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Leaning In: I Tried It and Quit

"Lean In." I read the book. I was enamored with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s words. They spoke to me. It was like she had taken up residence in my brain and everything she said was meant for me and only me. I was inspired and the whole message made me want to lean even further in than I already had been leaning.

RELATED: Lean In? Women Should Lean Sideways Instead

After a few months of leaning I started to look like this:

Photograph by MJJ Productions, Inc.

Then I realized how miserable I was. So I went the opposite direction and “Leaned Out” in a big way. I quit my six-figure job. The vice president position that I had spent 15 years working for no longer seemed like a prize. It seemed like a big fat waste of my life. I felt under-appreciated and under-valued, and the time I had with my kids felt rushed and empty.

I’m going to go ahead and write your nasty comments for you now:

“Fuck off, I’ll take under-appreciated and under-valued for six-figures”

“You looked like Michael Jackson and were making six-figures?!? Impressive!”

“I don’t understand your problem. Take your money and shove it.”

Instead of leaning in, I kind of twisted and turned until the pieces came together in a way that works for me and my family.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter how much money you make. If you wake up with a pit in your stomach every day, money doesn’t fix that. Leaving my job was a huge decision. I was the main breadwinner of our family and we needed my paycheck. It was not a luxury, it was a necessity. However, my health was starting to suffer from the stress of being a full-time working mom with such a demanding career.

I quit with no solid plan. Just a gut feeling that something drastic needed to change and it would all work out. I’m a huge planner, so this was completely out of character for me, but I had reached the breaking point.

In the past three months, my life has COMPLETELY turned around in the most incredible way. Instead of leaning in, I kind of twisted and turned until the pieces came together in a way that works for me and my family. I became authentic.

A former client reached out to me and asked me what I wanted to do now that I’m “retired.” I didn’t give him a sales pitch or a PowerPoint presentation. I told him I actually did want to work, but I want to be productive and use my time and energy in a way that’s beneficial to me and my clients. Bada-bing, bada-boom … he signed a contract that day. I now manage his advertising, from home, on East Coast hours so I’m done with any heavy lifting before my kids wake up in the morning and handle minor emails throughout the day.

Hmm, what else can I twist and turn my way into?!? I’ve always loved writing. I decided that’s something I’d love to incorporate into my new life. I reached out to CAbi Clothing and told them I have a background in advertising and driving sales (not a lie, just a creative way to solicit my services). Bada-bing, bada-boom … they gave me a writing assignment and that’s now turned into me writing their blog content, weekly email blast and social media content. I do all of the writing at night, after my kids are asleep.

Wow, this shit is working! I’m actually making a living doing things I really like! What else do I like?!? I like moms! “Hey, mom.me, I’m a writer … can I write for you?!?” Bada-bing, bada-boom … you’re reading this aren’t you?

Female Tech CEO Sabrina Parsons wrote an article saying “leaning in” isn’t the answer. She agrees with Sandberg’s stance on decreasing the gender gap, but argues, “What needs to change is how and when women work.” I think she hits the nail on the head. I don’t work less now than I did before (OK, maybe I do work less, but that’s by choice). More importantly, I work smarter. I juggle East Coast hours and late nights. But in return, I get quality time with my kids during the day and I’ve given up the ulcer of my corporate job.

RELATED: Let Us Opt-Outs Lean Back In

Moms are amazing. We can multitask like it’s nobody’s business. Now is the time to get creative and determine what works for you. Maybe that means busting your butt at the office. Maybe that means being home full-time. Or maybe that means you twist and turn to find a balance that works for you on your terms. You might be surprised to find that others will twist and turn to make that work for you.

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