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September 29, 2023

Good Goal Setting Takes Introspection

accounting second career

Recently, I wrote a blog about looking at busy season differently. Instead of focusing on the grind, take a dispassionate view to clarify what you learned from the most hectic time of a CPA’s year.

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of life. Stopping to think about the bigger picture is put aside in the crunch of doing work and attending to other obligations. But you may not be doing yourself any favors. After all, who wants to wake up after spending five years at their job and realize they haven’t learned much since the day they started? That’s what happens to far too many of us.

There are ways to make sure you aren’t in that position. Take that step back, look at where you are and set goals and benchmarks to make sure you’re headed where you want to go.

These three questions will help you focus on what you need to do to fulfill your career goals:

1. Do you go to work smiling every day or do you dread going into the office on Monday morning?

Pat yourself on the back if you’re smiling. It means you’ve found a fit that works with your goals and ambitions. If you’re experiencing Sunday Night Blues, it’s time to examine what about your working is causing the dread and see what you can change about it.

2. When was your last promotion? Are you at the level you expected or were you left behind? Are you still working with the people you were hired with, or have they moved on?

Think about whether you’re listening to the verbal and nonverbal clues your colleagues and managers are giving. If it seems you’re being passed over, take a moment to think about why. Ask for a meeting with your manager or your mentor to talk about the reasons.

3. Are you being trained in the technical and soft skills you need to achieve your career goals?

Whether you want to make it to partner ranks, the C-suite or nothing close to either of those, training is key to the next step in your career.

These questions are a starting point. As you answer them, you’ll think about other things that have happened and will impact your future.

Your next step is deciding what the answers mean and using them to set goals. Perhaps you discover your technical expertise is lacking. A good goal would be to ask for advice on bringing them up to speed. That will serve you well even if you ultimately decide to move on to another company or firm.

Maybe you find out your firm has “quotas” for promotion because they keep an informal ratio of the number of managers to staff. Maybe you decide that’s not a cultural norm you can support. Your goal might be to move on to a new position.

Setting goals is a good thing, but it requires some time to be in your own head. Think about where you want to go, and then figure out how to get there.

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