January 21, 2015

Ayurvedic Goal Setting for the Unambitious.


There are some people in life who love to achieve.

They are driven to succeed. They smash goals, take no prisoners and climb that mountain to get to the top. In Ayurveda they are the Pitta or Fire type people.

This post is not for those people. This is for my doshic kin. The airy Vata types who are easily overwhelmed and live for the moment.

The eclectic dreamers with a long trail of unfinished projects behind them.

The ones who get the monumental burst of inspiration to climb that mountain but only make it a quarter of the way before inspiration strikes again and they realize it was actually trees that they really wanted to climb all along.

The sensitive ones without a competitive bone in their body.

The people who live with the knowing that at the end of our lives, it won’t be the number of mountains we actually made it to the top of that matters. It will be how much we enjoyed the climbing.

This, my friends, is for us.

We Vata beings are known for being flaky, erratic and changeable.

Despite my constitutional weakness, over the last couple of years, I’ve learned to strike a balance between my unambitious nature and achieving stuff. I’ve learned to work toward a future goal without having to give up on appreciating the beauty of the moment. I’ve achieved more than I thought was possible and I’ve done it in the most unlikely way.

I did less. Like way less. At first it was a rebellion.

After another cycle of setting too many goals and working towards them manically, I had inevitably lost motivation and wanted to slack off forever just to recover.

I really thought I would get through it that time and become the super motivated, successful person winning all the things with vigor and ease. I couldn’t help but feel over it all.

So, I just indignantly accepted that being driven wasn’t for me and if I was going to do anything it would be in my way and in my own sweet time. I cut down my to-do list in half.

I stopped feeling guilty about how I spent my days off. I fully embraced my half-day forest treks, my hours cooking and getting sucked into Wikipedia black holes about time travel paradoxes and the seven forms of lightsaber combat.

I accepted myself and refused to feel like I should be anything other than what I was.

After a while, I noticed I was actually consistently finishing projects for the first time.


This was very new. How could I possibly be accomplishing more if I had removed all pressure and aimed for less?

That’s not how it works! But of course that’s not “how it works.” When it comes to people, there is no one way how anything works.

I knew it from my study and practice of Ayurveda. I knew this when it came to food, health and relationships.

Yet, somehow I had been trying to fit myself into the Pitta mold when it came to achieving. Pretty much all the formulas for success are created by Pitta people! Pitta people need a challenge and thrive under pressure, it’s good for them but as we say in Ayurveda, what is medicine for one is poison for another.

Pressure and stress aggravate Vata, create fear and anxiety and cut us off from where our power lies: in freedom, flexibility and fun!

When the pressure was gone and I had space for the activities that nurtured me, I started enjoying the tasks I needed to do and was way more motivated to do them. Instead of trying to break down my limitations, I embraced them, worked with them and found that they weren’t really limitations at all.

The only thing holding me back was the idea that how I am or the way I do things was wrong.

I am always telling my clients that when it comes to their wellbeing goals that slow and steady wins the race. That making gentle changes is far easier to maintain than going for the kind of extremes that lead to burning out.

The same goes for life and business goals for my Vata peeps.

For those of us who aren’t in a hurry on the path to success and are happy to take the slower, scenic route to our goals, here are a few tips that have really helped me and my clients:

1. When making goals, start by making them very achievable, even ridiculously so.

This may seem silly but it helps get the momentum going and gets us in the habit of finishing tasks. Achieving goals, no matter how small, encourages us, whereas unfinished tasks can make us feel guilty and sap our motivation.

We can increase our tasks slowly as we start to feel more motivated.

2. Keep doing stuff.

It doesn’t matter if it’s one task a day or two in a week, it’s the consistency that’s important, especially for Vata people. It keeps us in the habit of remembering our goals while we are enjoying all the beautiful distractions that life has to offer.

3. Create a flexible routine.

One that has time for our normal daily routine and equal time for working on our goals, distractions and healthy pleasures. Routine and regularity help balance Vata as long as there is room for spontaneity.

4. It’s important to think about what success really means to us and not let other people define it for us.

There’s no right or wrong answer. It can be as humongous or as humble as we like. It’s our life and we get to create the definitions.

5. It does no good to compare ourselves with others.

Repeat after me: Everybody is different.

We have no idea what someone went through or sacrificed to get where they are and it may be way beyond what we are willing or able to do. Focussing on our own journey and our own way of doing things is all we need to do.

One last thing.

The world is totally influenced by driven, ambitious people.

My teacher once told me that Vata people are an endangered species due to the unbalanced and out of control Pitta that is dominating the planet.

Couldn’t we do with more ideas, projects and businesses from the sensitive, content types with no desire to influence?

Our dreams are important. The way we achieve them isn’t. Who cares if it’s not challenging or it takes a long time. All that matters is that we do it.


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Author: Echo Andarta

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr

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