Show Up and Lean In

It’s easy to drift through life. Feeling blown about. Not really planting ourselves in the things that matter most to us, but letting people, life, and circumstances push us where they will. Funny thing is, it’s always easier to spot the drift in others. In their marriage, health, hobbies or kids. It’s kind of hard to watch. Drifting through the things that do matter, existing but barely living. 

new years goals

Not that all drift is bad…your quit list should be long, but it should never show up in the areas of our life most important to us. 

Sometimes we can be killing it in one area, maybe our money, but drifting in others.

How do we put some stakes down and lay claim to the ground that we really care about?

This is kind of a part two to Time to Quit. First, we need to quit to make space in our life. To free up some time, energy and money. Then we can really show up and lean in.

Show Up and Lean In

Amazing, fun and unexpected things happen when people show up and lean into something that matters to them. I’ve spent most of my adult life in roles helping people show up and lean in. I’ve seen how incredible the results can be when that happens. And how lackluster and boring the results are when people just drift.

What if we make this year the year we really show up and start to lean in to the things that matter most to us? What does that even look like?


Drift: Marriage can often look like ships passing in the night. Or a work remote team trying to manage work projects.

Show up: Showing up in your marriage might be taking 30 minutes a day for real conversation, or a weekly date night. It might be going to bed early at the same time instead of watching Netflix until you are zombies.

Lean in: I’ve watched people with great marriages really lean in. And it’s awesome to see! Adam and I have worked on this over the years. It’s reading a few relationships books together a year. It’s doing life planning together a few times a year. It’s purposeful weekends away with time for reflection and dreaming. It’s marriage conferences and retreats where we learn new skills.


Drift: Drift happens when we earn, spend, and pay bills but rarely give any thought of intention to those things. It’s when the only time you think about your budget is when your shopping for a new house or car.

Show up: Read some blogs or books. Know your net worth, track your spending, and how much you are investing.

Lean in: You review your expenses each month. You have money dates with a spouse or friend. You interact in the places you learn (blogs, fb groups). You have accountability partners or mentors. You set goals and take challenging, stretching steps to hit those goals. You take classes, courses or attend conferences (partly because we always have more to learn, but partly because we all need more like-minded friends to find and keep momentum).


Drift: Hardly giving your health a thought outside of yearly check-ups, occasionally weighing yourself, and trying to fit into your same clothes from last year.

Show up: Think about what you are eating, and what actually nourishes your body. Eat veggies every day. Move every day. Weigh yourself every day. Go to the gym and sweat a bit. 

Lean in: Since our mini-retirement, we have really leaned in. We log 90 minutes 4x a week at the gym. I hired a personal trainer. We started tracking our food. I added HIIT workouts. We take measurements in addition to weighing ourselves. We added weekend adventures and do more walking, hiking, and outdoor adventuring. I have started building more relationships in the health and fitness community.

Sign up here to get my free worksheet of the 12 core areas.

How you can take each from drift to showing up and then leaning in! 


I’m not going to lie. Friendships are hard. When you are in the throes of a growing career, marriage, kids and home responsibility. Drift often takes over. It takes me twice the intention to show up and lean in. Because my friends don’t wake up in the same house as me or require me to spend the 9-5 with them.

Show up: Showing up in this phase of my life, looks a lot like trying not to fall off the radar completely! 

Lean in: Leaning in right now looks like calling, on the actual phone. Going out for coffee or dinner. Frequent emails (monthly). Trying to Skype a few times a year. Sending a gift.  And if I’m really upping the anti, flying to get together.

This is a hard season to lean in. But I am. And amazing things happen when I do. I meet up with people. Send gifts. Go out for coffee. I did a mentoring weekend with my best friend and that investment is still something I pull from each month. We were just chatting on the phone about lessons we are learning and were able to reflect back to the deep conversations we had over that weekend and continue to connect some dots.

With less to give, I give more strategically in my friendships. I make the time more intentional, more focused and more meaningful. AKA Less scrolling social media, more sending actually messages.

My friendships aren’t random anymore. They aren’t by chance or circumstance. I’ve curated an absolutely incredible group of people to do life with. And they make me better every day. It’s a huge benefit from this blog. People I’ve emailed with, skyped with, met in real life, attended FinCon with, started masterminds with, mentored, or worked with in my courses.

