Discipline is freedom, when you find the work that fulfils you or even as you are trying to find it , you can design a life of discipline to achieve freedom. I aspire to live a life of discipline, in fact I felt my top form as I was training for Ironman, cause it filled me with a sense of satisfaction and contentment because I was working hard on something. I was able to compartmentalise my time and efforts with everything, and my whole life gained a new idea of balance. The first try didn’t work out- I got a ligament tear, but that didn’t make my journey any less beautiful, for I wasn’t training to reach the finish line (in my head, I already had crossed it multiple times) but for the virtue of discipline.

As this year ends, I promise to spend more time with my two loves: travel and music. Next year, I want to explore more places, meet new people and produce some music. I don’t have any idea how to, I don’t even know if I’m good but it’s something that I’ve always secretly wanted to do- just to live life one notch up. While I haven’t planned the details how the HOWs for those two yet, definitely on the menu are: publishing my first book, completing the Ironman, finding a way to harvest kinetic energy and giving a TED talk.

Happy New Year! Welcome 2016, we’re gon have a blast!

 

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Life 101: Ironman training

With each mile, I learn. With each mile, I become a better and a higher version of myself. Being a girl, in India, people can make it really hard to train outdoors, but if your heart’s in it, you innovate and redirect, cause its ultimately about you, and not them.

Training for Ironman is tough, its a certain level of discipline that most people don’t understand, its also very repetitive, and yet one day is never exactly the same as another.

You may think that it gets easier after a certain level of training. I’m starting to realize that that’s not the whole truth. Yes, your stamina might get better, you might get more comfortable with distance, and you might even build tremendous endurance as a result of your training. But what they don’t tell you at the start is, that each day is actually a fresh start- doesn’t matter how many miles you clocked in yesterday or day before, you’ve to show up, and do it all over again, each and every day. To those who think that that’s easy, I’d like you to compare it with the Law of Diminishing Returns. Yes, of course you start with excitement & commitment, but once the mind knows that it has to keep doing the same thing again and again- it takes a lot of mental strength to keep going. It’s the same thing again and again- till one day, you actually reach the finish line, and then it all in hindsight makes incredible sense. How much of it is mental vs physical? Personally for me, it’s 80-20. If I’m feeling good, thinking right, feeding off energy from good thoughts, I normally am able to complete my session even if physically I’m sore, hurt or tired. However, if my body is ready, and my mind isn’t up to it, I’m not able to do anything, literally. Call it mental fatigue, some days you’re just going to feel burnt out, which is worse than anything else I’ve experienced. When it comes to it though, training is where I realized the real value of the term ‘mindfullness’, for you need to present in each moment, each breath, each mile, each ‘now’, otherwise you risk everything. If you think of the future (how much you have to do), it can weigh you down, and if you think of the past (how much you’ve done), your body will beg you to stop as a natural response.

Although after a few episodes of mental fatigue, you start putting things in perspective, and you stop beating yourself down. You start realizing that a failed session isn’t a failed effort in its entirety, but just one failed session (in a way, an opportunity)- the next one doesn’t have to be, and probably won’t be cause now you know you’ve to work harder. This has probably been the most refreshing insight that I’ve lived through. Why? Cause now I know that a bad day or a particular setback, is so temporary in nature, that it can’t hurt me if I don’t allow my mind to dwell there. New day, fresh start- almost like you’re rebooting and restarting every day, and its yours to own. This feeling is really empowering, cause after this realization, not much can affect you, not the petty stuff anyway.

Another aspect of this sport is how personal and introspective it is. Each journey is unique for each athlete and in the challenging moments you tend to find and discover yourself, your grit, your willpower and your own reasons. You’re constantly redefining your limits, challenging what you’re made of and striving to excel- on the risk of sounding cliched, you’re unraveling truths of your life. Having tasted this drug of individualism, it becomes kind of hard to settle for mediocre ways of life- cause this habit of striving to excel transcends to everything you do, every role you play.

Lastly, we aren’t in it for external recognition or laurels, but conquering and winning inner battles is what fuels us. Most endurance athletes will tell you, that although its nice to be acknowledged, we are in the game because we have something to prove to ourselves and have raging, chaotic storms inside our heads, that we try and tame. For me, Ironman is the ultimate test of psychological and emotional strength, its where I get to develop, idealize and philosophize life, to reflect, introspect, and grow. This is my mode of serving this beautiful gift of life, by delivering my very best, exceeding my current expectations and living a meaningful, high quality life.

