Minding And Bridging The Gap

Minding And Bridging The Gap

 

 

If you’ve ever taken a train, there is often a reminder written on the platform, or a recorded message, telling you to “mind the gap”, ensuring your safety as you take a step off the platform and into the train.  This safety measure was first introduced in 1968, long before the overly distracted times that we currently live in, offering us a measure of awareness when we might have other things we’re focused on.  

But truthfully, we all have gaps in our lives, with the most common issue for the accountant moms that I work with and coach, being bridging the gap between where they are and where they want to be; whether it’s in their relationships, their career, their finances, their health, or many other areas of their lives.  They have goals and desires for their career, their families, and themselves, but wind up settling for less than they truly want because their goal just seems too far out of reach.   

Maybe you can relate – they want more flexibility in their schedule but their current job is demanding and inflexible; they want to make more money but don’t see how, without sacrificing more of their time; they want less stress, less overwhelm and more balance, but can’t imagine how it’s possible with their personal and professional demands.  You’ve probably got your own list of goals and desires that might seem impossible to achieve. 

While it’s important as an accountant to mind and fill in the gaps when it comes to your accounting knowledge of various subjects in the ever changing world of finance, it’s also just as important to be aware of the gaps in your personal life as well.  To find those places where you may have not allowed yourself to consider improving upon; where you may have accepted and normalized the gap.

Thankfully minding and bridging the gap between where you are and where you want to be doesn’t have to be impossible or dream-stealing.  Crossing that bridge just takes some awareness of what makes change so difficult and how to transition your goals from an impossibility to a possibility. 

If like a lot of working moms, you aren’t living your best life and want to do something about it, you first need to understand the concept of cognitive dissonance and how it’s making it so challenging for you to bridge any gap you find yourself facing.  Just know that If you have a desire, you also have the ability to make that desire a reality when you understand what’s getting in your way and how to use this awareness to have what you want.   

This week I’m going to discuss what cognitive dissonance is, why it’s a problem and how you can successfully bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

 

Cognitive dissonance and why it’s a problem

 

If you’ve ever had a dream about making a change in your life or achieving some goal, but you felt scared, overwhelmed, doubtful or frustrated, you have experienced cognitive dissonance.  Most of us working moms, when faced with bridging the gap between where we are and where we want to be, will most likely experience cognitive dissonance and not even know it, believing it must be a “sign” that’s telling us to give up or change direction.

Basically, cognitive dissonance is when your brain is struggling with two opposing thoughts or beliefs that you are holding simultaneously, which are then creating mental discomfort.  It happens when there’s a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors.  

For example, you might currently be making $50,000 a year and want to eventually make $100,000 a year, but the discomfort your brain experiences with the dissonance, or the gap, between your current reality and your future goal, is what will cause you cognitive dissonance. Before you know it, you’re feeling doubtful and worried, eventually giving up on your dream of ever making $100,000, assuming that it just isn’t meant to be.

The issue is that cognitive dissonance is the reason why most people don’t even want to set goals or go after a dream.  As soon as you set a goal, it means that your current thoughts, which are creating your current life experience, are going to need to change, and that’s very uncomfortable for your brain.    

Your brain doesn’t want to expend the energy necessary to believe something new, to feel determined or committed, and then to take the actions necessary to make it happen.  Your brain thrives on sameness and would much rather stay on the familiar side of the bridge, rather than make the effort to cross over to the other, less familiar side.

Interestingly, you’ve probably experienced cognitive dissonance more than you realize, and just thought that the discomfort, doubt or fear you experienced were telling you something or warning you in some way.  Like many of my clients, you may have allowed your brain to tell you that you don’t need to be uncomfortable, and that if you just give up on that goal or dream, you’ll actually feel much better.

In the example of wanting to make $100,000, you may have conflicting thoughts like, “That’s too big of a leap from where I’m currently at” or “I have no idea how to make that much money”.  When faced with cognitive dissonance, bridging the gap between where you are and where you want to be can seem like trying to jump over the Grand Canyon.

The good and bad news is that if you have a strong desire, it’s probably been tapping you on the shoulder for awhile, which means that cognitive dissonance is totally normal, but will also make you feel pretty horrible for awhile.  Just by its very nature, cognitive dissonance is the precursor to making a change, and your female brain is not onboard when it comes to making changes.

