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.

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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 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.

The Pros and Cons of Work-Life Integration Versus Work-Life Balance

Have you been trying to find some sort of harmony between your work life and your personal life?  Do you feel overwhelmed trying to balance it all?

I’m sure a lot of us can agree that having a successful accounting career is already challenging but when you add the fact that we’d like to have a life outside of work as well, it can become very daunting.    

Today, I want to explore two approaches – work-life balance and work-life integration – in a way you may not have considered before.  As accountants, we often find ourselves struggling with the question of how to juggle demanding deadlines and client expectations while still still having time for a personal life.  

If you’re in public accounting, maybe you can relate to this scenario:  It’s tax season, and you find yourself buried under a mountain of paperwork.  Meanwhile, your family is waiting for you to come home for dinner, attend a child’s soccer game, or leave for a romantic weekend getaway you’ve been planning for months. 

Throughout my 30+ year career in public accounting, I’ve struggled with figuring out how to be the best accountant I could be, but also the best wife and mother as well.  There have been many uncomfortable moments over the years, trying to figure out how to do it all.

I’m sure you’ve probably got your own stories of missed doctor’s appointments, plans that needed to be canceled, or people that were frustrated with the fact that you’re a busy accountant.  The struggle is real, and as accountants, we’ve all been there.

We’ve also all heard the term “work-life balance”, urging us to draw a clear line in the sand between our professional duties and our personal time. It’s like putting objects on a balancing scale, ensuring that neither work nor personal life takes precedence over the other. 

On the surface, the idea is simple – figure out a way to allocate our time and energy to both aspects of our lives in equal measure.

On the flip side, there’s the newer concept of work-life integration. This concept encourages us to blend both worlds so they can coexist harmoniously. It’s like a beautifully choreographed dance where work and life move together, each complementing the other. 

Even if you’re familiar with these two concepts, the distinction between work-life balance and work-life integration is important, and understanding the nuances can significantly impact your professional and personal satisfaction.  The truth is that as the accounting profession continues to struggle with retention, we need to evolve our strategies for managing the demands of our careers and the desire for a fulfilling personal life.

So, whether you’re a seasoned accounting professional whose career isn’t sustainable at the pace you’re going or you’re a newcomer trying to figure out how to make your career work for you, I want to help you unravel the difference between work-life integration and work-life balance and offer guidance on how you can create a sustainable accounting career.

Understanding Work-Life Balance

From the time we learned accounting in school, we are very familiar with the term “balance.”  We prepare Balance Sheets and we balance budgets.

But when it comes to work-life balance, that’s where things get tricky.  All of a sudden it becomes like delicately balancing the scales of justice, with all the same drama as a Court TV episode. 

Whether we want to admit it or not, having some semblance of balance is crucial for our mental and physical health, relationships, and overall well-being. 

While the idea of work-life balance can be unique for every accountant, I want to offer you a few strategies that might help:  

Prioritization: While we all have a lot of work to do, we also need a better way to prioritize everything that needs to be done.  When I teach prioritization, I teach my clients to identify high-impact tasks and focus on them first, helping them to get more done in less time and have time for the things and the people they love.

Set Boundaries: The next skill you need is to be able to set and stick to boundaries.  Clearly defining working hours, communicating them to colleagues and clients, and sticking to them is one of the cornerstones to the ability to have work-life balance. Establishing boundaries also creates a structured work schedule. 

Take Breaks: Lastly, you must incorporate regular breaks during work hours for productivity and preventing burnout. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but the optimal amount of time for your brain to focus is 90 minutes.  This will not only improve your productivity but will also help you prevent burnout as well.

Bottom line – you can be a dedicated accountant and still prioritize work-life balance.  In fact, I would argue that the people in your life professionally and personally need you to focus on your well-being so that you can sustain the career you’ve worked so hard for. 

Exploring Work-Life Integration

While you’re probably much more familiar with the concept of work-life balance, the concept of work-life integration can be a potential game-changer. Unlike the traditional balancing act inherent in work-life balance, work-life integration is more fluid.  

