“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.”
― Vince Lombardi Jr.
In one of the most ordinary moments of my day, I got an “aha!” moment while texting with my sister, Valerie, on the phone.
Amidst the to-and-fro chatter we now have on a daily basis, as we keep tabs on each other’s gym schedules, my cooking and her life, one of the issues that sprang up was this – determination is fundamental to achieving any goal.
I mean, let’s face it.
We’re almost nearing the end of March, and in a couple of days some continents will be bursting with joy as Spring arrives in full bloom; and in others, it is Autumn who will arrive in all her glory, together with her delicate display of pretty auburns and orange-yellows.
The first quarter of the year is almost over (my sincere apologies those of you who are still stuck somewhere between Christmas and New Year’s).
And while some of us may have been diligent in keeping our resolutions, there are so many more of us out there that might just happen to have chucked the scribbled resolution list somewhere under the couch, amongst other things like weeks-old popcorn, movie stubs for Les Miserables, and an old cooking magazine.
Most people (me included) like to start big – we love to dream big thoughts, particularly as the New Year swings into momentum, believing that new beginnings and fresh slates are our one redeeming factor. We aim high, set incredibly awesome goals, crossing our fingers that this will be our year. And then what do we tend to do next? We just let time pass.
Keeping at something until results show.
No matter how much we’d prefer some kind of instant fix – like those microwaveable dinners that are so rampant nowadays – results don’t usually show until we’ve spent a long time and quite a large amount of effort on something, be it a marriage, a project, an exercise regime, or life in general.
Most of us, unfortunately, weren’t born with a silver spoon in our mouths, nor did we arrive on earth with powerful limbs to sprint and win the Olympics. I think it might just be safe to say that the majority of us humans are normal, average people hoping to make it big, to make an impact, to leave a mark, somewhere somehow.
Whether it is changing certain aspects of our lives, getting rid of an unhealthy habit, or climbing Mount Everest, nothing will happen without us first putting in a large dose of determination and effort.
Because we’ve been accustomed to the world’s demands of instant gratification – from instant coffee to fast food to quick home loans – it’s inevitable that we sometimes find ourselves lost in this need for speed.
We’ve been taught to want things NOW, to need to see results quickly, to lose our patience when things take longer than we expect them too, that sometimes it feels impossibly hard to breathe.
We might lose sight of what’s important to us, because maybe these things take time – they don’t grow overnight, nor do changes present themselves instantly – a basic lesson our school science experiment with planting seeds has taught.
Re-wiring your brain.
In a book I read called “Rewire Your Brain”, one of the things that jumped out to me was that the more we repeat an activity, the better we get at doing it – because of a phenomenon called “neuroplasticity” or “activity-dependent plasticity”, and which is often described by the phrase “neurons that fire together, wire together and neurons that fire apart, wire apart”.
In very basic, non-technical terms, this means that our brain is actually adapts to relative use and activity – so with enough practice at something, we eventually get good at doing it.
Isn’t it such liberating news?
I found it absolutely motivating to know that research actually shows that determination at any activity pays off.
Some of the goals that I have are actually really humble – nothing incredibly fancy or intimidating – but one of the most important ones is for my writing to impact others.
Because I have yet to write a book, or publish a white paper, or an article, I’d like to reach out to others through my blog.
Whether it is a place to read about stories from Latin America, to learn that the measure of love is to love without measure, to have a list of tried and tested recipes that you can bring to your dinner table or just sift through quick kitchen tips to make cooking easier, my goal is simple.
I want to touch the lives of those around me. I want to bring that small glimmer of hope, of warmth, of love to those whose lives I’m blessed to be a part of.
I believe lessons are meant to be learnt and shared, and life techniques to be picked up and applied.
And because determination is a combination of patience and consistent effort, I thought it apt to tell you about this lovely chicken saffron risotto I made a couple of days ago.
CHICKEN SAFFRON RISOTTO
Risottos are one of those dishes that take a tremendous amount of dedication, time and the occasional stirring – it requires your constant attention, but a well-attended and patiently cooked risotto tastes like the fruits of your determined labor – satisfying, fulfilling and nourishing.
You know, that sort of slow food that cannot be found (and shouldn’t be found) in those horrid microwavable lunch or dinner packages that we talked about just now.
And cooking risotto is just like achieving our goals, when we arrive at the desired outcome, we know it was completely worth the effort.
CHICKEN SAFFRON RISOTTO (Serves 4-5)
1) 500g of arborio or carnaroli rice (for risottos)
2) 1kg of de-skinned, boneless chicken meat, cut into strips
3) 1.3 litres of boiling water
4) 2 cubes of Knorr saffron chicken cube stock
5) 50g of butter
6) 100ml of white wine (as long as the bottle does not say “sweet”)
7) 2 onions, diced
8) Salt & pepper to taste
9) 2 -3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
1) Dice onions and cut chicken meat into strips
2) Stir-fry onions in a wok until they start to caramelize
3) Add in chicken strips and stir-fry till lightly cooked
4) Add in rice and stir for a few minutes over low heat to allow rice to absorb the flavors
5) Pour in white wine, and let the alcohol evaporate
6) Dissolve cube stock in boiling water and pour most of it over rice
7) Stir every few minutes in figure-8 motion, making sure that the rice doesn’t stick to bottom of wok, adding more stock as required as rice absorbs liquid
8) Add in butter, moving it to make it melt
9) Add in salt and pepper to taste
10) Stir over low heat until rice reaches the desired consistency
11) Garnish with chopped parsley
Diced onions, chicken strips, cube stock, butter:
Stir-fry onions in a wok:
Until they start to caramelize:
Add in chicken strips:
Stir-fry till they are lightly cooked:
Add in rice and stir for a few minutes:
Add in wine and most of chicken stock:
Stir in figure-8 motion every few minutes until rice absorbs stock, adding more as needed:
Add in butter:
Until rice reaches desired consistency:
Garnish with chopped parsley:
Pair it with a nice white wine:
P.s. If you liked this Chicken Saffron Risotto, you might also like these variations –
Mushroom & Onion Risotto;
Broccoli & Beetroot Risotto;
Tomato & Basil Risotto;
Spring Vegetable Risotto;
Butternut Squash & Mushroom Risotto