Just like millions of other women around the globe I am in the midst of reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will to Lead. While everyone has an opinion about this book and whether it is a “manifesto” as Oprah gushed during her Oprah’s Next Chapter interview with the Facebook COO or a guide to the next generation of working women—the fact remains, Sandberg hit the nail on the head by forcing us to ask ourselves “what are we leaning into”?
Most days are a hustle and bustle between caring for our children, families, toiling away at our jobs and then waking up to do it all over again after minimal sleep. When faced with all that life throws at us day in a day out, just “making it” can be hard enough. Yet, what I’ve gleaned from Sandberg’s book is the notion that in each moment we are either accelerating or decelerating from our lives.
There was a time when I was considering staying in a job where I felt like I was suffocating because it gave me benefits and “security”—two things I’ve been told I should have at my age. Here’s the thing—the security I was being afforded wasn’t enough to make me happy. And I decided after weighing my options that I would rather lean into my happiness than stay “safe and secure” at a job that I had no passion for—life is too short to live it without ferocious passion.
Society has forced women into this vicious merry-go-round of “shoulds”. If you’re a woman of a certain age and partnered you “should have a baby”, if you live in the ‘burbs “you should be keeping up with the …”, if you are in your twenties “you should be thinking about settling down”. As Carrie Bradshaw famously quipped– regarding all of these expectations– “we are left shoulding all over ourselves”!
Instead of focusing on the “shoulds” we need to be asking ourselves how we can truly be “leaning into” what we want. As Sandberg wrote, there is not longer a career ladder where you have to wait patiently for your turn—there is now a jungle gym with multiple avenues available to get to the top.
So, you need to ask yourself: What do you want? Who do you envision yourself to be? What can you be doing now that will help to move you from one bar to the next? These are just a few of the “lean in” questions that help us see the world as a series of opportunities to be seized instead of “shoulds ” that keep us bound. Sure there will always be barriers, but once you are aware of the perceived barrier to your success then you can begin to hatch a plan that will help you move around it or better yet through it.
It’s time that we make the conscious decision to keep a foot on the peddle of our lives and accelerate…
How are you planning to lean into your life? Tell us in the comment section below.