Think of work-life balance like a seesaw, with work and personal life on opposite ends needing equal weight. Now, imagine work-life integration as a Venn diagram, where work and personal life overlap, finding common ground and synergy.

The interesting thing is that you may already be incorporating work-life integration and not know it.  Here are some examples of Work-Life Integration:

Flexible Work Hours: This is when you adjust your work hours to fit personal commitments, like starting early for school drop-offs.

Remote Work: If there’s one positive effect that came from the pandemic, it’s showing the accounting industry that remote work can actually work.  With remote work options, it allows you to be present for family obligations while meeting work deadlines from home.

Just in case you still need some convincing, here are some of the benefits of work-life integration:

Reduced Stress: By being able to break free from rigid schedules, this can allow for lower stress levels and feeling more in control of your time.

Increased Flexibility: This is an important benefit because work-life integration allows you to adapt to professional and personal demands for a more sustainable and fulfilling lifestyle.

Enhanced Well-Being: Lastly, if we want to be accountants for the long-term, we need to be able to have our work and our life contribute to our overall well-being, not create lasting issues physically, mentally, and relationally.

I don’t want to overlook the fact that challenges do exist, such as the risk of overworking or struggling with boundaries.  So, whether you prefer work-life balance or integration, the key is finding what suits you, your accounting career, and your personal life best.

Pros and Cons: Work-Life Balance vs. Work-Life Integration

As I mentioned before, both work-life balance and work-life integration offer their own unique set of advantages and challenges. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each approach.

Work-Life Balance

Pros:

Clear Boundaries – If you can set effective boundaries, setting clear work hours allows you to create structure, helping separate work and personal time.

Prevents Burnout –  The accounting profession is in big trouble if they don’t address the issue with burnout.  Maintaining a separation between your work and your personal life can reduce the risk of burnout, offering a mental break.

Cons:

Rigidity –  Sometimes a strict 9 – 5 just isn’t going to cut it.  Strict schedules may not accommodate unexpected personal needs or work demands.

Limited Flexibility – As we all know, life can be unpredictable, so one of the cons with work-life balance may be the struggle to adapt to unpredictable work scenarios or personal activities during traditional hours.

Work-Life Integration

Pros:

Flexibility – If flexibility is important to you, work-life integration might be your best bet.  It offers high flexibility, allowing the blending of work and personal activities.

Enhanced Well-Being – In my experience, the better I feel, the more productive I am.  That’s why I think it’s important to point out that integrating well-being or self-care into the workday creates a more sustainable accounting career.

Cons:

Risk of Overworking – Unfortunately, without clear boundaries, there’s a risk of overworking and difficulty disengaging from work responsibilities.  If you’re not careful, it can seem like you’re never punching out from work.

Potential for Distraction: Another issue is if you’re not skilled at being able to focus, then integrating personal activities during work hours may introduce distractions, affecting productivity.

While some of us thrive in the structure of balance, others find freedom in integration. Either way, you want to be open to looking at both approaches.

The truth is that what works in one season of life may change over time. The goal is to find an approach that suits you professionally and personally, rather than conforming to a rigid model.

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Strategies For Achieving Either Work-Life Balance Or Work-Life Integration

Since I’ve incorporated various aspects of work-life balance and work-life integration into my career over the years, and have helped my coaching clients do the same, I want to offer you some practical and easy-to-implement strategies.

Let’s start with some simple strategies for achieving work-life balance as a Smarter Accountant.

1. Effective Time Management

  • Prioritize Tasks: Use “The Decision Matrix” to focus on high-impact tasks first.  Even though your brain will want to do what it considers urgent, you have to intentionally decide what are the high-impact tasks.
  • Batch Similar Activities: Group similar tasks to streamline workflow.  When you work on the same type of task, even if it’s for different clients, you reduce the cost of task switching.
  • Time-Blocking Techniques: I teach a time-blocking process that combines brain management and time management, but make sure you’re planning your time and not trying to manage your time from a to-do list.

