Have You Fallen Into Accounting HELL?

Are you constantly stressed, overwhelmed, and feeling like you’re stuck in a never-ending cycle of unproductive habits? Does your workday leave you mentally exhausted, unable to manage your time effectively, and struggling to keep up with your responsibilities? 

If so, you’re not alone. Many accountants find themselves trapped in what I call “Accounting HELL.

Today, I want to delve into this concept and offer solutions to help you break free. Inspired by Shari Levitin’s book “Heart and Sell,” which blends brain science with sales much like I do with accounting on this podcast, we’ll explore how you can overcome these challenges. 

In the book she explains, “Neuroscientists have discovered a part of the brain they call the “default mode network.”  We all have default tendencies to overcome.  These are the repetitive or destructive – and usually unconscious – behaviors that prohibit you from taking helpful action.”

As I’ve shared on this podcast, that default mode is the lower, primitive brain, or what I refer to as the Toddler.  It’s in charge 80 – 90% of the time without us realizing it. 

What the author, Shari Levitin, goes on to explain is that when we are tired, overwhelmed, stressed, or distracted (ie, most of a typical accountant’s day), our default mode takes over.  To sum this up, she uses the acronym “HELL.” 

In the acronym HELL, H is for Habits, those routines and behaviors we do automatically. They can either help us or hold us back. 

For example, sticking to outdated methods or delaying important tasks can affect our productivity and efficiency.  This default mode, when it applies to habits, is like the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.

The E in HELL stands for Ego, or that feeling of knowing best. This is a common trap for accountants.  Because we’re so smart, we also happen to have very smart excuses or justifications for why we do what we do, which makes it difficult to be open to doing things differently. 

For example, many times I speak to accountants who want to argue for their limitations.  In other words, they’ve done unhelpful things a certain way for years, but their ego won’t let them give up their old ways, even when I explain a much better way.

The L in HELL is for Lack of Knowledge. Even with all the advanced knowledge and continuing education that we have, we still lack the most important knowledge that no one teaches – how to manage our brains.

For example, every coaching client I’ve ever worked with tells me at the end of The Smarter Accountant 6-week program, “This is life changing.  Why wasn’t I taught this sooner?  This would have been much more helpful than a lot of the other accounting knowledge I had to learn.”  

The final L in HELL is for Laziness.  Now, don’t tune me out because as an accountant, I’m sure you work hard and you’re very busy, but you also have to recognize when you’re being busy with the wrong things; when you’re procrastinating or when you’re not managing your time effectively.

For example, if you are working off a to-do list rather than taking a few extra minutes to plan and calendar your time, that’s being lazy.  Or if you’re planning your time but not following through on your plan no matter what, that is a lack of focus and commitment, additional signs of laziness.

So, if you have fallen into accounting HELL – having bad habits, letting your ego be in charge, not understanding how to manage your mind, and not being purposeful with your actions and your time – don’t worry, there’s a way out.

Awareness is key. By recognizing these challenges and being honest with yourself, you can climb out of accounting HELL and move towards an easier accounting career.

Now let’s dive into each aspect of accounting HELL.

Breaking Bad Habits

The H in HELL stands for Habits which means you need to consider the things you do automatically, like checking emails as soon as you wake up or leaving important tasks until the last minute. These are habits, and some might be holding you back in your accounting work. 

For example, relying solely on to-do lists to manage your workload instead of learning a much more effective way to manage your time.  I see this habit all the time with accountants, but once they learn The Smarter Accountant Time Management Program and change this habit, they’re amazed at how much more time they actually have.

Being aware of and breaking bad habits is crucial if you want to have a successful accounting career.  The truth is that, if left unaddressed, bad habits lead to more stress, lower productivity, and wasted time and money.

The issue though is that our brain LOVES habits; it loves doing things that are familiar.  Why?  Because it doesn’t take much effort or mental energy.

That’s why you have to be willing to look at your habits and decide whether they’re helpful or not.  Just because you’ve always done things a certain way doesn’t mean that way is useful. 

Thankfully, when you break any bad habits, you can work more efficiently, accurately, and happily. Plus, it opens up chances for growth and new ideas.

Letting Go Of Your Ego

The E in HELL stands for Ego, or that inner voice telling us we always know what’s best. It’s a common trap for accountants because, let’s face it, we’re usually pretty smart. 

With our intelligence often comes a sense of pride in our abilities, and that can make it hard to admit when there might be a better way to do things.  We’re also surrounded by other smart accountants doing similar things so we believe that that’s just the way things are.

For example, believing that busier times like tax season are stressful, working later than you planned, not leaving work at work, procrastinating, having an inbox that’s overflowing, and not being able to set and stick to boundaries.  If you can relate to any of these but have normalized them without being willing to learn a better way to handle them, that’s your ego getting in the way.

You may secretly wish things could change and then someone like me comes along and suggests a new approach that could eliminate stress and overwhelm, help you to be more productive, show you how to better manage your time, teach you how to have more confidence, and help you set and stick to boundaries.  

Instead of embracing this opportunity for growth, your ego kicks in. You start listing all the reasons why your current method works just fine, ignoring the potential benefits of change.

I’ve seen it time and time again in my conversations with accountants. They’re so attached to their familiar routines and methods that they resist any suggestion of change, even when it’s clear that doing things differently could lead to better outcomes.

So, it’s essential to recognize when our ego is getting in the way and be willing to set it aside for our own good. By being open to new ideas and approaches, we can break free from the constraints of our own egos.

The Most Important Thing You Could Learn 

The first L in HELL stands for lack of knowledge.  As an accountant, I know you have a lot of knowledge or you wouldn’t be doing the work you do.

However, despite all the studying, training, and continuing education we do as accountants, there’s one thing that should be taught but isn’t: how to manage our own minds.

As I discussed on this podcast, this is the place where brain science meets accounting.  If you haven’t already listened to episode #2, I suggest you go back and listen to it or relisten to it because what I explain is that we spend years in school, learning about debits and credits, tax laws, and financial reporting, but along the way, nobody teaches us how to have an easier accounting career.

For example, when an accountant takes The Smarter Accountant Quiz and discovers the ways that they’ve been underutilizing their accountant brain, they come to me, trying to figure out how to address their issues.  They’ve often been an accountant for years and have never seen a way to have the accounting career they secretly want but haven’t been willing to admit.

Thankfully, once they’re willing to learn how to manage their minds, they realize that this knowledge would’ve been way more helpful early on in their career.  They discover that when they learn how to manage their minds, they’re able to manage everything else.

I’ve worked with employees, entrepreneurs, partners, and firm owners and they all say the same thing, “Why aren’t we taught this sooner?”  I tell them, that’s why I wrote my book “The Smarter Accountant” because no one is teaching what I teach in any classroom, CPA exam prep course, or CPE seminar.

The hard truth is that if you want to get out of accounting HELL, you have to be willing to learn how to manage your mind.  When you do that, you’ll be able to have an easier and more sustainable accounting career.  

Overcoming Laziness

The final L in HELL is for Laziness.  As I said before, I’m not saying you don’t work hard or that you’re not busy all the time.  But what I am saying is that there are many ways to be lazy without realizing it.

For example, as accountants, we’re often juggling many tasks and responsibilities. However, being busy doesn’t always mean being productive. 

In fact, if you constantly think you’re busy or tell others how busy you are, you’re actually slowing down your productivity.  How?  Because believing that you’re busy creates feelings like stress, overwhelm, and pressure.

Think about the last time you thought about how busy you are – how did that thought make you feel?  It probably made you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or under pressure.

And what happens when you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or under pressure?  Unproductive actions like not managing your time effectively, not prioritizing, procrastinating, working on easier things, checking email even when it’s not the scheduled time to check it, and complaining.

Another common sign of laziness that I see with us as accountants is making plans but not sticking to them.  The truth is that we love the idea of a good plan, but when it comes to following through on the plan no matter what, that’s when we fall short.

For example, maybe you set aside time for specific tasks but find yourself getting distracted or putting things off. This lack of focus and commitment will hold you back from reaching your goals and getting things done efficiently.

