"What are your goals for the next year?"
Her supervisor was sitting across from her at her annual review, asking the question that every supervisor asks at every annual review.
But this one was different.
Because the person being asked didn't actually have any goals. She was, dare any woman actually admit, satisfied. She was happy with what she was doing and simply wanted to continue her job as it was.
But she couldn't say that. She couldn't tell the manager sitting across from her that she didn't want any more challenges at work. That her plate was full and she felt no desire to add more to it. She didn't want to consider a promotion or the chance to supervise staff. She simply wanted to do what she was doing.
This is what happened to a friend of mine. She's home every night before dinner, gets to be at her kids' activities and never has to work on weekends. She gets paid well and receives positive reviews and feedback on her work.
But it seems being satisfied isn't enough.
Over the past few years, thanks in great part to Sheryl Sandberg's movement to "lean in," women are being encouraged to constantly gravitate to more. To seize every opportunity for advancement, to never give up on your dreams.
But what if you have reached your dream.
Must we always lean in? When can you just stand?
Is it a gender issue? It would seem not because men have always been taught the same thing. There always must be a "next step." And it doesn't stop at the top. Because, in reality, there is no top. There is always another big idea you should be having, or another position that aims just a bit higher.
Where did this come from?
I think back to the letters my grandmother and I would write to each other when she was alive. She would tell me about life in the 1940s and how you worked to provide for your family. You didn't have career goals -- you had needs and those needs had to be met. There's a beauty in that. A simplicity in knowing that you don't have to keep climbing up some goal-oriented ladder. That no one is behind you pushing you up and telling you to move faster.
I'm not ready to completely lean out at this point in my life. But I will say that I'm leaning in far less than I used to a few years ago. Or should I say, I'm leaning more towards the things that really matter. The things that might not advance my career at a rapid rate, but definitely make me appreciate the scenery of what's around me right now.
Perhaps I should write a book to start a movement like Sheryl Sandberg did. I think I'd call it "Just Stand Still."