Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of The Author Hour Podcast. As always, I’m your host, Gunnar Rogers. I am joined today by an incredible woman who has accomplished a lot in a very short amount of time. Her name is Jamie Hillman and she is the author of the brand-new book, 7 Signposts: Find Your Direction in Life’s Foundational Decisions, A Guide for Young Women. Now truly, this book and this conversation is beneficial for anybody who reads it but I definitely encourage any young woman out there, 20s to 30s, to listen closely and enjoy this conversation with Jamie Hillman.

All right everybody, as I said in the intro, I am super blessed to be joined by trailblazer, incredible writer, incredible leader, Jamie Hillman, author of the 7 Signposts: Find Your Direction in Life’s Foundational Decisions, A Guide for Young Women. Jamie, thank you so much for joining me today.

Jamie Hillman: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Trust the Compass, Not the Map

Gunnar Rogers: We’re excited to have you and, I don’t get to do this often but just off the bat, I’ve got to say, I love the phrase, “trust the compass, not the map”. When did you hear that for the first time and when did you start trusting your own personal compass?

Jamie Hillman: Yeah. So this phrase, when I first heard it. I was listening to a podcast and it’s one of those things where I wish I knew exactly which podcast it was. I wish I could go back to it but I remember, I was driving my car when I heard it and I very nearly wrecked because, I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is just such the perfect encapsulation of what it is that I’m striving for and what I hope everyone else in this world is able to get to.”

Because what this phrase means to me, ‘trust the compass, not the map” is, maps are built by someone else most of the time and if we look back through history, you know, maps are often wrong or at the very least, they’re incomplete. The people who made them, they defined where you can go, where you can’t go based on their own experiences, their own biases and their own limitations.

So it might have worked well for that person but it probably doesn’t work exactly right for everyone else and I feel like so much of we, as a society and especially young women — so women who are in their 20s and 30s, who this book is really for — we are in a lot of ways taught to follow the map. We’re taught to follow what society says, what our families of origin expect of us, what religion expects of us, and instead, what we need to be doing is checking inside ourselves for our own directions.

Our own, “Which way do I want to go, what does make sense for me versus what doesn’t?” and what someone else says is a place that I shouldn’t go or a place that I absolutely have to go, might not be true for me. So that phrase just struck me so much and I feel like as I was really getting into my own personal development journey, that whole concept really was what drove me.

I didn’t yet have that language which is one of the beautiful things about personal development. It is about creating the awareness and the language for things like that. So that’s really the effort that I had was, I had followed all of the “right paths.” At this point, I was about a year out of college, and in college, I was a model student, I had a great job right out of college. Moved from Alabama, which is where I’m from over to Dallas, Texas.

So you know, the perfect setup, right? And you can probably tell where this is going to go because about a year into that, I was completely miserable. I didn’t like my job, my relationship was just absolutely imploding and I felt really, really lost and I had done everything according to the map and yeah, I worked with a therapist and a doctor and got some help for the anxiety and depression that I was experiencing.

But I knew that I wanted to take it even further like, I didn’t just want to feel healthy again, I wanted to be thriving and the trusting the compass piece, the figuring out who I am, what do I care about, what do I want to do, like, all of that really clicked into place at that point and became my highest priority and so I dove into just so much of the world of books and podcasts and YouTube videos and speakers and all of that.

I really felt like you know, on the other side of that rock bottom moment, I had so much more clarity on what my compass is, what my true north is and then I’ve also had a bunch of practice in learning to check my compass instead of checking the map and then trusting the compass and then taking action on it because that’s the other very hard part is, are you able to trust yourself enough to know that this is going to be the right thing for you.

To take your next step there and then, are you brave enough to, in some cases, go against what the map says and instead, act with your compass and that’s what I’ve been trying to do lately and it’s certainly been – it’s been a hard path and it’s certainly been challenging but it was challenging to follow the map too. Yeah so that’s kind of, that phrase means quite a lot to me.

