Overcoming Avoidance

Today I want to talk about the topic of avoidance and how to overcome it.  I believe this is incredibly important for us as accountants because when we get into avoidance mode, we can cause some big problems for ourselves.

Take a second and think about some of the things you’ve been avoiding:

  • Having a difficult conversation
  • Making that doctor or dentist appointment
  • Doing your own budget or taxes
  • Starting that new exercise routine
  • Firing that difficult client
  • Starting that complicated project
  • Organizing your inbox

Just like many of you, I’ve dealt with my fair share of avoidance and procrastination. There have been many things I’ve put off for days, weeks, or even months, whether it’s sorting through old files or scheduling routine check-ups.

Sometimes it involves a reluctance to let go of sentimental items or the fear of facing some kind of bad news.  Either way, there are many reasons why we tend to avoid certain things. 

When it comes to getting accounting work done, it often feels like our to-do lists are already stretched to their limits, making procrastination seem like the most logical choice.  That’s when checking email can look really enticing.

However, failing to address our tendency to avoid only adds unnecessary stress to our lives. Let’s face it, accounting is already demanding; we don’t need to make it even more difficult on ourselves by giving into avoidance. 

Before I go on, I want to point out that avoidance is different from procrastination. Procrastination involves delaying doing something until pressure mounts, but eventually getting it done.

On the other hand, avoidance happens when we simply never get around to tasks, especially when there’s no looming deadline.  

As accountants, we’re very familiar with working under tight deadlines. The issue is that when there’s no external pressure like a deadline, that’s when avoidance creeps in. 

In other words, without a deadline to hold our feet to the fire, it’s easy to slip into avoidance and not take action.  To our deadline-driven accountant brain, if there’s no immediate consequence for avoiding, then what’s the problem?

Well, the problem is that if we don’t get a better handle on avoidance and its implications, we’re setting ourselves up to experience unnecessary stress and overwhelm.  Overcoming avoidance makes it possible to be more productive, to effectively use our time, and to accomplish more in less time.

I promise that by the end of this episode, you’re going to have a much better understanding of avoidance and how to overcome it so that you can take charge of getting things done.

Common Reasons For Avoidance For Accountants

As busy accountants, we’ve got a lot on our plates so it can be a little shocking when we take a step back and honestly look at what we’ve been avoiding.  It’s like we’re on autopilot just trying to get our work done, but before we know it, we’ve got a pile of things we’ve been avoiding.

The question is, what exactly causes us to avoid certain things, and what can we do about it once we realize that’s what’s happening?

When it comes to understanding the tendency for accountants to slip into avoidance mode, it’s important to look at some of the common reasons behind this behavior. 

Here are some factors that often contribute to avoidance in our profession:

Perception of Task Urgency: With an endless to-do list, it’s easy to fall into the trap of prioritizing the things on that list based on perceived urgency. The problem is that our brain is wired to think that everything is urgent.  And when we believe everything is urgent, then it’s just easier to avoid certain things because of the pressure caused by the urgency of everything else.  

Overwhelm Due to Workload: When we have a lot on our plates, we’re much more likely to become overwhelmed.  As I tell my coaching clients all the time, an overwhelmed brain is going to look for relief in some form or another, and oftentimes that form is avoidance. The temptation to avoid certain tasks becomes a coping mechanism to manage existing demands.

Need for More Information: As accountants, we hate uncertainty.  Unfortunately, uncertainty breeds hesitation, and the need for more information or clarification before tackling a task can lead to avoidance. Whether it’s understanding a new tax law or waiting for crucial data to come in, the fear of making uninformed decisions can make us give into avoidance.

Giving Into Perfectionism: One of the sneakiest culprits for accountants is perfectionism.  We are trained to do things perfectly, making it seem like avoidance is the best option if we anticipate not being able to do something perfectly.  The fear of making mistakes or falling short can lead to a hesitation to take action for fear of not meeting expectations.

These are just a few of the common reasons for avoidance, but now I want to talk about your brain’s role and why you need to understand it.

Your Brain’s Role in Avoidance

If you’re like me, you probably learned a lot about accounting but not what makes it possible to have an easier accounting career.  That is why I am so passionate about blending brain science with accounting.

If you’ve ever wondered why you sometimes feel the urge to put off tasks, even when you know they’re important, your brain plays a big part in this behavior and here’s why:

The Comfort of Familiarity: Our brains love familiarity and routine. When faced with something new or challenging, like a complicated accounting task, our brains create a warning signal because it’s outside our comfort zone. To avoid this discomfort, our brain’s natural response is to steer us away from the task, even if it’s important.

The Fear Factor: Believe it or not, our brains are wired to protect us from perceived threats, even if those threats are just uncomfortable feelings. When we anticipate stress, anxiety, or failure associated with a task, our brain sounds the alarm bells, pushing us to avoid the task altogether to avoid those unpleasant feelings.

Instant Gratification vs. Long-Term Gain: I’ve shared this before on the podcast, but our lower, Toddler brain loves instant gratification. Just like a toddler, it wants what it wants, when it wants it.  It’s why we might choose to check email instead of tackling that accounting report. Avoidance often feels easier and more immediately rewarding than facing a challenging task head-on, even though the long-term benefits of completing the task far outweigh the short-term comfort of avoidance.

The Power of Habit: Have you ever noticed how avoidance can become a habit? That’s because our brains are creatures of habit. Each time we avoid a task, our brain reinforces that behavior, making it more likely that we’ll avoid similar tasks in the future. Breaking the cycle of avoidance means rewiring our brain’s habits to prioritize action over avoidance.

