Mastering The Art Of Making Better Decisions

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to make a choice, and it felt like you were lost in a maze of uncertainty? You’re not alone; we all face decisions every day, from simple ones like what to eat for lunch to more significant ones like career or financial choices. 

Some decisions are easy, like obeying traffic lights, while others can be so overwhelming that they leave us feeling stuck.

Why is it that we can confidently follow traffic rules but struggle with something as simple as picking a meal? The reason is that decision-making can be complicated, and we often find ourselves caught in a web of doubt and hesitation. Unfortunately, the fear of making the wrong decision can lead to confusion, and sometimes, we end up not making any decision at all.

Have you ever been so afraid of making a wrong choice that you ended up not making any decision? Many of us have experienced this, spending too much time worrying about what to do and ending up feeling confused and fearful.

Now, think about how this fear of decision-making might be affecting various aspects of your life. For example, it might lead to clutter in your home because you’re afraid to throw things away, thinking you might need them later. It could also impact your career choices, leaving you unsure about whether to pursue a promotion because you’re not certain about your professional goals.

In my experience coaching clients, I’ve noticed that challenges in decision-making often happen in two stages: “before” and “after.”

The “before” stage is when you’re stuck in indecision and hesitation, not knowing which path to choose. The “after” stage comes after you’ve made a decision, and that’s when doubt and regret can kick in.

But here’s a secret I want to share with you: feeling confused doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lost or unsure. More often than not, it’s your brain’s way of resisting change and trying to maintain the status quo. Your brain prefers things to stay as they are, even when change could be better for you.

In this episode, I’m going to explore the roots of this confusion and fear. I’ll show you how these feelings can become habits if you don’t address them, leading to inaction. You’ll discover why your brain often defaults to saying, “I don’t know.” 

The exciting part is that once you understand where this confusion comes from, you can learn to use the decision-making part of your brain to your advantage.

I’m going to uncover the source of your confusion and help you make choices that empower you in all aspects of your life. If you’re curious about techniques to overcome indecision and hesitation, I’ve got you covered. By diving into the mechanics of decision-making, you’ll gain more confidence and lead a more fulfilling life.

The Origin of Confusion

Let’s start by diving into where confusion comes from and why it feels like a fog when we make choices. In this episode, I want you to imagine that I’m handing you a flashlight to clear that fog.

Have you ever noticed how many times a day you might say, “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure”? It happens more often than you might realize.

These phrases are like verbal shrugs, a way of saying you’re unsure when you’re faced with a decision. But here’s the thing: confusion is an interesting feeling. If you’re not careful, it can become a habit, a common reaction when you have to decide something.

Here’s what’s intriguing: I call confusion an “indulgent emotion.” It’s like a warm, comfortable blanket you wrap around yourself. It might feel cozy, but it also keeps you stuck, making you hesitate and feel like making decisions is as difficult as climbing a mountain in a snowstorm.

Let’s illustrate with an example: Imagine you’re the accountant for a small business owner, and your job is to help them invest their money wisely for retirement. Sounds simple, right? But as you delve into it, things start to get a bit complicated.

You start researching different investment options like stocks, bonds, and real estate. The more you read, the more choices you find, each with its own pros and cons. It’s like looking at a menu with a hundred delicious-sounding dishes, but you can’t decide what to order.

You’re diligent; you gather tons of information, crunch numbers, and even ask for advice from other financial experts. But here’s the problem: you end up stuck in what we call “analysis paralysis.”

It’s not that you lack information; you have plenty of it. But the pressure to pick the perfect investment strategy becomes overwhelming.

So, what happens next? You hesitate. You can’t make a decision. Your client’s financial future remains uncertain, and you’re trapped in a whirlpool of confusion.

What’s important to take away from this is that even in the professional world of accounting, we can face the same decision-making challenges we encounter in everyday life. In this example, the fear of making the wrong financial choice can lead to confusion, causing hesitation and inaction.

The tricky part is that the decision-making part of your brain is different from the part of your brain that usually runs your life, often called the primitive brain. If you haven’t learned how to use the decision-making part effectively, it’s no wonder you struggle with decisions, both big and small.

Here’s the thing: your primitive brain likes things the way they are and resists change. Over time, you might unintentionally develop a habit of avoiding decisions, to the point where your brain hesitates to even decide where to have lunch.

And here’s the most important thing to understand about your brain and confusion: your primitive brain prefers it when you’re confused. Why? Because it means you won’t take action.

Remember what I talked about in a previous episode: your brain is motivated by three things, known as The Motivational Triad – seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, and conserving energy. When you’re confused about making a decision, it conserves energy by not making a decision. Sneaky, right?

Tackling Decisions in Advance (Before Stage)

Now that we’ve figured out the root of confusion, let’s dive into some practical tools to empower you in making decisions with ease, even before they seem overwhelming. Think of it as a tool box of strategies to become a better decision maker..

I want to help you to consider decision-making as a superpower that can simplify your life in a world filled with endless choices. With it, you can breeze through the decision-making process without getting lost in the maze of options, saving time and sparing yourself from unnecessary stress.

Here’s the key: You have to decide what you’re going to think before you decide what you’re going to do. It might sound deceptively simple, but it’s the key to making decisions with confidence. 

For example, let’s say you’re eyeing a new car. The truth is that it’s not just about deciding which car to buy; it’s also about determining how you’ll think about that choice before you make it. This is where the magic happens, and it’s a step that many people tend to overlook.

Learning how to manage your brain and intentionally choosing how you’re going to think about your decision before you make your decision gives you the ability to easily make better decisions.  It’s like setting the stage for success before taking action.

Without deciding how you want to think about your decision before you take action, you’re leaving the door wide open for the negative tendencies of your primitive brain, and, as a result, confusion can creep in.

So, the trick here is to do the thought work before taking action. To help you with this process, let’s explore a few practical techniques:

1. Visualize Success for Both Choices: When torn between options, imagine both choices leading to success. This eliminates doubt and helps you make a decision. For example, think about adopting new accounting software.

In one scenario, you adopt the new software, and it significantly boosts your productivity and client satisfaction. In the other, you stick with your current setup, and it continues to serve you well. By seeing success in both options, you’ll alleviate doubt and be more inclined to make a decision because fear of making the wrong decision is taken off the table.

2. Redefine Failure as Learning: Speaking of fear of failure, if that’s what’s holding you back, remember that labeling something as a failure is just a thought, and thoughts are optional. Instead of viewing decisions as win-lose scenarios, reframe them as opportunities to learn and grow. This shift can help you embrace each decision as a valuable experience.

For this technique, imagine you’re considering expanding your services to include financial consulting, but you’re worried about potential setbacks. Instead of fearing failure, reframe it as a chance to learn and grow. If you take on financial consulting and it doesn’t go as planned, view it as an opportunity to gain experience and refine your approach for future success.

3. Consult Your Future Self: For this technique, take a moment to envision yourself a decade from now. What advice would your future self give you about the decision at hand and why? The primitive brain tends to lean toward instant gratification, making it challenging to think long-term. By tapping into your future self’s perspective, you can override short-term discomfort and gain insights into the bigger picture.

For example, let’s say you’re at a crossroads in your accounting career, contemplating whether to specialize in tax law or pursue a path in forensic accounting. Your current self is leaning towards tax law for immediate financial gain. However, when you consult your future self, you see a successful forensic accountant who is passionate about their work and has no regrets. Your future self’s perspective can guide you towards the decision that aligns with your long-term goals.

4. Check Your Current Emotions: No matter the decision, it’s crucial that you like your reason for making it. If you find yourself making choices driven by fear, impatience, or negative emotions, it’s a clear signal to pause. Dive into the thoughts behind those emotions, do some thought work to feel better, and then make your decision from a place of clarity.