So, while it’s natural to feel busy and overwhelmed at times as an accountant, it’s essential to be mindful of how effective you are with your time. By avoiding procrastination, staying focused on your priorities, and being willing to learn a more effective way to manage your time, you can overcome laziness and have an easier accounting career.

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Getting Out Of HELL

So here’s what I hope you get out of this episode – in order to have an easier accounting career you have to give something up.  What are you willing to give up?  Let me share how a few clients recognized that they had fallen into accounting HELL and what they were willing to give up so they could get out.  

One of my clients is a CPA who always waits until the end of the week to reconcile accounts, often resulting in a rush to meet deadlines and increased stress.  She was frustrated with this habit, but didn’t know how to get out of it.

After working together, she recognized when her brain had become attached to that unhelpful habit and she decided to give up waiting until the last minute.  Instead, she decided to override the old habit by committing to a new routine of reconciling accounts daily. 

At first, her brain was not on board, but she just kept noticing the urge to do it the old, unhelpful way, and instead chose to feel motivated to do things this new way.  She couldn’t believe how much less stressed she felt and how her week went much more smoothly. 

Another client worked in a mid-sized firm and was hesitant to ask questions during team meetings, afraid that it would make him look incompetent in front of his colleagues.  His ego wouldn’t let him appear to not know something, but he also struggled with getting the answers he needed when he wasn’t willing to ask questions.

He decided to not give into the part of his ego that resisted asking questions.  Instead, he chose to think that asking questions was a sign of strength, not weakness. 

He noticed when he had the urge to not ask a question and instead began actively seeking clarification when needed. He even had team members come up to him after meetings and thank him for asking the questions that they were unable or unwilling to ask.

One client came to me because she was struggling with a few things like stress, time management, productivity, imposter syndrome, and setting boundaries.  She said she hesitated reaching out for help because she felt like she was such a hot mess.

By being willing to learn one simple thing – how to manage her mind – she was able to feel so much more in control.  All of a sudden, she was more focused, her time management and productivity improved dramatically, she was building self-confidence, and she was able to set and stick to boundaries, professionally and personally.

She confessed that she had been considering leaving the accounting profession before we worked together because she just didn’t see how it was possible to have the career she wanted.  Now she’s looking forward to what else is possible.

The last client I want to share with you is a partner in a firm but had gotten to the point where he wanted to create an exit strategy because what he had created professionally was unsustainable.  He had taught his clients to believe that he would jump whenever they said jump, he worked way more hours than he wanted, and his time with his family wasn’t pleasant because he was either tired or in a bad mood.

Here’s what he discovered after working together: he was so used to blaming circumstances like the workload, the clients, and the time of year, that he wasn’t owning his part in his current situation.  He had become complacent and reactive instead of proactive and willing to do things differently.

After letting go of his blame mentality, he learned how much control he had over the sustainability of his career and his practice.  He began setting better boundaries, letting go of notoriously difficult clients, managing his time more effectively, and taking ownership of his actions.

Although he still plans on retiring at some point, there’s less pressure to do it sooner rather than later. 

Bottom line: whatever reason you may have for falling into accounting HELL, just know that you can get out whenever you want.  

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I discussed whether you’ve fallen into accounting HELL or not.  As always, 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.

As I tell accountants all the time, you worked hard to become an accountant; it’s time to make it easier to be one.  That starts with taking The Smarter Accountant Quiz at  www.thesmarteraccountant.com

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.

Asking Better Questions

Today I want to talk about asking better questions because I’ve been seeing this issue a lot with my coaching clients lately.  This is important because the questions we ask ourselves not only shape our individual experiences but also influence our professional and personal lives. 

As a CPA and a Professional Certified Coach for accountants, I’ve witnessed firsthand how the quality of questions impacts decision-making, time management, problem-solving, and overall effectiveness.  Basically, the questions we ask affect how we feel which then affects what we do or don’t do.

For example, let’s say you wake up, your brain clicks into gear, and the questions start flooding in. “Why is it so early?” “What do I have to do today?” “Why do I feel so tired?” Sound familiar?

Here’s the problem: most of those questions are pretty lousy. They’re like those annoying pop-up ads that clutter your screen when you’re trying to look up something – distracting, unhelpful, and downright irritating.

We all know that questions are essential. They’re how we navigate the world, make decisions, and understand ourselves and others. But here’s the thing: not all questions are created equal.

Think about it: when you ask yourself a question, you’re basically sending your brain on a mission to find an answer. In fact, your brain is like a Google search bar.

But depending on the quality of that question, your brain’s going to come back with either a helpful or unhelpful answer.  

In other words, most of us ask dead-end, unhelpful questions like “Why is this so hard?” or “Why can’t I figure this out?” 

On the flip side, you’ve got more empowering questions like “How can I make this easier?” or “What can I learn from this?”

See the difference? It’s like asking yourself whether you want a good day or a bad day. One type of question is going to leave you feeling overwhelmed, while the other is going to leave you feeling in control.

So, why does it matter, especially for accountants? Well, again, the questions we ask ourselves then shape our thoughts, our emotions, and our actions.  

When we get stuck in a cycle of dead-end questions, it’s like we’re just spinning our wheels in the mud. But when we start asking ourselves powerful questions, that’s when things change for the better.

I know you might be thinking that asking powerful questions isn’t always easy. You probably don’t even realize that you’re asking dead-end, unhelpful questions, let alone being able to switch to more powerful questions.  

But trust me, it’s worth the effort.

The truth is that every question is a choice, and every thought is a choice. And when you choose to ask yourself better questions, you get better answers which lead to better feelings, actions and results. 

Bottom line: if you want great answers, ask great questions.

Dead-End Questions

Whether you’re dealing with tricky tax laws, planning how to make your business grow, or just handling your everyday tasks, asking the right questions is key. When we get better at empowering questions, we give ourselves a big advantage. 

When we make asking better questions a habit, we make it possible to create better results.

So let’s get clear on dead-end versus powerful questions by starting with dead-end questions.

First, dead-end questions have a knack for negativity. They focus on what’s going wrong rather than envisioning what could go right. 

For example, when’s the last time you asked yourself something like, “Why is this so hard?”   This question sets a dismal tone, and sets your brain on a mission to find why things are so hard.

Your brain doesn’t care that you feel horrible after asking yourself, “Why is this so hard?”  It’s only job is to answer the question and show you why something is so hard.

The second thing about dead-end questions is that they don’t dig deep. They just stick to the surface of the problem, like skating over thin ice. 

For example, asking, “Why can’t I ever catch a break?” doesn’t really get to the root of the issue. It’s like trying to fix a leaky faucet without figuring out where the leak is coming from.

Third, dead-end questions can be really narrow-minded. They stop us from looking for new ideas and solutions, like putting blinders on a horse. 

For example, asking, “Why should I bother trying?” already assumes that we’ll fail, so we don’t even give ourselves a chance to think about how things could get better. It’s like saying, “I give up” before we even start.

Here are some examples of dead-end questions that you’ll want to pay attention to:

Why can’t I start?

Why can’t I finish?

Why am I so busy?

Why do I always feel like this?

Why did I do this to myself?

Why did they do this to me?

Why can’t I get it together?

Why can’t they get it together?

Why can’t someone else do this?

Why is this happening to me?

Why is my life so hard?

Why haven’t I learned this yet?

What’s wrong with me?

What did I do to deserve this?

What will they think of me?

When is it going to get better?

Why can’t he/she _______?

As you can see, these questions are going to lead to disempowering answers.  Their inherent negativity is going to result in negative, unhelpful answers.

Powerful Questions

Now, let’s talk about powerful questions. These are like switching on the light in a dark room.

First off, powerful questions are all about looking on the bright side. They turn problems into chances to learn and grow. 

For example, instead of thinking, “Why am I always making mistakes?,” you might ask yourself, “What can I learn from this mistake?” It’s like flipping a switch from feeling down to feeling curious or determined.

Second, powerful questions really get to the bottom of things. They make us think about what’s going on, again, like shining a flashlight into a dark room. 

For example, asking yourself, “How can I handle this problem in a new way?” makes you stop and think about your options. It’s like opening a door to fresh ideas and ways to solve problems.

Thirdly, powerful questions are all about being open to new ideas. They encourage us to be curious and explore different ways of thinking.

