What an Experienced Accountant Can Tell a Newbie

On the path to building a successful practice, sometime we get caught up the urgency of the moment, forgetting to take the time for extended thought. Reflecting on what I've learned in observance since I began in my career, here are seven insights that I think would help any budding as well as veteran accounting professional.

1. It will all be OK. Generally speaking, most of the concerns that you have after college or grad school will have long worked themselves out by 30, 35, or 40. So much of what seems to be urgent and critical now, crucial to your future well-being and happiness, can prove to be less so with the passage of time. Then, looking back, you think to yourself, why was I so agitated back then?

2. Maintain your health all along the way. I've had many friends at varying ages—in their 40s, 50s, 60s—who've had surgery for this and that, who are limited in mobility, or who have passed away. Health is not something to take lightly even in your mid 20s. Once you begin the slippery slope toward not maintaining your health, it's hard to get it back. If you maintain healthy habits all along, get proper sleep, maintain a good diet, and exercise regularly, even after many decades, you still can be adept at most of what you could do in your post-college years.

3. Friends come and go. Some stay with you for a lifetime, some are your friends during eras in your life, and some depart rather quickly. At one point or another, somebody who you thought was a close friend will betray you, or abandon you, or otherwise seem distant. You might exert considerable energy seeking to win that friend back, and rarely does it work. In general, the friends we make by high school and college seem to become more important with each passing year. Yet, you can make good friends, even great friends, at any age. You have to be open to the possibility.

4. Watch your finances. The fastest and most effective way to maintain control of your finances is to construct a 12-month cash flow. When you plot your projected income vs. your projected expenses, you gain the best picture of your cash position at the end of each month. There is no substitute for doing this. I have maintained a cash flow projection for myself since my mid 20s. Moreover, since becoming an entrepreneur in my mid 30s, and working for myself all these years, my projected cash flow has been an invaluable tool.

5. The world is both a fascinating and chilling place. Altruism, beauty, and grace are all around us, but so is greed, the quest for power, and lust. Some people will do whatever it takes to get what they want: ravage the environment, trample on others, or act as if maintaining what we have for future generations is not important. Such behavior occurs on both the left, right, and middle of the political spectrum. Even environmental groups are not without their own faux pas.

6. Learn to trust your instincts. The intuition and instincts that we've developed since we were small lead us well. Many people minimize or ignore their internal feelings in favor of someone else's opinion, especially in this day and age of social media. However, the wisdom of following "the beat of your own drum" is as good now as ever. Your brain, your heart, and your gut all function for you around the clock, to give you answers without you having to engage in considerable analysis. Once you tap these amazing mechanisms, don't be surprised if your decision-making capabilities improve. You have it within you.

7. Only you will be there the whole way. From now until the end of your life, however long it might be, you are the only person who will accompany you every step of the way, on every client encounter, on every trip, and on experience. Your life is a work in progress and a do-it-to-yourself proposition. Blaming others or citing nebulous factors that keep you from getting what you want is a prescription for mediocrity. Fortunately, most people, most of the time, have the power to move from where they are to where they want be, and so do you.

In the end, your career and life largely will be what you make it. And that is wonderful news.

About the author:
Jeff Davidson, The Work-Life Balance Expert®, is founder of the Breathing Space Institute in Raleigh, North Carolina. He wrote Breathing Space and Simpler Living, recorded 92 audio programs, and created 24 iPhone apps. Visit: www.breathingspace.com.

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