From Finance Executive to Wellness Coach: Finding My Place in the World

January 4, 2013

Editor’s Note: One of the key aspects of LinkedIn’s culture is Transformation: of Career, Company, and World. Our new Transformation series highlights inspiring stories like this one — Arda Ozdemir's journey from Finance Executive to Wellness Coach. 

Six years ago, I was a Finance executive at a software company. I had worked incredibly hard for many years to get to this point, but now I was feeling unhappy and uninspired by my career. To make things worse, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do besides finance, but I knew I didn’t want to live the rest of my life like this. It was in this hopeless and dark place where my transformation story began.

I was 40 years old and the effects of stress started showing up in my body. Rather than just treating the symptoms of these ailments, I chose to understand myself and my life at a deeper level. This shift in my focus transformed me from being a Finance executive to a Wellness Coach and Qigong Energy Healer.

Here are some takeaways from my journey of transformation that I hope will inspire those of you who are thinking about taking the next step:

1. Cultivate your energy. The first thing I worked on was myself: I started taking care of my physical and mental state to build a strong foundation. I focused on Qigong meditation to calm my mind, on healthy eating to rejuvenate my body and on writing to express myself.

2. Reflect on your values. I realized that I was where I was in my life because of the choices I made in the past. I had to understand those choices before I could move forward. I had chosen accounting and finance because it provided me a sense of security. I knew if I worked hard and learned the rules and regulations, I would be rewarded. It was safe and straightforward.  When I realized that “safety” was no longer the value at the top of my list, things started to shift. I replaced it with values such as “Healthy Lifestyle”, “Personal Growth” and “Helping Others” and looked for opportunities that honored these values.

3. Leave your comfort zone. This is the toughest one. As I shifted my values, I also needed to follow them with actions. I allocated more time to personal growth workshops. I also started a blog where I shared my thoughts and life experiences. Both of these were new experiences that connected me with my values and helped me expand beyond my comfort zone.

4. Open doors. As opportunities came up, I made it a point to open doors that aligned with my values. I realized that I didn’t need to calculate and analyze exactly what experiences I needed to reach a certain goal. I didn’t even have a goal of becoming a wellness coach. But when I started to heal myself from the symptoms of stress, I knew I couldn’t stop there. After putting together a successful coaching practice, I still follow each opportunity that presents itself with curiosity.  I don’t know where all of this is going to lead me, but as long as they are connected with my values, I know it’s going to be fulfilling and meaningful.

5. Be patient. Transformation requires courage, but most importantly, it requires patience. Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. In the beginning of my journey, the only thing that was certain was the value of “helping others”, which was one of the values I carried in my heart since childhood. After 20 years in finance, I looked back and realized that I needed every experience in my career to make my coaching sessions as transformational as they are today. I just had to wait for my time.

We are all born with special gifts and unique skills. Some of us are lucky that we are already using them in our life’s work. Others are standing on the sidelines waiting to find their place. For those who are still waiting, trust that you have a unique place in this world and believe that you’ll get there by taking one step at a time.