For example, asking yourself, “What else could I try that I haven’t thought of before?” pushes you to think outside the box and stay open to new opportunities. It’s like walking down a different hallway with doors that open to new possibilities you might not have considered.

Here are some examples of powerful questions that you may want to choose:

How do I want to feel?

What do I need to believe to feel the way I want to feel?

How can I take more responsibility for what I think, feel, and do?

How can I make this easier?

How can I get this done in less time?

How can I create what I want?

How can I make this more fun?

How can I delegate this?

What can I do to reach my goal?

What’s my next best step?

What am I grateful for?

What’s great about this?

As you can see, these questions are going to lead to much more empowering answers.  That Google search bar in your brain is going to look for answers that are helpful and productive.

So, hopefully you now can see how important the questions we ask ourselves really are. When we ask the right questions, it can totally change how we think and what we do. 

By swapping out those negative questions for better ones, we can start seeing things in a whole new light. 

Incorporating Powerful Questions

Now that you know the difference between dead-end and powerful questions, how can you tell if you’re asking yourself a dead-end question or a powerful question?

Here are some things to consider:

Is there a positive belief built into your question?

Does your question feel good or encourage you to evolve beyond your comfort zone?

Does your question empower you to take responsibility?

Does your question inspire you to take action?

Does your question generate insight?

Does your question open your mind?

Does your question help you discern what’s going on?

Does your question allow for appreciation and compassion?

The truth is that whenever there’s something that’s not working for you in your professional or personal life, it’s time to find the primary dead-end question that’s getting in the way.  But just know that it might feel uncomfortable at first.

If you’ve been asking yourself the same dead-end questions, that’s what your brain is familiar with.  That’s become your default.

And it’s important to understand that your brain loves default thoughts or questions, even if they’re unhelpful.  Your lower, primitive brain, the part that’s running your life 80 – 90% of the time doesn’t care that dead-end questions lead to unhelpful answers. 

Using a Powerful Question To Have An Easier Accounting Career

For example, I’ve been in public accounting for over 30 years and for decades I would ask myself, “Why is tax season so hard?”  Year after year, I would ask the same question, “Why is tax season so hard?”

But then I learned about how my brain works and could see what that repetitive question was creating for me.  What it created was constantly feeling stressed which caused me to complain, spin in my head, not manage my time effectively, not be able to get more done in less time, and ultimately resulting in tax season being hard….again!

Once I realized how unhelpful that question was, “Why is tax season so hard,” I was able to switch it to “How can I make tax season easier?”  At first my brain was resistant because it was used to looking for proof for why tax season was so hard, but I just kept asking the powerful question, “How can I make tax season easier?”

And when I asked that question I felt curious which then led me to do a time audit, look at what was working and what wasn’t, look for things I hadn’t considered before, helped me to stop complaining, stop spinning in my head, manage my time more effectively, get more done in less time, and have an easier tax season.

Here’s the thing – as you become better at asking powerful questions, you’ll start to reap the rewards of high-quality answers. I like to think of it as upgrading from basic cable to a premium streaming service – suddenly, you have access to a wealth of information and insights that were previously out of reach. 

By challenging yourself to ask better questions, you open the door to new perspectives and possibilities.

And don’t forget about encouraging your clients to ask powerful questions instead of dead-end questions. As an accountant, you have a unique opportunity to guide others toward greater clarity and understanding. 

By modeling the practice of asking powerful questions yourself, you set an example for your clients or colleagues to follow.

For example, when you’re talking with clients or colleagues, either offer them a powerful question or ask them to think carefully and look at things from different angles. Encourage them to question their assumptions.

By creating a feeling of curiosity for those around you, you help others feel more sure of themselves and come up with creative solutions to their problems.

Even if you’re not in public accounting, dealing with tax season, and asking “Why is tax season so hard?” you can deal with any difficult situation by asking an empowering question like, “How can I make this easier?”  You’ll be amazed at what your brain can come up with.

So, hopefully you can see that incorporating powerful questions into your day offers you a chance to create better results.  It allows your brain to get to work giving you high-quality answers that lead to you taking high-quality action. 

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Accountants Asking Better Questions

Now let me share how a few clients learned how to ask better questions and what happened when they did.  

Before discovering the power of asking better questions, one of my coaching clients found herself feeling overwhelmed with her workload and struggling to keep up with client demands.  Her typical dead-end questions were, “Why is there never enough time to get everything done?” or “Why do I always feel behind?”

These default, dead-end questions only reinforced feelings of frustration and helplessness, leaving her stuck and unable to effectively manage her time and her workload.

After working together, she decided to change her approach and started asking herself more powerful questions. Instead of dwelling on her frustrations, she asked herself, “How is it possible to get everything done with the time I have?” and “How can I get more done in less time?”

This shift in questioning helped her to effectively prioritize, not give into distractions, and focus.   As a result, she was able to get more done in less time and feel much more in control of her time and her workload.  

Another coaching client often struggled to find creative solutions to his clients’ financial and tax challenges and frequently doubted his abilities. When faced with a difficult problem, his default question was, “Why can’t I figure this out?” 

This dead-end question made him feel self-doubt and inadequate.  This then led to him spinning in his mind, questioning his abilities, and avoiding tackling the problem.

Thankfully, once he learned how to catch his dead-end questions and ask himself more powerful questions, he was able to find solutions he hadn’t thought of before. Instead of asking, “Why can’t I figure this out?” he chose to ask, “What can I do to figure this out?”

He was amazed how this shift in his questions helped him to take action like seeking out additional training, collaborating with colleagues, and asking his client better questions in order to get to the root of the problem.  As a result, he gained confidence and impressed his client with his approach.

In both examples, embracing the concept of powerful questions enabled my coaching clients to move beyond dead-end questions and instead ask better questions so that they could find better answers.  

The bottom line: if you want to take effective action, you need to ask better questions.   

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I discussed the concept of asking better questions.  As always, 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.

As I tell accountants all the time, you worked hard to become an accountant; it’s time to make it easier to be one.  That starts with taking The Smarter Accountant Quiz at  www.thesmarteraccountant.com

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.

Who’s In Your Room?

Today I want to talk about something that might seem a bit unconventional for our line of work but trust me, it’s crucial for our success – who is taking up space in our minds. You know, people from our past and the people we interact with day in and day out. 

They all play a significant role in shaping our accounting careers, whether we realize it or not.

The reason this came up is because I had read this incredible book called “Who’s In Your Room” by Ivan Misner, Stewart Emery, and Rick Sapio, and let me tell you, it’s been a game-changer. At first, I was a bit skeptical, thinking, “What does a book about a room have to do with being an accountant?” 

But as I began reading it, I realized just how relevant and impactful its message is for us as accountants.

Think about it – our professional success isn’t just about balancing debits and credits or the reports we generate. It’s also heavily influenced by the people we surround ourselves with, mentally and physically – our clients, colleagues, mentors, and even the occasional networking contact. 

Each interaction and relationship shapes our professional journey in ways we might not even be aware of.

So, what exactly does “Who’s In Your Room” mean? Let me share how they describe the book on Amazon – “Who’s in Your Room? introduces you to the concept of your life being like a room—a room where anyone who enters affects your life . . . forever. 

Although this concept may sound frightening, this book gives you the tools and exercises you need to take control of your room and live the life you desire.  This book brings in experts to describe how people leave you with memories that cannot be erased but can be managed. 

You manage them by determining what’s really important to you, and then you can determine how to spend your time and whom you should be spending it with. Stop living according to everyone else’s rules. 

Shape your life by taking control of your room. Live your life by your design!”

That’s Amazon’s description, but basically, imagine your life is a room, and everyone you’ve ever met is in your room.  You’ve got supportive and reliable people and you’ve got the ones who drain your energy, cause unnecessary drama, and clutter your space.

The key is – no one ever leaves your room; ever.  Every person you’ve ever met is still in your room, so the key is that you’re going to want to make sure you’re designating where everyone is allowed to be in your room.

Are they allowed to be up close, whispering in your ear on a daily basis, or are they sent to the back of the room?  Who are you allowing to influence you?  Whose voice is the loudest?  Who occupies your mental energy?