To end with, one of my favourite essays of all time by Ralph Waldo Emerson called ‘Self Reliance’ (read it here), has the following lines:

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without pre-established harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.

Questions that I’ve been working on

Most people set out and spend their younger years looking for answers to make sense out of life. I was obsessed with figuring life out too, but a recent realization left me wondering if it is ever about answers at all?

I’ve discovered that it all comes down to the right questions for our own, unique selves rather than the set list that the world sets for us. How can all of us be given the same questions when our capabilities and personalities are each unique? We must proactively create a specific line of questions for ourselves, our lives, tailored to our goals and ambition.

I’ve arrived on some questions for myself, that I’m constantly thinking about, almost obsessively. I feel comfortable sharing them, as I’m doing real groundwork on them, and have now aligned my focus completely to the questions I created for myself.

Question 1: What work should I be doing that will create a significant impact on generations to come? How do I create an organization that shelters and protects my employees and their families’ futures?

Laying a strong foundation based on people as its pillars is important to me, as it is integrity, generosity and ambition that I respect the most. Giving people an atmosphere to grow, to feel secure in, not only for themselves but also their kids is what I’m trying to build. If, in this life, I’m able to do work that empowers and creates prosperity for the people involved for decades to come, I will feel that I’ve had a meaningful life.

Question 2: How do we make technology accessible on a grand scale? 

Our biggest problem is also our biggest opportunity in this case, as it gives us a chance right now, to build the future world. I do agree with Peter Thiel when he says that technology  is the most significant force of our times, even more than globalization. I’m crazy optimistic about our future, but that optimism has to be constantly fueled by work done in the field, we need more lives to feel the positive impact of technology.

Question 3: How do we create new resources that benefit the society? What issues do we need to be working on?

Advancements and progress as a society come from taking bold steps to create a different future. We need to be unraveling new truths, new technologies and new methods of doing things.

Question 4: How do we educate and create jobs for the current generation, while planning for our future generations?

Is the work that we’re doing protecting interests of our current generation? Also, is our plan in place to create a secure future for the next generations?

Question 5: How do I use Aqaya to create prosperity through empowerment?

Aqaya means Eudaimonia, we’re building on ideals of belonging and benefiting others, flourishing, thriving and exercising excellence. How do I create multiple avenues and streams to attract the best talent to benefit people in huge numbers?

Question 6: How do I create and access a platform to interact with the brightest minds of our time?

I’m a firm believer in the fact that what differentiates the most successful and sharpest minds from the masses is their consistency and access to a different wave of information. My efforts are aligned in meeting and interacting with the best in their fields so that I’m always fed quality information.

Most people aspire to lead a certain kind of lifestyle or become a certain someone but don’t want to put the work that demands to be input. Creating ‘something’ (could be anything) while you’re here, is the easiest way to try and leave a mark and legacy behind. In other words, you will only be remembered for your own unique creation, so what’s going to be your contribution to our history?

I’ll close this with something I wrote to myself recently, “How differently would you live if you truly believed that limitless possibilities were under your feet? Better start living that way, cause they are! Your dream is as scalable as your mind believes it is.”

Wisdom = Knowledge + Integration

As an entrepreneur and someone who wants to experience a lot of life, I’ve come to a conclusion that’ll help me stay sane in all of the noise.

You see, when you’re always venturing out into the unknown, trying to meet new people, finding out latest advancements and trying to always be on the lookout for new experiences or what the future’s going to look like, you start missing out on the present moment. ‘Mindfulness’ as they’d call it, and I’d read tons about it, hit me in the face this weekend when I found myself unable to focus at all. You might have experienced the urge to pick up your phone every 15 minutes, getting distracted in the middle of writing an email and completely missing out on an hour sometimes just because of trying to learn ‘new’ things. 

I don’t say present moment, like a guru, but as someone futuristic always trying to look ahead. Where do we draw the line between ‘thinking ahead’ and ‘living the now‘? Why are we constantly losing out on our lives and on what’s really happening? When did it become more important to ‘look like you’re having a great time’ than actually and truly enjoying yourself? It’s a shame that sometimes we forget to realize, sit back and adopt lessons from our learning, as we’re unconsciously devolving to the level of a gold fish.

The ‘missing key’ to everything we learn and actually experiencing or implementing it in our lives, is the fact that we do not integrate. We’re always learning new things, consuming more knowledge, and midst all this new information and facts we forget the fact that the only useful information is the one we choose to integrate into our daily routines.

