As you probably know all too well, as accountants and moms we make a lot of decisions all day, every day. From how to handle our client’s needs, to how much screen time our kids can have, to where to go to dinner on date night with our partner, there are a lot of big and small decisions that typically fall on our shoulders.
I don’t know about you, but even though I’m smart and capable, sometimes I just wish someone could take a pile of my decisions off my plate and make them for me. I know it sounds like that would be amazing, but on the other hand, if I’m completely honest, I’d still probably make my own decisions about that person’s decisions.
I was just listening to my mentor, an extremely successful business woman and mother, speak about decision making and she joked about being a “control enthusiast”. I had to laugh because for most of my life I had the need to control the people, places, and things in my life in order to feel a sense of security and a sense of well-being.
My belief was, if I could just control what other people did or didn’t do, I could have the life I wanted. If I could make decisions for everyone – how they should think, feel, and behave – then I could mold them into what I needed in order to be happy.
As you can imagine, it was exhausting, futile, and not much fun for me or for them. That need to control just drained me to the point of being on the verge of burnout, and making many areas of my life a total mess.
If you haven’t experienced decision fatigue, I can tell you first hand that it is one of the most draining things you can experience, especially as a working mom. Unfortunately, we often don’t recognize it until it’s too late – we’re just too busy thinking that we need to make so many decisions and control so many things to realize that there are some decisions that, once made, will make everything much easier.
The truth is that there’s a domino effect that happens when you make certain wise decisions. It’s as if that one domino decision is able to knock down so many of the others that were lined up behind it, just waiting to drain you with decision fatigue.
Thankfully though, I listened to my mentor’s advice and once I learned how to wisely make the 3 decisions I’m going to share with you, my career, my finances, my relationships, my time, and my self-confidence improved exponentially. I have to admit that I still have to work on my “control enthusiast” ways, but having made these 3 decisions has changed everything.
If you haven’t made the 3 decisions that I’m going to discuss, let me give you the advice my mentor gave – if you’re not taking the time to make intentional, conscious decisions about your life, don’t be surprised when your life isn’t what you want it to be. If you’re going to be in control of anything, let it be these 3 decisions.
This week I’m going to discuss each of the 3 decisions you need to make wisely and why they matter..
Decision #1 – Who you spend your time with
The reason I started this podcast and why I continue to do it, is that when I learn something that helps me be the best version that I can be, I want to share it with you all. I am constantly learning new things that have nothing to do with accounting and I want to make sure that you have the benefit of learning them as well.
If you’re a CPA, you’re already bombarded with mandatory continuing professional education classes each year, and that’s fine for your accounting career, but what I’m passionate about helping you learn is continuing PERSONAL education as well. If there’s anything that has improved my ability to be a better accountant, mother, wife, and person, it’s what I learn every day from my mentor and from others.
So that is why this first decision – who you spend your time with – is so important. But here’s what I want to share with you about this decision – it’s not necessarily about the people you’ve met or that you are in contact with, it’s about the people you spend your time with the most when you’re listening, reading, learning, or being entertained.
For example, if you listen to podcasts like I do, you’re spending your time with those podcast hosts even though you’ve never met them. If you’ve been listening to this podcast, you and I have probably spent a good amount of time together even though we’ve never met in person.
If you read books or articles, or you listen to audiobooks like I do (pro tip – listen to them at 1.5x speed), you’re spending your time with those authors even though you’ve probably never laid eyes on them. I have connected with, and literally changed my life, all because I have spent time with amazing people I’ve never met.
The truth is that, in this day and age, since information is so readily available to us and we have mini computers in our pockets, we probably spend more time than we realize with people we’ve never met. I know this is definitely the case for me.
I have spent SO much time with the podcast hosts of the shows I listen to, with the incredible authors I’ve read and listened to, as well as with the informative Youtube video creators that I watch. Since I love to learn and it’s so easy with the help of my Iphone, I bring the most amazing people with me as I’m getting ready for work, on my commute to and from work, and in my free time.
I’m not saying that the people you choose to physically spend time with don’t matter, like your partner, your children, or your friends, but what I am saying is that who you decide to spend your time with affects so many of the other decisions you make. You may not even realize how influential the people you spend your time with are, in all areas of your life.
If the people you spend your time with tend to focus on the negative, they complain, they gossip, or they judge, guess what your brain wants to do to connect with them? It wants to think what they think, feel how they feel, and do what they do – it’s how humans are hardwired.
Unfortunately, when we don’t pay attention and choose consciously who we want to spend our time with, we are living unintentionally. When we aren’t choosing on purpose, we’re allowing the lower, primitive, negatively biased part of our brain to choose for us, and guess what it naturally gravitates towards? Negativity.
Maybe you’ve heard the quote by motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, that says, “You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. Well again, that’s not necessarily who you see in person, it’s who your brain spends the most time with, listening, absorbing, learning, processing, and emulating.
So make sure you’re paying attention to who you spend time with. Are they lifting you up or bringing you down? Are they encouraging or discouraging? Are they looking for ways to better themselves and others or are they always complaining about how unfair life is? Are they open to learning new things or are they stuck in arguing for their limitations? Start paying attention to who you spend time with and make the best decisions you can, even if it means making a change.
Decision #2 – How you make a living
When’s the last time you checked in with yourself and asked whether what you’re doing for a living and what you’re doing to make money for yourself and your family is really what you want to be doing? If I had to guess, it’s probably been awhile since you asked yourself what you really want to do when you grow up.
