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Did the Accounting Profession Ruin My Hobbies?

Today I was in a meeting with a 29-year-old accountant who decided to join our firm. It came up in conversation that she was a skater. The fact that Accodex doesn’t have a problem with that was a part of her consideration for joining. On reflection we do have have tons of talented people at the firm with a diverse mix of interests and hobbies. All of which are encouraged and celebrated internally and on our social media.

Earlier this week one of my friends Vinh Giang was interviewed by a local radio station. He’s now a magician by trade, who ditched the accounting profession before he finished college. The untold story, was the circumstances that lead to his decision to leave the profession:

It was while doing a work placement in his final year of an accounting degree that he made his own defining life decision.

“I was working there and at the end of every single working day I would be performing magic for all of the employees there… and then one day one of the partners comes out and he says to me: ‘In six months’ time, two things are going to happen: you’ll either voluntarily leave because I shouldn’t have employed you… or I’ll fire you’.

“And he said, ‘because you’re in the wrong job’. And he showed me his hands and, I remember this forever, he said, ‘I have arthritis. I’m 72. I spent my whole life, starting from 32, building this firm. It’s not worth it. Totally not worth it. The biggest love of my life is piano. I can’t play anymore.’

“And he said ‘This is the most crushing thing for me, you have to understand, because if I could switch places with you, I’d do it in a heartbeat.’”

From that moment, Giang undertook to pursue his passion, literally making magic happen.

All of this got me thinking about my own hobbies and interests (or lack thereof). Before I started in the accounting profession, I worked at a gym, play video games every night, and went out partying on the weekends. They weren’t exactly hobbies, but I was a reasonably well balanced human. When I went into the profession, each year I became less interested in these things. I gradually became more consumed by work and study, and this hasn’t really stopped since.  Fortunately, I have engineered my career so I get a decent amount of diversity through writing and speaking. When people ask me what I do outside of work, I’ve got nothing. My life now is comprised of working, going home exhausted and watching Netflix til I fall asleep. Rinse and repeat.

I’ve spoken with friends in the accounting profession, and it is not uncommon. That being said, many don’t really see it as a problem. SImilarly, I’ve met accountants where certain activities and hobbies have been actively discouraged by firms. Maybe this is the reason so many millennials hate the accounting profession. This is why I am so fascinated by accountants that can crush it in the profession and hold down external interests.

So I’ve got to ask; is my lack of hobbies caused by the accounting profession, or is the fact I lacked hobbies the reason I became an accountant?