Gunnar Rogers: I love that and I am curious because, you know, it’s with a map, there’s the wrong directions and even the wrong endpoint but it’s laid out, right? Like, a map has at least directions whereas a compass is just pointing a direction. So I was curious, on this side of your journey, how hard is it to not return to the typical map?

Jamie Hillman: That’s a good question because in some instances, it is – well, okay, so let me give you this answer. My first instinct was, “Oh, I would never go back to that” because it does feel so misaligned and because I have such clarity on my compass that I know what I want, I know what feels good to me. So no, I would never ever go back and fall back to the map but that’s just not true.

It pops up in moments of really hard decision-making. It comes up in moments of indecision and uncertainty because what the map gives you is this illusion of certainty. It says, “Here is your path” and when there are moments where you’re trying to make a hard decision about a job or a hard decision about a relationship or even just managing your budget and having to set boundaries on what you are going to spend money on and what you aren’t.

Like, those are very hard decisions, when I am up against those hard moments, that’s when it’s really tempting to want to fall back to the map and sometimes that happens and I have gotten pretty good at feeling when that is out of alignment to what my compass would have told me to do.

Gunnar Rogers: So with that, would love for us to know. I know that the book is definitely a part of this but what is your true north? Like when those moments that you’re struggling between follow the map or follow the compass, what is that true north that you’re aiming towards?

Jamie Hillman: The way that I define my true north is through my core values. So this is, it’s an exercise, it’s a very popular exercise. It’s included in the book as well. It really is the framework for defining your own true north. So core values are just a set of often abstract terms that represent, who you are, what you want your life to prioritize. So for me, my values are, number one is self-efficacy, then growth, then family, then legacy and community, I have a combo in there and then health.

So those all have very specific definitions to me and when it comes to, “Okay, now I have to make a decision about something in my life, I have to consult my compass” those are the things that I check against. If I should take this job, “Okay, well what does that mean for my self-efficacy? What does that mean?” To me that means, the desire to make the world a better place. I want to have an impact on other people. So is this job going to get me closer to that, closer to living in alignment with my values or not?

What is the impact for my personal growth? What is the impact for my family, how does this line up with leaving a legacy and having a community that I am supporting, and where does this fall when it comes to my health? When it comes to supporting my physical health, my mental health, my emotional health, all of that? Those become the lens through which I say, “Yes, this is pointing true north, this is the direction I need to go” or “No, there’s something here that does not feel aligned.”

Gunnar Rogers: I love that. It’s just so fun to talk to you Jamie, I love this. So then you know, zooming out a little bit, I love talking about you but like, I guess we got to talk about the book too. I want to stay on this “trust the compass, not the map” for a little bit longer thinking about you know, young women because this book is definitely helpful for anybody and everybody but you did write it with young women in mind who are confronting and coming into contact with the same tension point.

How many women do you believe or even know are struggling to ditch the map and trust their compass and why do you think that is?

Jamie Hillman: Every single one of them. Like you said, I think this is probably true for everyone but especially women and little girls are raised in a way where they’re expected to follow the rules. They’re expected to be quiet and behave and if they are talkative or very emphatic and direct, then they’re called bossy and not leaders.

There have been all kinds of studies out there that show this and show the perception of women and how we have been raised and conditioned in a lot of ways to behave and to play a role and society and so being a mom, being a wife staying at home, for some people, that is exactly what feels totally true to them and makes them come alive.

And for a lot of other women, that’s not where they get all of their fulfillment and their meaning from and so all of these narratives that we have around what is the role of women, what should we do, what should we not do, I would say, every single woman is going through a process where she has to call all of that into question.

In my experience, talking to other people, working with young women, it’s, everyone kind of walks slowly towards this and when I was thinking through this idea of who the book is for, one of the things that really stood out to me is that when you talk to women who are in their 40s and their 50s and their 60s, they have gotten to this point where they are not nearly as confined to the map as they once were because they just had a bunch of experience and they’ve gotten to know who they are, what they care about, what their priorities are and they care a lot less what other people think of them.