Understanding how our brains influence avoidance behaviors is the first step in overcoming them. By recognizing these patterns and learning to work with our brains instead of against them, we can take control of our productivity.

A Step-by-Step Approach For Overcoming Avoidance

I believe that when you can get a better handle on avoidance, you will be amazed at how much more productive you’ll be and how much better you manage your time.

I’ve worked with many coaching clients dealing with avoidance, so I’ve created a three step process that will help you conquer avoidance:

Step One: Task Identification – Start by selecting a task that you’ve been avoiding. It could be something small like organizing your desk or something big like tackling a big accounting project. The key is to pick something that you’ve been putting off.

Once you’ve chosen your task, start a timer for 10 minutes and jot down every thought that comes to mind about the task, project, or goal.  A word of caution – do not fall into the trap of saying, “I don’t know”; this is simply your brain’s tricky way of getting you to not take action.

Think about it – if you’re confused, what do you do?  Typically nothing.  So just get clear about what you’re thinking about the task you’ve been avoiding.

Step Two: Recognizing Feelings – Once you’ve got a list of the thoughts you’ve been thinking about the task, ask yourself how each of those thoughts make you feel.  What one word emotion comes up for you when you think each thought?

For example, if the thought is, “I have too much on my plate,” the feeling is probably overwhelmed.  Or if the thought is, “I’m not sure how to do this,” the feeling is probably confused.  

Here’s what’s most important to understand when it comes to avoidance – your feelings drive your actions and inactions.  In other words, the reason you’re avoiding taking action is because of those feelings.  

As you review your list of thoughts about the tasks you’ve been avoiding, pay attention to how they make you feel. Do you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed? These feelings are why you’ve been avoiding the task.

It’s not because there’s anything wrong with you.  You just haven’t been managing your mind.

Step Three: Taking Charge – this is the final step where you take charge.  Once you’re aware of the feelings that have been causing you to avoid certain tasks, now you can do something about them.

For this step, you’re going to get clear about the feelings that will drive you to take action.  For example, some of my favorite feelings to overcome avoidance are motivated, determined, and focused.

Now you’re going to choose one feeling and you’re going to ask yourself, “What is a believable thought I can think that will make me feel that way?”  For example, when I want to feel motivated instead of overwhelmed, I will choose to think, “You can totally finish this task” or “You’re going to be so happy when this is done.”   

When your brain wants to slip into avoidance mode, you get to take back control by deciding how you need to feel to take action and then what thought can you think on purpose that will create that wanted feeling.

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of these steps.  I promise you, they’re more powerful than you might realize.  

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Overcoming Avoidance

As I said before, I’ve coached many accountants on the topic of avoidance so let me share some of the stories of my Smarter Accountant clients.

One of my clients often found herself avoiding scheduling client meetings. Even though she knew these meetings were important, she felt anxious about picking up the phone or having a Zoom call. 

When we started working together she began paying attention to what was happening just prior to slipping into avoidance mode.  What she realized was that her fear of rejection was holding her back. 

She didn’t want to embarrass herself by not knowing the answer to a client’s question so she just avoided having meetings as much as possible.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t helping her grow her business.

After working with me, she started telling herself, “I bring value to my clients, no matter what.”  Every time she thought that on purpose, she felt more and more confident.  

Even when a client did ask a question that she didn’t know the answer, she confidently said, “That’s a great question.  Let me look into it and get back to you.”

After a few weeks she realized how much better she felt once she was able to overcome the avoidance of client meetings and started looking at other things she had been avoiding as well.

Another client admitted that he was always avoiding implementing new accounting software. He was afraid of making mistakes and noticed he kept thinking that he just wasn’t as computer savvy as everyone else. 

With coaching, he learned to focus on progress, not perfection. He took it one step at a time and soon found himself embracing the learning process. 

By choosing to feel curious and willing, he noticed a complete shift in his mindset.  He also began to see how much more productive and efficient he was and started looking for other things he had been avoiding so he could overcome them as well.

He learned to ask more empowering questions like, “I wonder how I can make this easier for myself?”  He quickly began to explore ways that he could become more computer savvy and was thrilled with how much progress he was making.

The reason I love sharing client stories, especially when it comes to overcoming avoidance, is so that hopefully you can see what’s possible when you learn how to manage your brain.

Here’s what I most want you to know – you are not alone with the issues you’re dealing with when it comes to avoidance.  You just need to learn how to easily manage your brain so that you can manage everything else. 

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I discussed how to overcome avoidance.  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 www.thesmarteraccountant.com/calendar and book a free session with me.

And 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 www.thesmarteraccountant.com 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.

Why Your Brain Does Not Want You To Advance In Your Accounting Career

Today I want to discuss something that every accountant needs to understand, whether you’re in public or private accounting – why your brain does NOT want you to advance in your accounting career.  I think this is incredibly important to understand if you want to grow professionally or if you just want to continue being an accountant.

Think about it – have you ever considered advancing in your accounting career or possibly going out on your own, only to have it feel like an uphill battle? It turns out, our brains play a bigger role in that struggle than we realize.

As accountants, we’re all about professional growth and chasing those financial milestones, but our brains have a funny way of prioritizing safety over ambition. They’re wired to keep us in our comfort zones, even if that means missing out on opportunities for success.

For example, that stable job with the familiar routine? Our brains love it because it screams safety. But when it comes to exploring new career paths or diving into entrepreneurship, suddenly our brains are like, “Whoa!  Slow down!”

