Leaning Out.

"You need to calm down before you do something crazy."

Oh the lectures you get from your spouse... Nine years of marriage, and I sometimes don't want to hear the "voice of reason" I married.  

As most people who read this blog and know me personally know, The Husband is pretty much the most open-minded people in my life and my biggest champion. Even when it goes against his personal preferences. (But for the record, we both do this for each other. It's not just a one-way street... Just in case you were wondering, dear readers.) 

But we got into a bit of a heated conversation this weekend centered around me and my work life. Or lack thereof. 

"I can't stand working from home!" I said. Right now, I am doing digital marketing consulting. That's right... I left my job intending to take a break. But right away (before I even had my last official day) had consulting work lined up. It's the paranoid freak in me. And The Husband and I were deep in the assessment of a "freak out" when he told me to calm the EFF down.

The freak out I was in the middle of was centered around a feeling of immense guilt. Not working does this to me. Hell, even when I am working, I have guilt...

  • Am I speaking in the wrong direction of where we want to go?
  • Am I offending people who have been here and guiding this path longer?
  • Am I spending enough time with vendors? All my other colleagues seem to spend much more time... 
  • Am I speaking up enough for my team members? 
  • Am I maybe not vocal enough about what we should be doing? And am I okay with the likely dissension I am going to get because what I am suggesting is going to take more effort than most of us have to give right now?
  • Should I have negotiated more?
  • Am I letting colleagues get away with avoiding answering questions too often? But if I press them, will I get the same sob story again and feel bad for asking?
  • Am I putting too much of my career first and not focusing on my personal life more?

I consistently post and preach out messages of not fearing the silly ideas... And never being afraid to be vocal. But the reality is that I very much second-guess and purposely avoid shooting from the hip in my own career.

At least that is the way it feels like to me. Others may look at my life and completely disagree.

This weekend's freak out was courtesy of me feeling (as usual) that I am not living up to my potential. That there is far more I am capable of and that (as I would put it) I am conveniently "leaning out" on things right now.

The idea of "leaning" in the career is, of course, thanks to Sheryl Sandberg and her new book "Lean In"... Which I am currently reading.

In my mind, I feel like there is always more I could be doing. That I am lazy and lack the energy. But that I should suck it up and keep moving forward down my path. And me stepping away from my most recent full time job - which needed to happen - feels that way. 

I certainly don't regret leaving the job, because as The Husband pointed out, "It was going nowhere. It was blocking you. You were dealing with the same problems over and over again, not because you couldn't get things accomplished. But because that is how a big organization like that is set up. No one truly controls anything. Your job was just to deal with the day-to-day while pretending to advance the agenda."

He is right. And despite having quite a bit of success doing my own thing in the month since I have left, I still feel anxious and guilty. I should be mentoring people. I should be helping someone build something. I should be going to an office every day and working with/for others.

Instead, I am "leaning out" and only focusing on me. Which some would say is exactly what I should be doing. But when you are programmed to work a different way, this way drives you crazy. Which is exactly what The Husband fears.

He fears I will jump into a full time job just to take a job. A job that will provide me with the day-to-day  needs I have... But will not make me grow personally. 

"You should be running something," he said. "Not being the supporting cast. Teams are important to function within, but you've done that and done it well for a very long time. Quit taking jobs beneath you."

I did point out, though, that when I have taken jobs he considers "beneath me", I have always quickly risen up the ranks. But he - and as Sheryl Sandberg in her book - pointed out, it needs to be about my potential. Not solely about my accomplishments.

He wants to see me in a role that will impassion me. 

He's right. And as I read Sheryl's book, she's likely right too.