Let’s say you’re deciding whether to take on a complex audit project. You’re feeling impatient and anxious about meeting the deadlines. Instead of making a hasty decision out of fear, pause to acknowledge that you’re feeling impatient.  By addressing this feeling and seeking a calm, logical approach, you can make a decision you’ll be satisfied with in the long run.

5. Give Yourself Permission Not to Decide: Sometimes, you might find yourself facing a decision without all the information you need. The pressure to make a choice becomes so overwhelming that it distracts you from other important areas of your life. In such situations, it’s perfectly acceptable to consciously choose not to decide for a set period, like 30 days. This pause gives your brain the space it needs to focus on what genuinely matters at the moment.

For example, let’s say you’re overwhelmed by the choice between two accounting software options. The constant back-and-forth is affecting your work and causing stress. To alleviate the pressure, you decide not to make a choice right away. You give yourself 30 days to focus on your current tasks and responsibilities without the distraction of making a decision. This breather allows you to come back to the decision with a clearer mind and make a more confident choice.

No matter which technique you choose to apply, the fundamental principle remains the same: decide how you want to think before you decide what to do. This is your secret weapon to banish confusion, regain control, and make choices that serve your best interests.

Avoiding Regret (After Stage)

Now let’s dive into the fascinating realm of post-decision stages. You’ve learned how to tackle decisions with confidence before you make them, but what happens once you’ve committed to a choice? Often, the fear of regret rears its head, and that’s what we’re going to tackle now.

The issue in the after stage is that regret can be a nagging companion, whispering in your ear, “What if you’ve chosen wrong? What if you look back and wish you’d taken a different path?” These doubts can cast a shadow over even the most well-thought-out decisions.

The first thing to remember is that there’s no such thing as a wrong decision. It’s all about how you perceive and frame your choices. 

The truth is that your thoughts define your experience, and the beauty is that your thoughts are 100% optional.  In other words, you always get to decide what to think about a decision.  .

To illustrate this concept, let me share a personal example that might resonate. A number of years ago I was dealing with the prospect of getting a divorce. My self-confidence was at rock bottom, and I turned to everyone I knew for advice, seeking external validation for what was the “right” decision.

In my fear of making the “wrong” choice, I had difficulty making any choice at all.  But eventually it dawned on me that I was the one who needed to believe that I was making the “right” decision. 

Why? Because my thoughts about my decision would shape my experience.

Once I chose to get divorced and then chose to believe that I had made the “right” decision in the “after stage”, my perspective shifted. I started seeing evidence that supported my choice. 

I began noticing how my children thrived in a home free from the stress of their parents’ arguments. I found the strength to navigate the challenges of single parenthood and embraced a newfound sense of peace. 

I also realized that my marriage had run its course, and I felt grateful for the years we’d spent together.

Now, let’s flip the scenario. Had I chosen to believe that I’d made the “wrong” decision in the after stage, my thoughts would have painted an entirely different picture. 

I’d have constantly questioned my children’s moods and attributed them to my choice. I’d have felt overwhelmed by the responsibilities of single parenting and felt envious of those in healthy marriages. 

I would have scrutinized my original reasons for wanting a divorce.

The core message here is that the way you perceive your decision both before and after it’s made can drastically alter your experience. If you continue to second-guess yourself, you’re essentially reopening the door to confusion.

Here’s another example – imagine you’re an accountant who has recently decided to transition from working at a traditional accounting firm to starting your own practice. Initially, you felt a surge of excitement and motivation to be your boss, set your hours, and offer specialized services.

However, as you navigate the complexities of running a business, self-doubt starts creeping in. You begin questioning your decision, wondering if it was the right move. Thoughts like, “Was it a mistake to leave the security of a stable job?” and “What if I can’t find enough clients to sustain my practice?” start to dominate your mind.

This is a common experience for many accountants who venture into entrepreneurship. The fear of regret can be paralyzing, causing sleepless nights and anxiety.

To overcome this, you can apply the decision-making techniques mentioned earlier:

Reframe Regret as Learning: Instead of seeing your transition as a potential failure, reframe it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Every challenge and setback can be a valuable experience that contributes to your professional development.

Consult Your Future Self: Imagine yourself a few years down the line. What would your future, successful practice look like? How would you feel about the decision you made? Consulting your future self can provide guidance and assurance that you’re on the right path.

Address Negative Thoughts: Whenever self-doubt arises, take the time to identify and challenge the negative thoughts that lead to regret. For example, if you’re worried about not finding enough clients, consider focusing on your marketing strategies and networking efforts. By taking action, you can address the source of your concerns.

By applying these techniques, you can shift your perspective from doubt and regret to a proactive, growth-oriented mindset. Over time, your accounting practice may thrive, and you’ll view your decision to become an entrepreneur as a positive and transformative step in your career.

The key to overcoming this “after” stage is learning how to manage your mind and support the decision you’ve made. By deciding that your choice is the right one, you’ll prompt your mind to gather evidence that backs that belief. 

Any opposing thoughts that crop up can be gently questioned and addressed.  By following these principles, you’ll not only make decisions confidently but also sidestep post-decision regret. 

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Mastering The Art of Making Better Decisions

In conclusion, becoming a Smarter Accountant isn’t some complex puzzle – it’s about  understanding yourself and gaining control over your choices.

Hopefully, in today’s episode you’ve learned that decision-making happens in two stages: before and after.  The truth is that in the before stage, what you decide to think about a decision is as important as the decision itself.

Just know that there’s no such thing as a “wrong” choice – it’s all about how you choose to think about your decisions after they’re made. In order to reduce the chance of regret, make sure you’re choosing to think about your decision in a way that supports you rather than chastises you. 

A Smarter Accountant understands that in mastering the art of making better decisions, your thoughts are your secret weapon. By learning the skill of managing your mind, you make it possible to make decisions easily and have your own back once the decision is made.

For example, I was working with an accounting employee who wanted to become an entrepreneur.  She was tired of answering to a micro-managing boss, working for clients she didn’t resonate with, and being beholden to her boss’ idea of working hours but she was also nervous about making such a big decision.

We worked together and decided that consulting her future self was the most helpful.  She imagined herself 5 years from now having her own successful firm, working with clients she hand-picked, having an amazing supportive team, and running her firm with the value of work-life balance.

Fast forward to about a year after she started her own practice and she was bumping up against challenges that were making her start to regret her decision.  We talked about why she had originally made the decision, how she needed to support her past self for making the decision, and how to continue tapping into her future self who had the success.

She’s now running the firm of her dreams, making more money than she ever dreamed, and uses the before and after decision-making techniques all the time in her firm.  As a Smarter Accountant, she’s honed the art of making better decisions, even when they’re uncomfortable.

When dealing with decision regret, my husband and I came up with the concept of“The Snowglobe Effect.” I’m sure you’ve seen a snow globe before – a flat bottom with a plastic bubble on top containing an image inside, filled with water and glitter.  

When you shake it, it looks like it’s snowing because all the glitter swirling around in the water.

When the snow globe is sitting on a flat surface, sitting still, there’s no swirling glitter

The same thing happens in our brains.  We can be going about our day with the snow globe of our minds sitting still, but then someone says something or does something and our snow globe is all cloudy with swirling glitter, creating mind drama.  

When we came up with this idea it’s because my husband had started a new job and was having some regrets about his decision.  We began saying, “You shook your snow globe didn’t you?” when there’s some mind drama

After weeks of mind drama, he finally decided to look for all the ways that taking the new job was the right decision.  His brain began giving him all the proof that it was the right decision 

And then one day he bumped into a former coworker.  They talked about the former job, about some drama going on there and that was all it took – his snow globe was shook and swirling with negative thoughts 

He called me to tell me what happened and that he realized he shook his snow globe, but then something amazing happened. He said, “I picked it up and shook it which means I can put it down and let it settle down”  He got it!