The other thing that will often get in the way is your brain’s need to be right, referred to as cognitive bias, and to look for all the proof to validate your current belief, as opposed to the belief you’d like to have about where you want to be.  Your brain is always working to prove what it already knows, which means you’ll have to be willing to change your beliefs and be wrong about your current beliefs.

In other words, you are saying, “I have this, but I want that” and unfortunately your lower brain will do everything in its power to convince you to stay with whatever “this” is.  Thankfully bridging the gap from this to that, doesn’t have to be an impossibility or as challenging as you might assume it would be.

If you think about it, you’ve been successfully dealing with cognitive dissonance and cognitive bias your whole life, and just didn’t know it, or else you would have never made any changes, learned anything new, gone after any big or small goal, or done anything different and challenging.  Instead of dealing with cognitive dissonance unconsciously and leaving it up to chance, I want to show you how to handle it consciously and powerfully, in order for you to get where you want to be.     

 

How to successfully bridge the gap 

 

Since cognitive dissonance is when your brain is struggling with two opposing thoughts or beliefs that you are holding simultaneously, then what really needs to happen is, you need to create a bridge between those two opposing thoughts.  When I work with my clients, we call this creating bridge thoughts; these are the thoughts you choose in order to get you from what you currently think and believe, to what you would like to think and believe.

In the example of currently making $50,000 but wanting to make $100,000, you need to create bridge thoughts that can bridge the gap between the two.  The key though, is that the thoughts must be believable or they won’t “stick” and your brain will automatically go back to the old, familiar thought.

Remember, cognitive bias is your brain’s way of proving it’s always right, so you need to gently and gradually make your way from one believable thought to another.  Just like the planks that would build a rope bridge across two cliffs, you need to lay down neutral, believable thoughts to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

It’s really important to understand that you may not want to continue making $50,000, but your brain is very comfortable with that amount; it’s much more familiar with it, than it is with making $100,000.  That’s why using bridge thoughts will make the possibility of $100,000 much easier to move towards and achieve.

To start laying down planks to get from the current thought “I make $50,000”, which can feel frustrating, to “I can make $100,000”, which probably feels impossible, you need to choose a neutral thought like “I can make money”.  Just consider that neutral thought for a second – it’s believable, it’s provable, and it’s not in opposition to your current, familiar thought of “I make $50,000”.

A thought like “I can make money” gives your brain a chance to prove that thought true, allowing it to settle into this neutral thought.  Now there’s a plank on the bridge –  “I can make money” is taking you from “I make $50,000” and getting you closer to “I can make $100,000”.

Remember, your brain has been practicing the thought “I make $50,000”, for a long time and has a lot of evidence for why this is true.  That’s why you want to gradually turn its attention from what it currently believes, to what is also believable, in order to get you over the bridge to “I can make $100,000”.  

Once you’ve practiced the thought “I can make money” and it feels good to you, it’s time to place another plank on the bridge.  The next plank could be the thought “It’s possible that I can make more money” or “I’m willing to be open to the idea that I can make more money”.

As you put down each plank, you need to check in with yourself by asking questions like:

  • How much cognitive dissonance, or uncomfortability, am I feeling?
  • Is this new thought believable? 
  • Does this new thought make me feel a little bit better? 

 

Just know that as you put each plank on the bridge, your brain’s confirmation bias is going to want to show you proof of why $50,000 is all you can make.  It doesn’t want to be proven wrong, so you may feel some resistance to the bridge thoughts; this is completely normal and with your awareness of why it’s happening, it’s totally manageable.

To bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable as you put plank after plank of bridge thoughts down, in order to get to the place you want to be.  This is the work I do with my clients in my 6-week program, helping them to navigate their brain’s cognitive dissonance, cognitive bias, and making their journey over the bridge as easy and speedy as possible.

There’s nothing worse than having a goal or a desire, and not understanding why it’s so hard to believe in yourself, to have confidence, and then to go after what you want.  It can be challenging when you don’t understand how your unique female brain works, why it’s so uncomfortable with the idea of change, and how to manage it.

