Holly Woods is the author of The Golden Thread, a book about finding and living your purpose.

How do you find purpose? A Q&A with Holly Woods PhD

By Margaret Hedderman

Why is finding your purpose important for entrepreneurs? Holly Woods PhD provides insight on the importance of purpose: in life and business. 

We hear a lot about “purpose-driven entrepreneurship” these days. But what does it mean to have purpose and how do you find it? We spoke with Holly Woods PhD of the Emergence Institute about her book The Golden Thread, and her efforts helping entrepreneurs find purpose. She describes purpose as “your GPS, guiding your life trajectory, whether you listen or not. It can help you reach for the seemingly unattainable and stop compromising who you are and were meant to be.”

The Startup Colorado Team discovered Holly’s book through the Power of WE (Women Entrepreneurs) Conference in Salida and will soon be reading as part of our internal “book club.” We encourage you to check it out as well! 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Margaret: What is The Golden Thread?

Holly: The Golden Thread is the storyline—or the through-line—of your soul across your lifetime as it attempts to pull you to become the most expressed version of yourself. Your purpose shows up uniquely at different points in time as your soul tries to illuminate itself, so you can be most expressed at any part of your journey.  

I came across The Golden Thread accidentally. I didn’t set out to find something like this, but as I began to unpack my own life—by doing my own healing work and finding my way in the world—I started coming across these patterns in my life that were really exciting. And then I started seeing it in my children’s lives and in my clients lives. So really, organically, this Golden Thread emerged for me, and one day—literally in a client session—I saw a golden thread as I was taking down their life story. It showed itself to me and began to illuminate that these patterns in our lifetime—that are repeating over and over—help us to understand more deeply what it is our purpose.

Margaret: So, what is purpose? And how do I know when I’ve found it?

Holly: Finding purpose is not an easy thing. Most of us can spend a lifetime trying to find it. I have a free audio course on my website that I encourage you to download and use it to look for the things that feel like curiosity and intrigue and fascination. Those things are your soul coming alive—when it encounters things that light it up, that cause it to want to be more alive. 

It could also look like engagement, enthusiasm, and excitement about what you’re already doing. It can look like calm or relief or the state of flow. So I suggest you look back over your life and look at the patterns of things that you’ve been engaged in that had caused you to have those experiences that lit you up, excited you, made you feel more alive, or caused you to be more engaged. Search for those patterns and it will start to help you find purpose. I help people define a really precise sense of purpose in their life—which is distinct from sort of the generalized versions of what we call purpose—and that precision is useful. 

So how do you know when you found it? You will start to feel aligned with yourself. You will start to show up in life as if “I am really present and I’m bringing the best, most potent, and most amplified version of myself to the things that I do.” That’s really when you’re living on purpose.

Margaret: From an entrepreneur’s perspective, why is it important to find your purpose?

Holly: You don’t need to find it necessarily. You certainly can run a business and build products and sell things in the world and probably do fine. The utility of having a precise awareness of purpose is that it helps to clarify your specific, one-of-a-kind offering to the world. Deep clarity about who you are and what you came into the world to do will help you build systems, create your niche, find your audience, find your partners, create distribution channels, and communicate more specifically about message. So it’s a distinction between “I’m here, I’m doing something that feels good and fun, and maybe it’s making a contribution” and “I’m playing all out, and I’m going to deliver the thing that is the most optimal expression of me in the world.” That means the universe is really going to come in and have your back. You’re going to find your people and sell your product, and it’s going to be so much easier to have a successful business when you’re living aligned with your deep soul purpose.

Read more about Holly’s work at the Emergence Institute