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Interview with CPA MOMS Founder and CEO, Mayumi Young, CPA About Her Entrepreneur Journey, Why She Started CPA MOMS And Her Goals For The Future

Interview with CPA MOMS Founder and CEO, Mayumi Young, CPA About Her Entrepreneur Journey, Why She Started CPA MOMS And Her Goals For The Future

Every CPA has a story – we all have a journey we’ve taken to get us to where we are.  Every successful entrepreneur also has a story and journey as well. This week I had the pleasure of interviewing CPA MOMS Founder and CEO, Mayumi Young, CPA.  Mayumi’s CPA and entrepreneur journey is fascinating and inspiring for any accountant and mom who wants to create a better future for herself and her family.

During the interview we discuss:

  • Mayumi didn’t start her professional career wanting to be an accountant; she became an accountant by default, feeling the pressure of student loans and needing to figure out a good, practical career for women
  • She was recruited into Price Waterhouse right out of college
  • She started in auditing and enjoyed certain aspects of being on the advisory side, but knew she wanted more
  • Her upbringing, like most women, taught her to get a good job and follow a certain pathway
  • She was recruited out of Price Waterhouse by an international telecom company, in which she ended up being the international Finance Director
  • She reached the “pinnacle” of success, but as she was about to relocate to Europe, she had a defining moment
  • In an airport, she met a woman with her 10 year old daughter and the conversation she had with this woman literally gave her an awareness that changed the course of her life and career
  • She wound up turning down an offer from her current employer when they undervalued her position and her contribution, and she left without a plan
  • She didn’t know what her next chapter was but the moment she chose to be a person who was going to intentionally create her life, as opposed to someone who was always defaulting to what others believed was the “right” or the safe thing, everything changed
  • She had an awakening moment where she realized she wanted to be an entrepreneur and build businesses, but only if they had profit and purpose
  • That began her entrepreneur journey, first building a business that focused on financial literacy curriculum for children in schools, then a coaching business to empower women entrepreneurs and eventually starting CPA MOMS in 2008
  •  Because she committed her life to be of service to others, she learned to surrender to the “signs” and the “taps on the shoulder” along the way, as to what direction she should take
  • She knew there was a big enough need in the marketplace for accountants who were also mothers, who wanted to have a career as well as a family and entrepreneurs who needed the talent and expertise that these women offered
  • She shares that she refuses to be an entrepreneur without a coach and a mentor because she knows that having an outside perspective is the key to her growth
  • As an entrepreneur she realizes how pervasive it is for women to undervalue themselves and how important it is to have someone help you gain the confidence necessary to grow both personally and professionally
  • After a few different business models, she came back full circle to the franchise model, knowing that that was the best way to grow CPA practices while reconnecting families
  • She explains that CPA MOMS’ job is to bring families together, to allow women who choose to raise their children, to have the ability to have a career or grow their own practice  
  • All of the CPA MOMS custom built training, custom technology, marketing education, and the placement of teams and talent have all been designed to deal with the four core challenges that mompreneurs in the making deal with – not enough time, not enough support, not enough quality clients, and not enough confidence
  • CPA MOMS commitment is to grow 500 CPA firms in the next 5 years and reconnect families, creating a ripple effect for accountant moms and their communities
  • The letters she gets from the children of the CPAs who are moms, that chose to take that leap of faith, have the courage to go do what’s in their heart, to be at home with their kids but also have a successful accounting practice, are what get her up every day
  • She shares that she is looking forward to becoming a “B Corp” which means a corporation that is recognized as a company that exists as a win/win/win for every stakeholder, for social impact, and to make a difference, such as Whole Foods and Patagonia
  • These are businesses that want to have a beneficial social impact on the planet    
  • She shares that everything she’s ever done to deliberately create the business and the life success she’s achieved have all been packaged into a program called “Your Future Vision” which CPA MOMS will be launching very soon  
  • If you are interested in designing a life that has meaning, you’ll want to check out the “Your Future Vision” program to learn the exact steps that Mayumi used to intentionally create the life she now has, even in the face of any difficult circumstances or situations the a lot of us are facing right now

Why You Are Underearning And How To Stop

Why You Are Underearning And How To Stop

As a professional woman, you probably know all about the statistics for the wage gap between working men, women and minorities, as well as issues for the advancement of women, especially in the accounting profession.  Although there has been an effort to focus on closing the various gaps, you might still be experiencing issues around your earning potential and career advancement.

Although some of what working moms in the accounting profession face, in regard to these issues, are not necessarily within your control, there actually is something that is within your control, whether you realize it or not.  What you do have more influence over, is the issue around underearning.

While doing some research on this topic I discovered that there’s actually a 12 Step “Underearners Anonymous” program, just like Alcoholics Anonymous.  I am very familiar with 12 Step programs after dealing with a family member’s addiction, but I had no idea that there was also a program for people dealing with the issue of underearning.

If you think about it, in simplistic terms, an addiction is anything that habitually gets in the way of experiencing a full life.  Whether it’s an addiction to drugs and alcohol, to food, to shopping or to social media, when you use something to escape or avoid the normal trials and tribulations of life, you may need to take a deeper look at what’s going on.

Per the Underearners Anonymous guidelines, the symptoms of underearning include things like an indifference to time, undervaluing and underpricing your services, as well as misplaced guilt or shame.  As with any addiction, I was really happy to see that if someone needs help, they can find support group meetings and literature to guide them as they recover from their issues.

For this episode though , the definition for underearning that I’m going to use came from Brooke Castillo who explains that, “underearning is earning less than you are capable of earning, when you desire to earn more”.  The emphasis being on the words “capable” and “desire”.