As I’ve shared before in previous podcasts, discomfort is the currency for achieving your goals and dreams.  Nothing has gone wrong when you feel doubtful, overwhelmed or frustrated with the gap between where you are and where you want to be, but there is a way to manage that discomfort and bridge that gap.

There’s nothing I like more for myself and my clients than to have a desire for something more, and then not let the usual seeds of doubt and worry creep in.  When you learn how to bridge the gap for one dream or goal, that skill can be used in many different ways as well.

If you’ve been feeling the taps on your shoulder, making you take a look at where you currently are and dreaming about what’s possible for you in the future, you need to honor those taps.  Just know that if you have a desire, there’s no reason you can’t take the steps needed to make it a reality.

 

Summary  

 

  • If like a lot of working moms, you aren’t living your best life and want to do something about it, you first need to understand the concept of cognitive dissonance and how it’s making it so challenging for you to bridge any gap you find yourself facing.
  • Basically, cognitive dissonance is when your brain is struggling with two opposing thoughts or beliefs that you are holding simultaneously, which are then creating mental discomfort. 
  • The other thing that will often get in the way is your brain’s need to be right, referred to as cognitive bias, and to look for all the proof to validate your current belief, as opposed to the belief you’d like to have about where you want to be.
  • Instead of dealing with cognitive dissonance unconsciously and leaving it up to chance, I want to show you how to handle it consciously and powerfully, in order for you to get where you want to be.     
  • Nothing has gone wrong when you feel doubtful, overwhelmed or frustrated with the gap between where you are and where you want to be, but there is a way to manage that discomfort and bridge that gap.
Dealing With Boredom

Dealing With Boredom

 

 

As a podcast for busy accountant moms, you might think the topic of boredom would be irrelevant since you are probably living a hectic life and trying to balance your career with being a mom, but I promise you that this will be of interest to you.  No matter how frantic your life may seem, boredom is something that you need to understand better in order to have the balanced life you desire.

To be honest, I had other topics lined up to discuss, but decided that this is the perfect time of the year to discuss boredom with accountants.  Since tax season is finally over and there’s a small respite before you kick back into full gear again, this is often when boredom can sneak in, especially if you had a very stressful year both personally and professionally.

While you might welcome having less on your calendar right now and be happy to see more free time available on nights and weekends, I want to warn you of the sneaky way that boredom can show up in your life.  On the one hand, having less to do seems like a dream come true, but on the other hand, you have a human brain that is always looking for a reward in some form or another.

If you haven’t seen it already, I highly recommend the Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma”.  It is an incredibly well done, cautionary tale of how the technology we use on a daily basis, that we believe connects us, eerily also controls, manipulates and distracts us.  

The documentary is told through the experience and expertise of the tech developers and designers who helped to create all the forms of social media that we and our children are now reliant on.  Basically, the genius minds that understand how your human brain works, developed a way to capture and harness your attention, offering you the ability to never be bored.

The issue is that we are so bad at handling boredom and judging ourselves when we’re bored, that we will look for anything to try to escape it by buffering with food, social media, the news, or Candy Crush.  We live in such a reward-saturated environment, which honestly the human brain has never experienced in its evolution, that it’s become prone to avoiding boredom at all costs.     

You may have experienced a good amount of stress up to this point, with the pandemic challenging you both as an accountant and as a mother, and might be looking forward to a chance to be bored.  However, I want to warn you that coming down off the anxiety filled year you’ve just had, will also create the need for hits of dopamine, the feel good hormone your body produces to keep you energized.

Whether you realize it or not, your relationship with boredom is something you should take a look at, especially as a mother.  Knowing how to deal with boredom will not only benefit you, but will also benefit your children as their developing brains are incredibly susceptible to issues with boredom and the instant gratification world they live in. 

This week I’m going to discuss what boredom actually is, whether it is a problem or not, and how you can handle it.

 

What boredom actually is

 

It might seem strange to discuss what boredom actually is, but I assure you that it really is interesting because we all tend to get it wrong.  Most often we believe boredom has to do with what is or isn’t happening, and equate it with things outside of us.

