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My story: from adversity to wellbeing

By Ally O’Shea, Corporate Wellness Consultant, Golden Door

I’ve learned the hard way that it’s surprisingly easy to fail to put yourself first. And it wasn’t until I had a clash with a Vespa on a busy road a few years ago, that this lesson hit home and changed my life – in hindsight, for the better.

An instant change

I was a jaywalking pedestrian in a hurry on that fateful day where everything changed. Within hours I was admitted to intensive care, where things soon became very tenuous. Over the course of a long recovery period I had brain surgery and was later wheelchair-bound in a head injury rehabilitation unit for several months. Three years on I am back to great health.

During this period, however, and afterwards, when I tried to ‘fit’ back into my old life as an executive in the finance sector – I could see my purpose and priorities had changed.

In fact, during the days and months after rehabilitation when I returned to the ‘normal’ world, many realisations of what was most important would sneak up on me. In hindsight, it was from my greatest adversity that my greatest learnings also broke through.

This transition – from adversity to wellbeing – is something I am so passionate about sharing with others, through my role at the Golden Door. Such a transition for anyone requires many traits such as positivity, resilience, motivation and determination as well as gratitude and humour and this is why I share my story here so candidly.

Stand out learnings

One stand out learning, very early on after the accident, was the importance of balance and boundaries in my work and home life and ensuring my focus remained on things that were truly important and aligned with my values.

The irony of this health-related insight wasn’t lost on me, given my many years to that point spent studying and working in clinical practice and health law across a 25-year career that spanned the corporate, SME and philanthropy sectors, with some diversions in finance and technology.

But while I enjoyed my crazy busy schedule of work and study – and that experience has directly enhanced my current role – it felt like only after the accident could I truly experience the power of health and wellbeing as a means to positively impact everything else in my life; from work to home, and far beyond this.

It starts with putting your needs first. Ironically, your own self-care is one of the greatest gifts you can give to those you care about.   This was a big lesson for me, and it lay the foundation for what I now refer to as my ‘sixth career change’, which incidentally, lay just around the corner.

Adversity is universal

My second significant learning (and there were many more beyond this), is that adversity is a universal experience which connects us all – no matter who we are, or what we do. Whether such adversity presents as a dramatic accident like mine, a serious illness or is more subtly woven into the fabric of our daily lives, adversity is an unavoidable part of being human.

I only really appreciated the power of this insight during, rather surprisingly, a series of business meetings that took place after I returned to the ‘real world’. The meetings became very candid sharing sessions with clients I had known for many years, who would suddenly open up about their own adversity and want to learn more about my experience.

This pattern happened not once, not twice, but in most meetings after I returned to work. It soon became clear to me that there is a very real desire to connect on this deeper level, to share our adversities, and learn from these experiences together.

For example, one such learning for me during this period (and I share this because I know I am not alone in this) is that my Type A personality needed a serious reboot. I needed to accept it is ok to be vulnerable and important to be authentic about my limitations.

So, the shape of my – albeit very enjoyable – career was about to become much deeper and more purpose-driven than ever. It would soon be defined by a desire to help others transition from their own place of adversity, across their own course of personal insights, to eventually arrive at a new place of wellbeing.

Ironically, this transition can really flourish from the unlikely starting point of adversity.

A reality check

This transformation is of course, easier said than done. But it can be done. I see this transformation unlock itself every time in the Corporate Wellness program at the Golden Door, which runs a fully-immersive ‘intensive sabbatical’ across three to seven days.

The experience of this program is sometimes challenging but very powerful. But so too, are the life-enhancing insights which emerge – and the community of support that steps up to meet you, wherever you are at.

My future vision

I myself am in such a different place now, and I’m grateful for my diverse and successful career path and the professional and personal experiences I have had, which have all culminated to lead me to this place; right here at the Golden Door.

My vision now is for organisations and individuals to take responsibility and ensure their wellbeing is one of their highest priorities.

When this happens – we know from growing research – everything else falls into place more easily at work, and in our personal lives, which are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, it could be the most important journey you make.

Please feel free to contact me at corporatewellness@elysia.com.au or 0410 312 779 any time to learn more about this fully immersive corporate wellness program for yourself, or your organisation. I am Sydney based and travel to major cities so am happy to meet face to face. 

Please note: This blog is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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