If you want negative thoughts swirling around in your head about a decision, then keep shaking it.  Or you can leave it on a flat surface, let it settle and enjoy the clean, clear view

You always have a choice.  To shake or not to shake…that is the question.  It all comes down to how you want to feel

Annoyed, frustrated and regretful; or peaceful, drama-free and grateful

Remember that the art of making better decisions is an ongoing journey, and as you consistently practice and refine these skills, you’ll evolve into a Smarter Accountant. The skills you’ve acquired will not only enhance your capabilities but also strengthen your position as a trusted financial advisor.

If you find yourself facing challenges in your accounting career or simply want to explore ‘The Smarter Accountant 6-week Program’ further, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can schedule a free session at to delve deeper into how this program can help you overcome obstacles and become a Smarter Accountant.  

Thank you for joining me as we explored mastering the art of making better decisions.  It’s important to remember that self-improvement is an ongoing process, and I encourage you to keep returning each week as I guide you from being a stressed accountant to becoming a truly Smarter Accountant. 

Make sure you go to and take The Smarter Accountant Quiz. You’re going to want to know if you’ve been underutilizing your accountant brain so that you have a starting point for becoming a Smarter Accountant..

Also, I would appreciate it if you could get the word out to other accountants about this podcast.  The more accountants find out about it, the more we can begin to change the narrative in the accounting profession.

The truth is that you’re already smart, but this podcast will show you how to be smarter.

The Most Important Question Every Accountant Needs To Ask, Every Day

What if I told you that a seemingly simple question could be the key to unlocking your full potential as an accountant? Are you curious?

Good! Because today, I’m going to unravel the mystery behind this important question that most of us accountants tend to brush aside. 

It’s a question that can change your career, how you work with colleagues and clients, and ultimately, how good you are at your job. But first, consider this:

  • When was the last time you noticed that your emotions affected your work, whether it was a big decision or a routine task?
  • Have you ever wondered why some days you’re super productive, while other days it’s a struggle to concentrate on the numbers?
  • Do you think that understanding and managing your emotions could make you a better accountant?

Get ready, because today, I’m taking a deep dive into an area that can make or break your career in accounting, reduce stress and overwhelm, help you get more done in less time, and make it possible to have a sustainable career.. 

So, stay tuned as I explore the science behind this question, share stories, and provide strategies that will change the way you approach your role as an accountant.

The most important question 

Let’s start things off by addressing the most important question every accountant needs to ask, every day, and it’s this: “How am I feeling?” Yes, you heard that right.

Whether you realize it or not, emotions matter in the world of accounting. Why?  Because our emotions play a crucial factor in our daily work.  In fact, emotions are a bigger deal in the world of accounting than you probably are aware of.

First, think about what makes a good accountant truly exceptional. Is it all about your accounting knowledge, or is there something more going on?

Well, here’s the surprise: in the world of accounting, where we often think of everything as numbers and spreadsheets, emotions play a vital role. Yes, you heard me right—emotions. They’re truly like the secret ingredient that makes a good dish extraordinary.

For example, imagine two accountants, both equally skilled in accounting. One is in tune with their emotions, while the other doesn’t pay much attention to how they’re feeling.

Now, let’s say a stressful situation arises. The emotionally aware accountant pauses and asks themselves, “How am I feeling?” This simple self-check helps them pause before they take action.

It gives them a moment of choice to choose to feel calm and make better decisions or stay stressed and spin in confusion.  Because they checked in with how they were feeling before taking any action, they’re better able to handle their work and their interactions with clients and colleagues with ease.

The second accountant, however, doesn’t pause to consider their emotions. Because they’re stressed, they might react impulsively, complain, procrastinate, or make choices driven by unchecked feelings, which leads to ineffective action and results.

What this means is that our emotions aren’t just fleeting sensations. They’re like the gears we’re putting the car in, influencing how we work, manage our time, and make decisions. 

It’s also not about pushing emotions away; it’s about understanding them and using that understanding to our advantage.

The truth is that studies have found that accountants with higher Emotional Intelligence tend to outperform their peers in client satisfaction, problem-solving, time management, productivity, and job satisfaction.  

In fact, the AICPA offers a course on Emotional Intelligence, which they describe as “teaching competencies and strategies to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others, greatly increasing your chances of personal and professional success.”

Here’s the thing – how you react, and everything you do or don’t do is only ever because of an emotion.

In other words, the work you get done when you’re stressed and overwhelmed will be vastly different than when you’re focused and determined.  How you handle things like tax season or client demands is directly related to how you feel.  

I promise you that if you’re not asking yourself every day how you feel, you’re not as effective as you could be.  

Before I move on, I want you to think about the last time you were stressed or overwhelmed.  Whether it was 10 minutes ago or last week, I guarantee you weren’t as effective as you could have been if you had been managing your emotions.  

The brain’s impact on emotions

I’ve talked about how our brains work in previous episodes, but if you’re new to what I teach, here’s a super quick synopsis.  We have a lower, primitive brain that I refer to as the “Toddler” and a higher brain that I refer to as the “Supervising Parent.”

Our lower, primitive brain has been with us since humans lived in caves.  Our higher brain developed over time and this part of the brain is only present in humans.

Understanding these two parts of your brain is essential if you want to become a Smarter Accountant.

Now consider this – have you ever wondered why you feel the way you do in different situations? What’s happening in your brain when emotions come into play?

Well, it all starts with the lower, Toddler part of our brain.  This part of our brain is like an emotional alarm system. 

When something happens—say, a surprise deadline or a challenging client meeting—it sends signals to your brain, saying, “Hey, pay attention! This matters!”

Now, here’s where it gets interesting: your lower brain not only sounds the alarm but also stirs up those familiar emotions we all experience, like happiness, anger, fear, or stress. These emotions feel great or not so great, impacting how you perceive and react to situations.

So, why is this relevant to accounting? Imagine you’re tasked with solving a complex financial puzzle. Your Toddler brain senses the challenge, and suddenly, you’re feeling the pressure. 

This heightened emotion can either help you stay laser-focused and sharp or, if not managed well, overwhelm you.

Thankfully, you also have the higher, prefrontal cortex part of your brain.  I refer to this part as the Supervising Parent and it is like the brain’s logical center. 

It helps you think rationally, make decisions, and plan. It’s what you rely on to keep things organized and on track.

But here’s the thing – when strong emotions, especially the negative ones, take center stage, your prefrontal cortex can sometimes take a back seat. This can lead to impulsive decisions, difficulty concentrating, or even forgetfulness—all of which aren’t ideal in the world of accounting. 

For example, imagine you’re working on a crucial financial report, and suddenly, you receive an unexpected email from a frustrated client, complaining about an error in a previous report. Your lower brain registers the urgency and triggers feelings of stress and frustration. 

In this emotional state, your higher brain may struggle to focus on the task at hand, making it more challenging to review and correct the report accurately.

Or imagine you’re in the midst of tax season, juggling multiple clients’ tax returns with upcoming deadlines. The pressure is heavy, and your lower brain is on high alert due to the mounting workload and client expectations so it sends signals of stress and urgency throughout your brain.

During this time, your higher brain, the logical thinker, should ideally be in the driver’s seat, ensuring every tax return is reviewed and accurate. However, the emotional storm triggered by the lower brain can sometimes overpower your logical thinking.

When this happens you might find yourself rushing through calculations, missing out on potential deductions, or making data entry errors. It’s not because you lack the skills; it’s because your brain is contending with the emotional turbulence of tax season.