It is pointless if you know something and don’t use it. I’ve got a hundred books on the book stand next to my bed, and I’ve read most of them however, the shame is that I don’t necessarily remember the essence of the books, or what I liked the most about them- cause I just focused on getting through the pages, not digesting what I read. As we go through life, I think it’s more important to keep coming back to the things that matter, the principles and the fundamentals. What do you actually believe in? What did you really learn from an experience, from your day or your interaction with someone new?

I’ve learnt the fact that we constantly need to evolve through integration and implementation, and I hope to changes things from here on. I will take time to integrate my new learnings. Less is more, when you use the less to your advantage through action. Whatever you might learn, be it in the day or during your week, take some time to see how you can fit it into your life. What differentiates knowledge and wisdom for me, is integration, and I’m going to be mindful of this from here on. 

Year 22: Annual reflection post

Starting out, I made a decision to transform myself and the year of ‘me’ has been the best year of my life so far, and it’s only going to get better from here. I am committed to getting better each day, as cliched as that might sound. However, those who do it, know the feeling you get every day upon waking up, when you know that it’s a fresh start, and the day has to be made grand. While there are ups and downs, the determination and fearlessness make it seem like progress regardless of how the day goes. When you’re driven to do better, live better, feel better, everything you do, every person you meet, every thought changes, and you experience abundance for being true to yourself.

Once the mind set itself I realised, that I wasn’t competing with anyone anymore, rather, creating my own segment. Most people work because they want to prove something to someone, for me, that person is myself. It’s been a roller coaster of a year but I’ve had me throughout, and I’ll always have me. When you shift from being emotionally dependent to independent, you realise that it is ultimately your own wellness that transcends into all relationships in your life. So, I choose to be happy, so I can make all the people in my life, happy! I do believe that most people come not to stay but to teach you something in life, so all the ones who’ve left me, have left me with a valuable lesson that adds to my life, for that I’m thankful.

I seriously set out this year with the mission to improve the quality of my life. For that, I decided to start meditating and while I had done it off and on as a runner and athlete off and on, doing it on a daily basis has affected me very, very deeply. I’m calmer, much more proactive, creative and am able to observe and monitor my thoughts. They say life is what you think of it, and for me, my life is love, growth and abundance.

I must acknowledge how blessed I feel for I’ve traveled the world and back. Most people cannot envision a better way of life, for they’ve never stepped out of their homes. Through my travels and my books, my mind has expanded my imagination and filled up with gratitude. If one is seriously considering personal development, the combination of meditation, traveling and books is what I would recommend, undoubtedly.

Always been a thinker and never one to share much, however, I tested vulnerability this year and shared some unspeakable truths about my life with certain people I only met this year. It has improved not incrementally but at least 10x the quality of relationships in my life. And while everyone I chose might’ve not been the right person to confide in, I’m glad I did it, for it was a personal growth experiment and it was important to me.

After a lot of soul searching and working on it, I’ve finally found the meaning I wish to give to Aqaya. It is my first venture and my baby, but it is not a real word and has no definition. I’ve decided what it will mean from here on, and it is ‘eudaimonia’, human flourishing i.e. prosperity through empowerment. One of my entrepreneur friends made me realise that how in every society there are people who fight for the next generation. Who work towards making the world better for the coming generation, and are responsible for continuation of human progress and evolution. I want to be one of those people who fight for change, of thought, especially. The logo of Aqaya has double infinity in it, and now I want it to mean continuation of progress and flourishing.

While this year, I worked with several start-ups, now I feel like Aqaya is ready for its next big steps. I felt it was important for me to experiment with various things so as to define what I wanted to spend my next few years building. On purpose, I chose to work a lot with the underprivileged , travel, run half marathons, teach Zumba, move to another city, meet new people, work on several start-ups and a lot of new experiences just so I could arrive at what mission Aqaya should be aligned to.

May this coming year, help me take the warming up of this year to another level, and bring life to what is already a reality in my head. Speaking of reality, I wrote a particular sentence after something had a profound effect on me,”My reality was painful so I created a different one.” You see, as devastated as you might be, or how much you might’ve suffered previously, is no reason to still let it affect your future going forward. You can claim your life, if you stop playing victim, and take charge of your thoughts, your vision and your ambition.

After all, “where there’s life there’s hope.” (Steven Hawking)

How to beat competition every time.