Understanding who’s currently in your room – and more importantly, who you’re now going to let in – is one of the keys to creating a successful and sustainable accounting career. It’s about being intentional with our relationships, setting boundaries, and surrounding ourselves with people who uplift and inspire us.

Why is this important?  Because the truth is, our success as accountants isn’t just about our technical skills. Our ability to do what we need to do hinges on how we feel; and how we feel is dependent on how we think.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to understand that you have over 60,000 thoughts a day that are influenced by the people in your room.  Your ability to communicate effectively, manage your time, build trust with clients, and navigate the complexities of being a trusted professional are all directly influenced by those 60,000 thoughts a day.

That’s where the wisdom of “Who’s In Your Room” comes in. It’s not just a self-help book – it’s a practical guide to cultivating a personal and professional circle that supports and empowers us.

Keep listening because addressing the question, “Who’s In Your Room?” is going to be more impactful than you might realize.

Understanding Your “Room”

First off, let’s talk about your “room” as an accountant. When you think of your room, you’re probably thinking of your office space, but when the book talks about your “room,” it’s talking about your life, your interactions, and your memories.

The people in your “room” are the people you interact with every day, but also the people you’ve come in contact with professionally or personally, dead or alive, in person or people you’ve never met.  For example, it could be famous people you’ve never met or the person who cut in front of you on the checkout line.  

If you’ve interacted with, in one form or another, or thought about a person, they’re in your room.

As far as being an accountant, there are probably a lot of people in your room related to your career.  For example, for me, that ranges from the 10th grade bookkeeping teacher who told me that accounting might be a great career to the Tax Partner at Deloitte that treated me badly 25 years ago.

They’re all in my room. 

For you, your parents, friends, siblings, teachers, bosses, coworkers, clients and colleagues are there.  In fact, everyone you’ve ever worked for or with is in your room. Your biggest supporters and your toughest competition are all there.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting – the impact of these individuals on your success. Believe it or not, the people you surround yourself with, mentally and physically, can have a huge influence on your professional journey. 

Think about it – a supportive client can become a loyal advocate, referring you to their friends and colleagues. A helpful colleague can make your job a whole lot easier, while a toxic one can make it feel like you’re swimming against the tide. 

And mentors or coaches can be like guiding lights, showing you the way and helping you avoid the pitfalls along the path to success.

So, bottom line – understanding who’s in your room, where they’re standing in the room, and how they’re impacting you is incredibly important. It’s about being intentional with your relationships, setting boundaries when necessary, and surrounding yourself with people who lift you up.

Because when it comes down to it, having the right people in the right places in your room can make all the difference in the world.

Evaluating Your Professional Relationships

First things first – let’s take a good hard look at the quality of your connections – your clients, your colleagues, and those industry contacts you’ve collected over the years. 

Are these relationships adding value to your life and your career? Are they helping you grow and thrive, or are they just taking up space in your mental “room”?

Now, here’s the tricky part – toxic relationships. We all have them, whether we like to admit it or not. These are the connections that drain our energy, create unnecessary drama, and hold us back from reaching our full potential. 

It might be that client who’s always demanding more but never willing to pay for it. Or that colleague who’s constantly throwing shade and making us doubt ourselves. 

Whatever the case, toxic relationships can seriously affect our professional growth if we let them.  But the beauty of the “Who’s in your room?” concept is that you get to put those toxic people in the back of the room.

In fact, when I picture my room, I imagine a roped-off VIP section where a very large bouncer, probably my husband, is standing guard, only letting certain people to come sit and talk with me.  The bouncer puts up a large, muscled arm and tells the toxic people they’re not allowed to get any closer.

That imagery helps to deal with the mental aspect of these negative people, but what can you do if these people aren’t going away from you physically, any time soon?  It’s all about setting boundaries, communicating effectively, and knowing when it’s time to cut ties if necessary. 

But just know that those people are always going to be in your room whether you like it or not.  They just don’t have to be within earshot when you decide to put them in the back of the room. 

Just make sure that you’re surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people who lift you up.  Those are the people who should be allowed to be closest to you in your room.  

The bottom line is that it’s time to detach as much as possible from the energy drainers, to nurture the good relationships, and to create a professional circle that truly supports our growth and success. 

Designing and Organizing Your “Room”

Alright, now let’s talk about designing and organizing your room – not the physical space, but the space where your professional and personal life unfolds, where every person who has entered or will enter leaves their mark.

Now, I get it – the idea of your life being like a room might sound a bit strange or intimidating at first. After all, it means that every interaction, every relationship, every moment shapes the landscape of your life in ways that can’t be undone. 

But here’s the thing – that’s also where the power lies.

“Who’s in Your Room?” isn’t just about accepting that your life is influenced by others. It’s about taking back control of your mental space and designing it in a way that reflects who you truly are and what you truly want.

How do you do that?  Here are some actionable steps you can take:

Reflection and Assessment: Take some time to reflect on your current “room.” Think about the people who are currently in your life – your clients, colleagues, friends, and family. Consider how each person impacts your life, both positively and negatively. Assess whether these relationships align with your values and goals.  Who’s closest to you in your room that shouldn’t be?

Identify Your Priorities: Determine what’s truly important to you. What are your values, goals, and aspirations? What kind of life do you want to create for yourself? By clarifying your priorities, you’ll have a clearer vision of the type of relationships and experiences you want in your life.

Set Boundaries: Establish boundaries to protect your time, energy, and well-being. This might involve saying no to activities or relationships that drain you or don’t align with your priorities. Boundaries help you create space for the people and activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.

Curate Your Circle: Once you’ve identified your priorities and set boundaries, it’s time to curate your circle. Surround yourself with people who uplift and support you, who share your values and goals, and who contribute positively to your growth and well-being. This might involve cultivating new relationships and nurturing existing ones.  It could also mean listening to certain authors or podcasts like this one that help you grow personally and professionally.

Be Selective: Remember, everyone you’ve ever come in contact with is in your room.  But besides having a bouncer to keep people away from your VIP section, you also have a doorman at the entrance to your room who decides who can come in from now on.  So, learn to be more selective based on who you already have in your room, who’s helpful and uplifting, and who you’d like to bring in from now on.  Again, no one ever leaves the room, so be selective about who gets close up and personal access to you.  Whose voices do you want to be whispering in your ear? Who needs to be muzzled?   

Regular Reflection and Adjustment: Your “room” isn’t static – it’s constantly evolving as you grow and change. That’s why it’s important to regularly reflect on your relationships and experiences, and adjust accordingly. Be willing to let go of relationships that no longer serve you and have them moved to the back of the room.  Then invite new ones that align with who you are becoming and what’s important to you.

By following these steps, you can design a room that reflects who you are and supports the life you want to create. Remember, you have the power to design and organize your room, so make sure your room is set up in a way that the people that bring you joy, fulfillment, and success are up close and the naysayers have to sit in the back dark corner.

Before I tell you about a few clients who have used this concept, let me ask you a question – who’s rooms are you in?  Who are you having an impact on?  

People enter your room and you enter theirs.  Are you entering rooms you truly want to be in?  Are you being your best, authentic self in the rooms you want to be in?  Just something to consider.

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Being Clear About “Who’s In Your Room”

Now let me share how a few clients have been using the “Who’s In Your Room?” concept for themselves.

One client works for a large firm, and found herself constantly stressed and overwhelmed by the demands of her clients and colleagues. She felt like she was always trying to please everyone but never had time to focus on her own work and professional development. 

Once I introduced her to the “Who’s In Your Room?” concept, she realized that she had been allowing the voices of demanding clients and critical colleagues to dominate her mind.  She was thinking about them even when she was at home, never feeling like she left work at work.

She decided to prioritize the voices of her supportive mentors like me, her encouraging colleagues, and appreciative clients. By repositioning these people and their voices in her room, she reduced her stress levels and began to have an easier career. 

Another client works for a mid-sized firm, and struggled with low self-esteem and self-doubt in his personal life. He often found himself comparing himself to others and felt like he didn’t measure up. 

After focusing on the “Who’s In Your Room?” concept, he realized that he had been allowing the voices of his critical parents and judgmental friends to be front and center for too long.  