For example, you might see a golf tournament on TV and find yourself bored, wanting to switch to something more interesting.  In this example, you would equate your boredom to the golf tournament or to anything that isn’t capturing your attention.

But the truth is that boredom isn’t just happening to you; you’re actually creating it for yourself with your thoughts. If this wasn’t the case then we’d all be bored at the same time, in the same circumstances, while doing the same things.

Obviously that’s not the case because while you might be bored watching a golf tournament, your spouse or someone else might be thrilled and engaged with the same tournament.  The reason that happens is because boredom is created by your thoughts, not by circumstances.

Your thought about the golf tournament might be “This is so boring” or “Why would anyone want to watch this?”, while someone else’s thought about the same exact golf tournament might be “I love this!  I can’t wait to see who wins.”

The key to understanding boredom is in knowing that nothing is intrinsically boring, you just experience the feeling of boredom because of the thoughts your unique brain is thinking about various circumstances in your life.  Basically, your feeling of boredom is based on what you make things mean.

So here’s the bad and good news when it comes to boredom – on the one hand it’s a feeling you are creating with your thoughts and has nothing to do with what is or isn’t happening in the moment, but on the other hand, since you are the one creating it, you also have the power to manage it.

While the dictionary defines boredom as the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest, I think in this technology driven world we live in, boredom is much more powerful than that definition would have us believe.  Not only can you see it with yourself, but I’m sure you can also see it with your children as well.

Our children are growing up in a time where boredom is quickly rectified with a video game or an app.  Just look around the dinner table at home or a table at any family restaurant, and you will see both children and adults glued to their smartphones, not being able to be bored while there is a lull in the action.

The crazy thing is that your brain is wired for social connection, with social media actually giving you the illusion of connecting to other people.  This need for connection, when combined with boredom and the need for stimulation, then makes us all appear to be like zombies, mesmerized by what’s on the screen rather than interacting with the living, breathing version of people right in front of us.  

 

Whether boredom is a problem or not

 

Did you know that you can actually be okay with being bored and that there’s nothing wrong with it?  Unfortunately, in the mentally challenging and busy world of accounting, it can often seem like there’s a problem if you are bored, as if you’re not doing your job well, or maybe you’re slacking so you better find something to keep you busy.

It doesn’t matter whether you are an accounting employee or an entrepreneur, boredom is frowned upon inside the productive, ever-changing, and efficient accounting profession.  And don’t even think about being bored as a mother, with all the responsibilities and expectations you have taking care of your family. 

The funny thing is that the profession of accounting is often described as one of the most boring professions, making accounting professionals described as boring by association.  But it’s not just the public’s perception of accounting being boring; a study surveyed 1,300 accountants and found that 66% were bored with their work, ranking fifth in the roundup of the most boring jobs.   

But no matter what you do for a living or whether you like what you do, the biggest problem with boredom is that we have become so intolerant of it.  After watching “The Social Dilemma”, my husband and I realized how often when one person goes to the kitchen to get something, the person waiting in the living room will pick up their phone for the 60 seconds it takes for the person to return from the kitchen, not allowing ourselves to be bored for one minute.

If you think about it, before computers and smartphones, you had to be okay with not having something to capture your attention every few seconds.  However, because of technology, our attention spans are getting much shorter, making our intolerance of boredom much stronger.

One of the interesting things that I’ve learned is that the upside to boredom is it’s really the gateway to your thoughts, but most of the time we don’t want to be alone with our thoughts.  Basically, boredom turns up the volume on some of those 60,000 thoughts you have in a day, and very often those thoughts are negative and about you.

About 15 years ago, the first weekend my two children were with their dad after we had ended our marriage and separated, I remember crying to a friend that I was bored and didn’t know what to do with myself.  What she pointed out at the time was that the thing I was most worried about was being bored with my own thoughts; and she was totally right.

Without the constant action required for my role as mother and the distraction of my children, I was going to have to be alone with my crappy thoughts.  With boredom came the space to really be alone with my negative thoughts about myself, my situation, my lack of self-confidence,  and my fears for my future.

What I’ve discovered is that with my hectic, working mom life, I might have relished the idea of having so little to do that I could experience boredom, but that temporary relief can quickly change to uncomfortability because our brains are just so used to being occupied.  In order to deal with boredom, we have to learn to be okay with it because it will offer us so many opportunities to be more present in our lives and to live more intentionally.    