It’s possible to read and consume content for YEARS and never lean in. Consuming is fine and well. But the magic happens when you start to lean in.

I probably have a thousand great stories about the way I or others have chosen to show up and lean in, but I want to share this one little story. Just in case you ever wondered how these friendships actually come to be.

I just received a Christmas card from a reader, Audra. That might seems strange, but it’s not. And here’s why. Here’s what it looks like when you lean in.

Audra signed up for my email list. One day she hit reply. She wanted a bit of help with some planning. She offered a trade.

She did a bit of graphic design for me. I LOVED it! (If you have taken any of my courses, she did 100% of the graphic design!) 

I hired her to do more. We’ve Skyped probably a dozen times. She does amazing work for my courses and is a sounding board for me in my creating process. I help her a bit too.

Audra is incredible and just knowing her makes me better. And she might say the same of me.

Audra showed up, and leaned in. She is getting more graphic design work as she navigates her own work optional kind of life. (Of course, the story doesn’t end there, because the more you lean in the more things continue to happen.) 

There is a saying that: People pay attention to things they pay for.

You might need to pay in time, energy, focus or a little cold, hard cash. Actually, for the best result, all four is best.

I’ve seen people experience exceptional growth in all sorts of areas of life that really mattered to them. Life changing growth. In their work, marriage, health, faith or relationships. None of it came from drift. None of it came when they were hardly paying attention to that area. All dramatic growth came with intention and investing in that area. 

This isn’t random. The more people invest, the more growth they see.

You can lean in for your personal development. You can lean into your hobbies and interests. You can lean in to your purpose and calling. You can lean in for your work. You can lean into travel and adventure. You can lean into self-care.

Whatever we focus on, that is what improves. We just need to really show up and start to lean in.

We can’t lean in to everything. In fact, our quit list should be long! But we can pick a few of the things that need it the most right now, in this season of life.

We can’t even show up for everything. But we should show up for the things that matter the most to us.


Additional thoughts:

Steve’s Post about almost buying Rockstar Finance I learned once again that getting involved is the spice of life.

David’s Post: I love this post from David.  When we give ourselves fewer places to dig, we go deeper, and what we uncover is more rare and valuable than the usual stuff near the surface.” 

I leaned in by sending Fritz and Vicky the book Younger Next Year (which is on my resource page). Not only did that give us more to chat about and common ground, but now a new Facebook group has started!

Question: What’s one area you want to show up for more or lean in to in this year?


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41 thoughts on “Show Up and Lean In

  1. I like the lean in philosophy. It is much easier to just show up and cruise through life especially when you’re comfortable. Leaning in takes a lot of effort. I need to work on fitness and friendship this year. Those things take time.

    • Man, fitness and friendship! Those are two things that thrive on consistency. It’s not like we can just show up or lean in occasionally. I have let both slip off my radar off and on so many times in life, and I regret it every time. I’m really trying to lean into both this year as well. I even hired a personal trainer! (read: expensive!) I chatted with a friend about being better about consistently connecting (read: uncomfortable!), but both have paid off with new growth. Good luck, friend!

  2. I have two for you.
    1) Life with a three year old and a newborn is crazy. Especially when I’m using free time at night to blog or consult. I need to make sure I’m setting aside good quality time with my wife and leaning into our relationship.
    2) My career dream. I’d love to move from my corporate job to helping people manage their finances. To do so this year, I’m focusing on my blog, and my financial education via a CFP education path.

    • Oh, I feel you with the little kids. It’s a crazy season. It has redefined the words “busy” and “tired” for me! But both of those sound awesome! When I have less energy and less time, I find being more intentional and strategic helps. Best of luck this year!

    • It’s true, you never know where things might go. I was telling personal trainer Nate that showing up and leaning in is a lot like planting seeds. You plant 10, and 4 never even take hold, but a few produce a crop 100x greater than the seed you planted. Most success is just a matter of showing up and leaning in and showing up and leaning in and showing up and leaning in over and over. And good things happen!