So in using this definition, you can have the capability to earn more, but if you don’t have the desire, you may or may not be underearning, depending on whether it’s a conscious decision or not.  In other words, you might not be underearning if you’re happy with the balance you have in your life and you honestly aren’t struggling or wanting financially.

As a working mom, there’s nothing wrong with having a good education, being a professional and a mom, and not wanting to advance your career any further than it already is.  Being content with where you are is great if that’s honestly what you want.

But if you are among the many working moms that I talk to and coach, that know they are smart and capable, have the desire to earn more, yet can’t figure out why they’re underearning and how to stop, then this episode is for you.  There is no shame in having an issue with underearning, it’s just important to first acknowledge that it might be a problem for you.

This week I’m going to discuss what causes underearning so you can recognize it and what to do to stop it.

What causes underearning

The issue with underearning is that you can often look outside yourself for things to blame and for external justifications.  As a working mom and an accountant, it can be easy to look at the statistics for women in the accounting profession and assume that there’s just no use in trying to earn more.

But this overarching belief that it’s not worth it, or that money really isn’t that important anyway, is part of the problem.  If you honestly experience a good deal of worry when it comes to money, then it’s important to understand that underearning is only making your concerns and your stress worse.

The anxiety that comes from not being able to pay your bills, to provide for your family, or to have more financial security, is one of the biggest struggles that working moms regularly deal with.  Unfortunately, it can seem like there’s no way around it other than to accept what you are currently earning and just be grateful you have a job.

I want to be clear that I’m all for being grateful, but only when it’s used wisely and actually gets you the results you want.  It’s great to surround yourself with gratitude, especially during this current pandemic, but when gratitude leads to inaction or selling yourself short, it’s not actually helpful.

By understanding what causes underearning, you really can take your power back, have more control over your earning potential, and decrease the frustration that often comes with underearning.  Basically, when you change the cause, you change the effect.

One of the most insidious causes of underearning for working moms is undervaluing yourself.  A lack of self-confidence mixed with a heaping cup of self-judgement, and sprinkled with some limiting beliefs about money, is the perfect recipe for underearning.

Most of the women I speak to were raised to believe, over many generations, that it was the man’s job to support the woman and that if she worked outside the home, it was for the “extras”.  They were taught that they had a supporting role, not a major role, in the earning potential of the family.

The issue is that with a lack of self-confidence, you actually create a lack of options for yourself.  By undervaluing yourself, you settle for less than you deserve, constantly look for outside validation, and often end up giving away a lot of your time and talent in positions that you are overqualified for.    

Another sneaky thing that can cause and support underearning is being frugal; in a deprivation type of way, as opposed to a conscious, deliberate choice type of way.  In the deprivation, scarcity way, you believe that if you just pare down and limit your expenses to the bare bones, then you won’t have to push yourself to make more money.

This scarcity mindset actually supports underearning because instead of focusing on making more money and dealing with the challenges of overcoming underearning, you are creating a false sense of comfort.  You wind up believing that If you just take out more loans or create a stricter, more frugal spending budget, then looking at how and why you might be underearning isn’t necessary.

An additional cause of underearning is not seeking opportunities to grow where you are, or looking at other possible options.  It’s much easier to accept what is, settle, and play small, rather than challenge yourself and push beyond your comfort zone.

I speak to so many intelligent working moms who feel trapped in their current situation, not being able to see that there are so many more possibilities than they’ve allowed themselves to believe.  Whether it’s what they were told as young girls, or what they’ve experienced up until now in the accounting profession, they are confused and unaware of what’s possible. 

Even if you are in a relationship where your partner could support the whole family financially, using other people and situations to support the reason that you’re underearning is really a cop out.  You have to acknowledge that you are a smart, capable woman who can use her skills, time and talent to discover ways to add value and make more money.    

Some other causes of underearning include not having goals, not strategizing, doubting too much, looking to the past as evidence of what’s possible for the future, giving up too easily, indulging in overwhelm, not asking for help – you get the drift.  But now that you know some of the causes, let’s focus on what to do to stop underearning.

How to stop underearning

If you now have the awareness that you are underearning and what might be causing it, then it’s important to know that there are things you can do to stop.  Remember, the definition I’m using for underearning is “earning less than you are capable of earning, when you desire to earn more.”

The first thing I suggest is taking an honest look at the excuses or justifications you have for underearning.  The justification that I have heard from clients include:

  • My boss won’t give me a raise
  • There aren’t any good jobs out there
  • I live in a small town
  • Companies don’t want to hire working moms
  • I don’t know enough about (fill in the blank)
  • Clients won’t pay higher fees

If you have been underearning for awhile, these justifications might seem completely true, but the key is understanding that if that justification isn’t serving you, you actually get to challenge it.  Challenging a justification means being open to being wrong, in order to get the results you really want.

For example, if your justification for underearning is that your boss won’t give you a raise, then you have to be honest about whether you have considered talking with them again, or coming up with ways on your own to add value.  If you looked at your ability to earn as an exchange of value for money, then how could you be more purposeful with your time, effort and skills in order to create more value?

The key is knowing that when you have believed your justifications for quite awhile, your brain will look for evidence to prove that your belief is true, whether it’s helpful or not.  To stop underearning you need to challenge each justification by asking questions like, “Is that true?” or “What if I’m wrong about that?”

For example, if your justification is that companies don’t want to hire working moms, you can ask yourself, “Is that true?” or “Can I absolutely know that that’s true?” and sit for a few minutes in those questions.  What trips up a lot of working moms is assuming that just because you have a belief, you then conclude that it’s an irrefutable fact; so be willing to be wrong about your justifications and allow your brain to look for evidence of the opposite.

At CPA MOMS we match companies and entrepreneurs with talented accountant moms, so we know first hand that the underearning justification that companies don’t want to hire working moms is false.  When you challenge each justification, you will be pleasantly surprised by how much evidence there is to refute it, if you look for it.