When you can make peace with boredom and not make it into a problem, you’ll be surprised at how much it has to show you.  Before you jump to fill up the white space in your life, try being okay with boredom and the secrets it might have to share with you.

 

How you can handle boredom

 

If you want to have a balanced life as an accountant and a mom, you have to be willing to look at your relationship with boredom.  You have to start looking at boredom as only a problem when you make it one by resisting it or avoiding it.

When you use stimulation in the form of overworking, overeating, overdrinking, or overusing technology, you need to ask yourself why you are rushing to get out of boredom.  What’s wrong with being alone with your thoughts?  What are you afraid of?

Unfortunately we think that taking action and keeping busy is how we feel better, especially when we are bored, but it doesn’t work that way.  Changing your circumstances or taking action doesn’t change how you feel; the only thing that can ever create your feelings are your thoughts, which means if you want to change how you feel, you have to change how you think.

The amazing thing about learning how to deal with boredom instead of resisting or avoiding it, is that you get to live a more intentional life.  You get to be present while waiting in a line, you get to really notice and appreciate the person sitting across from you in the restaurant, and more importantly you get to improve your relationship with yourself.

When you allow your brain to have unstimulated time, your goals are easier to set, your dreams are easier to dream, and your future becomes easier to design.  In the absence of stimulation, you allow space for discovery, desire and growth.

To handle boredom, you have to honestly be willing to be bored.  You might be uncomfortable at first, but you have to allow yourself to have the urge to distract yourself, without acting on that urge.

You’ll probably want to reach for your phone, check the news feed, or grab the TV remote, and that’s okay.  But to handle boredom you have to let the urge to do something come up and then pass; sit where you are, stare out the window, let your mind wander, and allow boredom to just be there.

When my husband and I realized we were picking up our phones as soon as the other person walked out of the room, we decided at first to leave our phones in another room and turn off phone notifications, helping to reduce the temptation.  I also decided that I would look at our dogs instead of my phone, giving them the opportunity to have the undivided attention I would have automatically given to my work email or social media app.

Another way to handle boredom is to ask yourself what you notice about yourself, your surroundings or anything else and why.  Before I started writing the notes for this podcast I was sitting in a hotel room, allowing myself to be bored, noticing the various pieces of furniture and art in the room, what I did and didn’t like about them and why; honestly it was really fascinating.

When I’m in line somewhere, I have begun to look at various people or objects and question why those things captured my attention.  When driving in the car, I will try to turn off all music and playfully notice the ticker tape of thoughts that run through my mind, giving myself time and space to just be, getting to peak behind the curtain at the wizard who is running my life most of the time.

Whether it’s you or your children that are having an issue dealing with boredom, just know that it’s completely normal and manageable, even in this crazy world of distractions that we live in.  Give boredom a try – you just might like what’s on the other side.

  

Summary  

 

  • No matter how frantic your life may seem, boredom is something that you need to understand better in order to have the balanced life you desire.
  • Knowing how to deal with boredom will not only benefit you, but will also benefit your children as their developing brains are incredibly susceptible to issues with boredom and the instant gratification world they live in. 
  • The key to understanding boredom is in knowing that nothing is intrinsically boring, you just experience the feeling of boredom because of the thoughts your unique brain is thinking about various circumstances in your life.
  • But no matter what you do for a living or whether you like what you do, the biggest problem with boredom is that we have become so intolerant of it. 
  • When you allow your brain to have unstimulated time, your goals are easier to set, your dreams are easier to dream, and your future becomes easier to design.
How Accountant Moms Can Create More Time

How Accountant Moms Can Create More Time

 

 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could stretch the number of hours in a day to fit your needs as both an accountant and a mom?  Where the horrible days that your children are out of control or your spouse is super demanding could end in just a few hours, and the times where more work needs to get done like tax season or quarterly deadlines could extend past 24 hours?