Your ambition has to be greater than the sum of all your fears, inhibitions and doubts put together. You won’t always believe in yourself, but make sure that those moments are far outnumbered by the ones that you feel invincible, almost unstoppable- even when it feels unreal, especially when it feels unreal. Winner’s minds go further than most people’s realms of imagination.

My loyalty is to excellence.

I’m committed to becoming the best that I can be. My vision is of reaching my higher potential, forever evolving for the better. As I meet people I judge them on the basis of their ambition- not their bank balance, and definitely not their appearance. If you’re hungry to go after what you want, if you’re committed to your vision, and if you’re striving – I’m going to hold your hand, and support you till the very end.
I really believe in energy. Everybody we see or meet is bouncing off energies from the walls- what we gotta do is try and catch how they make us feel about ourselves. There are certain people who will leave you feeling drained and tired- the smartest thing is to stay clear of them, for their energy doesn’t resonate with yours. For people who leave you feeling happy, feeling like you’ve got to become a better person- spend as much time as you can with them. But know the difference between people who are trying to compete with you and the ones who wish to see you do well.
As much it’s important to have meaningful relationships, the most meaningful relationship that you’ll ever have, is with your own self. You gotta protect your vision, safeguard yourself from toxicity and negativity that some people will try and add to your life. The whole goal should be to be loyal to your inner being and not get distracted by what happens externally. For one thing will always remain true- nobody expect your own self is going to want the better, the best for you. You’re on your own journey and while people may love you unconditionally, you gotta respect your own self enough to be loyal, committed and focused.
What inspired me to write this post is the feeling that it is easy to get distracted by what people around us, especially our competitors are doing. If you keep looking in the rear-view mirror, you lose out on the opportunity to get further. Keep creating the best content that you can, do the best you can, so that you can feel content because of your efforts, and are constantly fueled by your own motivation rather than somebody else’s performance. Let the others play catch-up, while you show them what potential and capability can do. You have a reality that is your own, and have a life that you can tribute to through your wholesome contribution, keep striving and be loyal to your personal excellence!

Twenty fourteen to fifteen.

A powerful realization came over me as I lay in bed reflecting on 2014. I felt a surge of excitement and empowerment just by the realization of the thought, as it felt so real and true.

I’m most excited about the life I haven’t witnessed yet, the people that I haven’t met, the places that I haven’t been and the memories that I haven’t made. While my present gives me immense pleasure and I’m truly grateful for my circumstances that make it conducive for me to do everything that I want to do, I’m always looking for my next new excitement. My past isn’t a testament to anything, because I’m evolving each day, and unlocking new energies within me. My past is merely a bunch of anecdotes to reflect upon and cherish. Yes, everything that happened before transformed me in some way, but I choose to make a conscious effort to not live there anymore. I believe in getting better every day, I believe in progressing in some way every single day. I do make an effort to keep in touch with people I care about, I do like to visit the same places once in a while but I’d much rather keep discovering the new. There’s so much life to live, I feel like I want to see it all before I hit the grave. I want to unleash as many adventures as I can while I’m here, so that when I’m gone, I’m able to feel like I gave life its best shot. Too often, I feel that we get entrapped by our own reality by complacence or hopelessness, forgetting that there’s gotta be a next step or a move forward. I refuse to be a victim of my circumstances or enjoy them too much, because for me, I’m already thinking of where I’m headed next. Furthermore, I made empathy and equanimity my strengths this year. I spent time with some of the smartest and the wealthiest people in business alongside sharing some great moments with underprivileged kids and adults from the streets. I worked really hard to pursue as wide a range of experiences as possible and have been able to come back to my reality, as a more advanced version of myself. To be able to experience life through others, and be a source of love and kindness for them, is a very beautiful gift. Sorrow and elation to me have become states that I can snap myself out of, for I’ve embraced how transient life is.  I’m working on getting better at life every day, and this is how I stay sane and driven. I’m out in the arena, facing all facets of life and living like a free and wild thing, hope to infect a few lives with some fearlessness.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Roosevelt

One last thing that I really want to share which I hope changes your perspective a little because it truly 180-ed mine: What’s for me, will always be for me– so while it is great to chase after people and things, its best to know that all the right stuff meant for you, will come to you in its own time. Also, at any given time in your life, you are absolute. You have all the love you need, all the resources you need, and everything that you need at that particular instant. Strive but don’t forget to be grateful for the journey that fuels the ambition, and please, please, please spread love around recklessly.

Wish you a splendid 2015, hope you make it big!