The truth is that the fear of the unknown and the potential for discomfort can outweigh the allure of financial gain and personal fulfillment. In other words, it’s like our brains are putting the brakes on our ambitions without us even realizing it.

Thankfully, there are strategies we can use to coax our brains into embracing change and taking calculated risks. By understanding how our brains work, we can bridge the gap between having career goals and actually achieving them.

Today I’m going to explain why our brains sometimes resist our plans and dreams for our accounting careers, and more importantly, how we can overcome those obstacles to reach our full potential.

The Comfort Zone Trap

Now, let’s talk about something every accountant knows pretty well: the comfort zone trap. Our comfort zone is where routines, habits, and things that are familiar create a sense of security. 

While comfort zones are helpful to have, they can be both a blessing and a curse.

In our line of work, sticking to what we know feels like second nature. As accountants, we often gravitate towards well-established procedures, familiar software, or routine tasks. 

However, there’s a fine line between a stable routine and stagnation. 

The truth is that our primitive brain, the part of the brain we’ve had since humans lived in caves, is wired for familiarity and resistance to change.  Think about it – to those early humans, familiarity often meant safety, and change could signal potential threats. 

So, what does that have to do with being an accountant in the 21st century?  Well, in the context of accounting careers, this primitive part of our brain is still running our lives 80 – 90% of the time.  

Understanding how your primitive brain works gives you an awareness and the ability to recognize the subtle and not so subtle ways your brain may resist stepping beyond the familiar, even when it’s in your best interest.

For example, take technology. I know I might be dating myself, but even though we’ve come a long way from 12-column paper and Lotus 1-2-3, our primitive brain is not comfortable with embracing new software.  

In fact, my brain threw a temper tantrum when we had to learn CCH Engagement after our firm merged with a larger firm.  My brain was so used to using the programs that were familiar to me, that it had me feeling constantly annoyed or frustrated whenever I had to utilize any new software.

And besides technology, if you want to grow and take on more of a leadership role, stepping into a managerial role means venturing beyond our comfort zone, and that can be downright scary to your accountant brain. I’ve seen it with clients time and time again—wanting to advance, but being held back by that nagging voice in their heads.

Maybe you’ve had thoughts like, “I don’t know about this.  You should probably stay where you are.”  That’s the primitive brain wanting you to stay in your comfort zone.

Plus, there’s also the processes we use to get our work done.  Sure, our tried-and-tested methods might feel like old friends, but they could be holding us back from greater efficiency and productivity.

I’ve actually spoken to many accountants who will argue for their limitations, all because that’s familiar to their accountant brain.  What I mean when I say, “Accountants will argue for their limitations” is that we hold onto what’s familiar, even if it’s unhelpful.

For example, I explained to an accountant on a consult call that I could teach him how to work less and get more done.  He was working 60 – 70 hours a week and I shared that I could teach him how to better manage his time so that he could get more done in less time.

You would think that would be a good thing for him to hear, but not to his accountant brain.  His brain said, “It’s probably a gimmick.  The only way I can do what I do is to work the hours I’ve always worked.”

The issue was that the hours he was working were unsustainable, but his primitive brain didn’t care.  It only cared about sticking with what’s familiar, even if what was familiar was unhelpful.

So what’s the good news? Once we recognize the comfort zone for what it is, we can start making moves to break free. 

It’s all about seeing what your brain is doing and being willing to step outside that cozy, but often unhelpful bubble it’s created.  Trust me, the rewards are worth it.


Fear of Failure

Now that you know a little bit more about why it’s so easy to fall into the comfort zone trap, I want to talk about a common hurdle in our accounting careers: the fear of failure. It’s like this invisible barrier that holds us back from reaching our full potential. 

But thankfully, we can totally conquer it.

In our line of work, where accuracy and precision is everything, the pressure to get things right can feel suffocating. Whether it’s stressing over financial reports or feeling anxious about misinterpreting regulations, that fear of messing something up is always lurking in the background.

Why is that?  Well, once again it’s the way your primitive brain is wired to steer clear of anything that seems like danger. 

The issue is that there are A LOT of things that our brain believes is dangerous, including failure.  The fear of failure triggers all sorts of alarms, making us hesitant to take risks, even when those risks could lead to major career wins.

Again, when humans lived in caves, we stayed safe in our caves, fearing the rustling of a bush because it could be a saber-toothed tiger waiting to pounce on us.  Back then, avoiding risks was a survival tactic. 

Fast forward to today, and that fear of failure still has a tight grip on us.  Even an email from a difficult client can create the same level of fear as when we used rocks as weapons.

Thankfully, there are ways to outsmart this ancient survival instinct:

Cultivating a Growth Mindset: Instead of seeing challenges as roadblocks, think of them as opportunities to learn and improve. This shift in mindset helps reshape how you view failure and allows you to see it as a natural part of the learning process.

Setting Realistic Goals:  Break down your career goals into smaller, achievable steps. This approach makes the journey less overwhelming and reduces the fear of failure. Celebrate your successes along the way, building confidence in your abilities.

Learning from Mistakes:  Mistakes are a part of any profession, even in accounting. Treat them as learning experiences. When a mistake happens, take the time to understand what went wrong, learn from it, and use that knowledge to do better next time.

Seeking Mentorship and Guidance:  Connect with experienced mentors and coaches who can offer insights and advice. Sharing your concerns about the fear of failure with someone who has been there can provide valuable support. Learning from others’ experiences can be a powerful tool for your own growth.