Once he got clear about where these people should now be in the room of his mind, he decided to prioritize the voices of his supportive wife and encouraging friends. He also decided to set some boundaries with the people he’d been letting negatively influence him.

By repositioning these voices in his room, he was able to feel much more confident.  And once he started feeling confident, he noticed how much more selective he was about who he spent time with in his room. 

Hopefully these client’s stories and the “Who’s in your room?” concept is something you can relate to.  The truth is that, although no one ever leaves the room of your mind, you do have the power to position each person in a way that honors what’s in your best interest. 

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I discussed the “Who’s in your room?” concept.  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.

How To Handle Other People’s Opinions

Today, I want to talk about something that affects us all: handling other people’s opinions. This topic is important because, let’s face it, we’re constantly bombarded with what others think, whether it’s about us or everything around us. 

Think about it: whether it’s a client questioning your expertise or a friend criticizing your career choices, everyone has opinions and sometimes they can really get under your skin. But here’s the thing – knowing how to handle other people’s opinions can make all the difference in how we feel and how we navigate our professional and personal lives.

In today’s world, where social media fills every corner of our lives, opinions are everywhere. Whether it’s a viral meme or a serious political debate, it feels like everyone has something to add. 

And as the old saying goes, “Opinions are like… well, you know.” It’s true, isn’t it? Nowadays, it feels like everyone’s got an opinion, and unfortunately, they’re often pretty negative. 

Whether it’s a snarky comment on your latest LinkedIn post or a political sign on your neighbor’s lawn, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed when our opinion differs and we feel attacked or defensive. It’s like we’re constantly dodging verbal bullets in a never-ending opinion war.

Of course it’s important to be able to speak your mind and have your own likes and dislikes. But lately, it seems like everyone’s opinions aren’t just sparking friendly debates – they’re causing major rifts. 

Kids are getting bullied, teens are feeling isolated, and adults are even breaking off relationships, all because of what someone else thinks. It’s like opinions have become weapons, leaving us feeling more divided than ever.

The truth is that opinions are also like fingerprints – no two are exactly alike. And just as, for example, we wouldn’t expect every client’s financial situation to be identical, we can’t expect everyone to share the same thoughts and beliefs that we have. 

As accountants, we understand the importance of considering multiple viewpoints and weighing options before making informed decisions. So why should handling other people’s opinions be any different?

Well today I want to discuss what I call “opinion management”, helping you to understand the psychology behind why we care so much about what others think, and practical tips for maintaining your sanity in the face of other people’s opinions.  

Handling Other People’s Opinions of You

Let’s start by dealing with what others think about you. We’ve all heard the saying, “What you think of me is none of my business,” but let’s face it – it’s easier said than done. 

In today’s world, where social media rules and everyone’s got a platform to share their thoughts, handling other people’s opinions can feel like a nasty game of dodgeball.

It’s like everything about us – from our appearance and choices to our actions and inactions – is under a microscope, waiting to be judged by anyone and everyone. And let’s not forget about our own opinions on everything under the sun – they’re fair game for criticism too.

Let’s be honest, it’s hard not to let other people’s opinions get to us. After all, we’re only human, and nobody likes feeling judged or criticized.

But here’s the thing – just because someone has an opinion about us doesn’t mean it’s true or valid. The truth is that people see us through their own lenses, colored by their experiences, biases, and insecurities. So why let their perspective dictate how we feel about ourselves?

Sure, it’s easier said than done, but learning to brush off other people’s opinions and stay true to ourselves is key. After all, we’re the ones living our lives, not them. 

I also think it’s a common struggle among many accountants to feel the pressure to mold ourselves into what we think others want us to be. It’s like we’re constantly walking on eggshells, afraid of stepping out of line and facing disapproval.

Think about it: have you ever held back from pursuing your dreams because you were worried about what others might think?  When I decided I wanted to write my book, it took me a while to get the courage to tell people about it because I was afraid that others would think it was crazy; I’m an accountant, not an author.

Plus, I had the opinion of my eleventh grade English teacher still in my head.  He once told me it was a good thing I was going to study accounting because I wasn’t very good at writing.

His opinion was still swirling around in my brain 40 years later!  Pretty amazing, right?

What about you?  Where have other people’s opinions of you held you back?  Maybe you didn’t go after that promotion because you were afraid of failing in front of your colleagues. Or you might have hesitated to voice your ideas during a meeting because you didn’t want to rock the boat.

I recently had an HR issue at work and hesitated speaking up because I was worried what my coworkers would think if I did.  I finally decided that being true to myself was more important than the negative opinions others might have about me.

Your Brain’s Role In Handling Other People’s Opinions Of You

But it’s a tricky cycle to break free from. Especially when our brain is wired with a tribe mentality and is constantly seeking validation from others.

In fact, not being accepted by the tribe is life-threatening to our primitive brain.  If you think about it, when humans lived in caves, being ostracized from the tribe meant certain death, and that primitive part of our brain is still running our lives 80 – 90% of the time.

Unfortunately, when we seek validation from others to feel confident in ourselves, we end up sacrificing what’s true for us.  Sometimes we play it safe, staying within the confines of what we think others expect of us, rather than taking risks and pursuing what truly lights us up.

And it’s not just the big decisions that are affected. Even the smallest choices, like trying a different haircut or rooting for a particular sports team, can keep us from taking action out of a fear of judgment from others. 

The interesting thing is that most of the time, the opinions we’re so worried about are just our perception, not factual.  In other words, we assume that others will disapprove of us, even when there’s no evidence to support that belief. 

One of my favorite quotes on this subject is by Dita Von Teese: “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” I love this quote because it explains that no matter how good or accomplished you are, there will always be someone who criticizes or dislikes you, and that’s okay.

The main reason I wanted to do this episode is because I think we all need to break free from this cycle of seeking approval and validation from others.  How?  By beginning to trust ourselves and our abilities more. 

When you realize that your own opinion of yourself matters more than what others think of you, that’s when you truly feel liberated. You’re able to let people have their own thoughts about you without feeling the need to prove them wrong or change their minds.

An analogy I like to use with my coaching clients is if someone said they don’t like your blue hair and you don’t have blue hair, you wouldn’t give it a second thought. Their opinion would just be a passing comment, not something that defines who you are. 

On that note, my mentor taught me the saying, “I love letting people be wrong about me.”  I love  this thought because it sets me free from trying to change people’s opinions of me.

The bottom line is that the key to handling other people’s opinions of you is to value your own opinion of yourself more than theirs.  In other words, what you think of you is the only business you need to focus on.

Handling Other People’s Opinions of Everything Else

Now that I’ve shared how to handle other people’s opinions of you, let’s dive into handling other people’s opinions of everything else.  You know that saying, “No two minds think alike”? Well it’s absolutely true, but can often be frustrating.

The analogy I like to use with my coaching clients who are struggling with other people’s opinions is to imagine you’re in a room with ten other people, and there’s a blue chair sitting in the middle. The question is, how many chairs are in the room?

It sounds like a silly question, but it’s actually not.  The answer is ten.  How?  Because if you ask each person to describe the chair, you’ll get ten different answers. 

Some might love the color, others might find it tacky. Some might think it’s comfy, while others find it too stiff. It’s like everyone’s wearing their own unique pair of glasses, tinted by their personal experiences and preferences about that chair.

The truth is that we can all look at the same person, situation, or thing, and have completely different perspectives.  From politics to parenting choices, everyone has a human brain that has a lot of opinions.

Unfortunately, instead of celebrating this diversity of perspectives, it often leads to arguments and rifts between friends, family, and even strangers.

It’s like we’re all looking at the same picture, but seeing completely different things. And those differences in opinion can drive a wedge between us, making it harder to find common ground and come together.

Curiosity Instead Of Condemnation

We’re often so focused on proving ourselves right that we forget to step back and truly understand where others are coming from. My recommendation for my clients is to come from a place of curiosity instead of condemnation.  

It sounds great, but how do you do that?  I suggest you come up with at least 3 reasons why someone might have the opinion they have.  

Just like people on a debate team need to be able to present arguments from both sides of an issue and be able to articulate the opposing viewpoints, it’s helpful to ask yourself what could someone who has a differing opinion be thinking and feeling?  

