I started my firm five years ago, almost exactly. I had recently split from my husband and started my own accounting firm so I could be around for my children. I grew my practice, got certified in many cloud-based add-ons, began teaching Xero’s certification course, became a Xero US Ambassador, bought an app, launched a Xero training company (elefanttraining.com) and wrote a book of Xero practice exercises.
I said “Yes” to everyone and everything. I just kept going.
Then this May, I was speaking to a group of bookkeepers, telling my story about crafting my dream practice out of the struggle of being a single parent, and I realized I had missed my children’s first day of school for a conference and would be missing their last day for a work trip.
I was operating out of momentum, not purpose.
I wrapped up my role as a Xero Ambassador and declared that for sixty days, I would be on a career meditation. I promised myself I would:
- Be open to what the world brought my way, but not commit to anything.
- Not accept new clients.
- Read everything I could about business, change, startups, technology, organization and marketing. If someone recommended it, I bought it.
- Be present on social media for the purpose of helping new practice owners so I could understand their hurdles.
- Make time for quiet. Listen devoutly.
How did July and August go? Great. My practice did not fall apart. In full disclosure, I have a really efficient practice with great, self-motivated staff. We have processes and workflows that, quite honestly, I often get in the way of more than I facilitate. My “going quiet” did not bottleneck any of our current work. My staff got in touch with me when they had questions, but those were few and far between since we were only working on existing clients. I referred away a small amount of new work, but nothing that I regret. Summer is slow across the board. We have had more leads in the last two weeks, than the two months before.
I had time to do things to fill my tank. I read some really great books- Habit Stacking by S. J. Scott, for one. I replaced the mail app icon at the bottom of my iPhone home screen with Audible, so audio books were always at hand. (Note- with one week to go, I accidentally deleted the Mail app altogether. No idea how. I have yet to replace it- being unlocked from email is one of the best things I have ever done for my sanity.) I ran consistently which gave my brain time to let loose. I get lots of great ideas on runs.
I also made an effort to meet new folks. There were several accounting thought leaders that I knew of, but hadn’t met one-on-one. I made time to jump on Zoom calls with people throughout the sixty days.
By the end of my meditation, I knew where I wanted to focus my time going forward- helping accountants and bookkeepers create their own dream practices using technology. I will continue to lead, and likely organically grow the practice, but that won’t be my goal. I will spend my energy in developing Elefant for technology training, and another yet-unnamed consulting group which will provide boots-on-the-ground change management for accounting firms.
Accountants are notorious for being overworked. It’s kind of our defining characteristic. However, we don’t have to be on full burn all the time. In fact, that’s unsustainable. Taking a full sixty days to reflect on my career was absolutely what I needed, and I recommend you do the same. Anything shorter creates its own kind of stress and urgency. The purpose is to live each day WITHOUT an agenda, but to be open to the world.
And hopefully in living without a to-do list, you’ll discover what it is you were meant to do.