When dealing with a fear of failure, it’s all about flipping the script your primitive, fear-based brain has and seeing setbacks as stepping stones to move you forward.

Imposter Syndrome

Despite the fact that as accountants, we are smart people doing smart things, there’s something we have in common with many other accountants – imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is that feeling of self-doubt that often creeps in, despite our intelligence, skills, and accomplishments. In fact, it doesn’t matter how many letters you have after your last name or what title your business card has, imposter syndrome happens to most of us.

If you’ve experienced imposter syndrome, there’s no shame.

Most of my coaching clients come to me to work on imposter syndrome.  Despite everyone around them singing their praises or being impressed by their resume, there’s that voice in their head whispering, “You’re not as good as they think you are” or “Someone’s going to figure out that you don’t know as much as they believe you do.”

When it comes to imposter syndrome, once again, we have to blame it on our brains, specifically the fact that they are wired to focus on the negatives, even when we’ve got a laundry list of successes. 

For example, maybe you graduated with an impressive GPA or you passed the CPA exam.  But instead of feeling proud, there’s this nagging thought that maybe it was just luck, or worse, that you’re not as smart as everyone thinks.

But here’s the thing: it’s not just you. Imposter syndrome is a common phenomenon, especially in fields like accounting where there’s a high expectation of excellence.

And while it can feel isolating, knowing that you’re not alone can be surprisingly comforting.

So how do we combat this sneaky impostor syndrome? Here are a few strategies that should help silence that doubting voice:

First off, you have to begin to challenge those negative thoughts. Instead of dwelling on what your brain perceives as weaknesses, focus on your strengths and accomplishments. 

For example, if you catch yourself thinking, “I’m not cut out for this role,” you have to counter it with specific examples of times when you’ve done well in similar situations.  Don’t assume your thoughts are facts, because they’re not.

They’re actually optional sentences in your brain that you have 100% control over.

The second suggestion is to celebrate your wins, big and small. Whether it’s completing a challenging task or receiving praise from a colleague, take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements. 

Keeping a record of these successes serves as a tangible reminder of your capabilities and can help boost your confidence when self-doubt creeps in.  Your brain will always look for proof of what you believe, so start thinking better thoughts about yourself and have the proof ready.

The third suggestion, like I said before, is to seek out mentors and coaches who can offer constructive feedback and support. Connecting with experienced professionals who understand the challenges of the accounting profession can provide valuable insights and reassurance. 

For example, as I say at the end of each podcast episode, if you’re struggling with any aspect of being an accountant, you can always schedule a quick call with me for guidance.  I’ve been at this for over 30 years, so I can help you gain perspective and confidence in your abilities.

The fourth suggestion is to prioritize continuous learning and skill development. The accounting profession is always changing, so try to stay as up-to-date as you can on industry trends and advancements.

For example, taking CPE classes, workshops, or webinars will help to enhance your knowledge and your skills.  This will not only boost your confidence but also reinforces your competence in your field.

And the fifth and final suggestion if you’re dealing with imposter syndrome is to build a supportive professional network. Surround yourself with colleagues who understand the pressures and challenges of the accounting world and who can offer encouragement and advice. 

For example, whether it’s in person or virtually, participating in discussions and sharing experiences with peers can help normalize feelings of impostor syndrome and provide a sense of camaraderie and support.  The truth is that you’re not the only one experiencing imposter syndrome.

Hopefully you can see that by implementing these strategies and challenging the negative thoughts associated with impostor syndrome, you can begin to create a stronger sense of self-confidence and a more accurate perception of your abilities. 

Again, you’re not alone in experiencing these feelings, but there’s also something you can do about them so that they’re no longer holding you back.

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Managing Your Brain So You Can Advance In Your Accounting Career

In my book, “The Smarter Accountant,” I explained all about the importance of brain management for accountants.  Managing your brain is much simpler than you think and involves understanding and intentionally choosing your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to override your primitive brain’s resistance to change.  

Basically, this means recognizing when your primitive brain is getting in the way and knowing what to do about it.  Let me give you some real-life examples to illustrate how managing your brain can transform your accounting career. 

One of my clients had difficulty with new accounting technologies. Every time her firm introduced something new, her brain went into panic mode, just like mine did. But after becoming a Smarter Accountant, she took proactive steps to enroll in training programs and understand the technology better. 

By conquering her brain’s initial resistance to change, she not only mastered the new technologies but also became a go-to resource within her firm.  By understanding her brain better, it opened doors for career advancement she never thought possible.

I worked with another coaching client who faced setbacks early in his career, leading to a lot of self-doubt. Working for a mid-sized firm that provided very little training, he found himself making more mistakes than he was comfortable with. 

Thankfully, after completing the 6-week Smarter Accountant Program, he changed how he saw new challenges. Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, he saw them as chances to learn and grow. 

By being open to feedback and always learning, he overcame imposter syndrome and got a promotion he thought he couldn’t reach.

Hopefully, these stories show how important it is to manage your brain as an accountant. The truth is that when your brain is on your side, it makes reaching your career goals easier and more satisfying, no matter what those goals are.

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I discussed why your brain doesn’t want you to advance in your accounting career and what to do about it.  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 www.thesmarteraccountant.com/calendar and book a free session with me.

You are NOT meant to have a successful accounting career without support.  You worked hard to become an accountant; it’s time to make it easier to be one.

And 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 www.thesmarteraccountant.com 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.

3 Simple Things You Can Do To Get Out Of A Bad Mood

Since we’re in the final days of tax season 2024, I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about how to get out of a bad mood.  The reason this is so important right now is that the last thing you want to do is derail your efforts to get these done.