2. Set Better Boundaries

  • Define Working Hours: Hands down, setting and sticking to boundaries is one of the biggest issues my coaching clients have.  You need to learn how to effectively communicate your hours to colleagues and clients and honor your own boundaries.
  • Limit After-Hours Communication: For work-life balance to be sustainable, you need to designate specific times for checking emails.  This has been a game-changer for myself and my coaching clients.
  • Set Realistic Deadlines: No matter how valuable you want to be to your company or your clients, you need to learn to set realistic, achievable timelines and deadlines to manage stress.  Even though we have a lot of deadlines as accountants, self-imposed deadlines are incredibly helpful.

Now, let’s dive into strategies for embracing work-life integration:

1. Effectively Use Technology:

  • Mobile Accessibility: For work-life integration to work, be open to using mobile apps and cloud tools to make it possible to work from anywhere, but don’t become some dependent on having access that you never stop being plugged into work.
  • Collaborative Platforms: Another important thing to consider when making work-life integration work for you and everyone you work for or with is embracing real-time communication tools for efficient collaboration like Microsoft Teams or Slack.
  • Automation: Lastly, by automating repetitive tasks, you make it possible to get more done in less time which then frees up time for personal activities.

2. Be Mindful Of Task Switching:

  • Transition Rituals: Something that often gets overlooked in our busy days is developing habits marking transitions between work and personal activities.  Make sure you have a way to let your brain know that you’re stopping your focus on professional things or vice versa, you’re stopping your focus on personal things.
  • Sequential Planning: Arrange tasks in a sequence that complements your energy levels throughout the day.  Since I’m a morning person, I’m always looking to plan the most mentally taxing work earlier in the day, allowing for more mindless activities to happen towards the end of the day.
  • Purposeful Planning: And speaking of planning, you have to learn how to plan your day intentionally.  As I tell my coaching clients all the time, “If the math doesn’t work with your time management, you have to be even more intentional when you plan your calendar.”

Remember, with work-life integration it’s about finding a flow that supports both professional and personal aspects of your life without exhausting yourself. It’s always going to come down to choosing what works best for you in the long run.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the difference between work-life balance and work-life integration.  Whichever one you choose, be open to trying different strategies until you find the best way to have a sustainable accounting career.

As I shared in my book, “The Smarter Accountant,” the world needs Smarter Accountants; not burned out, stressed out, frustrated accountants that dread going to work, who are overwhelmed by everything happening both professionally and personally, and who are considering walking away from the profession.  

Hopefully, you can see how either work-life balance or work-life integration can help you.  Whether you choose one of these or not, just know that an easier accounting career is possible.

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I discussed the difference between work-life balance and work-life integration.  I hope you’ve gained valuable insights and practical tools.

Here’s what I want you to know – embarking on a fulfilling accounting career shouldn’t be an uphill battle.

Imagine a professional life where stress and overwhelm take a backseat, where long hours and tight deadlines no longer define your days. If you’re ready to regain control, the 5-minute Smarter Accountant Quiz is your first step towards a more balanced and sustainable accounting career.  

This quiz isn’t about debits or credits – it’s about you.

You’ll be able to uncover the obstacles holding you back and unlock the key to a more rewarding professional life. Fortunately, your career doesn’t have to be overshadowed by burnout and frustration.

Simply go to the www.thesmarteraccountant.com to take The Smarter Accountant Quiz. 

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.

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 7 Habits of Highly Effective Accountants

As accountants, we are smart people doing smart things.  But when was the last time you really assessed how effective you are?  

You might be juggling the demands of your accounting career and managing your personal life, but is the life you’re living the balanced, successful, and happy one you dream of? If you’re being completely honest, I’m going to bet the answer is no.

That’s why I think it’s time for us all to take a look at our personal and professional effectiveness.

The question is, what’s the importance of effectiveness?  Well, imagine if your job was like a puzzle, and being effective was the key to solving it. Being effective means not just doing things, but doing them in the smartest, easiest, and efficient way possible. 

It’s about achieving the results you want without feeling overwhelmed or burnt out – like finding the perfect solution to that tricky puzzle. The next question is, why does this matter to accountants? Well, it matters because being effective isn’t just about ticking off tasks; it’s about creating the career and the life you really want.

