It’s not uncommon for accountants, at some point during their career, to think about departing their firm to start their own practice or to consider developing new skills that would take time and effort to cultivate.
If you’ve already passed a certain age, however, you might be thinking, “I have this big dream, but I'm too old.” Well, take heart. Even if you're nearing 50, 60, or 70, a “mile-high” achievement could still be in store for you.
Across the board, on average, accounting professionals are living longer than their counterparts of just one generation ago. In general, you are likely to live longer than you think you will.
In light of this, there's no telling what you're capable of two, three, or four decades hence. The legendary Grandma Moses became famous as a painter in her 70s and 80s and still was creating notable works of art past age 100.
When Ronald Reagan was re-elected as U.S. President in 1984, he was already 73 years old; he left office when he was 77. Prior to this, he spent 25 years in the motion picture and entertainment business before entering politics.
Challengers frequently belabored Reagan’s show biz background, yet, because of his longevity, his political career was longer and more distinguished than theirs. He had simply lived more years and, hence, had done more things.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, now 85, is a beacon of service to America and hailed as a hero in many sectors of society. We could all cite many other examples.
The point is, as average life spans extend beyond 80 and the health and well-being of the typical accounting professional continue on to an advanced age, it’s not unrealistic to assume that you might achieve some spectacular goal in some arena of your life that is not even within consciousness at this moment.
Many people believe that the seeds of what you might be doing 20, 30, or 40 years from now are already in formation, if only at the cellular level! When I took the course “Technologies for Creating,” designed by Robert Fritz, author of The Path of Least Resistance, I encountered one of the most powerful affirmations of my life to this point. Imagine, Fritz encourages, that everything you've ever done is preparation for what's coming next.
So, what are a few ways you can bring a “mile-high” achievement to fruition later in life?
1. Do Research: Undertake some exploratory reading via books, magazines and online articles about the path that, for whatever reason, has continuously lingered in the back of your mind. You're merely exploring, so there is no right or wrong direction. What you learn is all grist, or not, for a future mill.
2. Tap Into Your Network: Talk to people in alternative fields to gain first-hand accounts of what it's like to be a beekeeper, financial counselor, bank loan officer, forest ranger, or what have you. There’s nothing like hearing from those in the know.
3. Try It Out: Take a sabbatical, if your current employment position allows for it, or try to volunteer and actually spend time in the potential job/trade/endeavor. You might decide you don't like it or, alternately, it's worth keeping in mind for the future.
As the philosophers say, the pattern of the universe (or, more specifically for your purposes, the pattern of your accounting career and life) is right there, visible in everything you do. You have only to recognize how to work with your strengths and limitations, aptitudes and blind spots so as to transcend yourself.
You can boldly go where you’ve never gone before and eventually set and reach goals that in an earlier time might have seemed beyond your essence but, on some level, perhaps were within you all along.
About Jeff Davidson
Jeff Davidson, a.k.a. “The Work-life Balance Expert”®, speaks to accounting firms and associations on increasing their work-life balance so they can be more productive and competitive, and still have a life away from work. He is the author of Everyday Project Management, Breathing Space, and Simpler Living. Visit breathingspace.com.