The second thing that you can do to stop underearning is to stop undervaluing yourself, your intelligence, and your capabilities.  It can be challenging at first, but in order to stop underearning you need to stop underestimating what it takes to be a working mom and an accountant, and start looking for all the ways that you are more capable than you give yourself credit for.

You have to own your intelligence and your abilities, instead of focusing on all the ways you don’t measure up.  As an accountant, there are always going to be things to learn and ways to become more valuable to the companies you work for or the clients you serve, therefore, it’s important to decide what your future vision is, rather than looking to the past for evidence of whether it’s possible or not.

Stop for a second and think about this – when was the last time you asked yourself how much you want to make, without dismissing the idea?  The truth is that, up until this point, you’ve been making a certain amount of money based on your beliefs about what’s possible.

In other words, you’ve unconsciously created a ceiling in your mind of what you can earn, and the amount of money you currently make is the result of that ceiling.  If you want to stop underearning, you have to raise the roof and challenge yourself to take the actions necessary to earn what you truly desire to earn.    

The key is to start being more open and vocal about the amount of money you want to make, without judgment, or fear about what other people will think.  Money needs to stop being such a taboo subject for women, especially for working moms.

I can tell you from my clients experience that what’s holding you back is fear, shame and the avoidance of feeling uncomfortable.  But as I’ve shared in previous episodes, uncomfortability is the currency for your growth; getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is how you create something better for yourself and for your family.

As a working mom, it’s important to stop hiding from discussions about your worth and about money, so that your children can learn how to break the cycle of underearning as well.  If you don’t want to repeat the past, you have to consider a different future for you and for them.

If you are ready to draw the line in the sand and stop underearning, CPA MOMS is here to support you and your family.  Whether it’s with opportunities, support, training, or coaching, you don’t have to do this alone when you are a part of the CPA MOMS family.

 

Summary  

  • There is no shame in having an issue with underearning, it’s just important to first acknowledge that it might be a problem for you.
  • The issue with underearning is that you can often look outside yourself for things to blame and for external justifications
  • If you now have the awareness that you are underearning and what might be causing it, then it’s important to know that there are things you can do to stop.
  • As an accountant, there are always going to be things to learn and ways to become more valuable to the companies you work for or the clients you serve, therefore, it’s important to decide what your future vision is, rather than looking to the past for evidence of whether it’s possible or not.

Dealing With Difficult Clients

Dealing With Difficult Clients

When it comes to the complicated world of being an accountant in 2020, it would seem like there’s enough to have to deal with, with PPP loans, the ever changing Tax Code and economic uncertainty.  It doesn’t seem fair to also have to deal with difficult clients on top of everything else, but in a service based industry like accounting, there’s really no way to avoid it.

Unfortunately, no matter how well you screen potential clients or how long you’ve had a pleasant relationship with them, clients can be difficult at times.  It doesn’t matter how big or small your practice is, or what types of businesses you provide your services to, there is no guarantee that you’re not going to have to deal with difficult clients along the way.

But let’s face it, you naturally wouldn’t be in the business you’re in if all of your clients were challenging, but when you do have client issues, it can be very draining on you emotionally as well as on your time and effort.  No matter how good you are, dealing with a difficult client can take a toll on your productivity and increase your level of stress.

As we are all living in more challenging times than ever, those easy-going clients that may have never been an issue in the past, might start showing up as more problematic than before.  It’s important to be prepared because the more stress your clients are under, the more challenging they might become for you.

Since having a balanced life is probably important to you as well, learning the strategies for dealing with difficult clients can really bring more equilibrium to your work and personal life.  It can be hard to leave your work issues at work, which means difficult clients can often affect how you are at home as well.

As a working mom, when you feel overwhelmed, frustrated or angry with a client, that can often affect your level of stress when you’re with family.  Before you know it, you’re overwhelmed, frustrated and angry at your spouse or children, without seeing the connection between the two.

As an accountant, it’s even more important to learn how to successfully deal with difficult clients because when emotions get high, intelligence gets low.  Being able to manage your workload, your productivity and your technical competency is directly affected by how you feel towards your clients.

You can always pre qualify new clients or have clear engagement letters, but that doesn’t insulate you from having to deal with challenging clients.  Unfortunately there is no magic filtering system to guarantee you’ll always have cooperative, patient, or appreciative clients. 

Since it’s not always prudent or possible to fire difficult clients, it’s important to understand how to handle them in a way that supports your bottom line, as well as theirs.  With the tools I’m going to share, you’ll be able to manage all of your clients, difficult or not. 

This week I’m going to discuss the major categories of difficult clients, the main causes of stress around difficult clients and a tool to help you deal with them.

 
 

The major categories of difficult clients

If you attended an accounting conference and asked for a show of hands of how many accountants had difficult clients, I don’t think there would be many unraised hands.  There are so many ways that clients can get on your last nerve, but here are just a few of the major categories that you might have found:

  • Clients not happy with the work you produced – whether your client knows much about finance and accounting or not, these clients challenge things like the quarterly Financial Statements, the amounts you project for their quarterly estimates or the fact that you didn’t deduct the $50,000 season tickets to their favorite sports team as advertising.
  • Clients not happy with your pace – no matter what time of year it is, or how slowly they send you the information you need, these clients want you to wave a magic wand and have their work done as soon as they decide it should be done.
  • Clients not happy with your opinion – with these clients, there’s usually something they’re considering, they ask you for your opinion, you explain that in your professional opinion that they shouldn’t do or purchase that thing, and they wind up angry with your answer.
  • Clients who wait until the last minute – we all have clients that forget a thing or two every once in a while, but these difficult clients are the ones who are notoriously late and increasingly demanding on top of it.