So, what’s the key takeaway here? Understanding how your brain processes emotions can be a game-changer for accountants in two significant ways: First, by recognizing when your emotions are taking the wheel, you can step back and regain control. Second, knowing how your brain operates emotionally can empower you to work more effectively with it.

Before I move on, think about this: can you recall a situation at work where your emotions had a clear influence on a decision or action you took? How do you think your brain was functioning during that moment?

Take a minute to consider your answers to those questions.    

The power of self-awareness

Now let’s talk about the incredible power of self-awareness and how it can transform your career as an accountant. But let’s start with a simple question: What does it mean to be self-aware, and why does it matter, especially for accountants like us?

Being self-aware is like having a mirror inside your mind, reflecting your thoughts, feelings, and actions. It’s about understanding yourself—your strengths, weaknesses, and the impact of your emotions on your decisions.

So, why is self-awareness essential in the world of accounting? Think of it as a superpower that enables you to navigate challenges, but also makes it possible to have an easier career as an accountant.

For example, imagine you’re working on a complex financial analysis, and you notice a wave of frustration welling up. That’s where self-awareness kicks in. 

The first, most important question to ask is, “How am I feeling?” and name the feeling.  For example, let’s say the feeling is frustrated.  The next step is to pause and ask yourself, “Why am I feeling frustrated?” This simple act of reflection can unlock valuable insights.

But here’s the key – the only reason you felt frustrated was because of a thought your lower brain is having, not because of anything or anyone.  In other words, it’s not the complexity of the financial analysis or the workload that’s making you feel frustrated because your feelings are never created by circumstances.

The only reason you feel frustrated is because of your thoughts about the financial analysis or the workload.    

Unfortunately, if you don’t make the connection between the fact that your thoughts create your feelings, you’ll either stay stuck in frustration or try to take action to fix the feeling.  The problem is that you can never change a feeling by taking action.

In fact, it’s your feelings that drive your actions, not the other way around.  Whatever actions you try to take from the feeling of frustration will be ineffective actions.

It’s also important to look at the power of self-awareness in dealing with others. As an accountant, you’re not just dealing with numbers; you’re also interacting with clients and colleagues. 

Understanding your emotions and how they affect your communication can be a game-changer.

For example, imagine you’re meeting with a client to discuss their financial strategy, and they’re expressing concerns about their investments. Your self-awareness helps you recognize that their worries are triggering your own anxiety, as you want to provide the best guidance.

In this moment, your self-awareness allows you to take a step back. You can acknowledge you’re feeling anxiety and remind yourself that it’s only being caused by a thought, not by the client.  

By choosing to intentionally think something like, “I can help this client” or “I can put their mind at ease,” those thoughts would create a feeling like compassion instead of anxiety.  By doing so, you can communicate more effectively, addressing their concerns and providing valuable guidance.

Another example where self-awareness is crucial is during tax season.  I’ve had over 30 tax seasons in my career and I can tell you this – the truth is that when deadlines loom and the pressure mounts, self-awareness can help you stay on top of your game. 

When you make it a habit of checking in and asking how you’re feeling, then if you start to feel overwhelmed, you can do something about it before it derails you.  Pause, recognize that the feeling of overwhelm is coming from thoughts in your brain, decide how you want to feel instead, and then choose a believable thought that creates that feeling.

This is one of the reasons I now have stress-free tax seasons – I know how to handle stress and overwhelm as soon as I’m aware of their presence..

It’s also important to understand that the power of self-awareness extends beyond the confines of your workspace. It also enhances your relationships. 

As you understand your emotional triggers and reactions better, you can build trust and foster a positive working environment.

Take a second and think of a situation at work where being self-aware did help or would have helped you make a better decision or navigate a challenging interaction more effectively? Based on what you’ve learned so far in this episode, what could you do differently next time?

Emotional Intelligence in accounting

Whether you’ve heard of the term Emotional Intelligence or not, I’m telling you that you should get more familiar with it, especially as an accountant.

Think of Emotional Intelligence as your compass in the world of emotions. It’s about understanding, managing, and using your feelings effectively, both within yourself and in your interactions with others.

So, why does Emotional Intelligence matter in the accounting world? Because it can make you a better accountant and colleague.

Consider this: Emotional Intelligence is composed of several key components. One of them is “self-awareness,” which I just discussed. It’s about recognizing your emotions and their impact on your work.

Another vital component is “self-regulation.” This means managing your emotions, especially when the pressure is on. It’s about staying cool under fire and not letting stress or frustration dictate your actions.

“Social awareness” is the next element. It’s about understanding the emotions of those around you—your clients, colleagues, and even your boss. This skill helps you navigate challenging conversations and build stronger relationships.

Last but not least, there’s “relationship management.” This is all about using your Emotional Intelligence to influence, inspire, and collaborate effectively. It’s about turning those accounting numbers into connections and solutions.

But how does all this translate into the accounting world? Let’s simplify it with an example:

Imagine you’re working with a team on a complex financial audit. The project is running behind schedule, and tensions are rising. You notice that one of your colleagues seems particularly stressed.

Your Emotional Intelligence kicks in. You recognize their anxiety because you’re exhibiting social awareness, and you approach them with empathy. You offer support, whether it’s helping with their workload or just being a listening ear. 

By doing so, you not only ease their stress but also contribute to a more collaborative and efficient work environment.

Now, let’s delve a bit deeper into how Emotional Intelligence can make your work as an accountant even more manageable.

Consider a scenario where you’re dealing with a demanding client who’s frustrated with a financial report error. Your Emotional Intelligence toolkit, honed through self-awareness and self-regulation, allows you to remain calm and composed. 

Instead of reacting defensively, you actively listen to their concerns, again displaying social awareness, and respond with empathy.  You acknowledge the error, take responsibility, and reassure the client that steps will be taken to rectify it. 

In this example, your relationship management skills come into play as you work collaboratively with the client to address the issue. The outcome? The client not only appreciates your professionalism but also continues to trust your expertise.

So now it’s your turn – can you think of a situation where your Emotional Intelligence played a significant role in a work-related scenario, making a positive difference? How did it affect the outcome?

Or can you think of a situation where your Emotional Intelligence was low and things didn’t go as well as you would have liked?

No matter where you lie on the spectrum of Emotional Intelligence, just know that it’s an incredibly beneficial skill for all accountants, no matter how long you’ve been an accountant.

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Practical tips

Becoming a Smarter Accountant isn’t just about crunching numbers or studying tax code—it’s about mastering the art of managing emotions, making better decisions, and nurturing productive relationships.

Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Cultivate Self-awareness: Take time to reflect on your emotions regularly. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling?” as often as you possibly can.  Recognizing your emotional state is the first step towards using it to your advantage. No matter what is happening at work, your feelings are always going to drive your actions so make sure you cultivate self-awareness to ensure you’re using the best feelings to take action from.  

To become a Smarter Accountant, start by setting aside a few moments each day to check in with yourself. Ask questions like, “What emotions am I experiencing right now, and why?” 

2. Practice Self-regulation: When the pressure mounts, and the deadline looms, don’t let your emotions run the show. Self-regulation is about being intentional with your feelings.  Take deep breaths, pause, and think before you react. This can prevent impulsive decisions and maintain your focus on that work at hand.

When faced with high-stress situations, use techniques like mindfulness or a meditation app like Calm to regain your composure. Remember, it’s okay to take short breaks during the workday to reset and refocus. Avoid knee-jerk reactions and strive for a calm, measured response.

3. Develop Social Awareness: Pay attention to the emotions of those around you without making them mean anything about you. Understand that your clients, colleagues, and even your boss might be experiencing their own emotional rollercoaster based on thoughts in their brain. By recognizing their feelings, you can navigate conversations and relationships more effectively.

Enhance your social awareness by actively listening to others. During client meetings, pay attention not just to the words spoken but also to the tone and body language. Empathize with their concerns and ask open-ended questions to gain deeper insights into their emotional state.