For example, I was speaking to a coworker who has very strong political views and she was sharing that she had had a big disagreement with a friend with an opposing view.  She said she was considering ending the friendship, since this person was “clearly crazy” based on their disagreement.

When I asked her to come up with 3 reasons why he may have the opinion he has, imagining what he might be thinking and feeling that would make that opinion possible, she visibly relaxed.  She said, “I imagine he loves this country as much as I do, that he was raised to believe a certain way, and that he feels comfortable enough with me to express his opinion”.

Her brain, like all of ours, just wanted to be right, which meant that if someone’s opinion didn’t match hers, they were wrong.  Thankfully, with a little imagination, she was able to step into her friend’s brain and envision what he might be thinking when he looked at the same “blue chair” in the room.

So, the next time you encounter someone with a different opinion, try to see things from their point of view. Imagine what thoughts might be shaping their beliefs and how those beliefs influence their actions. 

It’s about finding their perspective interesting rather than dismissing it as “crazy” or “wrong.” It’s a small shift in mindset that can lead to greater understanding and harmony in our interactions with others.

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Effectively Handling Other People’s Opinions

Now let me share how various clients have handled other people’s opinions about them and everything else.

One of my coaching clients worked at a large firm.  She often found herself second-guessing her decisions, seeking validation from her colleagues, and was afraid to voice her opinions during team meetings, fearing judgment and criticism. 

After working together to become a Smarter Accountant, she learned how to trust her own expertise and handle differing opinions without making it mean she was wrong. She began speaking up more confidently in meetings and was surprised to find that her colleagues respected her insights, even when they disagreed.

Another client had always prided himself on his attention to detail and analytical skills. However, when he was promoted to manager in his mid-sized firm, he struggled with delegating tasks and receiving feedback from his team members. 

He often took criticism personally and became defensive when others questioned his decisions. He shared that he often felt attacked when someone’s opinion was different from his.

Once we worked together, he realized that he needed to separate his professional identity from others’ opinions of his work. He learned to listen to constructive feedback without feeling threatened and used it as an opportunity for growth and improvement.

And one of my other clients decided she wanted a career change and to start her own consulting business. While it was a dream come true, she faced skepticism and discouragement from friends and family who doubted her ability to succeed as an entrepreneur. 

We talked a lot about where the naysayers might be coming from, whether it was their own unmet dreams, honest concern for her well-being, or jealousy.  Once she understood that other people’s opinions were about them and not her ability to succeed, she was determined to make it work.  

As she went through The Smarter Accountant Program and was able to successfully handle other people’s opinions, she built a successful consulting practice.  

Hopefully these client’s stories can give you a better idea of the fact that we all struggle with other people’s opinions, but that you can do something so that it doesn’t derail your efforts or your career.  The truth is that when you feel confident and show up authentically, other people’s opinions of you and everything else are interesting, but not a problem. 

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I discussed how to handle other people’s opinions.  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.

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.

The Investment With The Greatest ROI For Accountants

As accountants, we’re all familiar with investments and assets, looking for options that promise the highest returns. With people looking to us for advice, we typically do not take investing lightly.

Whether it’s investment like mutual funds, Treasury bonds, or real estate, besides a Certified Financial Planner, the public often turns to us, their accountant, for investment advice.  We typically offer them suggestions that make the most sense based on the tax law and their short and long-term goals.

Depending on your area of expertise, you probably have certain financial philosophies and ideas about asset management, suggesting certain investments that will appreciate over time.  Since I live 30 minutes outside of Manhattan, my firm tends to work with various real estate investors, helping them not only invest wisely, but also take advantage of as many tax law benefits as possible.

As accountants, we also invest in things like technology, software, and programs that make the job of being an accountant as easy as possible.  We attend conferences, take potential connections or clients out to dinner, and put money into 529 Plans for our children’s education.

We pay down our mortgages, buy cars, and try to go on at least one vacation a year.  We pay for health insurance, donate to our favorite charities, and try to be generous when giving gifts to loved ones.

The choices we make about how we invest our money, however, extends beyond tangible possessions and monetary gains. No matter what your investment philosophy is, there’s one particular asset that consistently proves to be the key to long lasting success for accountants: our brain. 

Here’s the thing: the best investment for accountants, and really for anyone who wants to succeed in their career, isn’t buying more things. It’s about investing in understanding and managing your brain better.

Stay tuned because today I’m going to explain why investing in your accountant brain is the best investment you can make, with the greatest ROI.  My suggestion – come with an open mind because by the end you might be surprised by what you learn.

The Investment With The Greatest ROI

As accountants, we’ve all learned the concept of appreciation and depreciation.  We learned in school that there are various reporting requirements based on the type of asset on the Balance Sheet and whether it’s appreciable or depreciable.

For example, there are assets like a shiny new car that, the minute you roll it out of the dealership, it’s not as valuable as it was a few minutes ago when you bought it. The asset has depreciated without us doing anything.  

Then there are assets that become more valuable the longer you hold onto them – your home is a classic example. Over the years, it has most likely appreciated and is hopefully worth more than you paid for it.  

But I want to introduce you to the idea that although your brain isn’t something you can purchase or physically touch, the fact is that it’s not only your most valuable asset, it becomes even more valuable as you invest in it.

Here’s the thing – if you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on something that will give you the greatest ROI, it’s a no-brainer (pun intended) choice to invest in your brain.  As I tell my coaching clients, you have the best piece of machinery on the planet – your brain – so you might as well understand how to manage it better.  

I believe one of the most important reasons for investing in your brain is that it makes it easier to make informed choices. I’ve discussed the two parts of your brain on previous episodes of the podcast, but when you learn how to use your higher, executive functioning part of your brain more often, you make better decisions, you have the ability to eliminate stress and overwhelm, you’re better able to manage your time, and you can easily achieve your goals, to name just a few.  

When you invest in your brain, you become ready to tackle new challenges and make it possible to have an easier, more sustainable accounting career. If you really think about it, this isn’t just an investment; it’s a strategic move to future-proof your career.  

As accountants, we’ve all been taught the concept of compounding interest.  Well, your brain operates on a similar principle. The more you invest in it, the more it appreciates over time. 

So, as you contemplate where to allocate your money for the greatest ROI this year, consider the most reliable and long lasting investment – your brain. This isn’t merely about being book-smart; it’s about becoming a Smarter Accountant by understanding how to manage your brain.  

Here’s what I tell my coaching clients all the time – you’re bringing your brain with you, no matter what you do in your accounting career.  If you don’t understand how to manage it, you’re wasting your most valuable asset.

Realizing the Returns

If you’ve ever thought about your accounting career and said to yourself, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this,” then investing in learning how to manage your brain will be a game changer.  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 stopped comparing yourself to others and believing you fall short, what opportunities would you go after?
  • If you could see feedback as information instead of criticism, how could you use that feedback to grow in your career?
  • If you focused on ways to continue adding value, how much money do you think would be possible to make, and how much more would someone be willing to pay for your value?
  • If you understood how to have good relationships with everyone and the importance of emotional adulthood, how much better would you be at managing people? 
  • If you knew how to stop having work affect your health, how would you show up differently than everyone else?
  • If self-doubt and imposter syndrome were no longer an issue, what goals would you go after?
  • If you knew how to set better boundaries, how much more effective would you be at your job?
  • If you felt happier, how would you stand out from the crowd?

When I teach my coaching clients how to manage their brain, they’re reinvesting in themselves.  When they become a Smarter Accountant, it’s not a one-time return; it’s a continuous growth in the value of their most important asset.   

Examples Of Accountants Who Made The Investment 

Now, I want to share how investing in your brain can help with various challenges and uncertainties.

One of my clients was a tax accountant.  She was becoming easily overwhelmed and not able to focus the way she wanted to.

By becoming a Smarter Accountant, learning how to manage her brain, she was able to keep her head above water.  When confronted with a major tax overhaul, she was not only prepared but also became a valuable resource within her firm. 

Since she learned how to manage stress and overwhelm, she became not only a trusted advisor to her clients, but an example to everyone else in the firm who was continuing to do things the old way – normalizing stress and overwhelm instead of understanding how to manage your brain to eliminate it.