Most accountants dealing with difficult clients would also describe them as stressful, wearisome, irritating or hard-won.  I’m sure there are plenty more categories and descriptors that you could come up with as well, but there’s no denying it – difficult clients are nothing new to accountants.

What might be new to you though, is a better understanding of what stresses you out about your clients and makes those clients feel so difficult.  If you have been following this podcast, you might already know the answer to “What makes my clients feel so difficult?”, but if not, let me explain.

 
 

The main causes of stress around difficult clients

The key to understanding what makes your clients feel so difficult, actually has nothing to do with the client, and everything to do with your thoughts about the client and how they should be different.  This can be a hard pill to swallow, but I assure you that it can make a huge difference for how you deal with difficult clients, especially the ones that aren’t going anywhere, any time soon.

First let me be clear that I’m not saying that you shouldn’t fire a client that’s being a jerk or one that’s not valuing you as their accountant; there are definitely times when walking away from a difficult client is in your best interest.  But what I am saying, and what I’ll share with you, is that whenever you are feeling stressed about another person, client or not, it’s because you are resisting the way that they are.

You’ll know this is what’s happening when you feel predominantly more anger or frustration towards that person.  It’s important to understand that the reason you feel anger and frustration is because you’re having thoughts about how this person needs to change their behavior and how they shouldn’t be the way they are.

When it comes to your difficult clients, basically you are resisting the way the client is and wishing they would talk, act or behave differently.  When they don’t, you probably have thoughts like:

  • It’s crazy that they want my permission to do something that is blatantly not allowed by the Tax Code!
  • Their impatience is ridiculous and is getting me more frustrated.
  • How rude that they ask for my opinion and then do the complete opposite.
  • It’s ridiculous that they wait until the last minute and then expect me to get it done right away.

I’m sure you could add a lot more to this list of possible thoughts about difficult clients, but the point is that thoughts like these are exactly what’s causing you anger, frustration and stress.  Thoughts about how the client should behave or how they should be different than they are is why you are frustrated, which then slows down your productivity, your ability to focus, and then why you wind up bringing that stress home to your family.

As I said before, sometimes it’s smart and feasible to fire a difficult client, but during this time of mental, emotional and economic stress, don’t be surprised when you are faced with more difficult clients than ever before.  Your easy-going, easy to please, favorite clients might be showing up completely different now that they’ve been dealing with the pandemic changes to their businesses and their home life.

To help you deal with any relationship conflict, I’m going to share a tool that can help you with anyone, especially with difficult clients.  When it’s just not possible to walk away, this tool will help you handle them better.

 
 

A tool to help you deal with difficult clients

This might be the first time you are really taking a look at how many difficult clients you have, what the challenges are, and how they make you feel, but that is a really great place to start because white-knuckling it with those clients probably hasn’t been working for you.  Thankfully, there is a much better way. 

The powerful tool I’m going to share with you is called The Manual, taught by The Life Coach School.  The idea behind The Manual is that we all have these unwritten instruction manuals for how other people should behave, in order for us to feel good.

If you think about it, you probably have Manuals for your children, partner, family members and friends, to name just a few.  There’s nothing to be ashamed of when you realize you have Manuals for people in your life; we all do.

My Manuals have included things my children should and shouldn’t do so I can feel like I’m a good mom, ways my ex-husband should behave so that we can co-parent, and things my boss should stop doing so I’m not frustrated with him.  My Manuals have also included how my clients should and shouldn’t behave so that I can service them in the best way possible and not be stressed out.

The key with this tool is knowing that your Manuals for your difficult clients are what make you feel angry and frustrated with them, because you want them to be different than they currently are.  But let’s be honest – it doesn’t matter what you think, because they’re going to think, act and behave the way they do, whether you resist it or not.

If you think about it, they also have their own Manual for you.  They’re Manual for their accountant probably has things like “My accountant should be okay with me handing in documents whenever I can”, “My accountant should agree with my brilliant ideas” or “The customer is always right and I’m a paying customer”.

What happens is that they’re acting out of their Manual for you and you’re angry and frustrated that they’re not acting out of your Manual for them.  The hard truth is that you can’t change the client, just like you can’t really change anyone else.

As with any relationship, you can make requests of the other person, but it’s really important to not put your emotional peace and happiness on someone else’s behavior.  With the awareness of the Manuals you have, you have the ability to take back your power and to feel less angry, frustrated and stressed.

To help clarify this, let’s just say that you had been told ahead of time that you’re going to do interesting work, get paid really well, work with great people, but you’ll also have some difficult clients – would you have taken the job?  The answer is almost always yes, but the difference is that you would have had an expectation that certain clients were going to act in a certain way.

With this awareness, you wouldn’t be upset when these difficult clients showed up acting the way you were told that they would.   The key though is in the expectation, and in thoughts like “This client always acts this way” or “This is just part of my job”.

One of the ways I learned to deal with difficult clients was to look at them as you would an innocent toddler.  You wouldn’t think it was wrong or take it personally when a toddler fell down as they were learning to walk, threw a tantrum when they wanted something, or was picky with their food; it would just be what toddlers do and it can be applied to your difficult clients as well.

With one of my notoriously late and difficult clients, I decided to think, “Dan always sends his tax information in late.  That’s just Dan being Dan.”  To be angry and frustrated at Dan, year in and year out, was a waste of my time and energy, and only came from the Manual I had for Dan.

I suggest that if you feel angry or frustrated with a client, notice that what’s upsetting you is your belief about how they should act, and acknowledge that you have zero control over changing that.  I recommend that you then practice thinking a thought that helps you to accept who they are like, “This is just Mary being Mary” or “Of course Joe didn’t listen to me”.