4. Master Relationship Management: Building strong relationships is at the core of being a Smarter Accountant. Use your Emotional Intelligence to inspire, influence, and collaborate with others. Turn challenges into opportunities for growth, and transform the work you do as an accountant into an opportunity to be an example of what’s possible.  .

Hopefully, these practical tips, coupled with a solid understanding of emotions and Emotional Intelligence, can elevate your career as an accountant.

So before I end this episode, think about this: How do you envision applying these tips in your accounting career? Can you see yourself becoming a Smarter Accountant by integrating Emotional Intelligence into your daily work?

Hopefully you now see that the most important question every accountant needs to ask, every day is, “How do I feel?”  Until you’re willing to acknowledge how you feel, and choose more helpful and useful emotions, you will not be as effective as you could be.

Remember, becoming a Smarter Accountant isn’t just about mastering numbers; it’s also about mastering yourself.

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I shared the most important question every accountant needs to ask, every day.  I hope you’ve gained valuable insights and practical tools.

If you are struggling with any aspect of being an accountant, you can simply go to and book a free session with me.

I’ll explain The Smarter Accountant 6-week Program and how you can apply it to whatever you’re struggling with.

That’s what I have for you, but make sure you check back each week as I help you go from being a stressed accountant to a Smarter Accountant.

Make sure you go to and take The Smarter Accountant Quiz. You’re going to want to know if you’ve been underutilizing your accountant brain so that you have a starting point for becoming a Smarter Accountant..

Also, I would appreciate it if you could get the word out to other accountants about this podcast.  The more accountants find out about it, the more we can begin to change the narrative in the accounting profession.

The truth is that you’re already smart, but this podcast will show you how to be smarter.

The Surprising Way Complaining Affects Your Intelligence

Let’s talk about a subject that most accountants have experience in – complaining.  But before we dive in, let me ask you some questions to think about:

Have you ever noticed how often you catch yourself complaining throughout the day? Maybe it’s about the traffic during your morning commute, the mountain of paperwork on your desk, or perhaps even the occasional issue with the weather. 

We all complain about various things, but have you ever stopped to think about the impact of all that complaining on your life or your career?

Or maybe you were intrigued to participate in one of those challenges to help you stop from complaining, like John Gordon’s 7-Day Challenge. How long did you last before something or someone triggered a complaint? 

It’s surprising how difficult it can be to break this sneaky habit.  But unfortunately, the hard truth is that complaining is actually making us dumber and I’ll be explaining how in a minute. 

While we all complain, you might be interested to know that the average person complains anywhere between 15 and 30 times a day.

Here’s another question: Are you aware that your brain is wired to find faults, to identify potential threats, and to, in a way, complain? It’s a natural survival mechanism, but what happens when this tendency seeps into your daily conversations, especially at work?

Now, think about this: how often do you find yourself surrounded by constant complainers, be it coworkers, friends, or family members? Do you ever feel drained by their negativity? 

Have you ever noticed how you end up discussing their bad attitudes with others, as if you can’t help but complain about the complainers?

And here’s the ultimate question: Did you know that complaining is affecting your intelligence, and in turn, your accounting career? It’s not just a matter of your mood; it’s about the very asset that fuels your professional success—your brain.

In today’s episode, I’m going to explain the science behind complaining, why it’s more problematic than you might think, and most importantly, how you can stop or at least become more purposeful in your complaints.

If you’re ready to delve into this intriguing topic, stay tuned because by the end of this episode, you’ll have valuable insights and practical strategies to make your complaints work for you rather than against you.

Why we complain

So let’s start with why we complain. It’s a behavior so ingrained in our daily lives that we often do it without even realizing. So, why do we complain so much?

As I mentioned earlier, challenges like John Gordon’s 7-Day Challenge can shed some light. The goal of the challenge is to go a whole week without complaining. Sounds simple, right? Well, not quite. 

Most people who take this challenge can’t make it past the 10-minute mark without finding something or someone to complain about.  But why is it so tough to stop complaining? 

The answer lies in the sneaky nature of this habit. Most of the time, we believe we’re just stating the facts, much like a news reporter delivering the daily headlines. 

We think we’re merely observing our world and expressing what’s true for us. For example, we say things like, “There’s a ton of work to do” or “The weather is pretty crappy.”

However, here’s the catch – our brains are wired to be natural complainers. They constantly scan our environment, seeking out what’s wrong or potentially threatening to keep us safe. 

Complaining is a survival mechanism deeply rooted in our biology. In fact, research has shown that during typical conversations, especially at work, most people complain approximately once a minute. 

The truth is that our negative-biased brains tend to interpret more things as wrong than right, and they want to share these observations as a sort of “public service.”

Now, here’s why it becomes even more prevalent in work environments and why it’s so tricky to break this complaining habit – it can become a form of bonding. Complaining and gossip often go hand in hand, sometimes forming the basis of relationships, especially in challenging work situations.

As I’ve shared on the podcast before, because our primitive brains are motivated to avoid pain, seek pleasure, and be efficient, the practice of complaining can easily become hardwired into our habits. It becomes our unconscious default. 

In other words, until we rewire our brains, they will continue to do what they do best – complain.

Let’s go over some examples by starting with a scenario that most of us deal with – daily commuting.  Let’s say you find yourself inching along in traffic, late for work yet again. Again, it’s a situation many of us can relate to. 

As your frustration mounts, you might express your aggravation by saying something like, “This traffic is unbearable every day! It’s a complete nightmare.”  It seems harmless, right? You’re just venting your frustration about the situation. 

But here’s the catch – this seemingly innocent complaint reflects a natural inclination of our brains to focus on what’s going wrong, in this case, the traffic. Our brains are wired to spot potential threats and inconveniences, even in the mundane, as a survival mechanism..

Or here’s another example for those of us in public accounting – tax season. Let’s say you’re knee-deep in spreadsheets, drowning in tax forms, and your coffee consumption has hit an all-time high. It’s a situation that many of us can relate to. 

As the stress mounts, you might express your frustration by saying something like, “This workload during tax season is unbearable every year! It’s a complete nightmare.”

It might feel like you’re just venting your frustration about the situation, but there’s more to it. This complaint reflects the natural tendency of our brains, as humans, to focus on what’s going wrong – in this case, the overwhelming workload. 

Again, our brains are wired to spot potential problems and inconveniences, even in the intricacies of accounting. When this default part of our brain goes unchecked, it can become a bigger problem than you realize.  

So, just know that when complaining becomes your unconscious default, it can hurt your intelligence and, as I’ll explore in a minute, become a problem for you and your accounting career.

Why it’s a problem

As accountants, we need to be sharp and analytical in order to do the challenging work we do.  Our accountant brain must operate at its highest level, especially when tackling complex financial challenges and navigating the intricacies of the financial world.

But here’s where the trouble starts – research has shown that complaining can literally shrink a critical area of your brain, the hippocampus. This small but mighty region is responsible for problem-solving, memory retention, and intelligent thought processes. 

It’s essentially the vault where all those accounting facts, tips, and analytical strategies are securely stored.  Unfortunately, complaining is killing your brain cells.

While it might sound like a humorous exaggeration, it’s true. Research conducted by Professor Robert Sapolsky at Stanford University has shown that chronic complaining can indeed have detrimental effects on the hippocampus. 

It’s the constant stream of stress hormones, like cortisol, flooding your bloodstream that does the damage.  If you’re not familiar with cortisol, it’s referred to as the stress hormone. 

When you complain persistently, you’re essentially flooding your bloodstream with cortisol. This hormone, in excess, puts you at risk for increased blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other health concerns.

When you add juggling a demanding career with family responsibilities, the stress from both sides can be immense. You may find yourself complaining to your colleagues about it regularly.