The truth is that whether you work for someone else or you run your own firm, you’re already effective in some areas. Your job is proof of your effectiveness in the professional arena, and if you’re a parent, ensuring your kids have a cozy bed, a roof over their heads, and an education is your mark of effectiveness in the parenting zone. 

You might also feel accomplished because your plate is full, and you haven’t run away to a remote island – even though the thought might have crossed your mind a few times.

But true effectiveness is about achieving your goals without the stress and chaos. It’s about feeling more in control.

Being effective as an accountant means making the best use of your time, resources, and skills to get things done. The real magic happens when you can have the results you want without feeling like you’re drowning in the process.

But here’s the thing: sometimes, in the midst of our busy lives, we get stuck in a cycle. We find a rhythm that gives us some semblance of control, and it becomes a rinse-and-repeat scenario. 

For example, you might think your time management game is strong, but ask yourself – how often do you feel like you’re playing catch-up or drowning in tasks?  How often do you complain that there’s never enough time?

In this episode I want to shake things up and have you consider how long you’ve been running on autopilot, doing the same things at work and at home. If you find yourself buried under tasks, overwhelmed by work deadlines, or missing out on personal time, chances are you’re not as effective as you could be.

I’m not judging you or suggesting you judge yourself; it’s about being aware. If you want a more balanced, easier career and home life, it’s time to rethink how you’ve been doing things. Unfortunately, the less intentional you are, the less effective you become. 

Learning how to be more effective can save you so much time and effort. Whether you’re aiming for better productivity, financial success, or improved relationships, mastering the art of effectiveness is your key to a more fulfilling life.

How To Recognize Ineffectiveness In Your Life

Let’s start with how you would know if you’re being ineffective.  The truth is that life gets busy, and sometimes, what we’re doing isn’t as helpful as we think. 

The first indicator is an unmanageable workload.  If your tasks and responsibilities seem to be piling up faster than you can handle, it’s a clear sign of ineffectiveness. 

For example, if your to-do list never seems to get shorter, and you find yourself struggling to keep up with deadlines and tasks, it’s time to reassess your approach.

Feeling overwhelmed on a regular basis is another red flag. If the sheer volume of accounting work and deadlines leaves you feeling like you’re drowning, it suggests that your current strategies might not be as effective as they could be.

Third, making the same mistakes repeatedly can indicate a lack of efficiency. Whether it’s errors in financial reports, overlooking crucial details, or mismanaging time, recognizing patterns of repeated mistakes is important for effectiveness. 

Fourth, if you feel stagnant in your professional development, it may be a result of ineffective approaches. If you find yourself stuck in a routine without evolving, it’s time to reassess your methods.

The fifth indication of ineffectiveness is procrastination or hesitation in making decisions.  If you frequently find yourself delaying important choices, it may be a sign of indecision or a lack of a structured decision-making process.

Sixth is poor time management.  Constantly feeling rushed, missing deadlines, or struggling to allocate time effectively are signs that your time management skills are not as effective as you need them to be

The seventh indicator is an overemphasis on perfection.  If you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time perfecting every detail, it may be a sign of inefficiency.

And lastly, if you experience chronic stress or feel like you’re on the verge of burnout, these are often linked to ineffective work habits. If you constantly feel stressed, fatigued, or emotionally drained, it’s an important indication that your current approach may not be sustainable. 

Now that you know some of the signs, what’s next? It’s time for intentional actions. 

Being intentional is like being the conductor of your life train. It’s about taking charge and making smart choices about where you want to go and how you want to feel.

For example, if your old time management system isn’t working, you have to be willing to try something new. Being intentional means doing a time audit, looking at your routines, figuring out what’s not working, and purposefully making changes. 

It could be learning more effective time management strategies, better prioritization, conquering procrastination, setting boundaries, delegating tasks, focusing on what really matters, or finding quicker ways to do things.