When you drop your Manuals for your difficult clients, you also open yourself up to the opportunity to evaluate your policies and procedures.  Maybe there are certain boundaries that need to be put in place or certain changes that need to be made on your end that you hadn’t considered.

With these difficult times, don’t be surprised if you are faced with having to deal with more and more difficult clients.  But with some awareness and some work you now have the tool to help you handle anyone, at any time.

 
 

Summary  

  • Unfortunately, no matter how well you screen potential clients or how long you’ve had a pleasant relationship with them, clients can be difficult at times.
  • It can be hard to leave your work issues at work, which means difficult clients can often affect how you are at home as well.
  • The key to understanding what makes your clients feel so difficult, actually has nothing to do with the client, and everything to do with your thoughts about the client and how they should be different.
 

Building Resilience

Building Resilience

Why does it seem like some people can take life’s challenges in stride, while others are brought to their knees?  Life can seem like a series of blindsides, but what makes it possible for one person to cope calmly and rationally, and another person freak out over the same situation?

The key is resiliency and it’s never too late to learn the skill.  No matter what challenges you’re facing, resiliency has the answer for coming out the other side with your mental, emotional and physical health intact.

The ability to trust in yourself to overcome any challenge life throws at you is worth learning at any point in your life or your career, but it’s especially relevant during economic and emotional upheaval.  You will always face challenges both professionally and personally, but how you handle those challenges will make all the difference for your future and your family’s future.

By learning how to build resilience, you can:

  • meet the demands of your work and personal life successfully
  • take action to deal with challenges, problems, and setbacks
  • seek support and assistance when you need it
  • know when to stop, rest, and replenish inner resources
  • have a sense of independence, self-efficacy, and self-worth
  • form and maintain positive, mutually-respectful relationships with others
  • have a sense of purpose and goals for the future

No matter what you’re facing or where you are on your career or your life’s path, building resilience can be learned, practiced, developed and strengthened.  The skill of building resilience is really based on how you handle things emotionally – you are either being emotionally reactive or emotionally resilient.

When dealing with life’s challenges, what you really want and need, but probably don’t know how to get, is the ability to maintain a calm and rational state when life throws large rocks, and sometimes large boulders, on your path.  Emotional resilience makes room for big shifts in your life, and it is your greatest ally in times of change.  

No matter what you are facing, you can create a turning point where you shift the old, unhelpful way of handling things, to a newer, more powerful way of thriving instead of just surviving.  The better you get at building resilience, the better you get at handling life.

In reality, change is and always has been inevitable, but how you accept and move forward from it, is going to make all the difference.  You are more in control than you realize, especially when you learn how to build resilience and how to manage your mind.

This week I’m going to discuss the difference between reactivity and resilience and how to build emotional resilience. 

The difference between reactivity and resiliency

No matter how you’ve handled difficult situations in the past, or who has modeled reactivity or resiliency for you, learning how to be resilient is a skill that can and should be learned.  The more you understand where you fall on the range of reactivity and resiliency, the easier it will be to make any desired changes.

Normally, most people fall somewhere in the middle between reactivity and resiliency.  However, since what we are experiencing right now is not “normal”, it’s even more important to know where you gravitate towards and to get clear about how to shift towards resilience.

During this time of health and economic uncertainty, being less reactive and more resilient will help us all weather current and future storms.  As moms, our children are looking to us to set the tone and to be an example of how to handle whatever life throws at them, no matter what age they are.

Reactivity 

Emotional reactivity often seems like it takes on a life of its own.  Something seems to trigger you and before you know it, you’ve reacted in anger, frustration, sadness or any other negative knee-jerk response.

Emotional reactivity is the tendency to experience frequent and intense emotional responses.  It can feel so automatic that it’s difficult to be aware of and control.

When you are emotionally reactive you may not even realize how often you jump to negative conclusions or how much time you spend sighing or complaining.  It might be difficult to recognize because this might be the way you’ve handled things for so long.

To make it easier to determine if you are emotionally reactive, see if any of the following apply to you:

  • You get overwhelmed by your emotions and are often emotionally drained by the end of the day
  • You say or do things you later regret
  • You react in extremes, often feeling like you are on an emotional roller coaster
  • You are prone to lose your temper as a knee jerk response
  • You become overcome with waves of sadness or waves of panic
  • You make big decisions impulsively, without much thought
  • Other people walk on eggshells around you because they’re afraid to upset you

If one or more of these apply to you, you might want to consider that you are reactive.  However, don’t let this be a reason to judge yourself; just allow this awareness be the first step.

When you can acknowledge that emotional reactivity isn’t working for you, that acknowledgment can become your reason for building resilience.  When you are able to direct your emotions, you can handle challenges in stride.

Resilience 

Emotional resilience is the ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises.  It’s the ability to weather challenges without deviating too much from a normal state of calm.  

Research shows that those who deal with minor stresses more easily, also can manage major crises with greater ease.  Therefore, resilience has its benefits for daily life, as well as for the rare major catastrophe.

When you are emotionally resilient:

  • You understand what you’re feeling and why
  • You understand how to manage your mind instead of your mind managing you
  • You allow other people to have their feelings because you understand where they are coming from
  • You are more solution-oriented, bringing a greater sense of awareness, creativity and control in most situations
  • You don’t see yourself as a victim of circumstances, but rather as a strong, capable woman, allowing more options to become possible
  • You surround yourself with supportive people, knowing that it takes a village to do what you do
  • You have the ability to find the humor and laugh at some of life’s challenges, as opposed to always looking for the worst
  • You have the ability to learn from your mistakes, see obstacles as challenges and allow adversity to make you stronger
  • You have confidence in yourself and your ability to deal with life’s stressors
  • You know that self-care is important and you replenish yourself regularly
  • You share how you are feeling and allow others to share their feelings, knowing that part of managing your mind is talking to a trusted friend, a life coach or anyone else that can support you.

