It’s ok to “lean in”. It’s ok to “lean out”. It’s ok to opt-out. As I was writing this, I had a visualization of doing the hokey pokey. Do you remember that from your childhood?

“You put your whole self in. You put your whole self out. You put your whole self in and your shake yourself about. You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around. That’s what it all about.”

We all need to decide for ourselves what we want most from our careers and our lives and make it happen. The most important message here is to take control of your career and understand how, when, and where you need to “lean in” to accomplish your goals.

For those of you who have embraced your ambition and are, in fact, leaning in, it’s critical to understand all the dynamics involved to move your career forward. Deciding your goal and charting a strategic path to reach that goal is a proven method for success. Leaning in fuels your forward momentum.

If you are opting-out right now to spend more time with your family, having a long range plan also helps you to stay involved in your work at some level and keep yourself marketable. Keep your network alive and make an effort to stay in touch. Stay active in some industry networking groups to maintain your connections and stay abreast of what’s happening in the workplace.

Wherever you are right now in your life and career, put your “whole self in”. Put a strategic plan in place to advance your career or re-enter the workforce at some future date. You can always “turn yourself about” and change direction. Having a plan, however, keeps you focused on moving forward even if you are temporarily opting out.