Another client was a CFO and was facing the challenges of an economic downturn. He was struggling with managing everything on his plate and was feeling immense pressure.

By investing in his brain and becoming a Smarter Accountant, he was able to assess the financial health of the business and come up with a plan that wasn’t possible when he was feeling pressure. 

His investment in learning how to manage his brain allowed him to provide invaluable insights, guiding his company through tough economic times. Because he was able to demonstrate how to stay calm and focused no matter what, the Board shared how impressed they were.

Another client was an ambitious CPA who was dealing with setbacks in her career growth. She was working for a mid-sized firm and wanted to move up to senior manager, eventually looking towards partner status.

Instead of continuing to struggle, she decided to work with me to learn how to be the best leader she could be.  She addressed her issues with stress, people-pleasing, and how to effectively manage others.

When given the opportunity to lead a team through organizational changes, her investment in brain management and leadership skills allowed her to handle the situation seamlessly.  She is now on the partner track but with a managed brain to help guide her.

These are just a few of the stories of how clients have navigated challenges by investing in their brain.  The common theme is clear – when you learn how to manage your brain, you continue to increase the value of your most valuable asset.

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Strategies For Making The Investment With The Greatest ROI

Now that I’ve explained how important investing in your brain is, I want to share specific strategies that you can use to have an easier, more sustainable accounting career.

Strategy 1: Manage Stress and Overwhelm Better

Let’s be honest, in the world of accounting, it’s far too easy to fall into the trap of thinking stress and overwhelm are just part of the job description. After all, when we’re surrounded by other accountants who are equally stressed and overwhelmed, it’s easy to think it’s just how things are. 

But have you stopped to consider what this assumption is costing you?

As I often remind my coaching clients, trying to tackle accounting work when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed is like attempting to drive a car with the parking brake on while trying to drive 100 mph—it doesn’t work.

When you invest in learning how to manage your brain, you’ll also learn how to reduce and even eliminate stress and overwhelm.

Strategy 2: Effective Time Management

In the fast-paced world of accounting, effective time management is a critical skill that, in my experience, is not taught correctly.  We’re typically given work to do, possibly a budgeted amount of time to do it in, but not taught how to actually manage our time.

That’s why it’s easy to fall into the trap of relying solely on a never-ending to-do list to manage our workload. With countless tasks and deadlines looming, it might seem like the most practical solution. 

With the combination of brain management and effective time management, you’ll be able to get more done in less time, end procrastination, effectively handle interruptions, and feel much more in control of your time.

Strategy 3: Prioritizing The Right Things

As accountants, we often have a lot to get done, and not enough time to get it done.  That’s where prioritizing is indispensable. 

The problem is that we find ourselves focusing on the wrong things, or have no idea what to do next to get our work done efficiently.

A Smarter Accountant learns how sneaky our brain is when it comes to things that seem urgent.  In fact, they learn that their brain is wired to think everything is urgent, but they also learn how to override that default setting and prioritize in the most effective way possible.  

Brain management makes it possible to prioritize the right things.

Strategy 4: Improving Your Self-Confidence

As accountants, even though we’re smart people doing smart things, we are often surrounded by other smart people, which can sometimes lead to feelings of self-doubt or imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome, the belief that we’ll be exposed as a fraud, despite evidence of our competence, is a very common issue for accountants.

The problem is that many of us ignore these feelings, hoping they will go away on their own, or worse, we try to push through them without addressing the root cause.

An investment in brain management is an investment in lasting self-confidence and being able to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, opening yourself up to more possibilities.

Strategy 5: Setting and Sticking to Boundaries

As accountants, we often find ourselves juggling many responsibilities and deadlines, making it important to establish clear boundaries to protect our time and well-being. However, many of us struggle with setting and sticking to boundaries, often leading to burnout and resentment.

The problem is that without boundaries, we risk overextending ourselves, sacrificing our personal time, and ultimately, affecting our health and happiness.

If you feel guilty or anxious when you try to set boundaries or say “no” to others, brain management is your secret weapon.

Here’s the thing: investing in brain management makes it possible for you to eliminate stress and overwhelm, stop working so many hours, learn how to better manage your time, set and follow through with boundaries, develop leadership skills, and have a sustainable accounting career.  I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty great ROI!

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I discussed the investment with the greatest ROI for accountants.  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 can share what you’re struggling with and I’ll explain what it means to become a Smarter Accountant.

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.

Making The Transition From Accounting Employee To Entrepreneur

Have you ever thought about wanting to be in charge of your income, your clients, and your time? Do you ever daydream about a time when you don’t have to answer to anyone else but yourself?

If so, you’re not alone. Nowadays, more and more people are thinking about becoming self-employed, where they can make their own decisions about their careers.

Maybe it’s because of dealing with difficult bosses or because technology has made it easier to work independently, but many people, including accountants, are thinking about taking control of their professional lives.

Instead of working for someone else or with people chosen by someone else, we’re imagining what it would be like to be the ones making the decisions. Many accountants are considering breaking away from traditional ways of working and embracing a more independent approach.

Although there are ways to make traditional jobs work for you, being self-employed has its appeal too.

But there’s something important to understand: Most of us have been taught to be very good employees, not entrepreneurs.

The truth is that our education system was designed to train people to work in factories and follow instructions. It’s been teaching us to be obedient and to accept the authority of others for over 200 years.

The problem is, it hasn’t taught us much about being our own bosses. Transitioning from being an employee to being in charge can also be tough because our jobs become a big part of who we are.

Most people, especially those who have been employees for a long time, aren’t ready for this challenge. The idea of creating a new identity as our own boss can be scary and daunting.

The thing is, when you make the leap from being an employee to being your own boss, it’s like building a new version of yourself. But as I’ve shared on this podcast before, our brains prefer the familiar, so stepping into the unknown can be unsettling.

That’s why managing your brain is crucial when making this transition. Today, I want to talk about brain management and why it’s one of the most important keys to successfully becoming your own boss. Whether you’re already an entrepreneur or thinking about it, understanding how your brain works is essential.

The Importance of Brain Management

Whether you’ve heard me say this or not, this is the podcast where brain science meets accounting.  If you haven’t listened to any of the previous episodes, I suggest you go back and listen to episode #1 – “What It Means To Be a Smarter Accountant” and episode #2 – “The Place Where Brain Science Meets Accounting.”

In those episodes you’ll get a clear understanding of how your brain works and the two main systems that you need to get familiar with.  The truth is that your success as an employee or an entrepreneur will depend on how well you understand how your particular brain works and how to be the boss of it.  

Basically, your brain is like the control center, and when you’re thinking about making a big change in your career, your brain needs some special attention. Think of it like this: If your brain is a team, you want to be the coach. 

You need to guide your team through the game, making sure everyone is on the same page and working towards success. In the world of career transitions, managing your brain is the key that can make the difference between a smooth journey and a bumpy ride.

In fact, brain management is the key when you:

  • Feel scared to take a big step
  • Want to leave your job
  • Worry about what others might think
  • Can’t figure out how to organize your time
  • Feel overwhelmed by all the choices you have to make
  • Miss having coworkers to talk to about problems
  • Doubt yourself
  • Feel like you’re not good enough
  • Have a client who isn’t happy
  • Don’t have enough money
  • Are afraid to ask for more money
  • Feel like giving up.

The reason why brain management is so important when making the transition from accounting employee to entrepreneur is that your brain has its own way of doing things. It likes patterns, familiar routines, and avoiding anything that seems like a risk. 

But becoming your own boss involves stepping into uncharted territory – and that’s where the challenge comes in. It’s like convincing your brain to play a different game, and that’s not always easy.

The truth is that when you think about making a big change – leaving the job you’ve known for something new – your brain will throw up warning signs. It’s like a friend saying, “Are you sure about this?” 

That’s where brain management comes in.  As I mentioned, you have two main systems in your brain – one that reacts quickly and another that can look at the big picture.  Managing these two systems is key to a smooth transition.

Honestly, more than any other start-up tip or suggestion I can give you, managing your brain is the single most important thing that will determine your success, or not.  Again, you are actually going into business with your brain, so it’s super important that you understand how to manage and master it in order to make a smooth transition from employee to self-employed as well as continuing to be an entrepreneur.