No matter where you land on the spectrum of being reactive or resilient, you can always swing the pendulum to building more resilience.

How to build resilience

As a life coach, I’m biased towards having a coach to help you build resilience, especially with the current emotional and economic issues happening with the Coronavirus.  However, if that’s not possible for you, then building resilience can still be done on your own.

In order to build resilience you have to become aware of how emotional reactivity shows up for you.  You have to become familiar with how you feel before you react.

To do this, it’s important to be a non-judgmental watcher of how you are feeling.  Since reactivity seems to happen in the blink of an eye, deciding to pay attention to your feelings is the key.

In the beginning this will happen “after the fact”, where you will take a look at a recent time where you were emotionally reactive and question what you were feeling before your reaction.  Start to pay attention and become familiar with the feelings that lead to your reactions.

For example, you might overreact by yelling at your kids and not even realize you reacted that way until afterwards.  When you do realize it, after the fact, it’s time to be curious and non-judgmental – what were you feeling before you yelled?  Was it overwhelmed, frustrated, annoyed?

Allow yourself to go back to the moment right before you yelled.  There was a feeling that led to you taking that action, therefore, it’s important to be curious about what that feeling was.

The next step is uncover the thought that created the feeling.  Emotional reactivity doesn’t just happen TO you, it happens FROM you, by thoughts you usually aren’t aware of.

At first, it may seem like an overwhelming task to pay attention to the thoughts that are creating your emotional reactivity, but it does become easier with practice.  Since your brain likes what’s familiar, you can create a new habit of paying attention to your thoughts, making that new habit easier.

When you are first learning to build resilience, you will also become aware of your thoughts after the fact.  You will look at a moment where you were emotionally reactive, get clear about how you were feeling just before you acted, and question what thought created that feeling.

For example, you may have realized that the reason you yelled at your kids is because you were feeling overwhelmed and that the feeling of overwhelm was caused by the thought “This is too much for me”.  By understanding the thought, you can decide on purpose, whether that thought is useful or not.   

Even though your brain will naturally resist change and believe that the way you’ve always reacted is your only option, but that’s not true.  When you decide that you want to be a resilient person, you are putting your brain on notice. 

When you learn how to manage your mind, you develop the ability to choose how you want to respond on purpose, and that is how you build resilience.  You begin to create a space between the automatic “feeling → reaction” pattern in your mind.

For example, once you realize that you don’t want to be habitually yelling at your kids, you may decide that the action you’d rather take is talking or discussing things.  To create this new way of handling situations with your kids, you may decide that the feeling of compassion will fuel the calmer action like talking instead of yelling.

By choosing to think a thought like “We all feel overwhelmed right now” or “Everyone is challenged by this situation”, you can create that feeling of compassion on purpose.  The key to building resilience is knowing that when you think better, you actually feel better, and then you do better.

Building resilience, especially during difficult times, is how you come through stronger and more capable for yourself and for your children.  When you learn to build resilience and learn a better way to handle this challenging time, you can be an example to those around you about how to choose resiliency over reactivity.

When you take life’s challenges as an opportunity to build resilience, you will truly be making lemonade out of lemons and, once the dust settles, you will have a skill for life.

Summary  

  • No matter what challenges you’re facing, resiliency has the answer for coming out the other side with your mental, emotional and physical health intact.
  • You will always face challenges both professionally and personally, but how you handle those challenges will make all the difference for your future and your family’s future.
  • No matter what you are facing, you can create a turning point where you shift the old, unhelpful way of handling things, to a newer, more powerful way of thriving instead of just surviving. 
  • When you can acknowledge that emotional reactivity isn’t working for you, that acknowledgment can become your reason for building resilience.
  • Research shows that those who deal with minor stresses more easily, also can manage major crises with greater ease. 
  • When you learn how to manage your mind, you develop the ability to choose how you want to respond on purpose, and that is how you build resilience.

Interview With Heather Satterley, CPA of Satterley Consulting and YouTube Channel “The Appy Hour”

Interview With Heather Satterley, CPA of Satterley Consulting and YouTube Channel “The Appy Hour”

What’s it like to be a 2nd generation CPA mompreneur?  What does it take to never give up on getting the designation of CPA, even if it means achieving it 15 years after you passed the CPA exam? 

Every female CPA has a story and Heather’s is fascinating. This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Heather Satterley, CPA.  Heather is a second generation CPA mompreneur and shares her unique journey to becoming a CPA as well as how she supports CPAs in understanding the technology that is available to make their jobs easier and provide essential value to their clients.

Heather was also recently named one of the Top 50 Women in Accounting 2019 by Practice Ignition.

In addition to her 100% virtual consulting company, Heather has a YouTube channel called the “Appy Hour”.  She and her co-host have free webinars, discussing various technology apps and programs available for accountants, helping them to feel competent and confident with the ever-growing technologies available.  