Like most working moms you’ve probably said a few of the following:

  • I don’t have enough time
  • There aren’t enough hours in the day
  • I wish I had more time
  • There’s too many things on my to-do list
  • Time just seems to get away from me

Whether you work for yourself or someone else, being able to get everything done for your work obligations, as well as everything you need to do for your family, can often seem impossible.  Those infrequent, magical times where you are able to actually get it all done, can seem like a fluke and non-repeatable.

Sometimes no matter how hard you try to get organized or how productive you plan on being, time can often seem like an enemy, causing you stress, overwhelm and frustration.  On the other hand, time can also feel like a gift, like those amazing days on vacation that you want to be able to stretch out and have them never end.

Before I share how to create more time, I want you to first consider your relationship with time.  Would you consider time like:

  • A demanding boss that micromanages you and never stops looking over your shoulder
  • A challenging child that, just when you think you’ve got a handle on them, they give you new challenges
  • A critical older relative who judges your choices
  • An adversary in a never-ending game of tug-of-war that you always seem to be battling
  • A supportive friend who helps you accomplish things and makes life exciting and fun  

If your relationship with time is like anything other than a supportive friend, then this episode is going to be really helpful.  When you learn how to create more time, you will be able to view time differently, and be able to not only be more efficient and productive, but also enjoy it more.

When it comes to the issue between working moms and time, it can be a real game changer when you understand your female brain better.  By learning how to schedule and follow through on your time, and knowing that you will accomplish what you say you’re going to, will not only improve your relationship with time, but more importantly, improve your relationship with yourself.  

The truth is that in order to create more time, you also have to understand how you are wasting it.  By learning the reasons why it seems like there’s never enough time, you can then take back control and create more of it.

This week I’m going to discuss the two main causes of wasted time and how to create more time. 

 

The two main causes of wasted time

If it seems like there’s never enough time and that time is always slipping away from you, you’re probably right.  There are things that you may not realize are getting in your way and wasting a lot of your time.

The first main cause of wasted time is actually overwhelm.  This may sound strange because the more things you have to do, the more time you probably feel like you are spending on things, not wasting on things.

The issue though, is that your female brain uses overwhelm in a surprising way.  It may feel uncomfortable and challenging to be overwhelmed, but in a warped, sneaky way, your brain actually uses overwhelm to waste time.

As I’ve shared before, the lower part of your human brain is motivated by three things – to seek pleasure, avoid pain and to expend as little energy as possible.  As your personal and professional life gets more demanding with more tasks and more things to do, you are also constantly filling your brain day in and day out, to the point of overflowing.

The more there is to do and the more you keep filling up your brain, the more your brain offers thoughts like, “There’s no way I can accomplish all this”, “I don’t have enough time” and “This is too much”.  Thoughts like these then naturally create the feeling of overwhelm.

But the kicker is that when you have a lot of things on your mind or a lot of things to do, you are in effect increasing the pain that your female brain wants to avoid.  In essence, you’re making it much more challenging for your brain, as you keep filling it to the point of overflowing, increasing the difficulty it has trying to process everything you’ve dumped into it.

It’s also important to point out and to understand that your female brain is designed to process things, not to store them like a computer’s hard drive.  As you overwhelm your brain, it wants to avoid the pain and difficulty of too many things vying for it’s attention, therefore it turns to the pleasure of distractions like social media, Netflix, easier tasks or avoidance altogether.

For example, with the current pandemic, you probably have even more things on your mind than ever, whether its current thoughts related to your work and your family, or future thoughts about finances and health concerns.  With all these added concerns and things you believe you need to do, you may have noticed the desire for more distractions or the inability to focus on the task at hand.

To your lower brain, the relief it gets from distractions is much more appealing than doing what you said you should do or need to do.  As your working mom demands increase, and you feel more and more overwhelmed, it’s no wonder why you don’t feel like doing a lot of things, making procrastination and avoidance easier and easier.

The key though, is that the reason your female brain likes overwhelm is because if you’re overwhelmed, then there’s less action that you’ll take and less that you’ll feel like doing.  You can keep putting things off, allowing yourself to give in to distractions, and inevitably wasting a lot of time.

Do you see the connection?  Your brain likes to spend as little energy as possible so when you’re overwhelmed you’ll take less action, therefore overwhelm seems to be the answer to spending less energy; more overwhelm = less things to do.   