Being intentional is the key to making your career and your life easier. Take a step back, look at your routine, and make choices that match your goals. If you want to feel more in control, less overwhelmed, and have a more sustainable accounting carrer, start by making intentional choices.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Accountants

Becoming a highly effective accountant is all about adopting habits that not only improve your professional life but also improve your overall well-being. Let’s dive into these seven habits:

#1 – Live and Work More Intentionally – to become a highly effective accountant, the first step is living and working more intentionally.  And this entails understanding what I call “Intention Deficit.”  If you’ve ever found yourself living on autopilot, making decisions without a clear purpose, that’s what I call Intention Deficit – the lack of conscious living. 

Effective accountants are intentional decision-makers. They understand the importance of setting clear intentions for both big career moves and small everyday choices.

To become a highly effective accountant, you need to begin setting intentions for big and small decisions.  Being intentional means having a roadmap for your decisions. 

From mapping out your career goals for the next five years to deciding how you approach a conversation with a colleague, setting intentions guides you towards a more purposeful, effective, and balanced professional and personal life.

#2 – Learn Better Time Management – As we know all too well, time is a precious resource, and highly effective accountants know how to make the most of it. Taking control of your time intentionally involves understanding that it’s not about having more time but utilizing the time you have wisely. 

It’s about managing your workload with purpose and avoiding the reactive trap.  It’s also about utilizing your brain effectively for optimal productivity.

As I’ve shared numerous times, this is the podcast where brain science meets accounting.  You need to understand that your brain is a powerful tool, and effective accountants learn how to harness its potential, especially when it comes to managing their time. 

It’s like upgrading to the latest software for optimal performance. By understanding how your brain works and organizing tasks efficiently, you can improve your productivity and get more done in less time without feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

#3 – Delegate More – To become a more effective accountant you have to get over the uncomfortability with delegation.  Delegation is not a sign of weakness but a strategic move towards efficiency. 

Highly effective accountants overcome the discomfort associated with asking for help. It’s like realizing you don’t have to carry all the grocery bags into the house in one trip – distributing the load strategically makes the journey easier.

The truth is that delegating tasks isn’t just about lightening your load; it’s about avoiding burnout. Highly effective accountants understand that balance is key. 

By delegating wisely, you prevent overwhelm and maintain a sustainable pace in both your professional and personal life.  As I tell my time management coaching clients all the time, just because it’s on your to-do list doesn’t mean it’s yours to do.

#4 – Take Charge of Personal and Professional Development – To become a more effective accountant you need to create a development plan that incorporates what’s important to you, not what’s important to others.   

Creating a personal and professional development plan involves getting clear on your values and priorities.  It’s about setting realistic goals, whether it’s pursuing advanced degrees, venturing into entrepreneurship, or cutting back your hours.

It’s also about setting goals, knowing why they’re important to you, understanding the obstacles, coming up with the strategies to handle each obstacle, and then taking action.  Highly effective accountants set clear goals and take action to achieve them. 

They understand it might be uncomfortable to push themselves outside their comfort zone, but they are clear about their vision.  Whether it’s personally or professionally, you need to take charge of your development because you’re the only one who knows what matters most to you.  

#5 – Implement the Decision Matrix – To become a highly effective accountant, mastering the Decision Matrix is crucial. This tool is a game-changer for optimal results in accounting tasks.

The Decision Matrix involves identifying and prioritizing tasks based on their ease and impact. Instead of spreading yourself thin, pinpoint the key tasks that have the highest impact and focus on them first, starting with the easy, high impact items first and then moving on to the hard, high impact items next.  

The truth is that one of the biggest challenges for us as accountants is decision fatigue.  Using the Decision Matrix makes it crystal clear how to prioritize what needs to be done.

While multitasking may seem like a shortcut to getting more done, highly effective accountants recognize the drawbacks when not managed properly.  They understand their brain’s role in managing their to-do list and how a confused brain will always defer to doing less.

#6 – Leave Work at Work – To become a highly effective accountant you need to get better at separating work and personal life.  In the age of virtual work and technology, highly effective accountants recognize the importance of creating boundaries. 