During the interview we discuss:

 
 
  • Heather’s mom decided after her small business failed, to go back to college and get her Master’s degree because she felt that if she had a CPA to advise her, the business wouldn’t have failed
  • She wanted to have the skills to support businesses to succeed rather than experience the issues that she had experienced running her own business
  • When Heather was in high school, her mom started her accounting career
  • Heather never thought she wanted to be a CPA because she saw how long and hard her mom worked
  • She initially wanted to be a movie star and a rock star but when she was 22 she had her first child and became an inventory clerk at a small company and eventually did bookkeeping for a computer store, giving her knowledge of Quickbooks
  • Her mom asked her to come work for her because of her Quickbooks experience
  • She ended up going back to school and getting her accounting degree 
  • At the time Rhode Island changed the rules and required 150 hours of experience in order to become certified
  • She passed the CPA exam, worked for a few accounting firms and got her enrolled agent’s licence while trying to accumulate her accreditation hours 
  • By this time she had 3 children and didn’t have the bandwidth to go back to school to get her Master’s Degree
  • She started her firm Satterley Training and Consulting because she came across so many accountants who were uncomfortable with the technology and changes that were happening for the accounting industry
  • She started her firm to help accountants become competent and confident using these new technologies
  • Eventually she was offered the opportunity to get a Master’s Degree of Science in Innovation from Northeastern University 
  • Heather never gave up the desire to be a CPA and 15 years after getting her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, she got her CPA credential
  • She points out that we are in a time of change, where what accountants have always done is being disrupted
  • When asked what advice she would give to accountants starting their careers she says never stop learning, keep sharpening your skills and be open to new ideas
  • She discusses what is was like to be the child of a CPA mompreneur
  • How it was important for her to be a strong female role model for her own children
  • She drew a lot of strength from what her mom showed her was possible
  • We discuss the struggle with “mom guilt” and how to still go after your dreams
  • She shares how firms are going to lose talented female accountants if they don’t provide the flexibility that woman want and deserve
  • We discuss the technologies available to work virtually, especially during this time of the Coronavirus
  • Programs like Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams are just some of the technologies that keep accountants connected to their clients and their teams
  • Share File, Smart Vault and Box are just some of the cloud storage applications available
  • Brick and mortar accounting firms are going to need to make technology changes now and after the virus is over
  • This is an opportunity to give your firm a competitive edge because firm’s that are virtual can provide services to clients all over the world
  • Implementing change needs to be done gradually, but it needs to be done
  • If a firm is looking to sell their book of business, they have to be marketable and one of those marketability requirements is going to be technology
  • There are plenty of things you can do now to make your firm more marketable if you are looking to sell in a few years
  • She suggests finding one thing you can do, like going 25% paperless by 2021, and bringing in a consultant to help you plan it out
  • Share your client’s success stories with using technology so that other client’s will get onboard easily
  • She shared the details of the free resources that major tech companies are making available
  • Her top tip for CPA moms is find a mentor and be a mentor
  • She had one mentor that changed everything for her, helping her to believe in herself
  • Then years later she was able to change someone else’s life by just sharing an encouraging word
  • She shares that working moms are superheroes and I couldn’t agree more!
  • You can find out more about Heather at https://satterleyconsulting.com/ or at https://www.theappyhour.com/
 

What To Do When You’re Stuck

What To Do When You’re Stuck

Whether you feel stuck in your current job, your marriage or in indecision about a host of other things, feeling stuck is a very common problem, especially for working moms.  The struggle to make the right decision for yourself and your family can create an overwhelming sense of pressure, confusion and frustration.

Saying things like “I don’t know what to do” or “I’m not sure about this” is so common, that it can seem like the only possible way to respond to life’s situations.  It can often feel like you’re standing in quicksand, unable to do anything to get out of the stuckness.

Unfortunately, feeling stuck can then appear to put a dark, ominous cloud over so many unrelated things in your life.  It’s as if being stuck can leave sticky residue on everything you touch.

For example, you may feel stuck in your job, which leads to a feeling of anxiety.  With that anxious feeling, you may find yourself not only confused about the job, but then wind up more impatient with your children, unable to decide where to go to dinner or possibly having sleep issues.

Feeling stuck can be experienced in a number of ways:

  • Claustrophobic – “I have to get out of here now!”
  • Overwhelm – “I have too much on my plate to make a decision”
  • Sad – “I don’t see any other option but to keep things the same”
  • Confused – “I have no idea what to do”
  • Fear – “I’m afraid to make a decision about this”

If any of these sound familiar to you, it’s perfectly normal.  As a working mom, you are living at a time where there are so many decisions to be made and so many options to choose from, that it can seem completely overwhelming and scary to even try to get unstuck.

Interestingly, sometimes being stuck is unconsciously desirable.  If you stay stuck, you won’t have to take an action that will push you out of your comfort zone and challenge you to grow or change something that might be unwanted, but also familiar.

For example, you may want to end your marriage, but the thought of all the changes that would happen to you and your family, can make staying seem like a better choice.  All the decisions about lawyers, custody arrangements and where you would live can make staying stuck in an unhappy marriage seem preferable.

Learning what’s really going on when you feel stuck and what to do about it, is some of the most freeing lessons to learn.  When you know how to get unstuck, there’s no telling what could be possible for you and for your future.

This week I’m going to discuss the truth about being stuck and the secret to getting unstuck. 

 

The truth about being stuck

When it comes to being stuck, it seems like working moms have more than their fair share of reasons to feel stuck.  Whether it’s dealing with things like how to handle an issue with your child, what to do about your job or whether you should work on your marriage or not, you are typically faced with a lot of big and small decisions.

Confusion and overwhelm are just some of the companion feelings, when you believe that you’re stuck.  Unfortunately, the more often you feel confused, overwhelmed or stuck, the more habitual those feelings become, and the easier it is to default to, and stay, stuck.  

One of the most eye-opening and transformative things I learned in my studies with The Life Coach School is that you should never leave a job, marriage, house, etc. until you know that you can be happy there.  The first time I heard this concept, I was so confused, yet intrigued.

My thought was “If I was happy in those things, then I wouldn’t be considering changing or leaving them, so how does that work?”  The key is in understanding that the job, marriage, house, etc. wasn’t responsible for how I was feeling in the first place.

Just like you, I tended to believe that I needed to change my circumstances to feel better, and when I was confused about what to do, I felt stuck.  What I learned is that the reason you shouldn’t leave or change anything until you know you can be happy (or feel any desired emotion), is because you first need to understand that you create your feelings with your thoughts, not with your circumstances.

