Find your purpose to keep your career moving

By Leeanne Meyer

Why am I doing this?

At some point in your career, you’ll ask yourself this question. It might be triggered by the pressure of relentless deadlines, or an executive who expects you to be available 24 hours a day, or a daily assignment that never sparks joy.

Early in my career, I worked as a consultant and taught a workshop called “Communication and Customer Care.” It provided significant revenue. It ran at least once a week, and sometimes I even booked back-to-back sessions in the same week.

Clients loved it. I hated it.

But when I found myself asking “Why am I doing this?” I had a clear answer. I was doing that work to create a new model of professional development for practitioners, and to create a lifestyle that offered the flexibility to have both a career and a family. I also was developing strong facilitation skills that I’ve leveraged in all the work I’ve done since.

In my book, Climbing the Spiral Staircase, I discuss the importance of anchoring your career identity in a sense of purpose. This is especially critical for women, whose confidence often falls during the period where we spend the most formative years of our career—the period that I call the “messy middle.” It’s in the messy middle that women often encounter unconscious bias, and where they may struggle to build networks of influence. They may even need to step away from their career to direct energy to caring for children or elderly parents instead of professional advancement.

A clear sense of purpose can be the best tool to navigate through this career lull. That purpose may be centered in actions that will equip you to satisfy your career values: moving into a leadership role, achieving success, building financial security. Or it may involve creating greater good by providing for others, developing a team, shaping a field of study, or positively impacting your community.

Holding fast to this purpose will help you move outside your comfort zone. It will help you face your fears and insecurities. It will ensure that you don’t get lost in seeking recognition and approval from others and instead are clearly moving with energy toward your unique goals.


Leanne Meyer
Leanne is making a difference for professionals across the world. Her coaching brings a fresh, global perspective earned from working with countless clients across myriad industries. Her message is designed to resonate with any professional, though her specialty has focused on empowering women to navigate complex work environments for significant career advancement.“Workplaces are complex environments with many different personalities and relationships, and it’s important to remember that company values on a page don’t make a culture,” Leanne warns. “We have all heard the many corporate statements of ‘Here we believe …’ but the ‘we’ rarely includes everyone. It ignores the fact that unconscious bias exists, and fails to honor the many choices women want to make, personally and professionally.”Working through such environments can feel daunting, but Leanne’s hope is that women who embrace her recommendations will walk away with a sense of calmness, balance, and inspiration.With more than thirty years of senior-level and executive development in The United States, England, Ireland, and South Africa, Leanne brings finely-honed expertise to bear with each new client. Leaders from some of the most recognizable brands across the world including Salesforce, GlaxoSmithKline, McKesson, Alcoa, Bayer, SAP, the American Bar Association, UBS, EQT, Highmark, and UPMC consistently turn to Leanne for expertise, guidance and mentorship. She earned her Master’s in Industrial Psychology from the University of Johannesburg.

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