Leaving work at work isn’t just a physical act; it’s a mental and emotional detachment that contributes to overall well-being. It’s like closing the office door, both literally and figuratively.

You also need to recognize the cost of not detaching.  The truth is that the cost of not detaching from work extends beyond your professional life. 

Highly effective accountants understand the impact on physical and emotional health, family relationships, and long-term productivity. By recognizing this cost, they actively prioritize moments of detachment for a healthier work-life balance.

They give themselves permission to leave work at work and do not feel guilty for it.  In fact, they improve their confidence by setting and sticking to boundaries.

#7 – Improve Emotional Intelligence – To become a highly effective accountant you need to recognize the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) on your success. Beyond our technical knowledge, emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role in success for accountants. 

Highly effective accountants acknowledge the importance of understanding and managing emotions, both their own and others’. They are better able to handle things professionally and personally, feeling much more in control, focused, and motivated.  

While emotions aren’t talked about often by accountants, it’s incredibly important to understand that emotional intelligence isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a valuable asset. Highly effective accountants embrace and incorporate emotional intelligence into their interactions. 

They understand that their feelings drive their actions so they’re keenly aware of how they’re feeling before they take action.  They know how to switch from feeling unhelpful emotions to more useful emotions.

Highly effective accountants understand that studies have shown that your EQ is a greater indicator of success than your IQ.  They’re willing to incorporate emotional intelligence into their professional and personal lives, and see incredible results.

Hopefully, in adopting these seven habits, you can pave the way for a more intentional, balanced, and successful professional and personal life. It’s not about reinventing the wheel but recognizing the power of choosing to become more effective in your actions. 

Becoming a Smarter Accountant: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Accountants In Action

Now let me share how some of my coaching clients have implemented the 7 habits of highly effective accountants and how their careers and their lives improved.

One client works for a mid-sized firm and is a senior accountant who is very career focused.  She decided that being more intentional was going to be her main focus.  

We outlined clear goals for professional advancement so that she felt more in control. By being intentional about her decisions, she got a promotion within a year, helping to improve both her financial growth and job satisfaction.

Another client is a tax accountant for a small firm and decided that taking control of his time was the best habit he could focus on. He learned effective time management techniques and prioritized tasks based on their ease and impact. 

This not only reduced his stress levels but also allowed him to complete projects more efficiently.  Because he was getting more done in less time, colleagues began asking what his secret was.

Another client is an accounting manager for a pharmaceutical company who used to shoulder the entire workload to prove her capabilities. Recognizing the need to delegate, she worked on overcoming her discomfort with delegating and started distributing tasks among her team. 

Although it was uncomfortable at first, this not only prevented burnout but also helped to develop her team members.  Everyone started to feel more job satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.  

One of my clients is a young accountant who wanted to take the CPA exam and create a development plan for his career.  Together we set goals for passing the CPA exam and attending industry conferences. 

This proactive approach not only improved his knowledge and technical skills, but also opened doors to networking opportunities, paving the way for a more rewarding career.

He eventually chose to work at a mid-sized firm that encouraged him to specialize in tax.  With a clear path, he was able to focus on what was going to move the needle forward.

Lastly, another client is a forensic accountant with her own firm.  She felt constantly overwhelmed by the volume of cases she handled. Once she learned and implemented the Decision Matrix, she identified the tasks that made the highest impact. 

By managing her time around those first, she not only improved the quality of her investigations but also found herself with more free time for personal pursuits.  She realized how much time she had been wasting on low impact things and was able to get more done in less time than ever before.

Hopefully, these stories help you to see the impact of becoming a Smarter Accountant and focusing on the 7 habits of highly effective accountants.  

With understanding what I’ve shared here, they began to have easier, more sustainable accounting careers.  And when that happened, they also saw improvements in their personal lives as well.

Just know this – you worked hard to become an accountant; you deserve a less stressful time being one.  

Well, that’s what I have for you.  Thank you for joining me as I discussed the 7 habits of highly effective 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.

I want to know everything that’s getting in the way of you having an easier accounting career and offer you some helpful tips and suggestions.

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.  This will help 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.