Yes, it’s that time of year again, when proclamations of change are made and everyone professes to be resolute in their goals.
The fact is that most of these statements don’t materialize, despite all best intentions, but let me give you one prescription for the new year and hopefully beyond: If accountants, and the profession as a whole, have any hope or goal of change, you need to do the uncomfortable.
What does it mean to “do the uncomfortable?” It can include nearly anything outside of one’s comfort zone, ranging from not responding to every client call or email, to working comparatively less hours, using technology you haven’t before if it means increasing efficiency, or even posting entry-level positions at a higher pay (you are raising fees anyway, yes?). And maybe, just maybe, embracing more diverse staffing practices.
Change, in and of itself is uncomfortable, and it is not for everyone. It also doesn’t have to be anything major. These are, at least initially, incremental steps with the goal of improving your life and the life of your firm.
Look, if you’re going along in a way that works for you and your firm, leave all the change-mongering at the door. You do you. But if you want to make any move at all this year, take an honest look at how you are functioning.
Take a look at the clients, staff, and systems you have in place. Are they making you happy? Are you doing the kind of work you want to do, making the money you want (or need) and still having enough personal time?
Maybe, just maybe, if you care at all about this great profession, or at the very least about yourself within it and achieving some form of life-work balance (yes, that’s how we say it, now), then stepping outside of your comfort zones is what is going to make any of these things actually happen. It may seem simple, even trivial, but taking that awkward, uncomfortable step is the only way to find out if myself or anyone else who thinks this way is full of it or actually on to something.
You may be saying, “Look, I’ve tried the newer, better, different approach, and it doesn’t work for me.” To that I’d say, when you did that, at any point did it feel uncomfortable, even wrong? Moreover, what haven’t you tried?
I’m not saying change for the sake of change, or follow the latest trends. That’s not you and that’s not what I’m saying you need to do. Find what works, but in the context of “I know things can be better, I just don’t know how.”
Someone recently said, “how do you know if you’re on a sinking ship or if it’s just changing direction because it kind of feels the same.” Ask yourself, is it the result of any changes you’re making or do you feel the world happening to you? Ultimately, doing these “uncomfortable things” is about taking some control and being OK to not feel OK, at least initially.
It may sound trite, but nothing truly worth doing is always going to feel “right” or “comfortable.” Not at first, and this is the most crucial time. This is when the quit comes in or, at the least, the tendency to retreat to the comfort zone. When that feeling hits, that’s when you dig a little deeper to push forward. That’s when you know it’s working.
If “same old” isn’t really working for you, find your reason for making any change possible, however small it may seem. Because in the end, doing the uncomfortable is doing yourself, and perhaps the entire profession you are in, a favor.
And never forget, you are not alone. If I’ve learned one thing in my years overseeing this profession, it is that it is a true community. Find your people when things feel awkward, they will be there for you because, at the very least, they’ve probably been there or are there too.