← Back

The Secret To Finding Your Purpose

Author and social entrepreneur Jacqueline Hollows has pioneered wellbeing programs in prisons. Her memoir charts her journey from abused child to motivational speaker and mental health coach.

'You are capable of anything your mind can imagine. Hold that thought in your head while I share these tips with you because I’m not just talking about ‘other’ people. I’m talking about you.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination.”

~Marianne Williamson

I’ve been mentoring people to unleash their potential for over ten years. I founded a non-profit organisation that teaches about wellbeing in prisons and communities. I’m a published author and a digital creative.

Before that, I’d built a successful career as a project manager in the IT sector.

And yet, ‘I never thought I’d come too much’. That’s what my dad told me, and I believed it. I’m not unique or brilliant, and I didn’t have a great start in life. Neglected and abused as a child. Considered ‘slow’ at school, I eventually left without qualifications to take care of my invalid mother.

However, somehow, I managed to get myself an education (including a couple of degrees); work my way to the top of my career in the IT sector; and run a successful project management consultancy before changing careers ten years ago to work in the non-profit sector; and pivoting again after the pandemic to mentor and train social entrepreneurs to thrive.

What Is The Secret?

Since I’ve been in the wellbeing arena, I’ve studied what makes people ‘do well’ and what makes them ‘not do so well’.

Whether a person has had a good start, money, education or not, I’ve realised certain factors contribute to a life well lived regardless of circumstances:

1. Action — being willing to try things out or take action
2. Humility — being able not to take thought seriously
3. Knowing — being able to tune into your inner guide

You may not know about these factors. I didn’t. But they work anyway.

Here’s a story that encapsulates all three elements:

In 1984, I worked as a ‘data input clerk’ in a Builders Merchants. An office of eight women took the purchase notes from the counter where all the bricks and tools were sold, and we typed them into a computer system. This was a pre-Microsoft era. Everything was manual.

The huge computer disks whirred in a large room just behind our office, and I’d see the Computer Manager, Ruth, going in every evening to remove the daytime disks and carry them down to an iron safe in the basement. I would often help to carry the disks, and we became friends.

“I need an assistant,” Ruth said one day as we carried the heavy disks down the concrete stairs. “I’ll apply,” I said.

A few weeks later, I sat squirming before the general manager. “What makes you think you can do the job?” He said. His squinty eyes pierced me over the top of his silver-rimmed glasses. Thin hair greased back from his stern, pale face.

“Well,” I stuttered, my own face hot from the closeness of the room and the threat of humiliation.

A sudden flush of indignation spread through my body and washed away the insecure thoughts. Who am I NOT to do this job? What makes you think I can’t? I thought. I found a voice that didn’t seem to be mine, that told him why I was capable and what I was capable of.

“You won’t get your old job back if you fail,” he warned. “I won’t fail!” I sat up straight in my chair.

I did so well at the job I soon outgrew it and decided to go to night school to learn computer programming! During the next 20 years, I worked and studied. I gained two degrees and the confidence to succeed.

I started my own Project Management consultancy and, by 2010, I’d become the Head of Operations for a Finance company. I showed him!

I used to think it was indignation that drove me all those years. The thought of another man (like my father) telling me that I’d fail was grist to the mill of success. But it wasn’t that. Much later, I realised it was down to something else.

1. Action: being willing to try things out

The biggest thing to hold people back is not taking action. Purpose isn’t some ephemeral vision that comes to people in a flash. To me, purpose comes from following the nudges and trying stuff out.

Have you thought about stuff you’d like to try but decided you couldn’t and then talked yourself out of it?

Are you reading this and thinking, ‘I’d love to write’, ‘I’d love to publish a book’, ‘I’d love to leave my job’, or ‘I’d love to travel the world’?

The only way to make those things happen is to take action. Of course, I’m not saying, ‘Hand your notice in tomorrow’ or ‘Publish your shitty first draft and be done with it’. It’s gentler than that. There are small steps along the way that make the bigger steps possible.

I realised that before the indignation of that general manager saying I couldn’t do the job. Before even applying for the job. I took the action of thinking I could.

I took the first step: why not try? The next step of applying for the job and the step after of being interviewed, and the step of doing the job despite the naysayers. They all followed. But I had to take the first step first — the step of deciding I would try.

Questions for you:

·       What’s your first step?

·       What’s the smallest action you could take right now?

·       What small thing that seems huge can just be done today?

2. Humility: being able not to take thought seriously

All thought is created equal. Yep, you read that right. There are no good thoughts or bad thoughts. Nor are there important thoughts and frivolous thoughts.

According to the Innate Health paradigm: Thought is an energy that gives us the power to navigate through life. We use it for decision-making, creating feelings, and experiencing life.

But thought does not have meaning on its own. It’s our own minds that give thought meaning. It’s our filters, the lenses we look at the world through, that give thought meaning.