  3. Great post! I really like the Sheryl Sandberg twist. And you are right, its easiest to spot someone else drifting. A nagging question for me has been, how do you nudge a drifting person to lean in. I see this a lot with older adults. Once the kids are gone, and career is over, a lot of drift happens. But in practice, maintaining a purpose in life leads to a better more fulfilling life. Its though, I dont know the answer. But looking at is as leaning in is a very good thing to do.

    • Ah, that is the million dollar question. How do we get other people to do this?!? =) I probably can’t answer that in under 100k words but I do have this for you. The drift was probably always there. The only things they showed up for at all just happened to leave or end. And then life is very empty. That’s why I never advocate that early retirement will fix your problems or life. It’s just opens up more time. Figuring out how to show up and lean in to things won’t magically show up just because people have more time. It’s a lifelong process learning what matters most to us, then how to show up and lean in effectively in those areas.

  4. There’s so much here I can relate to, but I really appreciate that you brought up the struggle around friendships. As adults, our friends aren’t the people we sit next to in class anymore. As you point out, they’re not random. It’s so important to be intentional with them because career, family and taking care of yourself take up so much time that there is very little left over. Digging deeper into fewer relationships but feeling better about how much I’m invested in them is one of my intentions this year.

    • Friendships are doubly hard because it’s not entirely up to us. I have a group of friends I try to get together with each month. Yeah, guess how that goes! We all have little kids, work, commitments, craziness. We are tired, someone is sick, there are appointments and bad weather. Even if we lean in, it doesn’t always pan out! But I’ve been really working on it. Because, gosh, when it works, it’s just pure magic! But there are 100 reasons to throw in the towel and say, “See you in 20 years!”

  5. Great post Jillian!

    I love the explanations of Drift, Show Up, and Lean In! It’s very enlightening to see that I’m “Showing Up” somewhere and could still be doing more.

    My one area of focus this year would be to lean in more with my son. It’s hard to do all the deep, personal connection type activities with a full-time job and long commute but I feel like I have been “Showing Up”. However, I love him so much and I feel like he still deserves more from me. So my focus this year is to “Lean In” with him and really establish those deep, personal connections!


    • Thanks, Brad! And with kids the smallest amount of “lean” can produce big results. 5-10 extra focused minutes a day, or an extra hour of a high-value activity makes all the difference. We started saying 3 things we love about our girls each night when we tuck them in. Maybe takes 2-3 minutes, but it’s probably their favorite part of their day. I think just knowing that all day we are searching and looking for the wonderful things about them so we can share that at night really helps them know they are loved. The last 2 years we have really tried to lean in more with our kids. And it’s been awesome!

  6. I’m with Joe – leaning in takes effort, and fitness and friendship are two that take a lot of time but I know I need to focus on. I’ve done an okay job on career and I’ll continue to do that, but there are always areas of life that require more effort to lean in than others.

  7. I have been doing a wee bit of leaning in lately and it is kind of crazy what can happen if you put even a few balls in motion. I (and many others) are so guilty of building things up into big big deals and then it turns out you can take tiny steps forward that are ridiculously easy. My spouse wants to take an intro to yoga class, the one running in town won’t work for our schedule so I reached out to a friend literally today. She’s SUPER keen to do a private, wants to charge us peanuts and our schedule matches hers wonderfully for childcare. I also have a hunch that for her, the opportunity to teach her passion in the midst of many small children at home is more than a financial win.

    • A wee bit of leaning in! I love it. Because it’s so darn true. Just a wee bit can set things in motion and cause things to happen. And that is awesome with your friend! There are so many tiny steps along the way. It’s often just getting started. Sending one email, spending a few hours, sending one book. Who knows what good things might come from it!

  8. I love the concept of this because leaning in to me means stretching yourself past your comfort zone just a little bit more, and it never hurt anyone to do that. I think leaning in for me right now looks like not giving into every food craving I have. Get uncomfortable with being “hungry.” I put that in quotes because my hungry usually just means bored. 🙂

    • Leaning can be a bit uncomfortable! It’s stepping outside of our norm at times. Hiring a personal trainer was a stretch for me. I started trying a few new things with my eating. It’s not easy, but I’m showing up and really leaning into trying to find my healthiest self.

  9. All of them?! But that is chronically my problem. I love being able to lean in, sometimes to the point of tipping over. Now, though, I’m really trying to be ruthless with my priorities and scaling back. This will allow me to lean in more to being a mom. I also really need to learn how to be a mom AND a wife at the same time. There are lots of new roles for me to navigate, so I really like thinking about them through this framework. Thanks, Jillian!

