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Success is not about Accomplishments; it’s about the Journey with Joy

Success is not about Accomplishments; it’s about the Journey with Joy

Joy is defined as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” You’ve probably also heard that happiness is “just a choice.”  So why then are there so many people in this world living their lives profoundly unhappy and lacking joy? Why don’t they just choose to be happy all the time?! Because it’s not so clear how to do it. Plus, there are powerful distractions, and some people don’t even believe it’s possible for them.

As it turns out, being happy and experiencing joy is not a destination; it really is a choice that one makes, constantly. It’s a journey of cultivation of a special mindset, and it’s not an easy journey. But then again, it’s the only journey worth taking! And it starts with taking a good close look at where you are now and what got you here – or said differently, what mental habits have you been nurturing in your mind over the past years?

Olya Novikova sees life as a journey dedicated to cultivating joy and happiness – cornerstones of a successful and fulfilling life. But it’s not always been this way. In her own life, she has tried many different paths: having relocated at least twice geographically, initially from her native Russia to the United States and from the US to Italy, where she now lives. Professionally, she has taken on a personal journey of transformation from a professional tennis player to a corporate executive and more recently, a Life Coach, Meditation Instructor, Ayurveda Wellness Consultant and therapist. Olya has finally found her joy, and she teaches others how to see it and find it too.

Olya’s Journey

Olya Novikova, age 6

Olya’s story starts in Russia when it was still part of the Soviet Union. She had a natural athletic ability, and with hard work and dedication, she became a world-class professional tennis player. At the age of 20, she went to America on a tennis scholarship and found it very different than her native Russia. In fact, the US was still regarded as “the enemy” at home – and arriving there with no friends or family and not knowing anything about what to expect created a sense of total culture shock. 

Olya Novikova, pro tennis champion (left), graduate of USC 2003 (right)

“Russian culture is very old and rich. It’s based on human relationships and people are deep and caring; you can be sure your friends ‘will die for you’. In the US, it was completely different. I found things were much more superficial; money and success were considered all-important.”

After a very successful tennis career, and completing an MBA, Olya started a career in business.   She joined Disney and worked her way to becoming part of a Global Executive team. She lived in the US until a temporary position in London opened up.  

 “I was doing strategic planning in London, which I loved. Life was different. I went to museums, explored the city and enjoyed the culture. I wanted to stay longer, I cried on the plane back to the US.” Her UK experience made her realize something very deep was missing in her life; hoping to understand what it was she asked her boss to be sent back to Europe. 

Three months later, a job opening for a director in Milan, Italy became available.   The CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of Disney had seen Olya’s work in London. “They want you,” her boss told her. 

At the very mention of Italy, childhood memories flooded her heart. During her childhood, travel abroad from Russia was allowed only to restricted work related groups of people, always under surveillance of the communist party representative, as the country remained mostly isolated. Her father was lucky as he had spent a year working in Ivrea, Piemonte. He returned with magical items, such as the music of Adriano Celentano, Italian-designed children’s clothes and the recipe for pizza: things that were unheard of in the USSR. Olya grew up thinking of Italy as a magical place, but she never imagined living there.

Despite not speaking Italian and never having been to Milan, she followed her gut and decided it in all of 30 seconds. “Yes, I’ll go,” she told her boss. Deep down, she knew it was the right thing to do. She followed her intuition – and has never regretted the move.

“Milan has become more international over the years. I really feel at home here. I love Italy: the language, culture, people, food, and nature. It’s the most beautiful country, a jewel in the world. But it can also be bewildering for people who have just arrived or simply haven’t found yet there place here. You need to find the right way to live here, and it can take time and helpful guidance.”

Mind, set and match

Olya has learned to use the knowledge and insights she gained in each of her professional endeavors to transform into a different but complementary sphere of activity.

She used her skills after retiring from playing professional tennis to enter the corporate world. She went from Disney intern to executive in just ten years. The corporate world is competitive like tennis, and her mental discipline helped her work under pressure.

As a pro tennis player, she learned to understand the importance of focus and motivation. “Playing tennis helps you understand the psyche; it’s a very mental game,” she says. “Your mindset determines whether or not you’re going to win.”

For much of her corporate career, Olya’s mindset was focused on results. “Accomplishments fueled the fire, but they were never enough. On that trip to the UK, I realized that my view on life was from the outside-in. I needed to re-center my life.”