My question was, is there a way that we can take that experience of women who are in their 40s, 50s and 60s and bring it to the women who are in their 20s and 30s? Like, can we make this go faster and what does that process look like and that’s really where the book comes in.

Just this whole world of bringing awareness to, that this does exist, that you can trust your compass that there are many, many different ways to live and it’s up to you to pick what works best for you, just equipping women with that information and then giving them the pep talk that they need to go out and do it, that’s really my primary goal with writing the book.

The Tactics of Personal Development

Gunnar Rogers: I love it and you know, with so many self-development books out there, personally as a reader, I love how you made this a lot more tactical and so I’m curious just to hear from the writer herself, how were you able to distill this down to a tactical practical level?

Jamie Hillman: Yeah. So when I was talking earlier about my journey, when I really got into personal development, I read, I mean, probably hundreds of books, definitely listened to hundreds of podcasts and all of that and so my goal with the book was to make essentially a beginner’s guide to personal development like, I read hundreds of books and now you don’t have to.

That was really the goal was to just say, “Hey, there’s this whole world that exists out here, and here’s some of the most talked about topics, and here’s a great place for you to start.” It has always been very important for me as I’ve gone through my own journey to say, “Okay, it’s very important to just develop the awareness of these things exist” and then to develop the language of, “Okay, I can put words to this experience that I’ve had and what I want and who I am” and all of that.

Those are two very critical pieces that come from consumption, come from just listening to other teachers, listening to other people tell their stories, all of that but then the really critical pieces are the practices. So that is the application of, “Okay now, I have this basis of understanding of what my experience has been. I can articulate it” all of that good stuff.

Now, what does it look like to integrate it? What does it look like on a daily basis to actually pay attention and notice my experience as it’s happening and then to think back on it and be able to kind of pull it all together and put it into practice and take these new things that I have learned and now let me apply it in a very real sense?

So that has been such a critical part for my journey that I thought that that would be really helpful and just crucial for readers to say, “Okay, I agree” that maybe I am reading the timeline chapter and I agree that my timeline is just right and I have plenty of time. So what does that actually look like. How do I actually make that come to life? Okay, here is a perfect schedule exercise, where if I have all the time in the world, how much time do I spend every week just journaling?

How much time do I spend connecting with friends because if I don’t feel rushed, then I could have time to do the things that make me feel great but until you actually sit down and look at a week and look at the amount of hours that you have in a day, it feels like it’s all passing you by very quickly and so that was the power of the exercises and I am a big journaler. Obviously, I like to write things.

So there’s good just like journaling prompts and thinking prompts and all of that throughout the book just to help move the reader from the understanding, the awareness, the language to, “Okay, now I am going to actually implement this and integrate this.

Gunnar Rogers: Oh, I love that, and then so, with the signposts in mind, they’re all crucial and they’re all important but I am just curious to know from the author herself, which one to you is the most crucial and which one do you believe is the hardest to follow?

Jamie Hillman: Ooh, excellent question. Which one is the most crucial and which one is the hardest to follow? So I will say the most crucial one is the first chapter and that’s why or the first signpost and that’s why that one is first and that is on managing your energy. So the way that the book is structured is it is the seven topics that everyone in the personal development world agrees are very important but there are so many debated ways on the “right way to do them.”

So for manage your energy, you can manage your energy through balanced priorities. So when people say, “Yeah, you should have balance between work-life balance” and all of that good stuff or you can have weighted priorities, which says, “What I care about I’m going to spend the most amount of time and energy on and the stuff that I don’t really care about, I’m not going to spend that much time on.”

So that really becomes the foundation for everything else that you do because that’s where you create your paradigm of what your life is going to look like, where are you going to spend your time, where are you going to spend your energy, it ripples out. That’s the signpost where you do your core values exercise. So was talking about that earlier, it is right at the beginning because it is that important and as part of that exercise.

