Woman smiling in front of crystal clear water and rolling mountains

I never knew what it would entail, but I knew after that single business course I took and the images I had of my mom all dressed in pencil skirts, dresses and suits that the corporate world had my name all over it. I mean I had no idea what job I would do, but as I embarked on my university journey, I didn’t care because I was part way there.

And now here I am 13 years after graduating and can’t believe the journey I have had.

I’m a management consultant and the lifestyle is very much a packed suitcase, more hotel and airline points than anyone should ever have, a rotating space of boyfriends whom could not understand how I could work and travel the way I did, a lifestyle full of excess extremes – alcohol, food, diet binges, exercise, etc. – and a curiosity that left me committed to growing both professionally and personally.

And while that all sounds exciting, fun and glamorous (well to some), over the years as I have evolved, so has my understanding of how a lifestyle like that can really impact you under all pillars of wellbeing which to me are diet, exercise, sleep and stress.

For example, eating “healthy” on the road was always negated by big team dinners that always included a wine bottle that never stopped pouring, working away meant working endlessly with an average of 3-5 hours of sleep a night, feelings of guilt always drove me to exercise on poor sleep making me more exhausted and battling all the work stress and stress caused by being away drove my anxiety levels through the roof.

I was a mess – I mean career success as I climbed the corporate ladder, but a mess on the wellbeing front, which is why I knew something had to change. And I will caveat that I always had an interest in health (especially since I grew up overweight and had my own fitness battles to fight), so making changes was easier for me, because I was following a passion and a curiosity, which I know isn’t the same for everyone. Irrespective, I knew something had to change and thereby pushed through many years of an evolving routine to get me to where I am today – and trust me it has been a bumpy road.  

So how did I do it? How did I manage to keep up career success, while building boundaries that allowed my wellbeing to soar? The truth is there isn’t just one thing that kept me on it, there are multiple which I have narrowed down to my top 5. Here we go:

  1. I reminded myself constantly how important it was to focus on my health and therefore made time for it (and yes that includes leveraging my work diary to block things in like workouts, meal prep days, etc.). This wasn’t always consistent (or easy!) and started first with committing to eating healthier and cutting down weekday drinking, which was then followed by exercise routines/programmes and mindfulness and then lastly by focusing on sleep. In hindsight, sleep has been the pillar that has brought it all together for me, but I left it till last because after listening to all those interviews of celebrities who said they didn’t sleep to be successful, I thought I needed to do the same – And for the record, THEY ARE LYING. Sleep is life and the thing that keeps everything in check. You may be soaring on 4 hours of sleep a night now, but it will catch up with you, TRUST ME (I have been there and am now on the other side).
  1. I read A LOT (and listened to a zillion podcasts). Truth be told, I have an addictive personality and lived a life of extremes. So if someone told me the 5:2 diet was king, I followed it until the next fad came around. And over the years I realised that needed to stop. I needed to have an opinion, I needed to understand more broadly what these fads were and most importantly, I had to start listening to my body and how it was reacting.
  1. I surrounded myself more and more with people that either shared or supported my interest in health and improving my life. And yes that meant that my friendships changed, but like that rotating space for boyfriends in my life, I knew I had toxic relationships that were impacting my wellbeing so in many respects it was the smartest thing I could have ever done. However, I will say that this was one of the hardest things to manage through.
  1. I started having a voice and being selfish. I realise that this makes me sound like a complete B*&^h, but for someone who thrived on being a people pleaser and a timid woman with no ability to stand up for herself, I knew I had to change. I would also say that this pertains more so to the corporate world. And what that means is that I started asking for flexible work arrangements, leaving the office or coming in when I needed to suit my schedule (i.e., having boundaries), saying no to things that were impacting my boundaries, and so forth. I mean I still worked the long hours and never compromised my delivery, I just started to get accustomed to doing things on my own terms which isn’t what box standard old-school corporate companies are/were used to.

And lastly and most importantly,

  1. I started trusting myself more. This means that no matter what changes I made, I focused only on how it was impacting me vs. what other people thought. Which meant ignoring all the comments, the looks, stigma’s, etc. and just simply “doing me”. I know it sounds cliché, but at the end of the day, no one is going to prioritise you more than you, which is why this is important.

And so there you have it. I know that my top 5 are not groundbreaking revelations, but the truth is a lot of time the things you need to do are the most obvious.

The purpose then, of this, is to say that no matter how scared I was to show my true colours and make a stand, I did it and as result it has made me more notable as a businesswoman and leader and more successful and happier because the truth is I am now in a place where I am living my best life and I only want the same for all of you out there.

So go then, prepare yourself to break the norm and find your way towards your best life.   

* Arti Kashyap-Aynsley is a Management Consultant currently working for Deloitte. She started her career in Toronto where she is from and after travelling the world decided to settle in the UK over four years ago. It is here in the UK, where she has taken up her passion of health and wellness by qualifying as a fitness instructor and personal trainer. As she embarks on a new career journey she is focused on taking her learnings of the corporate world and pairing them with her passion for health and wellness to make a difference in the way that corporates/start-ups operate and support their workforce. She can be found on Instagram @therunningshoediaries.

**At Free Soul, your wellbeing is our priority, and although we pride ourselves on our expertise in women's health and wellbeing, it is important to acknowledge the individuality of each person. Features published by Free Soul are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease, or replace the advice of your GP. We always recommend consulting with a healthcare provider if you encounter any health concerns, and we’ll always be here to support you so you’re never alone on your journey.