I know this might sound strange in a podcast geared towards accountants, but just because accounting is how you make a living right now, doesn’t mean it’s the right decision for you forever. This is one of the most important decisions that you need to make wisely and not necessarily once during your lifetime – how do you really want to make a living?
If it’s being an accountant, then that’s great, but if it isn’t, isn’t that something you should be honest about? And if you do want to make a living being an accountant, what does that look like for you? Is it public accounting or private? Is it being an employee or an entrepreneur? Is it audit or tax? Is it being a generalist or having a specialty? Is it part-time or full-time? Is it for profit or non-profit?
If you think about it, we are given so many aptitude tests and participate in career counseling when we’re teenagers but interestingly, the reasoning, executive functioning part of our brain isn’t fully formed until we’re 26. We’re guided by well-meaning parents, teachers, and counselors, but how often do we stop and make a conscious decision when we’re 30, 40, 50, or older?
The truth about deciding how you make a living is that there’s so much more power in options, but as working mothers, we tend to settle for what’s acceptable to others, undervaluing ourselves in the process. Just because you got an A in an accounting class in high school or graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Business Degree, doesn’t mean that how you make a living is already decided for you.
Having an aptitude in one area doesn’t mean you can’t explore something else. Just because the path you’re currently on makes sense, doesn’t mean it’s wrong to question it.
Let me be transparent – I am literally living in two worlds when it comes to making a living; I have my 30+ year accounting career and I have my 10+ year coaching career. There are pros and cons to both and for now I’m balancing them as I explore what I want to be when I grow up.
What I was taught by my mentor, that I want to share with you, is that there’s so much power in redeciding what you want to do for a living and then allowing the uncertainty and fear to be along for the ride. Any time we consider making a change it’s completely normal to freak out, but just because it’s scary doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong.
Whether it’s making a new decision or re-committing to an old decision, what you want to do for a living is an incredibly important decision to spend some time considering. Too many of us get caught up in a wave of decisions made FOR us, instead of stopping, questioning what we really want, and then taking action to get it.
Out of all the decisions you need to make on a daily basis, set aside some quiet time and write down your options. Let your imagination run wild, just for a moment, and consider what you’d like to be when you grow up, no matter how old you are right now.
This is an important decision that you need to make and remake throughout your life, not at one moment in time in your teens or 20’s.
Decision #3 – How you manage your health
As mothers we’re very good at taking care of the health of our children. We’ve got their appointments all scheduled, the various doctors and specialists they need to see, and we’re typically monitoring what they eat, how much physical activity they get, and how much screen time they’re allowed to have.
For the most part, our children are pretty healthy and happy because of the effort we put into making it that way. If one of our children needs some extra help, whether it’s the physical, emotional, or mental health, we jump into protective mama bear mode, figuring out exactly what they need and who can help them.
Unfortunately, we’re not so good at managing our own physical, emotional, and mental health. We’ve normalized a lot of the buffering that we do – overworking, overspending, overeating, overdrinking, over distracting – looking at how other accountants are coping and believing that that’s just the way it’s done.
Let’s face it, you’re an intelligent woman so you already know the things that you SHOULD be doing, but the issue is that you’re not doing them. You know you should probably keep your weight within a healthy range, that stress is harmful even if accountants think it’s normal, and that being overwhelmed and unhappy isn’t what you want, but you’re just not consistently doing something about it.
The truth is that the decisions you make about how you manage your health are more important than the previous 2 – who you spend your time with and how you make a living – because without your physical and emotional health, none of the other decisions matter. You’re not going to be around to spend time with anyone or make a living doing anything if you don’t manage your health.
I know how hard it is, especially as a mom, to focus on ourselves and how selfish it can feel. But let’s be honest – if we fall apart, then what? We are the foundation of our family so until we build on solid footing, the structure is doomed to crumble.
The single most important decision I’ve ever made when it came to my health was to join a program to learn the skill of managing my mind and being coached every week. Once I worked with my mentor and learned exactly how to reduce and eliminate stress, how to manage my mind so I could manage my time, how to improve all of my relationships, and how to feel better without needing everyone and everything to change, that’s when things fell into place.
The wisest decision I ever made was deciding that I needed help in order to have the personal and professional life that I wanted. I did not want to be one of those accountants on the verge of burnout, who complains about how difficult everything is, and who’s just dealing with the drudgery of an accountant’s life until retirement.
I wanted to be an example of what’s possible for myself, for others, and for my children. For most of their lives I was the quintessential stressed out accountant mom, but that just wasn’t working for any of us, especially me.
Let me just say that how you manage your physical health is incredibly important, but how you manage your emotional health makes all the difference. The truth is that when you feel better, you do better.
Over the past year I lost 30 pounds because I wanted to make sure my BMI (body mass index) was in the normal range and that all my bloodwork improved, I made sure I went for my yearly mammograms, and I made sure I got plenty of sleep. But managing my mind on a daily basis has done more to improve my overall health and happiness than anything else..
So hopefully I’ve given you some things to think about and some decisions that you might want to reconsider making wisely. No matter what decisions you’ve made about who you spend your time with, what you do for a living, and how you manage your health, you can always choose to redecide right now to make those decisions with more awareness and intention than before.
- Deciding who you’re going to spend your time with is not necessarily about the people you’ve met or that you are in contact with, it’s about the people you spend your time with the most when you’re listening, reading, learning, or being entertained.
- How you really want to make a living is one of the most important decisions that you need to make wisely and not necessarily once during your lifetime.
- The truth is that the decisions you make about how you manage your health are more important than the previous 2 – who you spend your time with and how you make a living – because without your physical and emotional health, none of the other decisions matter.