So you define your core values so you end up with a list of five values that mean the most to you and then the last step in that process is you actually create what I call your core values roadmap. So you take those five values and you say, “Okay, what do these values look like when it comes to my time? What do these values look like when it comes to my relationships, my career and my money?”

So you make a very tactical like, what does it mean if I am thinking about growth, how do I spend my time, how do I spend my money, what does my career need to look like to support growth? What does my money need to look like to support my growth? So that becomes really the paradigm, the underlying foundation for everything else that you do. So managing your energy is the most crucial. Now, let me think about the other one. So it was which one is the hardest?

Finding the Middle Ground

Gunnar Rogers: For you, which one is the hardest like when you come to the signposts, it’s just, “Ah, I hate this one so much.”

Jamie Hillman: Yeah. No, it’s a great question and I’ll give you a little bit of a secret because the way that the book is structured is it’s very clear like, okay, there’s side one and there is side two and it sets it up as if you pick one or the other but truly, you know, when you get to the part of each signpost where I give you my perspective, most of the time it’s somewhere in the middle.

It is a blend of both of them and so that’s kind of there is good in both of them. So let me see, which one is the hardest for me. I think as I’m looking at this and thinking through all of them, I almost want to say it’s define your timeline, which says, so the two sides for that one are your timeline is short versus your timeline is just right. So basically, my tendency is to go towards the my life is short, the YOLO energy.

But it is not coming from a place of like, “Oh yeah, I am just going to carpe diem the heck out of this day like I’m going to live it to its fullest” it is very much approaching it from a scarcity mindset. I am always worried about running out of time before I meet my full potential and so that I have to work very actively to trust my timeline, trust that everything is happening in just the right way things that take longer than I think they should.

They are just happening on the exact right timeline for me and I trust that I can see something and set a goal that is five years out or ten years out and I trust that I can give it time to mature and become the beautiful thing that it’s going to be. You know with this, I think a lot about trees, at one point, I don’t know, in the last six months or so I was looking on Zillow as one does.

Gunnar Rogers: As we all tend to do especially here in Texas.

Jamie Hillman: Yes, so just house browsing and I saw a listing that had on there something about — and the lot has mature trees and I have probably read that before plenty of times but there was something about it that just kind of struck out like just struck me and later, I was walking my dog around our neighborhood and was just looking at the trees and just admiring that they really were very big and very grand and very mature.

You know, if you were to buy a house, you can basically completely change everything about the house but you can’t dig a hole and stick a 100-year-old tree in there and have it last and so there’s really something very special about time. There is something, some things just take time to work their magic and to become the beautiful regal mature things that they are going to become. So that practice of trusting that process is one that I have to actively work at.

Gunnar Rogers: Oh, I love that answer. I got a couple more questions for you then sadly, I got to let you go I guess. I am loving this conversation but I am asking this, Jamie, so that the young women listening that you’ll share this with that are young women in our audience can understand how crucial it is to trust their compass. Had you not begun to trust your own compass, where do you believe you would be in life just from a health perspective, from a happiness perspective?

Jamie Hillman: Oh gosh, I just got chills and I’m going to try not to cry. So the words that come to mind are stagnant but itchy and just like brittle — like those are the terms. So you know you said, where do you think you would be, that is not any sort of geographic location but those are really the feelings that came up because wherever I would be, you know, maybe I would be in a relationship that felt really unhealthy.

Maybe I would be in a job that I was pretty good at but never found that sense of meaning and to me, meaning is when I’m working on a problem that I believe should be solved and a problem that I believed should be solved with my limited amount of skills, energy, resources, that sort of thing. That is something that I have discovered about myself is that the work that I do all the time, I want that to be very meaningful to me.