    • You’re very welcome, Penny! And it is crazy hard to navigate learning to be a mom while still being a professional, wife, friend, a human who is growing and learning. I’m 13 years in and still trying to figure it out! Every time I think, “Ohhhh, I think I’m getting the hang of this!” Nope. Something changes. Hello, winter break! =) Being a mom made my quit list ruthless!

  10. Love this! My 2018 goal is to live in a way that makes me feel content. It’s hard to measure, but it’s a goal worth having – money isn’t all we PF folks should be worried about! I love the idea of leaning in to the parts of our lives that matter. Too often I think we let important relationships suffer because we’re too mentally scattered or going through the day aimlessly, with no direction.

    • It is so easy to be killing it in one areas, but have these other areas that are a total drift or worst, kind of a mess. Money alone doens’t fix the other areas of life that matter. We just need to keep showing up, in our relationships, health, interests or whatever it core to us as people. I think content is a great focus. The next step is to figure out what that looks like for you. In big and small ways try to define it. Like what is a content day? When you end a content weekend, what did it look like? That clarity will give you more direction to make it happen but also measure if you are on track.

  11. The part about it being easier to notice the drift in others is completely true. I wish there was an easy way for someone to point out the drift in my life. Usually it comes once it’s a bit harder to turn things around. Have you set up measures so that you know when you’re starting to drift? Would be curious to know.

    I’ve found that when I’m leaning into work/finances then usually friends/family get neglected. It’s a delicate balance that I’m always working on!

    • I wish there was an easy way for someone to point out the drift in my life. There is! If you got the 12 core areas pdf, pick the areas that are important to you (or add a few I didn’t mention). Then write down what drift would look like, what showing up would be, and what it would really look like to lean in. I have a few examples in there to get you started. And see where you are at in each area. And then decide which one will get more of your time, energy and money to improve. Then take that to your best friend or a mentor. And talk through it with them. I do this stuff all day long and sometimes you just need someone to talk it out with and ask good follow up questions.

      And the balance is HARD! That’s why the quit list is so critical. Be ruthless on that quit list. And I do have my own check and balance system. I do quarterly reviews in addition to an in-depth yearly review. We check all the areas that matter to us, and adjust accordingly. =)

  12. This is very insightful. Makes me reexamined some of my relationships. Friendship and family are both areas where I need to work on in even showing up. The moment there’s a physical distance, I drop off the map pretty easily. I have cousins and good high school friends that I barely speak to. Gotta work on that.

    • The physical distance has been a challenge for me. Some naturally drop off, the ones that were based mostly on proximity to start with. But I’m getting a lot better. And in some ways, I’m starting to find long distance friendships easier. If I Skype with someone an hour a month, I feel like we can have a super solid friendship. Shoot even 3-5x a year. Where in-person friendships are more time-consuming. I might spend 3 hours on one get together. I’m really working on building up my long distance friendships this year.

  13. I want to lean in to planning. With a varied work schedule for both my wife and I (not totally work optional but headed that way), and our various goals in the areas of finance, personal growth, family, and relationships, I need to become a better planner. I think this will help with my growth as a leader and small business owner as well as help my family reach our goals.

    I am also trying to quit a large amount of the small things that lead to decision fatigue and add in things that will bring more value to our lives that maybe this phase of life have made hard (read: relationships; we have two small children).

    Thank you for your thoughts, they help me work through my own without telling me where I should end up!

    • Thank you for your thoughts, they help me work through my own without telling me where I should end up!

      I’m a choose your own adventure kind of girl. Maybe it’s from working as a youth pastor for so long. There is a 0% success rate in telling teens what they should be doing, should be wanting, or where they should be going in life. Just listen to what they really want, ask good questions and help them figure out the path. And most adults appreciate the exact same thing. Or maybe it’s that I HATE when people tell me what I should be doing with my life. But I love it when people come alongside me to help me get where I want to go, or help me figure out what I’m really looking for.