Your complaint might sound like, “I don’t know how much more stress I can handle – between tax deadlines and family commitments, it’s too much!”

Unfortunately, this stress, compounded by chronic complaining, creates a toxic cocktail in your body, wreaking havoc on your health. And, let’s be honest, we could all use a little less stress in our lives.

Now, you might wonder, “Why does complaining feel so good if it’s causing all these problems?” The answer lies in how you feel before you complain.

Here’s the thing – just before you let out that complaint, there’s typically a strong negative feeling – frustration, judgment, or stress. Complaining seems like a welcomed relief from those negative emotions, especially when others join in.

For example, let’s say it’s another tough day at work, and your coworker joins you in a complaining session about the management’s decisions. You vent your frustrations together, feeling the relief of shared grievances.

In this moment, it feels like you’re releasing some of the pressure built up inside you. It’s as though you’re a dam about to burst, and complaining allows you to let off some steam. 

The issue, however, is that your brain is like a sponge, absorbing everything you spill – including all that complaining.

The truth is that your brain absorbs the complaints and begins to wire itself to include them in your thought patterns. As you rinse and repeat this process, your brain strengthens these connections, making it easier and easier to complain. 

Over time, complaining can become as natural as breathing but as damaging as smoking.

The interesting thing is that the damage isn’t limited to how you perceive the world; it extends to how others perceive you. It might be draining for you to be around constant complainers, but it’s equally draining for others to be around your complaining.

For example, let’s say you’re at a family gathering, and your cousin always brings up something to complain about. You might share an exasperated look with your sibling about your cousin’s attitude, creating a subtle alliance of complaint. 

It’s a bonding experience, but it’s not exactly conducive to positive relationships.

While it might not seem like a big deal, the truth is that it’s not helpful to you, your intelligence, or your accounting career to let complaining go unaddressed.

How to stop or become more purposeful

So far I’ve uncovered why we complain and why it can be problematic. Now, it’s time to explore the practical steps to stop complaining or, at the very least, complain with purpose.

Since complaining is a habit deeply rooted in our brains, it’s not easy to break. The truth is that our brain processes approximately 60,000 thoughts a day, therefore, it’s impractical to try to stop negative thoughts from occurring altogether. 

However, you do have control over what you choose to focus on.

Let me explain a simple yet effective process that I like to call the “Pass the Hors D’oeuvres” technique. Imagine yourself at a fancy cocktail party, with waiters and waitresses passing around silver platters filled with delicious hors d’oeuvres.

Now, here’s how this process works:

Imagine that each silver platter holds a thought your brain is offering you, just like an hors d’oeuvre.  Understand that there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of the thoughts on those platters.

The key to this process is that you get to decide, purposefully, whether you want the thought on the platter or not.  Before you pick up a thought, ask yourself a few questions:

“Is this thought helpful or useful?”

“Does this thought serve me?”

“Will it ‘taste’ good?”

You only need to spend a second or two to decide. If a thought is useful, pick it up and savor it. If it’s not, simply let the waiter pass by without judgment.

The power of this process lies in its elegant simplicity. Instead of resisting the negative, complaining thoughts that naturally pop up in your brain, you’re making conscious choices about which thoughts are worth your attention. 

You’re essentially curating your mental menu.

What’s truly remarkable is that this process will reveal how optional your thoughts truly are. The thoughts about the circumstances in your life, much like the hors d’oeuvres on the silver platters, can be chosen or passed on – it’s always within your power.

So, whether you’re faced with a challenging accounting situation or dealing with someone else’s complaints, remember that you have the option to decide what you want to think about it all.

Instead of letting the default part of your brain keep thinking and complaining the way it’s always done, you also have the option to decide whether you want to complain with purpose. Complaining with purpose means having a specific goal in mind when you feel the urge to vent. 

It’s about communicating without blame and aiming to find viable solutions.

For example, let’s say you have an issue with something you purchased, and you call customer service to complain. Instead of merely venting your frustration, you pause and evaluate whether your complaint will lead to a constructive conversation.

You might ask yourself, “Do I know what I want as a resolution? How might they be able to resolve the situation?” Complaining with purpose means that your complaint isn’t just a release; it’s a step toward finding a solution.

When you choose what’s worth complaining about with a clear goal of being part of the solution, you give your brain and intelligence a chance to switch into problem-solving mode instead of being depleted by complaining mode.

The best part is that complaining with a purpose not only benefits you but also makes it easier for others to join in the solution. It helps calm emotions and fosters better communication.

So remember, complaining is a habit, and like any habit, it can be transformed. By applying these techniques, you can break free from the complaining cycle, boost your intelligence, lower your stress, and enhance your communication skills.

The Smarter Accountant Way: How to not let complaining affect your intelligence

As accountants, our intelligence is our most valuable asset. It’s what enables us to tackle complex financial challenges, solve intricate problems, and provide essential financial guidance to our clients and organizations.

So now let’s go over some real-world examples of how you can break free from the complaining cycle and protect your intelligence.

If you’re in public accounting like me, you know that tax season is the time we tend to love to complain due to our workload. There was even an Accounting Today headline a few years ago that said something like, “Brace yourself for another horrible tax season.”  

Thankfully, the Smarter Accountant way can help with the issue of complaining affecting your intelligence.  So the question you probably now have is, “What’s the Smarter Accountant way?”

Well, instead of complaining about the never-ending stream of tax returns, consider this approach: view each tax return as a unique challenge, an opportunity to showcase your expertise and problem-solving skills.  The reason I no longer have stressful tax seasons and have stopped complaining is because I learned how to manage my mind.

I learned how to recognize the natural tendency to complain and instead, pivot using my higher brain.  By adopting a new mindset, you will not only transform your experience of tax season, but you will also preserve your intelligence. 

Remember, your hippocampus is the part of your brain that is responsible for problem-solving, memory retention, and intelligent thought processes. You want to help maintain a healthy and agile brain that’s ready to tackle even the most intricate financial puzzles.

Another common source of complaint among accountants is workplace dynamics, especially when dealing with challenging colleagues or demanding bosses.  Believe me, I’ve had colleagues that didn’t pull their weight and dealt with the difficult, micromanaging bosses.

I know first hand that it isn’t easy, but instead of dwelling on office frustrations and complaining about coworkers, try “The Smarter Accountant Way.” Shift your focus from complaining to problem-solving.

For instance, if you’re facing a conflict with a coworker, either approach the situation as an opportunity to enhance your communication skills or learn to pivot your focus to the less challenging coworkers. 

Instead of venting your frustration, either initiate a constructive conversation or accept that the coworker is not your favorite and that life is 50/50; you may only like 50% of the people you’re surrounded by, saving your intelligence for what truly matters..

Another example is personal development. We are often pressed for time due to our busy schedules, but instead of complaining about the lack of time for self-improvement, embrace “The Smarter Accountant Way.”

Suppose you’ve been longing to improve your time management skills by learning a new, brain-based time management system like I teach in The Smarter Accountant Time Management Program.  Instead of complaining that there’s never enough time, recognize that it is possible to make time for things that are important to you.

Since The Smarter Accountant Time Management Program is only six weeks, you can simply choose to dedicate this short amount of time to learning and application.  In doing so, you not only acquire new knowledge but also keep your hippocampus active and engaged.

Hopefully, you can now see that by applying “The Smarter Accountant Way” in these scenarios and countless others, you can transform complaining into a powerful tool for personal and professional growth.

Remember, while complaining might feel natural, it’s also affecting your intelligence so it’s probably worth noticing and addressing as often as you can.

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me on this exploration of complaining and its impact on our intelligence and our lives. I hope you’ve gained valuable insights and practical tools to navigate this part of your human experience.