So whether you’re experiencing it now or in the past, have you ever found yourself feeling like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed?  Where everything and everyone is annoying and you just don’t have the motivation to do anything?   

As we manage deadlines and family responsibilities, there are days when everything feels a bit “off.”  Days where a dark cloud seems to be following us.

For example, you wake up, initially thinking you’ve got things under control, but then suddenly, you find yourself in a bad mood.  The next thing you know, your well-planned day has gone to hell.  

If you can relate, you’re not alone – it’s a common experience for us accountants.  I coach many accountants who struggle with having their day or their week planned, and it’s as if this dark sky comes rolling in, threatening to ruin their productivity.  

For some, it feels like a long string of days where they can’t remember the last time things felt balanced.  Can you relate?

The question is, what triggers this bad mood? Surprisingly, it’s not things like the workload, the family dynamics, or the notorious traffic. The true culprit is our accountant brain. 

The truth is that it’s our thoughts that cause our mood.  But here’s the silver lining – if our thoughts lead us into a bad mood, they can lead us out of it too.

Why is this important for accountants?  Well, think about the last time you were in a bad mood.  

How effective were you able to be at work or at home?  And how do you think you affected those around you?  Pretty important things to consider.

Today I want to explore what causes us to get into a bad mood and three simple things you can do to get out of it if you find yourself in one.

Your Brain’s Role In Your Bad Mood

As I said before, contrary to popular belief, it’s not the overwhelming workload, family dynamics, or the perpetual traffic gridlock that causes any of us to get into a bad mood – it’s our brains that are the culprit.

It’s our lower, primitive brain that I refer to as the Toddler that creates the drama we experience.  In other words, it’s not the overflowing inbox, the noisy neighbor, or the combative store clerk that’s making you feel out of sorts; it’s only your brain’s interpretation of these circumstances that’s causing it. 

It’s our Toddler brain that shapes our emotional roller coaster.

But the good news is that when you understand the source of any bad mood lies within your thoughts, you hold the key to doing something about it. It’s not about altering your job, relocating to a quieter neighborhood, or eliminating traffic – it’s about managing your brain and the thought process that’s causing the bad mood in the first place.

As I shared in my book, “The Smarter Accountant,” the truth is that your thoughts create your feelings.  In fact, it’s only ever your thoughts that are creating your feelings.

Which is why it’s only your thoughts that can either elevate your day or drag you down.  Recognizing that your thoughts are the primary cause of your bad mood is the first step towards reclaiming control. 

Once you understand that how you feel has nothing to do with what’s happening around you, you take all your power back.  Whether confronted with a hefty workload or a dishwasher issue, it’s your thoughts that determine how you’re going to feel and eventually be able to handle any situation.

Here’s the thing – your brain operates as the control center, processing thoughts, emotions, and reactions. When negative thoughts take center stage, your brain faithfully follows the script, transforming them into a bad mood.  

So if your predominant thoughts are complaints, gossip, or fault-finding, your brain will create neural pathways, or little brain roadways, that make it easier and easier to put those thoughts on repeat.  Like a record player that keeps playing the same song over and over, your brain will create an easy to follow loop.

In other words, when complaining, gossiping, or fault-finding becomes habitual, it’s much easier for your brain to rinse and repeat.  It’s like stubbing your toe first thing in the morning and the entire day seems to have a dark cloud over it.

Thankfully, just as you can change the track on a playlist, you have the power to adjust these thought patterns.  You can easily rewire your brain to play a different, more uplifting tune.

How do you do that?  You need to become aware of the recurring thoughts causing your bad mood.  Notice that you’re in a bad mood and then ask yourself, “What am I thinking that’s causing how I’m feeling?”

Begin to identify any repetitive negative thoughts. These thoughts are most likely the loop that’s keeping the unhelpful playlist on an unwanted repeat.

So, the next time you sense one of those moods setting in, remember – it’s not the clients, the workload, or the time of year; it’s the thoughts in your accountant brain.  And thankfully, you have more control than you realize.

Now I’m going to share 3 simple ways to help get you out of a bad mood – the quick fix, the switch fix, and the helpful fix.

The Quick Fix: Gratitude

The first simple fix is gratitude and here’s why – it’s like a switch that turns on the light in a dark room. By embracing gratitude, you’re creating a powerful shift in your mood.

Here’s the beauty of it – gratitude doesn’t require much effort at all.  It’s as simple as acknowledging even the smallest things in your life. 

Whether it’s waking up to a new day, having a roof over your head, or sipping on clean water – these small recognitions can have a powerful impact when you’re in a bad mood.  In fact, finding 3 things that you’re grateful for in the midst of a stressful situation is something I taught my children to do at a young age and what I apply all the time.

For example, a few months ago I went to the emergency room and found out I had a detached retina.  Now, something like needing emergency eye surgery when year-end projections were due would have put any accountant in a mood, but I chose to focus on 3 things I was grateful for about the situation: I live within 20 minutes of one of the best hospitals in the world, I was also only 20 minutes away from a retina specialist, and my surgeon went to Harvard Medical School.

Here’s the thing: Could I have focused on the fact that the opthamologist I had seen a week before didn’t catch the retina issue?  Of course, but I chose not to.

Finding 3 new things to be grateful for each time I felt myself going into a feeling of frustration also made the recovery process much easier. 

But when it comes to gratitude there’s one very important thing you need to understand – it needs to be genuine.  It’s not about faking it; it’s about feeling it. 

