mountain in peru2 Featured Women

Featured Woman: Alison Ottaway

“Your dreams are there for a reason – to show you what you need to explore in order to be a happy fulfilled person who loves life.”

Alison Ottaway

Life Coach and founder,

Age; Location:

37; Lives near Florence, Italy.

Favorite Quote:

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” ~ Confucius

All big achievements are actually just a set of small steps. Anything that anyone’s ever achieved in life, they’ve achieved it by putting one foot in front of the other. And, once you start taking steps, it’s easy to take the next step. It reminds me that if you want to make a change, all you’ve got to do is take one step towards it.

General Advice:

Follow your passions, go after your dreams and have a lot of fun doing so! Your dreams are there for a reason – to show you what you need to explore in order to be a happy fulfilled person who loves life.


* Lost half of my body weight (140 lbs.)

* Moved Countries – I was born and raised in the UK with no Italian heritage and no Italian language, and three years ago I moved to Italy to follow my dreams.

* Took a 3 Month Sabbatical to Travel the World

* Studied Yoga for an extended period in Rome

How Fun! Tell us more about your world travels!

I’ve done a lot of traveling, and had this sense of adventure that I wanted to go out and explore, meet people, and to visit places not as a tourist. I wanted to learn from how other people live.

Whilst I was at Microsoft, I took a 3 month sabbatical from my job.

To start with, I went to Brazil and I taught English there for a month and worked with a drumming band. The adventures that I had there were unforgettable. I remember one particular night going to a concert with the drumming band, and it was in the middle of nowhere. There were about 5 or 6 thousand Brazilian people there, a big stage and the most amazing music. I was up on the stage while the band was playing and there were 20 or 30 people drumming, lots of singing, it was raining, and there were Brazilians dancing as far as the eye could see. It was absolutely magical.

After Brazil, I went to Peru and walked the Inca trail up to Machu Picchu. It was wonderful…camping on mountainsides, seeing shooting stars every night, having no cities around, walking alone on the mountain, watching butterflies, the flora and the fauna.

From there I flew to Australia and stayed with a friend. We watched rugby games, did Australian ‘barbies’ and traveled around Australia to snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef and visit such places as the Sydney Opera house.

And then from Australia I went to Russia. There I was part of a world music research project where we were going around the rural areas of Russia, recording, videoing and documenting the folk songs of the indigenous communities.

We were in villages with no electricity and no roads, with householders who were completely self-sufficient growing all of their food and making their own clothes. We’d eat together, share stories, and then they’d sing, dance and play the accordion. We’d share and celebrate all night, it was wonderful!

Then I came back to England which was a bit of a shock. That was the catalyst that made me realize I had to leave Microsoft.

How did you get to where you are today?

I knew very early from working in industry that I wasn’t very happy there.

The more I did the job, the more I read and traveled and met people, the more I thought I can’t stay in this the rest of my life. I don’t want to get to 80 and look back and regret the things I didn’t do.

So, I started to put little baby steps in place to make some changes. The life I wanted seemed very big and very scary. And so, I started by doing a few things that I thought would take me closer to where I wanted to be.

After a year working in London in the music business, I knew I needed to follow my dreams, move to Italy and begin Path Less Trodden

Did you have any fears?

I had soooo many fears. I was scared that I wouldn’t have enough money and wouldn’t be able to support myself, that I was doing the wrong thing, that my ideas were just whims, that I’d be lonely, that people wouldn’t like me, that I’d fail, and that I’d regret it.

How did you deal with that? How would you advise women to deal with similar fears?

If you ignore the fears, they don’t go away. You have to actually acknowledge that there’s fear and spend time breaking it down, seeing what it actually is that that you’re scared of. And with that information, see what practical things you can put in place to help you get over the fears.

Fear is usually about something quite far away from where you are now. But you never really go from where you are and just jump into where you want to be. It’s all about taking small steps. So, if you take a little baby step towards where you want to be, taking that step in and of itself isn’t scary because you are still very much in your comfort zone. Then, when that step succeeds, you gain momentum and self-confidence and then you can take the next step. And, any journey from a to z is all about the individual steps, and if you look at a journey with that point of view…those little steps aren’t that scary.

For example, when I knew that I wanted to come out to Italy I was incredibly scared. I was worried about the money, the job, being on my own, and it was too much for me to look at it all in one go. So, the first thing I thought was, “Okay, let’s think about how I could potentially secure some money to start with when I move out there.” And the most obvious thing to me seemed to be teaching English. So my first little step towards that dream was to go on the computer for an hour and research how I could qualify to teach English; which I did. And, that step wasn’t scary at all. But, it was the first of many steps that got me to where I am now.

Can you tell us a bit about your marriage and divorce?

I met my partner just after my 21st birthday. We bought a house together when I was 24 and then we got married when I was 26. Once we got married, we were together for about a year before I ended the relationship.

What changed?

We both changed. I was growing in self-confidence, gradually, during that period – the more success I had at work, the more people I met, the more traveling I did, the more I was exposed to different ideas.

I had several good friends at the time who could see that I had dreams in me that were very strong. Through talking with them, sharing things, going out and having fun with the people I met, I moved to a place where I knew there were other things I wanted to do. I was realizing how important those were to me, and that they couldn’t just be pushed down. They were things I needed to explore to make me happy.

At the same time, my husband who ran his own business, wanted to settle down more, and I just wanted to be free. I felt like my wings were clipped, and I wanted to go and explore, to see, to do, and to meet.

How would it have been different if you‘d waited longer to get married?

I have a partner now, and I met him 3 ½ years ago. I’m a very different person in this relationship than I was in my marriage.

I’m different because I’ve had the time and space to explore the things that are really important to me. I’ve been out, I’ve been traveling, I’ve felt free, I’ve explored things I love, I’ve worked in London, and I’ve gone back to college. I’ve done all these things that make me more me, and I’m much more in touch with who I am, why I’m here, and what I’ve got to give. Therefore, I come into the relationship as a fuller person. A person who is more myself and more me and therefore more able to have an open, exciting and co-supportive relationship that’s really going places rather than just being in a routine and settling down.

Did you feel pressure to marry?

I didn’t feel pressure but I certainly wasn’t able to see the other options that were available to me at that time.

What do women miss out on by getting married too young?

In your early twenties, you’ve literally just come out of a period of adolescence and huge change. There’s not been time for you to start to look inside yourself, and I think that a period of that is essential for giving yourself the opportunity to be really happy and to find what you love and to find your place in the world.

Any advice for the SheNOW woman?

Listen to your own voice because everyone is unique, and it’s easy to feel that you have to fit into a certain mold because that is what your friends are doing or that is what other people have done, or what your family does. Listen to your intuition and your own guidance as to what you enjoy, and go out there and do what you love.

Explore, be curious, read about things, travel to places, learn about what you love!


We’re Giving Away Free Copies of Alison’s life-changing Book – 7 Steps to the Life of Your Dreams. Stay Tuned for details coming on the 11th!!

Alison –