If you are struggling with any aspect of being an accountant, you can simply go to and book a free session with me.

I’ll explain The Smarter Accountant 6-week Program and how you can apply it to whatever you’re struggling with.

That’s what I have for you, but make sure you check back each week as I help you go from being a stressed accountant to a Smarter Accountant.

Make sure you go to and take The Smarter Accountant Quiz. You’re going to want to know if you’ve been underutilizing your accountant brain so that you have a starting point for becoming a Smarter Accountant..

Also, I would appreciate it if you could get the word out to other accountants about this podcast.  The more accountants find out about it, the more we can begin to change the narrative in the accounting profession.

The truth is that you’re already smart, but this podcast will show you how to be smarter.

The Top 3 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a CPA

If you’ve ever wondered what it really takes to succeed in this challenging profession, you’re in the right place.

With over three decades of experience as a CPA, and having worked for some of the Big 4, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the evolution of this profession, and it’s been interesting, to say the least.

To start, I want you to consider the following questions:

Have you ever wondered what it takes to have a sustainable accounting career?

Are there things you’re currently struggling with as a CPA?

Have you thought that there’s got to be an easier way but not sure what that is?

Reflecting on my career in public accounting, there are three pivotal aspects that, if I had known about them earlier, they could have made my journey as a CPA easier.

Whether you’re a student studying accounting and dreaming of becoming a CPA, a new graduate entering the finance field, or an experienced professional dealing with the challenges of accounting, I hope my experience will give you some useful advice.

I’m going to be sharing the three most important things I wish I knew when I started my journey to become a CPA. These lessons have had a huge impact on my career, and I think they’ll give you valuable insight.

In other words, today I’m going to share what I know now, that I wish I knew years ago.

While my path as a CPA has been a rewarding one, it has also come with its fair share of challenges. I hope that by sharing these insights, you can embark on your own path to being a successful CPA.

Remember, the accounting profession offers immense opportunities for growth and impact, and with the right knowledge and perspective, you can navigate it successfully and thrive in the world of accounting.

1 – Stress is optional

The first crucial lesson I wish I had known before becoming a CPA: Stress is optional. The accounting profession is notorious for its high-pressure environment, but over the years, I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t have to be a constant source of stress.

What I learned about 10 years ago has literally changed how I approach every aspect of being a CPA. What did I learn? Where stress actually comes from.

Here’s what I know now that I wish I had learned much earlier on – stress is not caused by things like the amount of work we have, deadlines, difficult clients, or the IRS. It’s caused by our unmanaged brains.

The hard truth is that your smart accountant brain is being underutilized if you feel stressed. In other words, you feel stressed and overwhelmed because you are underutilizing the part of your brain that can eliminate stress and overwhelm.

As I shared in episode #2 – The Place Where Brain Science Meets Accounting – if you were using the higher, prefrontal cortex part of your brain more intentionally and more often you would not feel stressed.

It’s literally like having the “off” switch to stress when you learn how to use your higher brain more often.

The reason you feel stressed and overwhelmed, especially during times of deadlines, is because you’re letting the lower, default part of your brain, run the show. Believe me, I get it because I was doing the same thing for over 20 years.

Unfortunately, when you don’t learn how to manage your accountant brain, you end up day after day, year after year, feeling stressed and overwhelmed, often ending in burnout. Thankfully though, you’re listening to this podcast which means you’re probably willing to learn how to do things differently..

I promise you that by understanding the truth behind my stress and overwhelm, especially as an accountant in public accounting my entire career, I have changed everything in my life for the better. I cannot emphasize this enough—stress and overwhelm are OPTIONAL for accountants!

Here’s what it boils down to – to become a Smarter Accountant, you have to understand this fact: circumstances do not cause feelings. In other words, a Smarter Accountant knows that feelings are only ever caused by the optional thoughts their brain has about circumstances.

For example, the truth is that the tax season doesn’t cause stress; it’s just dates on the calendar: it’s a block of time. A circumstance, like dates on a calendar, cannot create the feeling of stress or overwhelm.

The only thing that CAN cause those feelings are our thoughts about the fact that it’s tax season. In other words, the only thing that is causing you to feel stressed and overwhelmed is your unmanaged brain’s thoughts about circumstances like the dates on the calendar, the number of tax returns that need to be filed, the client requests, etc.

I promise you that your unmanaged accountant brain is the issue, not dates on the calendar, the amount of work you have to get done, or the expectations of your clients.

The beauty in becoming a Smarter Accountant is that you don’t need any circumstance to be different in order to feel better or have a better result. The solution to feeling stressed and overwhelmed, especially during deadlines, is to intentionally choose how you want to feel.

I can tell you that trying to do accounting work from a feeling of stress or overwhelm is like trying to drive 100 mph with the parking brake on. It slows down your ability to get more done in less time and burns you out in the process.

For example, one of my coaching clients was a partner in a small firm and was on the verge of burnout. He was constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and had tried many different things over the years to try to feel more in control.

Once he worked with me and learned how optional stress was, he was able to handle the workload, get more done in less time, and be a more effective leader in the firm. His wife even said he was much happier at home.

I want you to imagine if you could approach a high-pressure client meeting with complete confidence, knowing that stress wouldn’t cloud your judgment. How might that positively impact your client relationships and the outcomes of those meetings?

Or picture this: you’re working on a complex financial audit, and the deadlines are tight. Now, imagine if you knew exactly how to eliminate stress and feel calm and in control. How might that change your experience and results?

Think about the last time you felt stressed during tax season. Now, envision knowing how to stay focused instead of stressed. How might that have improved your overall well-being and performance?

The reason I now have stress-free tax seasons is because I’ve come to understand that stress is optional when you understand how to manage your accountant brain. The bottom line is that stress is optional because it’s within your control when you understand how to manage your mind.

2 – Effective time management is essential

The second vital lesson I wish I had known before becoming a CPA: the importance of effective time management. Being a CPA means juggling lots of tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities.

The truth is that learning to handle your time well isn’t just helpful; it’s crucial for success in this demanding career. If you want an easier, more sustainable career, you must learn effective time management.

The issue is that no one is teaching accountants the most effective way to manage our time. There are plenty of apps, software, and workflow systems, but they’re like putting temporary bandaids on.

Effective time management is like a superpower that can help you stay on top of it all and not drown in working too many hours, or feel the effects of never-ending stress and overwhelm. But here’s the thing – there’s a huge difference between time management and effective time management.

Most accountants are managing their time ineffectively. How would you know if that’s you?

If you often find yourself rushing to meet deadlines, feeling overwhelmed by your workload, and working more than you want to, you’re not managing your time effectively. If you struggle to prioritize tasks and often find yourself working on less important items while critical tasks get delayed, you may need to refine your time management skills.

If you spend most of your day reacting to urgent matters instead of proactively tackling your planned tasks, it may be a sign that your time management needs improvement. If you frequently feel burned out, exhausted, or mentally drained from your work, it’s due to poor time management, which can lead to overexertion.

The good news is that recognizing these signs is the first step toward improvement. By implementing effective time management strategies, you can regain control over your schedule, reduce stress, and enhance your productivity as an accountant.

For example, imagine you’re in the middle of tax season. You have a big project ahead, and several clients are waiting for your help. Deadlines are coming at you from all sides.

Without an effective time management plan, you might feel like you’re drowning in work, struggling to figure out what to do first, and worried you might miss a crucial deadline. Many CPAs, whether they’re just starting out or have been at this for a long time, face this kind of challenge.

So what can help you uplevel your time management to be more effective? You have to first understand how to manage your mind before you can better manage your time.

For example, one of my coaching clients was trying to run her small firm with a team of 4. She was constantly complaining that there just weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.

