When a CPA approaches me about coaching, it usually happens for one of two reasons.  First, they’ve either just received a promotion or are on the verge of a promotion and are .  Or, second, they’re struggling and are on the verge of quitting their job and sometimes, leaving the accounting profession altogether.

For those who are struggling, one of the common questions I get is “Erin, how do other people do it?”, meaning…how do they survive in this career longer than I have?  The question they really want to ask is “Is there something wrong with me to be feeling this way?”.  If you’re reading this thinking “this is me!” don’t panic- the answer is no, there’s nothing wrong with you.

Feeling burned out or lost at some point (or many points) in your career is not uncommon.

Do you want the good news or the bad news?

The bad news is that once you’re at this place, it’s not super fun to try to bring yourself back from it.  It’s easier to just quit and start something new.  I did it.  I’ve seen many others do it, and if you chose this path you wouldn’t be the first or last.  However, you may have some regrets later on.

The good news is that it’s not impossible to come back from feeling burned out or lost in your career.  In even better news, there are things you can do to prevent falling into this pattern.

Here are 3 things you can do thrive in your accounting career:

  1. Don’t Get Lazy

Hear me out on this- when I think about most of the accountants I know, I wouldn’t typically describe them as lazy.  However, many accountants & CPAs are so busy being busy that they have become lax about managing their career progression.  We get caught on the hamster wheel chasing deadlines and forget to stop to take an inventory of where we are and where we’re headed.

Be sure to take time to evaluate how your career is going.  What do you love about it?  What do you wish you could change?  Where do you want to be in 5 years?  One common thread among people who leave the profession early is that they aren’t doing this.  When they finally do stop to evaluate, they’re typically not happy with where they’ve ended up.

  1. Take Ownership

Once you’re clear about where you’re headed and potential changes you want to make in order to reach your ideal role, you have to take ownership of it.  Many CPAs are hoping that their firms will hand these opportunities over to them on a silver platter, or hidden somewhere in the workpapers.  It’s not to happen.  CPAs work for other CPAs who are busy, and more importantly, are not mind-readers.  It’s your job to manage your career.  If you’re not getting the experience you want, ask for it!  If you’d like to be doing less tax work and more estate work, work with someone to put a plan in place to make it happen.  Take ownership and responsibility for creating the career you want.

  1. Sharpen Your Saw

Sometimes, looking at where you want to be in 5 years can be overwhelming, or feel so far away that it isn’t exciting or motivating.   Even if your big goal is a long-term one, I’d bet that there are skills and experiences that you can begin to develop now to help you make that dream a reality in the future.  Make a list of those skills and experiences, and make sure you’re developing at least one of them at all times.   This might be through work experience, CPE courses, a mentor or coach, internships, etc.

Pursuing these mini-goals serves a few purposes.  First, it gives you something to work on in the meantime as you work towards your bigger goal.  Second, you get to experience short-term wins which keep you motivated and  inspire you to stay in action.  The more action you take, the closer you are to that long-term goal.  Before you know it, that 5-year plan may become a 3-year plan. 

What action can you take today to re-engage in your career? 

We’d love to know your thoughts- drop a comment below or send us an email.  We’d love to help you on the road to a more Well Balanced career!

ERIN