If you’re thinking, “Yeah, yeah, I’m grateful for waking up,” without really feeling it, that won’t cut it. The key is to genuinely appreciate the goodness around you, no matter how small.

So, when you’re in a bad mood, give gratitude a go. It’s like a pocket-sized mood booster that doesn’t require a grand production. Just a sincere acknowledgment of the good things.


The Switch Fix: Shifting Perspectives

Another way to help get you out of a bad mood is to consider the idea that everything that happens in your life, is FOR you; wanted or unwanted, a success or a failure.  Before you roll your eyes, hear me out.

What if every twist and turn in life – the good, the not-so-good, and the downright challenging – was secretly shaping you into the person you’re meant to be? It’s like saying that life may throw you lemons, but you can always make lemonade out of them.

For example, imagine you work for a difficult boss making work a bit of a challenge. Instead of seeing it as a problem, try the switch fix. 

Ask yourself, “How is having a difficult boss happening for me?” Maybe it’s a chance to learn about patience and leadership, paving the way for your future role as a boss.

I’ve had many difficult people in my life that when I shift my perspective, I can see that they were showing me examples of how I don’t want to be.  For example, my ex-mother-in-law is a classic example of the mother-in-law I do NOT want to be when my son gets married.

Or let’s say you’re stuck in traffic and your initial reaction is frustration. Apply the switch fix by asking, “How can I make the most of this right now?” 

Maybe it’s giving you the gift of extra time – time to dive into an audiobook or reconnect with a friend over the phone.

By using the Switch Fix for getting out of a bad mood you get to see your thoughts like a remote control, and you’re the one holding it. You get to decide which channel to tune into. 

So, when faced with challenges, remember, you have the power to choose your thoughts. You can either dwell in frustration or dance with the idea that everything, yes, everything, is happening for your professional or personal growth.

So, the next time you’re in a bad mood, grab that mental remote, switch to the channel of growth, and watch how your perspective transforms right before your eyes.

The Helpful Fix: Acts Of Kindness

This last fix involves turning your attention outward and spreading some kindness around. 

It’s where small gestures can turn a bad day into a better day.

For example, let’s say you’re in the midst of a bad mood.   What if, instead of circling the drain of your own challenges, you redirect your focus outward and look for ways to be kind to others? 

By turning your attention to helping others, you’re breaking the heaviness of a bad mood.  It’s like opening a window in a stuffy room; suddenly, fresh air rushes in, and the bad mood begins to dissipate.

The best part is that it doesn’t have to be anything big to make a difference. Small, everyday acts can create a positive ripple effect.  

For example, pay someone a compliment – a genuine, heartwarming acknowledgment. Or offer to lend a hand to a coworker in need, making their load a bit lighter. 

Send a quick text that says, “Thinking about you.” These seemingly tiny actions may appear like pebbles in a pond, but their impact creates ripples that touch lives in ways you might not even realize.

The truth is that when you’re knee-deep in a bad mood, your brain becomes the storyteller, narrating a not-so-happy tale. But thankfully, you also hold the pen. 

What happens with this fix is that when you change your actions, you also need to change your feelings in order to make that action possible.  For example, you may have been in a bad mood, but in order to pay someone a compliment, you had to have switched to a feeling of appreciation.

By doing something kind for someone else, you’re not just changing their day; you’re changing the narrative of your day as well.

So, the next time you feel like you’re in a bad mood, shift your focus outward, spread kindness and watch how the story in your mind takes a turn for the better. Remember, the simplest acts often hold the power to create the most profound changes – not just in the world around you, but within yourself.

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Getting Out Of A Bad Mood

Now let me share how some of my coaching clients have managed their accountant brains to get out of a bad mood.

One of my clients is a tax accountant who woke up feeling overwhelmed with pending deadlines and a looming sense of dread. As she sat down at her desk, she felt her mood spiraling downwards. 

She decided to try the quick fix – gratitude. Taking a moment to reflect, she wrote down three things she was grateful for: her supportive colleagues, a warm cup of coffee waiting for her, and the opportunity to help her favorite clients. 

With each acknowledgment, she felt a subtle shift in her mood, and suddenly, the day didn’t seem as bleak anymore. By shifting her mood, she turned her day around and was able to tackle the workload more effectively.

Another client is an auditor who found himself stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on his way to a client meeting in Manhattan. Frustration was taking over as the minutes ticked by.

He decided to apply the switch fix. Instead of dwelling on the inconvenience of the traffic, he reframed the situation in his mind. 

He decided that he could use the extra time to catch up on industry podcasts, turning what could have been a stressful experience into a chance for professional growth. By the time he arrived at his meeting he felt so much more calm and in a much better mood.

The last client I want to share is a financial analyst who found herself arriving at work feeling irritable and out of sorts. The mounting pressure of deadlines and a particularly challenging project was weighing heavily on her mind, putting her in a bad mood and snapping at people.

After working with me and becoming a Smarter Accountant, she decided to implement the helpful fix – acts of kindness. Taking a break from her own tasks, she reached out to a colleague who had been struggling with a heavy workload, and offered her assistance and support. 

She also took a moment, later in the day, to send a heartfelt message of appreciation to her team, acknowledging their hard work and dedication. With each small act of kindness, she felt the heaviness in her chest lift.  

She told me that she was amazed how a simple shift in focus could transform her day, 

As I wrap up, I just want you to know that becoming a Smarter Accountant means being aware of your emotions. There’s no problem with being in a bad mood as long as you now have the tools to overcome it. 

