What Do You Want and How Will You Get It?by
To get what you want in your accounting career, and in life in general, you probably already know that you need to take action. Taking positive steps is difficult, however, when you haven't determined exactly what you're seeking. So, on a day-to-day basis, at work, at home, and as a variety of situations unfold, it makes sense to figure out what is important to you .
What are the "must-haves" for you to proceed throughout the work day? Respect? The corner office?
Your "must-haves" are separated from the "wants" — those things you'd like to have but are not crucial for making your day, adding to your peace of mind, or keeping you on balance. Your want list could be as long as you like. Some of them you'll go for, some of them you won't. Still, it's important to identify them.
You also have “Wouldn't it be nice if...” aspects of your life. These are things that, if they fell into your lap, would certainly be pleasant to have but, if they never materialized, wouldn't necessarily be missed.
By using this three-point classification system, you will be in a better position intuitively to take action when the situation or issue calls for it and to lay back when it doesn't.
So, start drawing up a list of everything that you must have, want to have, or would be nice to have.
Life's Little Menu
As you review each item, please mark it as:
M for must,
W for want, or
N for nice.
Remember, the M’s represent things you must have. In other words, your day, your week, or your life would be less without them. The W's represent things that you want to have. You could go on without them, but it is better to have them. The N's represent things that would be nice to have, i.e., if they fall into your lap you'll take them, but they're not anything for which you'd extend yourself.
Here are a few potentially helpful hints and observations:
- You might need to peruse the lists several times, or you could find yourself changing around M's and W's and N's. That's okay.
- If you're not sure in what category to assess something, leave it blank for now. Perhaps the answer will become clear later.
- If something doesn't apply to you at all, i.e., you have no interest in it, try rewording it to make it fit into one of the categories for you.
- If you've tried rewording it, and it still is of no interest to you whatsoever, feel free to cross it out.
- Use different colored writing instruments if that inspires you. This is merely a suggestion.
- As soon as you're ready, begin! Then look up so I'll know you're finished.
When assessing what you must have, want to have, and think would be nice to have in your home life, for example, list all the dynamics of interpersonal relations — respect, more tenderness, time alone, more attention, ad infinitum. For instance, your "musts" might include: more time together, more time at specific events, or help with the children.
Your "wants" might include: less time in front of the television, exercising together, or more help with meals. And your "nice-ifs" might be: to not have the toothpaste tube squeezed in the middle, to have the toilet seat put back down after use, or time alone.
As you can quickly surmise, you could then create the same type of grid for others in your household, in-laws, friends, neighbors; working your way to even clerks, cashiers, receptionists, attendants; and so forth. Then, when you're ready, you can approach your workplace and career in the same manner.
So, What Must You Have?
Your goal now is to consolidate by topic area all of the things you decide are must-haves. If you truthfully must have these things, you now have the complete roster, or smorgasbord, of everything for which you will seek in the coming weeks, months, and years. In a sense, the items you identify as must-haves, once you assign specific time horizons, become goals that support your chosen priorities.
If you find something in your must list that, on closer inspection, doesn't support one of your priorities in any way, perhaps you can redirect it to your want list.
What Do You Want to Have?
Proceed through your master list again to create a consolidated list of the things you want to have but are not absolutely crucial to you. For these items, you'll assert yourself on occasion and when appropriate, but you won't go out of your way.
Many of these items could be important to you, but their absence does not impede your progress for peace of mind in work or in life. You can continue to support your priorities, regardless of the wants you're unable to attain.
Review the list one more time and consolidate those items you indicated as nice-ifs, i.e., nice if they fell into your lap. Once again, these are items you'll accept if they come your way, but you won't extend yourself to obtain them. At times, however, something that once made your nice-if list might later grow in importance.
How Much Energy Do You Choose to Allocate?
"If it is to be, it's up to me." If you intend to have the musts that you identified above, you will have to generate the necessary energy to make them a reality in your life.
Even the most skilled professional has to expend some energy, and then mix it in with timing, language use, persistence, and follow-through. After that, it's likely that some musts still will continue to allude you. No one gets everything, even among the musts of life.
Merely drawing up the list is valuable in itself, however. If you’ve firmly resolved that each item on your must list will be yours one fine day, your progress will be astounding.
Keeping Your Chin Up Even if Nothing is Going Right
When you're making your way through rough terrain, be aware of this odd phenomenon. Suppose you're trekking over a series of mountains You're on top of one mountain, and you look over to see the next peak. It doesn't look that far away.
You start making your way down the first mountain to the valley below. Halfway down, you look up to see the next peak. Suddenly, it seems much farther away, despite the progress you've made from when you first saw it.
The same phenomenon is at play when you first identify all of your musts and go about attaining them. When you first generate the list, you feel good because, unlike 99 percent of the population, you've identified what's vital to you in your career and personal life. This is much further than most people ever get. In a sense, you're on one mountain peak.
As you descend into the valley, where the task of appropriately seeking these items occurs, you might feel as if you've got an even longer way to go. Yet, you're already en route and farther along the trail than when you started.
So, take a deep breath, throw your shoulders back, and smile. You're way ahead of the class.
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.