How you can find success in the pursuit of happiness

It was her mother's nervous breakdown when she was 15 that first made Jaqui Jeanes-Lowery fascinated with the workings of the mind.

Jaqui came from a relatively poor background, growing up on a Leeds council estate. Her mother worked as a home help and also looked after Jacqui's father who had physical problems.

It was a tough life for Jaqui, especially after an accident at the age of two left her with a squint – for which she was bullied at school until the age of 13 and nicknamed "specky four eyes" and "Clarence the cross-eyed lion" by some of her classmates. She also witnessed her mother struggle with mental health problems.

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"I clearly remember the day my mum suffered a nervous breakdown. We were heading home from the supermarket when all of a sudden she threw the two shopping bags down on to the ground. I immediately focused on the potatoes rolling down the hill and ran to collect them.

"When I turned around, my mum was sobbing. She kept repeating that she just couldn't go on any more. I had no idea what had caused her to be so unhappy and at the time didn't understand what was happening."

Like many children faced with their parent's mental illness, Jaqui blamed herself for what was happening to her mother.

"I thought I had broken her," she says. "I became very interested in what makes people happy or sad and how you move away from sadness."

Jaqui, who has a home in East Yorkshire, is now an executive and personal coach, and has just published her first book Imagine Being in a Life You Love, co-written with Kristin Andress.

"I mainly work with large companies and top executives, but I wanted to make my coaching accessible to everyone. The book provides a guide and a plan to create a life you love for yourself – and crucially, takes you through how to make that happen."

Jaqui began her professional life as a 21-year-old shop girl on a graduate training scheme – working her way from the shop floor to senior roles in the HR departments of WH Smith, Argos and Boots. It wasn't until Jaqui turned 37 that she began to question aspects of her life and worked out that she needed to make some changes.

"I realised that what was really important to me was not luxury this and that and not to be the best at work, outperforming everyone else," explains Jaqui.

"I was running out of steam. I was working far too hard and giving far too much. I hit rock bottom. It was then that I realised that I wanted to take back control of my life."

After a brief stint in the public sector, she began working on a plan to start her own coaching business. "I'd always been interested in psychology – I'd moved into the training side of HR because I liked bringing out the best in someone."

Jaqui set up her coaching business in 1997. "The thought of losing a regular income and relying on what you sell to put food on the table terrified me, but push came to shove when I was made redundant. It was perfect timing, but very traumatic at the time."

She made it and managed to quadruple her income and hire her own staff as her coaching business became extremely successful. Four years into it, Jaqui discovered "transformational" coaching in America and immediately knew she wanted to deliver this to her clients.

She spent 13 weeks flying out to New York once a week to learn about the coaching while keeping her existing business going.

"People thought I was crazy – I'd fly in on a Thursday and leave on a Sunday. It was a gruelling schedule."

It was while in New York that she came across New York-based coaching company VSA and decided to set up their UK arm. "They didn't have any plans to set up over here – I had to propose the idea myself," says Jaqui.

Seven years later, her client list includes industry leaders across the globe. She spent time in South Africa working with business and community leaders.

Jaqui, 49, wrote Imagine Being in a Life You Love with Kristin, 42, to spread the simple ideas of responsibility and accountability in an age where being a "victim-of" or "caught-in-the-consequences" has become the all too often normal state of mind.

Jaqui says: "When you become the victim you lose your personal power to change the situation. When you just blame someone else then there's

not a lot you can do to move things along yourself.

"While others may be at fault, only you can choose to move things on. If you wait for someone else to change things then you may be waiting for a very long time."

A major part of the book is about how to handle setbacks when you are on your journey. "Inevitably there will be problems," explains Jaqui, "even if you are moving in the direction you want to go

you will still face setbacks. That is what new things bring. It could be a new job, moving house, losing weight or having a baby. Even winning the lottery brings problems."

Today, Jaqui has come a long way from the Leeds council estate where she grew up. She owns five houses, has a home in the sun, one in Yorkshire and an apartment in London. She has a thriving business working between New York and London, good health, a happy marriage and a great network of people.

Imagine Being in a Life You Love (12.95) is now available on www.imaginebeing.com and amazon.co.uk