Olya and her daughter

After 20 years working in corporate, she eventually felt herself growing in another direction, one which was more focused on the mind and spirit. Her daughter was born seven years ago and the things that drove her as a young, ambitious go-getter no longer seemed to fit with her new mentality. It was time to reset.

Her interests in yoga, meditation and mindfulness led her to Ayurveda, the ancient 5000-year-old Indian system of medicine and life philosophy that stresses a natural, holistic approach to physical and mental well-being. Wanting to deepen her knowledge of the discipline, Olya became a certified Ayurvedic therapist and healthy lifestyle educator.

In parallel with her interest in Ayurveda and wellness, Olya is also a professional certified coach. “As a former tennis player, I understand the importance of training, and many tennis coaches have gone on to become business coaches.” To be a coach, both theory and practice are required, something in which Olya has a rich experience.

Olya at the seaside

Coaching towards transformation

Olya coaches people helping them answer some of the difficult questions she once faced about her own life choices, especially with regard to a feeling of uneasiness and dissatisfaction with what the corporate world has to offer.

“My clients are typically successful in their careers but may be working through some specific issues either in their professional or personal lives – or both. Sometimes the source of a struggle is difficult to identify until exploring all aspects.”

“Often, issues may include difficulty in relationships or handling daily responsibilities – especially if the person is new to Italy and unfamiliar with how things work here. Sometimes its just an overall sense of uneasiness or feeling of unhappiness. Expats and new arrivals can experience loneliness or just feel they don’t really belong to the culture or environment they find themselves in. Italian culture – including business culture as well as social relationships – can be overwhelming. You may be asking yourself why you’re not happy or feeling demotivated – especially after the excitement of moving to a new country has lost some of its shine, and you’re dealing with the reality of life in Italy on a daily basis. Overall, I help people see the bigger picture and discover – or rediscover – the inspiration and happiness they might feel is lacking, regardless of how difficult the situation they find themselves in.”

Delving deeper, she explains, “The overriding question we often face in life is what do we really want in life and why? How do we get from point A to point B? What are the inner resources that are available to us? How do we overcome the obstacles that are preventing us from reaching our goal?”

Olya with a monk and teacher at the Yeuten Ling Buddhist temple in Belgium

“When someone comes to me, we discuss what they want in life – and often they’re not really sure. I say to them “Let’s find out! What is your dream? Your purpose in life?” And because each person is unique, there is no single answer to these questions. The answer is different for each individual”.

“I help people to transform themselves, to reach a state where they can express themselves fully and flourish. Finding joy is all about finding one true self,” she explains.

A winning combination

Olya provides integrated coaching and Ayurvedic treatments: there’s no simple template for this. Each client is different and has different needs. “I would like to put more emphasis on this holistic way of partnering with people, offering guidance on developing the whole person,” she says. Olya is particularly focused on Mindfulness, helping people to start living in peace and happiness with themselves and discover a meaningful way of living in this world.

Sessions with a client usually span 3 to 4 months, offering her unique hybrid method of Ayurveda, Meditation and Coaching focused on whole-person development. Occasionally she also leads groups. The aim is to get the person she is working with to be the best version of themselves and learn to remain centered, peaceful and joyful regardless of situations life brings. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution; everyone’s answer is different. Drawing on her experiences in life and her insights from coaching, Olya helps people to achieve the mindset that will allow them to move on and make progress.

Where & How?

The Inner Wisdom studio

An initial discovery session or consultation is free. This allows the client – and Olya – to get to know each other. Often during the initial free session, people are often surprised to gain an insight they may have been unconsciously aware of but had not quite articulated. The actual program with a client will be unique to them and is based on this critical, initial understanding of what they really need.

Coaching sessions can be booked online or in person. For hands-on Ayurvedic treatments and face-to-face coaching, Olya works from a studio in Corso Sempione in the heart of Milan and has a studio in Arese. Zoom, mobile or Skype can be used for online sessions. Sessions can be held in English, Russian or Italian.

Learn more:

Inner Wisdom Ayurvedic Studio Milan, Olya Novikova

Milano (near Piazza Firenze, Cso. Sempione)
Arese (near the Sports Center)

Tel. +39 3938039583

Website: innerwisdom.it 

Email: Olya_Novikova@yahoo.com

Click here to make an appointment
Languages spoken: Russian, English and Italian


In this video, Roberta Remoli shares her personal experience and her path to empowerment through coaching sessions and techniques taught by Olya. Click here to view other videos in Italian and English.


All images courtesy Olya Novikova

Article by Robert Dennis for Easy Milano

Easy Milano

Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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