      And I love the plan for a big quit list and the decision fatigue! I try to be really mindful of that also with my food and clothing choices, and really any other small choice that doesn’t matter a whole lot. =) Best of luck! Oh, are you in Montana too? Love me some Montana folks. =)

  14. Thanks for this post. You inspired me to write about my 2018 goals on my blog too. 🙂

    In brief, this year I picked the one thing from each area that would make the biggest difference. (Baby at home means I’m not going to get everything in every area done that I’d like).

    Anyway, here’s my list for this year:

    -I want to focus on getting outside with Baby B… hiking and going on walks. I want to get sunshine, get out in nature and take B places.
    -My big food goal for 2018 is to not buy any sugar or sugar-substitutes (honey, syrup, etc.) or products with these things. Birthdays excepted.
    -Spend focused time and PLAY with Baby B.
    -By the end of the year, I want to have an app on the Play Store.
    -Write lots for my blog and maybe for other projects or just for me personally.
    -Schedule productive work time. Get stuff done.
    -Get something done with my Socorro house.
    -Track all expenses and regularly go through my accounts, paying bills, keeping credit cards paid, etc.
    -Spend time with friends and family.
    -Listen to my inner self and tap into the things that I already know and have learned.
    -Find silence and prioritize yoga, meditation, prayer, nature & journaling.
    -I also have two goals that are on my list that I’m choosing not to share publicly.

    • Thanks so much for sharing Kyla! That is a great list. =) In your personal planning process, I would dig in even deeper to these goals. Planning when they can happen and what space are they replacing. Plus take time to reflect on your motivation for each one. The more clear you are in your “why” the more likely you will be to push through when things get hard. (And they always get challenging at times!) Best of luck!

      • I totally agree with the points you make!

        This is the short version of my writing on it- I’m definitely in touch with the whys.

        For most of these things, I’ve broken them down into what it looks like to work towards those things each day and I track daily progress with a habit app. I don’t aim to get everything every day because that would keep me from going in depth to any of them. It does let me see at a glance if there is something that I haven’t gotten to in a few days and help to keep me focused.

        Many of these come from areas of my life that come up year after year as being important to me when I review things. For example, health and finances have been a focus for me for many years. So those things have had space in my life previously. I have tried to really refine my goals in those areas though because baby B eats up so much of my time now.

        There’s also definitely a lot that I don’t try to do. I try to really be conscious about the way I spend my time. For example, I don’t have a Facebook account, but I do read a few very select blogs. I read to baby B every day, but I only change his clothes if they’re actually dirty.

        • I love that “only change his clothes when they’re actually dirty”! I’m the same way, but in part because he gets so dirty so fast! We often go through 2 or three outfits a day, so I can’t be changing his clothes willy-nilly if they are by some miracle still clean! =)

    • Friendships aren’t easy. But I’ve seen people with deep and strong friend networks and others who slowly lose their social circle. I would most definitely have the former. It just takes extra effort.

  15. Leaning in on marriage can be as simple as making the bed when it isn’t your turn or suggesting a hike or hitting tennis balls with her instead of with one of your buddies. At least those go a long way with my spouse, of decades now.

    • I agree that sometimes it’s in the small things. My husband reads fewer books than me in a given year, so if he reads one that he knows is important to me, that goes a LONG way. =)

    • It’s the first thing for me too! Although over the years, I’ve developed a few important friendships. Even when things fall off my radar for a while, it’s always so rewarding to show up again. And often just pick up right where we left off. =)

  16. I love this. If you don’t lean in you can catch yourself on auto-pilot and going through the motions instead of really being present. Like with kids for example…you can sit on the couch and watch TV together and at least you’re in close proximity. But are you really THERE? Compare that to playing a board game together where you’re really interacting and having fun together. It’s a world of difference.

    • It’s so true, sometimes we get comfortable showing up but don’t push ourselves to lean in. During this time off, that has been a big focus for us with our kids. We are still adding new ways to really connect and creating meaningful moments with them.

  17. I really like this lean in philosophy. In business, I hear often, “you’re either growing or you’re dying.” Leaning in is growing. Drifting and Showing up are different levels of dying. I really like how you broke it down across the many different roles of our humanity.

    • I think we can drift or just show up for a season, but it can’t be a long-term plan in areas of life that really matter to us. I would never drift for years in my marriage or family for example. One crazy week, they can manage with me drifting. =)