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For example, sticking to outdated methods or delaying important tasks can affect our productivity and efficiency.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.

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.

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.