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I shared how to get out of a bad mood.  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 www.thesmarteraccountant.com/calendar 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 www.thesmarteraccountant.com 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 Reasons Why You Are Underearning And How To Stop

Today I want to talk about a topic that affects a lot of accountants, but isn’t talked about enough.  I believe this is important because even though we are smart professionals doing smart things, we can fall into the trap of underearning. 

It seems kind of crazy, right? We spend all this time boosting our clients’ bottom lines, but when it comes to our own earnings, we somehow fall short.

Think about it – we work hard, we’ve got all this education, skills and qualifications, yet our income often doesn’t seem to match up with what we know we’re capable of making. Have you ever felt that frustration?

And then there’s the whole issue with not valuing ourselves enough.  For example, we might be great at what we do, but when it comes to negotiating salaries, increasing our rates, or even acknowledging our own worth, it’s as if we freeze up.

I was reading about this organization called ‘Underearners Anonymous’, similar to other 12-Step type organizations like ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ and they describe underearning as more than just a money issue. It’s more like we’re holding ourselves back from reaching our full potential.

For example, Underearners Anonymous talks about how we hide from life and settle for jobs that don’t really fulfill us. It’s as if we’re living in this fog of uncertainty, never really seeing our true worth or taking the steps to reach it.

Plus the feeling of self-doubt or shame can keep us hiding.  Or if we feel imposter syndrome it makes sense that we would most likely be earning less than we’re worth.

It’s crazy how we can be so good at helping others with their finances but struggle to do the same for ourselves. Thankfully, we can break out of this cycle. 

We just need to start recognizing our own value, stop selling ourselves short, and start taking those steps towards a better financial future. If you’ve been underearning, I get that it’s not easy to break out of the cycle, but I believe it’s worth it in the long run. 

Understanding Underearning

As Underearners Anonymous explains, underearning is about more than just not making enough money—it’s consistently falling short of what you could be earning, even though you’ve got all the skills and qualifications to be making more money. 

It’s not just about the numbers on your paycheck; it’s about feeling like you’re not reaching your true potential, despite knowing you’ve got what it takes to do more and make more.  

According to Underearners Anonymous, here are some common signs of underearning to be aware of:

Time Indifference: This is basically procrastination. It’s when you keep delaying important tasks and aren’t using your time effectively to work towards your goals.

Idea Deflection: If you tend to shoot down good ideas for no reason, that’s idea deflection. It’s when you reject ideas that could actually help you in your life or career, just because.

Compulsive Need to Prove: This is about knowing when you’re really good at something, but you keep feeling like you have to prove yourself over and over again.  Even though you’ve shown you’re capable, you keep feeling the need to prove your worth.

Clinging to Useless Possessions: This is about holding onto things you don’t need anymore. Like, keeping old clothes that are falling apart or broken appliances that you never use.

Exertion/Exhaustion: This is a cycle of overworking yourself until you’re completely exhausted, and then either not doing enough work or not working at all.

Giving Away Your Time: Ever find yourself always volunteering for things that aren’t in your best interest? Or offering your services for free when you should be getting paid? That’s giving away your time.

Undervaluing and Underpricing: This is when you don’t realize how valuable your skills or services are, so you end up charging less than you should or not asking for raises when you deserve them.

Isolation: Choosing to work alone even when having others around could actually help you out.

Physical Ailments: Sometimes, when you’re afraid of standing out or taking on more responsibility, you might start experiencing physical health issues to avoid having to take action.

Misplaced Guilt or Shame: This is when you feel bad or uncomfortable about asking for what you need or what you’re owed.

Not Following Up: If you’ve ever let good opportunities slip away because you didn’t follow through, that’s what this is about. You start things but don’t finish them.

Stability Boredom: This is when you create unnecessary drama or conflict at work, which ends up causing financial problems.

Like I said before, underearning isn’t just about not making enough money. It’s also about how we think and feel about money and success. As I’ve shared before on this podcast, our feelings drive our actions and if we’re not aware of the feelings causing underearning, we’re never going to stop the cycle.

Three Prominent Factors

Now that you know the common signs of underearning to be aware of, let’s talk about three prominent factors in underearning. 

Fear of Success: This is when you’re scared of what might happen if you actually succeed. It makes you hold back and avoid opportunities that could make you successful because you’re worried about what might change.

Have you ever had that happen?  Where you’re so comfortable where you are or doing what you’re doing that you hold yourself back from an opportunity in order to keep things the same?

Limiting Beliefs About Money: Your beliefs about money, often shaped by things you learned when you were young or from society, can hold you back. These beliefs create mental blocks that stop you from going after the money you deserve. 

You’d be surprised how much you are affected by your parent’s beliefs about money growing up. If you grew up watching your parents or others struggling, your brain has been wired to believe that money is a struggle.  

Lack of Self-Worth: Underearners often struggle with feeling like they’re not good enough. This feeling can make it hard to stand up for yourself and ask for what you’re worth at work. 

Have you ever had an issue with self-confidence or imposter syndrome?  When this goes unaddressed, it can cause a big issue with underearning.

So, whether you see yourself in one or more of these factors, it’s important to recognize when underearning tendencies pop up. Once you’re aware of them, you can start doing something about it.

Your Brain’s Role In Underearning

As I’ve said various times, this is the podcast that blends brain science with accounting.  I believe it’s incredibly important to understand how your accountant brain plays a pivotal role in shaping your financial success. 

I live 30 minutes outside of Manhattan so I like to teach my clients to think of their brains like a major city with lots of roadways that take people from place to place.  Your brain has what’s called “neural pathways” or little roadways that control things like making decisions, taking risks, and reacting to money situations. 