Understanding Brain Management As An Entrepreneur

Like I said before, I’ve shared this in a previous episode of the podcast, but in order to understand brain management, you first have to get familiar with the two parts of your brain – System 1 (the Toddler) and System 2 (the Supervising Parent). 

While they work together, they have very different roles. Understanding how they operate is like having a playbook for your brain management strategy.

System 1 is your primitive brain and I refer to it as the Toddler because it wants what it wants, it gets scared easily, and it often throws temper tantrums like a toddler.  It is motivated by three things – seek pleasure, avoid pain, and conserve energy.

This part of your brain is like the autopilot that runs your life more than 80% of the time. It’s job is to keep you safe and alive and it takes its job very seriously.  

In essence, it loves things that feel good, hates things that feel like danger, and prefers everything to be in a familiar, comfortable routine.

Here’s the issue: When you decide to switch from being an employee to being your own boss, System 1, the Toddler is not onboard.  It wants you to stay in your familiar job, where everything feels safe and known. 

To this primitive part of your brain, the journey to becoming self-employed is not in its comfort zone. Think about it – the early stages are typically not immediately pleasurable, there will be discomfort, and everything will seem a bit confusing.

Thankfully you also have an advanced part of your brain that I refer to as System 2, the Supervising Parent.  This part of your brain is the prefrontal cortex. 

It’s the part of our brain that’s unique to humans and gives us the ability to think about what we think about. This is the part that can guide and manage the primitive brain of System 1.

In other words, the Supervising Parent can step in and manage the Toddler when it’s acting up.

For example, when System 1, the Toddler sees challenges like new experiences, possible failure, and confusion as big warning signs, almost like life-threatening situations, System 2, the Supervising Parent can step in and say, “Hold on, let’s think this through.” It has the power to override System 1’s alarms and help you face and conquer any challenge that comes your way during this transition.

The key is understanding that the Toddler part of your brain doesn’t want anything to change, but the Supervising Parent part sees the long-term, big picture and wants you to succeed.  Using System 2 to supervise and take charge of System 1 will make your transition from employee to self-employed much easier and much more manageable.

Making the Transition From Employee To Entrepreneur Smoother

So now that you know the roles of your lower, Toddler brain and your higher, Supervising Parent brain, I want to point out something very important – you do NOT want a toddler running your business.  In other words, you do not want your Toddler brain in charge when you transition from accounting employee to entrepreneur.

You’re going to want the Supervising Parent part of your brain in charge as much as possible if you’re going to have any chance at sustainable success.  You want to tap into your higher brain’s ability to see the long-term vision, to make better decisions, and to plan.  

When the Supervising Parent part of your brain is in charge more often than the Toddler, you will have the opportunity to make your transition from employee to self-employment much smoother.  

As I’ve coached many accountants making the transition from accounting employee to entrepreneurship, I want to share the three things I believe you need: 

Commitment

The first thing you need is commitment.  To create the powerful feeling of commitment, you need to find your compelling reason for wanting to be self-employed. This compelling reason will serve as your North Star.

During challenging times, this compelling reason becomes your anchor, grounding you in your  purpose for becoming an entrepreneur. This is when the higher, Supervising Parent part of your brain can step in to reinforce your commitment, ensuring you stay on course.

You need to expect that the Toddler brain is going to freak out and try to convince you to not make a change, but have a compelling reason that helps the Supervising Parent do its job.

It’s having a gentle reminder and a reassurance that says, “I’m doing this no matter what.” In moments of doubt, The Supervising Parent can step in, solidifying your commitment and gently steering you back on the path to success.

Economic Responsibility

The second thing you need is economic responsibility.  The truth is that it can be challenging to not have a regular paycheck that comes no matter what.  That consistency and comfort is important to your Toddler brain which is why it does not like the idea of the economic unknown that often comes with entrepreneurship.  

In the Smarter Accountant 6-week program I teach accounting entrepreneurs in the making how to manage their brains because by entering entrepreneurship with a managed brain, you acknowledge that your efforts directly impact your financial security and you’re able to override the Toddler brain.

Again, your Toddler brain is in charge 80 -90% of the time and it is not onboard with making the transition from accounting employee to entrepreneur.  But by implementing brain management, economic responsibility is much easier.

By taking charge of your brain and utilizing the Supervising Parent to create value for your clients, you’ll see that every result you create, especially the amount of money you make, is within your power based on how you think, feel and act.

Emotional Maturity

And the last thing you need is emotional maturity.  I’m telling you, emotional maturity is crucial.  Understanding that feelings of fear, confusion, and doubt are normal, makes them easier to manage.

As I tell my coaching clients all the time, “Feelings are information, not problems,” you have to transition into entrepreneurship having emotional maturity.  When I refer to emotional maturity, what I’m saying is that rather than blaming your feelings on external factors, you instead understand how to manage your emotions on purpose. 

Emotional maturity is deciding how you want to feel and taking charge of your emotional responses.  This allows you to remain focused and committed on your entrepreneur journey.  

Emotional maturity means knowing that the only thing that can cause your feelings are your thoughts, and those thoughts are always optional when you choose them on purpose.  There is no place for the “blame game” when you become self-employed.

Hopefully, you can see that by focusing on these three areas, combined with brain management, you’ll be able to have an easier transition from employee to self-employed. It may be a bumpy ride, but there’s no reason you can’t make it as smooth as possible.

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Making a Successful Transition From Accounting Employee to Entrepreneur

Now I want to share some stories of clients who became Smarter Accountants and made the successful transition from accounting employee to entrepreneur.

One client was a seasoned accountant, who wanted more autonomy and the chance to be her own boss. The problem for her was the shift from a secure job to entrepreneurship seemed incredibly overwhelming.

By recognizing the challenges she faced, I emphasized the importance of commitment. I helped her to get clear on her compelling reason for wanting to be self-employed.  

She realized that a strong desire for work-life balance and freedom were her most compelling reasons for wanting to become an entrepreneur.  I explained that we needed to get her brain on board.

With her Toddler brain initially resistant to change, she learned how much the Supervising Parent part of her brain would be the guiding force. By learning brain management it helped her to navigate through the challenges, ultimately establishing her own tax advisory firm.  

Today, she not only enjoys financial success but loves the newfound joy she feels in having the work-life balance and freedom she always wanted.    .

Another client was a CPA who wanted to break free from the traditional mold and create value on her terms. Her issue was she was used to getting a regular paycheck so the economic responsibility that came with self-employment was a big concern.

Once we started working together, she learned how to use the Supervising Parent part of her brain more often.  It played a crucial role in helping her feel much more empowered by the fact that her financial destiny was now in her hands.

As she became a Smarter Accountant, she took charge of creating value for her clients with much more confidence. She shared that the shift from being an employee receiving a paycheck to an entrepreneur in charge of her economic security was transformative. 

Today, she’s making more money than she ever made as an employee and she’s loving the power she now holds over her financial future.  

The last client was dealing with fear, doubt, and uncertainty as he was considering making the transition from employee to entrepreneur.  

By teaching him how to manage his emotions, we worked on building emotional maturity. Here’s where the Supervising Parent part of his brain took center stage, helping him recognize that he had control over his thoughts and feelings.

Once he became a Smarter Accountant by learning brain management, he faced rejection, fear, and self-doubt head-on. I provided the tools to manage these emotions purposefully.

Today, his firm is growing, he is building his own team, and inspiring them to become Smarter Accountants as well.  

Hopefully, you might resonate with some of my client’s stories.  As I say all the time, when you learn how to manage your brain, you can manage everything else, especially making the transition from accounting employee to entrepreneur.  

The bottom line is that you need brain management because you’ve been educated to be a good employee and your human brain is not wired to do anything outside of your comfort zone.  Thankfully, becoming a Smarter Accountant makes it possible to overcome any challenges you face but also make your dream a reality.  

There’s no denying that the journey from employee to entrepreneur is undoubtedly challenging, but with the right mindset and guidance, success stories like my clients can be examples of what’s possible for you as well.  

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I discussed transitioning from accounting employee to entrepreneur.  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.