But once she learned how to first manage her mind and then learned a more effective method for managing her time, she was not only able to handle her current workload, but she was able to start growing her business. She had been putting that off for a few years because she felt she just didn’t have the time or the bandwidth to take on more.

She shared that learning how to manage her mind was a game changer. Not only was her time management much more effective, but she got more done in less time and was able to do everything she needed to do without feeling overwhelmed.

Bottom line – if you’re going to have any shot at having a sustainable career as a CPA, you have to learn how to have effective time management. What no one else is teaching you about time management is that it’s less about managing your time, and more about managing your mind.

3 – Work-life balance is attainable

Now, let’s discuss the third crucial aspect of the CPA journey that often gets overlooked but is essential for long-term success and well-being – maintaining a healthy work-life balance. This is something I wish I had understood better when I was starting out, as it plays a significant role in your career as a CPA.

Over the years, through much trial and error, I have been able to consistently achieve work-life balance, but it wasn’t easy. Here are some things I wish I knew before becoming a CPA:

The Demands of a CPA Career: One of the first lessons I learned on this journey is that a CPA career is demanding, to say the least. During certain periods, such as tax season, the workload can be intense. Long hours, tight deadlines, and a high level of responsibility are par for the course. Knowing this upfront is crucial to avoid being caught off guard by the intensity of the profession.

Balancing Work and Personal Life: Balancing work and personal life is like a dance, and setting boundaries plays a pivotal role. Clear boundaries are essential to prevent work from spilling over into your personal life and vice versa. Establishing these boundaries is a continuous process, but it’s well worth the effort in maintaining your overall well-being. To set better boundaries, you first have to build your self-confidence. Once I worked on that, it became much easier to say No and set healthy boundaries.

Recognizing Signs of Burnout: Burnout is a genuine concern in the accounting profession. Unfortunately, it can manifest as constant fatigue, increased stress, decreased enthusiasm for your work, and even physical health issues. Recognizing these signs early is crucial. If you notice them, don’t hesitate to address them. Whether through self-care practices or seeking professional support, taking action is vital to prevent burnout from derailing your career. Your health and well being are more important than a paycheck.

Effective Time Management: As I shared before, effective time management is essential, especially when juggling a demanding career and personal life. It involves developing strong organizational and time management skills to optimize work hours and ensure quality time for personal pursuits. Because of my experience as a CPA, one of the things I’m the most passionate about is teaching accountants how to better manage their time. No one is teaching accountants what I teach about effective time management.

Setting Realistic Expectations: Striking a balance requires setting realistic expectations. Understand that there will be busy seasons and times when work takes precedence. However, there are also quieter periods when you can recharge and focus on personal interests. Recognizing this ebb and flow can help you manage your expectations and reduce stress. To have a sustainable career, you have to level out the highs and lows so that you’re not feeling like you’re on a constant roller coaster ride.

Prioritizing Self-Care: Don’t underestimate the power of self-care. It’s not selfish; it’s necessary. Prioritizing your physical and mental health is fundamental. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep are the cornerstones of self-care. Beyond these, finding hobbies and activities that bring you joy outside of work is equally important. If your greatest sense of joy and accomplishment is work, you might want to challenge yourself on that.

Seeking Support: Remember that you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. Lean on your support system, whether it’s family, friends, a coach like me, or colleagues who understand the demands of the profession. We can provide not only a listening ear but also valuable advice and encouragement when you’re faced with challenges.

The truth is that work-life balance is not a luxury but a necessity for a sustainable CPA career. It involves understanding profession demands, setting boundaries, avoiding burnout, managing time, having realistic expectations, self-care, and seeking support to find harmony between work and personal life.

For example, one of my coaching clients came to me because he said he was too much of a people-pleaser. He had moved his way up the large firm he worked at, but it was now catching up to him how much his inability to say no or set boundaries had created a complete lack of work-life balance.

Once we worked together, he was able to understand what was causing his people-pleasing tendencies. He was then able to learn how to have difficult conversations, how to say no more often, and how to set better boundaries with colleagues and with clients.

The bottom line is that an equilibrium between your professional and personal life not only contributes to your well-being but also enhances your performance and longevity in the field of accounting.

Bonus – Brain management is the secret to an easier, more sustainable career

From my 30+ years as a CPA in public accounting and over a decade being a Professional Certified Coach, I decided to distill what has made the biggest difference for me into my book “The Smarter Accountant.”

Here’s what I know for sure – what I teach isn’t found in any classroom, CPE seminar, or accounting webinar. In fact, every client that I’ve worked with has said, “Why aren’t we taught this earlier?”

That’s why I wrote the book “The Smarter Accountant” and I teach accountants how to be Smarter Accountants – because we’re not taught the most helpful thing we could learn as accountants – how to stop underutilizing our accountant brain.

The truth is that you’re already smart or you wouldn’t be an accountant or considering becoming an accountant. No one is denying your intelligence, but what I want to explain is that you’re not being as smart as you could be.

And that all comes down to the fact that there’s nothing you can’t manage when you learn how to manage your brain.

That is what no one is teaching us as accountants. The most valuable thing we could learn – how to manage our brain.

The truth is that you have the best piece of machinery on the planet and no one has ever given you the instruction manual for it…until now! You are going to want to know your particular instruction manual.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Knowledge is power,” but that’s actually not correct. As accountants, we have plenty of knowledge but often feel pretty powerless.

The truth is that knowledge isn’t power; applied knowledge is power. In other words, ACTION is power. Becoming more knowledgeable is one thing but doing something with that knowledge is much more powerful.

That’s why my 6-week Smarter Accountant Program is one of a kind. It’s where I teach smart accountants how to be smarter. As I said before, what I teach isn’t found in any classroom, CPE seminar, or accounting webinar.

So what does it mean to become a Smarter Accountant? Well once I became a Smarter Accountant, everything changed for me both professionally and personally:

  • I rarely experience stress, even during tax season
  • I work only the hours I want to work
  • My life is incredibly balanced
  • I get more done than anyone else in less time
  • I am highly productive and efficient
  • I am much better about not comparing myself to others
  • I choose to interpret things as feedback rather than criticism
  • I’m making more money than I’ve ever made
  • My relationships have improved dramatically
  • My health is better than its been in years
  • I have more self-confidence than I’ve ever had
  • I set healthy boundaries and have no problem keeping them
  • I am happier than I’ve ever been

The best part is that you can do the same. Not only can you create a sustainable and fulfilling career but you’ll also be able to gain a competitive advantage.

Just consider the following:

  • If you knew how to eliminate stress and overwhelm so that you could easily handle deadlines, how would you stand out from the crowd of burned-out accountants?
  • If you had self-confidence and stopped using the number of hours you work as a sign of your value, what else would make you more valuable?
  • If you had incredible time management, how much more could you get done in less time than everyone else?
  • If you could be more productive, how would you excel?
  • If you knew how to set better boundaries, how much more effective would you be at your job?
  • If you felt happier and more fulfilled, how would you stand out from the crowd of unhappy CPAs?

By investing a small amount of your time, you can have that sustainable accounting career that you deserve.

If you are struggling with any aspect of becoming or being an accountant, you can simply go to and book a free session with me.

I’ll explain The Smarter Accountant 6-week Program and how you can apply it to whatever you’re struggling with.

That’s what I have for you, but make sure you check back each week as I help you go from being a stressed accountant to a Smarter Accountant.

Make sure you go to and take The Smarter Accountant Quiz. You’re going to want to know if you’ve been underutilizing your accountant brain so that you have a starting point for becoming a Smarter Accountant..

Also, I would appreciate it if you could get the word out to other accountants about this podcast. The more accountants find out about it, the more we can begin to change the narrative in the accounting profession.

The truth is that you’re already smart, but this podcast will show you how to be smarter.