So I would probably be in a job that is not meaningful to me and still trying to figure out a way out. Yeah, I mean I think one of my biggest, so when I did the strengths finder or I think it’s called CliftonStrengths now, so when I did that I am a huge like personality assessment junkie. So I’m angiogram three and all the things, so anyway –

Gunnar Rogers: Wing four or wing two?

Jamie Hillman: Four.

Gunnar Rogers: Ah, to wing three.

Jamie Hillman: Oh okay, nice. So when I did CliftonStrengths, my number one strength is futuristic. So I just have such a compelling vision of what I want the future to look like and feel like and where I am now and that I have my compass that I trust. I just have such hope and optimism for that future and if I think about where I would be instead, I have to imagine that that optimism, that hope for the future just wouldn’t be there because I wouldn’t have new things to be reaching for whereas now, you know I can go anywhere.

I can do anything and I certainly don’t have the answers but I never had all the answers. Even when I was following the map, I didn’t have the right answers, I just thought I did until I didn’t. So you know, being able to trust the compass makes me so much more resilient and expansive because I can go anywhere and I know that I am going to find my way along the way.

Gunnar Rogers: I love that and so now that you’re at this point in the journey, you’ve been trusting your compass, you’ve been following your signposts and now we get to share that with the world, the book, by the way, everybody once again, 7 Signposts: Find Your Direction in Life’s Foundational Decisions, A Guide for Young Women, is available today. Go check it out on Amazon, it’s discounted to 99 cents.

Jamie, once people get a copy of the book and read through all the wonderful material in there, what is the best next step they can take?

Jamie Hillman: Ooh, good question. You know, as you mentioned earlier, it is super tactical. So if you have made it all the way through the book and you have filled out, I think there are over 40 exercises in there and all sorts of specific practices that you can put into place right away. So that’s like the very clear application but what I would really hope is that you know, the reader has kind of opened their eyes more to the world around them that they have more awareness of their own experience of the many ways that you can live life.

In some ways, I hope that they’ve gotten some practice with trusting their compass. So much of our world and our society is driving us towards these binaries. It is this side or it’s this side, it is us versus them that sort of thing and if you’ve just finished 7 Signposts, you’ve gone through 250 pages of figuring out that most of the time there’s something in the middle that you were able to find once you trusted yourself and once you have listened to yourself.

So now that you’ve had that practice, now that you know that this is a tool that you have in your tool belt, as you go out into the world and you begin to see these false binaries, these false dichotomies pop up everywhere, you now know, “Wait a second, there is some middle here. I can navigate the nuance in between these two different choices that I am being presented and ultimately find something that feels best to me and creates a life that I love.”

Gunnar Rogers: Oh, I love that and this episode drops when the book comes out but I wish people could just hear it today. I love everything that you are sharing. Finally Jamie, now that the book is out, everyone is going to go grab a copy, once they purchase it, where can people follow you and continue engaging with you?

Jamie Hillman: Yes, so everything is under Jamie on Purpose. So jamieonpurpose.com is my website, that’s where I’ve got my blog and links to my podcast, which is also Jamie on Purpose. Also on the website, I have some learning series courses. So if we flip over to the professional side of our development and that is kind of the other part of my business and what I am building for people.

So if you are looking for a job, then those resources are available on my website as well and then on Instagram also, it is also Jamie on Purpose.

Gunnar Rogers: Awesome. Well Jamie, thank you for being willing to trust your compass. Personally, I am so thankful that part of that journey brings you here so I can get to talk to you but more importantly, share this conversation with so many people who need to hear it and especially the young women who deserved to hear it and deserved to be empowered by people like you to follow their signposts and to trust their compass.

So thank you for everything that you’re doing, I am really excited to see everything you’re doing explode. It’s going to be great.

Jamie Hillman: Thank you so much. I’m excited too, I’m ready for it to be out in the world, out in people’s hands.

Gunnar Rogers: Awesome, thank you.

Jamie Hillman: All right, thank you.