For example, the reason you are unhappy in your job has nothing to do with your job, and everything to do with what you are thinking about the job.  If you were to change jobs without learning how to manage your mind, your next job would temporarily make you happy until someone or something wasn’t the way you wanted it to be.

Most people feel stuck because they have a circumstance that they’re confused about; they know they want to feel better, but can’t see a clear way out.  The truth is that you feel stuck because you believe that there’s a “right” choice to be made in order to feel better; you believe that circumstances dictate how you feel so you’re unsure which decision to make.

When you truly understand that life is supposed to be 50/50 when it comes to positive and negative emotions, and that you get to choose how to think and feel about any circumstance in your life, you don’t need to feel stuck any longer.  You get to choose to feel better, with or without anything or anyone needing to be different.

For example, since your thoughts about your job are the only thing making you unhappy in your job, then you have the power to change how you think about the job.  You may find reasons why staying is better than leaving or vice versa, but once you learn how to manage your mind, you will no longer feel stuck; whether you stay or leave, you are always in charge of how you feel about your decision.

The fear of making a “wrong” decision comes from your thoughts, not from what you decide.  Therefore, the truth about being stuck is that it’s always within your power to get unstuck because your thoughts are the only thing causing you to feel stuck in the first place.  

The secret to getting unstuck

It’s all well and good to understand that the feeling of being stuck comes from your thoughts, but then what?  Your brain is offering you an average of 60,000 thoughts a day that, when not addressed, become your default way of thinking – so how can you change that default way of thinking?

In order to experience the freedom of being unstuck, here are a few suggestions:

Looking back from the future

One of the secrets to getting unstuck is to use the higher part of your brain to get out of the present moment and instead, to focus on the future.  When you use the more advanced, human part of your brain, you can imagine a future moment in time where there is much more clarity.

From this future place, where you are no longer stuck and are clear about what to do, you can advise your present self about what to start doing, stop doing and keep doing.  By using the higher part of your brain to imagine a moment when you aren’t stuck, you can actually override the part of your brain that gets caught up in confusion and overwhelm.

For example, when you imagine a future moment in time when you’ve left your current job and are a successful mompreneur, what would your future self tell you to start doing, stop doing and keep doing?  Maybe you could start speaking to other successful mompreneurs to understand how they succeeded, you could stop doubting yourself, your talents and your capabilities, and you could keep doing your work to manage your mind.

To help you manage your mind, you could:

  • Start thinking thoughts like “I can figure this out” or “I can do anything when I set my mind to it”
  • Stop thinking thoughts like “I’m not sure how to do this” or “I probably won’t be successful at this”
  • Keep thinking thoughts like “I like this idea of being a mompreneur” or “I like this idea of being my own boss”     

By looking back from the future to the present, you unblock the power of your brain to create any result you want.  You really are only limited by your belief about what’s possible with a managed mind.

 

Just do something

When you feel stuck, there is usually a lack of action that accompanies the feeling.  It makes sense that when you feel unprepared, confused or unmotivated that the last thing you would want to do is take some action.

So first it’s important to acknowledge how you feel and have compassion for yourself.  This doesn’t mean you will stay stuck, it just helps to not add judgment on top of feeling stuck.

Once you’ve acknowledged how you feel, you then need to uncover the thought creating that feeling.  Remember, you aren’t feeling stuck, anxious or overwhelmed because of a circumstance; your feelings are always created by a thought.

The most powerful tool you have is your mind so it’s important to change the cause so you can change the effect.  You are either letting your brain choose what to think and feel, or you are deciding on purpose what to think and feel – one creates inaction and more confusion, and the other inspires action and results.

For example, instead of allowing your brain to spin in “I don’t know what to do”, you could ask yourself “If I knew that in one year I would have what I want, what would I be doing differently right now?”  By asking your brain a powerful question, it will show you exactly what actions to take. 

If you wait to feel motivated, you’ll never do anything because motivation doesn’t just “happen” to you.  The feeling of motivation happens because you choose thoughts that create the feeling of motivation.

Therefore, the only obstacle to getting unstuck is what you think because your thoughts are always creating your feelings which then fuel your actions or inactions.  You have to be willing to think in a way that’s different than you currently think in order to feel differently, act differently and get a different result than you currently have.

You can always decide to stay stuck, but don’t continue to pretend that being stuck isn’t a decision.  You have to own it as a choice; stop saying “I’m stuck” and own the fact that “I’m choosing to be stuck”.

I really want you to hear this – your life isn’t happening TO you, it’s being created BY you.  Continuing to be stuck is always an option, but my wish for you is that you choose to get unstuck.

There is so much more to be explored and experienced than you’ve probably allowed yourself to believe.  I hope you imagine a bright future, give yourself some powerful advice from that future, take action and create an amazing present.

 

Summary  

  • The struggle to make the right decision for yourself and your family can create an overwhelming sense of pressure, confusion and frustration.
  • Learning what’s really going on when you feel stuck and what to do about it, is some of the most freeing lessons to learn
  • What I learned is that the reason you shouldn’t leave or change anything until you know you can be happy (or feel any desired emotion), is because you first need to understand that you create your feelings with your thoughts, not with your circumstances.
  • The truth about being stuck is that it’s always within your power to get unstuck because your thoughts are the only thing causing you to feel stuck in the first place. 
  • One of the secrets to getting unstuck is to use the higher part of your brain to get out of the present moment and instead, to focus on the future
  • You are either letting your brain choose what to think and feel, or you are deciding on purpose what to think and feel – one creates inaction and more confusion, and the other inspires action and results.
  • You can always decide to stay stuck, but don’t continue to pretend that being stuck isn’t a decision.

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