These neural pathways are developed over time and what’s most important to understand is that those pathways influence how much you earn.

For example, if you’re someone who’s always playing it safe or gets nervous about success, your brain will steer you away from making big career moves or asking for that raise you deserve.

The other important thing to understand about your brain is that it loves a good reward.  When you score a financial win, it releases these feel good chemicals, which you naturally want more of.  

But on the flip side, if the topic of money stresses you out or you’re scared of messing up, your brain will hit the brakes. If your brain is too focused on avoiding losses, it could hold you back from going after bigger opportunities.

And let’s not forget about success—it can be great and scary, all at the same time.  If the idea of being successful makes you feel nervous or jittery, your brain will resist taking steps toward it, even if it means more money in your pocket.

Here’s the thing – understanding how your accountant brain works will help you figure out why you might be underearning and, more importantly, how to stop.

This is where the concept of neuroplasticity comes in.  Neuroplasticity is the amazing ability that your brain has to adapt and rewire itself based on new experiences. 

So, even if your brain’s used to certain earning habits or you’ve reached an earning plateau, you can shake things up and start earning what you deserve.  In other words, you can absolutely rewire your brain to stop underearning.

That’s what my Smarter Accountant Program is all about. I teach smart accountants how to spot those unhelpful underearning habits that your brain’s stuck on and how to break free from them.

Bottom line? You do not need to be stuck in an underearning rut. With a little brain management, you can take steps to earn what you’re capable of earning. 

Practical Steps To Stop Underearning

Now that you understand underearning better, let’s dive into some actionable strategies:

Setting Realistic Financial Goals: Start by thinking about what you want to achieve with your money in the short and long term. Make sure your goals are realistic and match what matters most to you. For example, if being able to decompress from your accounting work is important to you, you could have a goal of owning a second home on a lake in the next 5 years.  Having something meaningful to work towards can help you break the underearning cycle.

Building a Strategic Career Plan: Figure out what you’re good at and where you can improve in your accounting career. Look for opportunities to grow within your current job or explore new paths that fit your goals. For example, if you’ve been holding yourself back from exploring a different area of accounting or not going after your dream of going out on your own, begin to reverse engineer how you can make that happen and create a plan of action. 

Negotiation Skills for Salary and Promotions: Know your worth by researching what people in your position typically earn. Practice negotiating with someone you trust and prepare responses to common questions. For example, YouTube has great videos on the latest trends in interview or negotiation questions. Keep in mind how lucky the company is to have you.

Learning How to Manage Your Mind: To stop the underearning cycle, you need to understand that your thoughts create your feelings, and your feelings drive your actions. Identify any negative feelings holding you back from earning what you deserve, and figure out the thoughts behind them. 

For example, if you feel fear, then get clear about the thought creating that feeling.  It could be something like “I’m afraid I don’t know enough” or “I don’t want to fail.”  Now address each thought by offering an opposite like “I know more than I’m giving myself credit for” or “I’d rather try and fail than not try at all.”  By choosing thoughts that make you feel empowered and capable, you replace self-doubt with confidence. 

By integrating these practices, you’ll not only feel more empowered but you’ll also create a much more supportive mindset as well.  

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Ending The Underearning Cycle

Now let me share some of the stories of coaching clients that ended the underearning cycle.

One client I worked with struggled with a lot of self-doubt. Despite being smart and capable, she grew up in a family where underearning was the norm, and she learned to settle for just getting by. 

But after just a few weeks of working together, she started recognizing those negative thoughts that were holding her back. She became more proactive, seeking out opportunities to grow and taking on challenging projects at work. 

She also learned how to negotiate for fair pay and express her true value confidently. Now, she’s a manager at a mid-sized firm and is aiming for even higher positions. 

It’s been amazing to see her break out of that underearning cycle and thrive in her career.  She’s also become a great example for her children.

Another client struggled with the fear of success. He felt torn between wanting to achieve his goals and being afraid to go after them.

To break free from underearning, he decided to face his fears head-on. He realized that fear was holding him back and that success wasn’t something to fear but an opportunity for growth.

He started by setting realistic financial goals and breaking them down into smaller steps. This approach helped him tackle underearning while also boosting his confidence.

He also worked on improving his negotiation skills. Instead of seeing negotiation as something greedy, he reframed it as advocating for fair compensation. 

By confidently expressing his value to his company, the possibility of greater success and more opportunities opened up for him.

And the last client I want to share struggled with confidence. She had her own small accounting firm, but she wasn’t charging her clients what she deserved, and realized that they were taking advantage of her.

But once she joined the Smarter Accountant program, she was blown away by how much her own thoughts were holding her back. She realized she needed to get a handle on her mindset if she wanted to stop underearning.

So, she started replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones about her skills and worth. She began to see that her clients were actually lucky to have her, and if they didn’t see that, she was okay letting them go. 

This change in mindset not only made her feel more confident but also helped her stand up for herself when it came to pricing her services.  She increased her rates and when a client left, she knew she was making room for clients that wanted the services and the value she provided, at the price she deserved to be paid.

Although these three clients each overcame distinct challenges, they all share a common thread – wanting to stop underearning by becoming a Smarter Accountant.  Thankfully, they successfully broke free from underearning patterns, making it possible to have the successful careers, businesses, and lives that they deserved.  

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I discussed why you are underearning and how to stop.  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 www.thesmarteraccountant.com/calendar 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 www.thesmarteraccountant.com 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.