When I believed I was ‘thick’, I didn’t think that was a thought; I believed it was a fact. So when I got tongue-tied, I automatically thought it was because of my stupidity.

When I got something wrong, I thought I was the only person who did this all the time. It turns out that I scored a Mensa IQ of 142 in an application test. So, it was never my capability that created my experience; it was my filtered thoughts about myself.

I learned to ignore my own thinking, to take action anyway, and not to take my thoughts so seriously.

Many years later, when studying the way our experience is created, I discovered that when we realise the fact that we think (instead of thought being something we have to battle with), we automatically increase our psychological wellbeing, regardless of the content of our thoughts.

Questions for you:

·       What thoughts are no longer serving you?

·       What do you believe about yourself that could be stale old thinking?

·       What could you do regardless of what you think?

3. Knowing: being able to tune into the inner guide

Long before I discovered that our experience of life is created from within our own minds. Before I’d found my confidence and overcome my self-doubt, I had a knack for following my insights.

I didn’t know about the power of insight, but I would have a spark of ‘something’ — like the moment in the interview when I thought, “Who am I NOT to do this job.” — and I would follow ‘the something’. This happened to me many times over my life; I just didn’t know what it was.

What I did know was:
a) when I followed those sparks, they always turned out well
b) when I doubted myself, I wouldn’t follow the sparks and often regret it

Our minds experience clarity and cloudiness on a moment-by-moment basis. We know that we can ‘overthink’ something.

We know when we are at peace with something. But we don’t always recognise that these two states are the clues to the barriers we are facing.

We’ve also been led to believe that other people know better than us, so we tend to look to the experts.

Questions for you:

·       What if our own knowing could guide us way more than anything else?

·       What if you were able to tune into that knowing in any situation?

How to Use the 3 Hot Tips to Find Your Purpose

The things I’m talking about are natural to all human beings. The power of potential already exists inside of you. There are no set ways to unleash that power; the most important guide is your own.

However, if you’re like me, it can take a bit of practice to start listening to what’s good about yourself and stop listening to what you think is faulty.

I’ve outlined a few steps to help you on your way. The invitation is to do what feels right to you and ignore the rest.

Get quiet

Choose a time of day when your mind is at its quietest. No matter if you live on a paradise island or are locked behind a prison cell door, there’ll be a few minutes when you have a less busy head.

Notice how you feel during that quiet time.
Notice any positive ‘actions’ that occur to you (that you may later dismiss).
Notice the feelings of wellness or OK’ ness.

During your quiet time, allow the next inspired action to come to you. It might seem unrelated to your goals or dreams but don’t fight it. Let it occur to you.

Ignore negative thoughts

You can tell if something is right for you by the quality of the feeling.
Does it feel wholesome, gentle, and useful?
Do you feel calm?

Nerves and anxiety may overtake this feeling once your personal thinking kicks in. Those thoughts colour your experience but will often be coming from your lived experience of what others have said about you. Those are not the thoughts you want to listen to.

When we see a lot of barriers, they are merely reflections of fear and insecurity. Don’t let yourself get lost in the noise of overthinking. Ignore your ego, thank your head for its input, and let the thoughts flow.

I know I can see a pattern, and I know hundreds of people I’ve worked with can see it, too. When I see lots of barriers, I’m usually tying myself in knots and need to simplify.

As opposed to when I see solutions or I’m just getting on with it, I’m either not having insecure thoughts or I’m ignoring them.

Inspired action will never hurt yourself or another human being. It comes from a place of love and compassion, even if the action is tough. It comes from a place of knowing; it comes from the Inner Guide.

Take the smallest step possible towards your purpose. The step that occurred to you in your reflective time. The one that felt good before your insecurity kicked in.

Ask yourself:

·       If the action seems impossible, how could it be simplified?

·       What would be a more minor step before that?

Don’t overthink; let it occur to you.

Tune into your Inner Guide

Allow yourself to reflect on when things ‘flowed’ in your life, when you noticed more synchronicity, and when things felt like they were ‘meant to be’.

I used to think that those ‘flow states’ were random. Or I had to ‘be’ a certain way to find them. I now know that they are more common than we think!

Let your stories of flow percolate. Don’t get heady about the logic of why things worked out the way they did; just let ideas bubble up for you. Each person will get answers bespoke to their needs in the moment.

Notice how things look different depending on your state of mind (cloudy or clear). Start to look for the spark that lives within you. Play with some questions like;

·       What would your life be like if you weren’t afraid to try?

·       How would things be different if you could ignore that nagging voice in your head?

See what baby step your Inner Guide suggests and take it.

You have all you need to know within your own consciousness right now. Do that.'

Jacqueline Hollows is a coach, social entrepreneur, speaker and author of Wing of an Angel.


Join the Waitlist

Woodhill Park Estate is set to officially open in 2024. Enter your email address to be notified about the launch of bookings for accommodation, experiences, and live events.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.