Basically, the relief your brain seeks from overwhelm comes in the form of avoiding more pain, expending less energy, being less productive, and therefore wasting more time.  It doesn’t care that you now feel even more overwhelmed since you distracted yourself with other things, instead of getting things done; it only cares that it feels less pain, more pleasure, and has conserved its energy.

The second main cause of wasted time is perfectionism.  With the accounting profession being a breeding ground for perfectionism, this is often one of the biggest time wasters for accountant moms.

Since perfectionism is the belief that you could always do and be better, then adding your accounting career to the personal pressures of being a mother, can create a losing battle in the pursuit of perfection.  It’s important to note that just because your life doesn’t seem perfect, or might even be a mess, doesn’t mean you aren’t a perfectionist.

If you still don’t think you are a perfectionist, or that this is what might be wasting your time,  answer this – how do you feel about doing B- work, or the saying “Done is better than perfect”?  If it makes you a little queasy and anxious, then you probably have more perfectionist tendencies than you realize. 

The problem with perfectionism is that, not only is it unattainable, but you also spend and waste so much time thinking, rather than doing.  Again, your female brain is motivated to expend as little energy as possible, and when you spend so much time thinking about how to do things perfectly, you wind up exhausted and unable to be as productive as you’d like to be.

For example, you’re finishing up a hectic day at work and deciding what to make for dinner tonight.  Instead of choosing something pre-made at the grocery store, you start scrolling Pinterest for the healthiest recipe you can find, considering every person in the family’s likes and dislikes, and worrying about how many vegetables your children have eaten lately.

Since your female brain can’t tell the difference between what you’re imagining and what’s really happening, the time you spend thinking about how to get it all done, and done perfectly, is just as exhausting as if you’d actually done all the things.  Unfortunately, you are expending so much energy in your brain, and wasting so much time trying to do things perfectly, that less is actually accomplished.   

No matter how much time you may now realize you’ve wasted with things like overwhelm or perfectionism, there is a process that will help you learn how to create more time.  When you learn how to create more time, you also learn how to create more freedom and balance in your life. 

 

How to create more time

Being an accountant and mom myself, I know how difficult it can be to get everything done, to stay organized, and to be productive while also having a sense of balance in your life.  I’ve been in public accounting my entire career so I know all about the pressure of deadlines and the sense of both work guilt and mom guilt, when it just doesn’t feel like there are enough hours in the day.

But the system I’m going to share with you has made it possible for me and my clients to do more than we ever thought possible, in less time than most people.  It is how I have taken on even more work, and still be able to be incredibly productive, efficient, and also have a very balanced life.

The acronym for how to create more time is GPA – Get items out of your brain, Put in on a calendar, and Assess your follow through.  That is the system that I learned and that I use everyday, which makes it possible to create more time:

 

Get items out of your brain

As I mentioned before, your female brain isn’t meant to store things, it’s meant to process things.  The problem is that when you go about your life and every demand is coming at you, like the 50 emails waiting when you turn on your computer, or your child’s teacher sends a list of things that need to be done, or your mother’s birthday is next week and you need a card and gift, your brain can easily become overwhelmed.

Remember, overwhelm is a time-waster because your brain will look from relief from overwhelm in the form of distractions.  If you try to keep everything you have to do in your brain, this will naturally create overwhelm, forcing your brain to turn to easier things, other than emails, teacher’s lists and birthday presents.

Not only do you have a lot of things on your mind that have to get done, but you also have a lot of thoughts about those things as well.  Those aren’t just 50 emails you have in your inbox, they’re also countless thoughts like “Should I delete this?”, “Do I need to answer this right now or can it wait?”, and “I can’t believe they’re asking me to do that”.

So the first step in this system is that you have to get the items out of your brain, and onto paper in order to free up much needed space and so that your brain can work optimally.  When your brain is working at its best, you are beginning to create more time.

 

 

Put it on the calendar

Once you’ve dumped everything out of your brain and onto paper, it’s time to put it onto a calendar, not just to be left as a to-do list.  This is the step that a lot of working moms skip or resist, thinking that a to-do list is the best way to get things done.

Unfortunately, that backfires because when your brain sees all the things on your long to-do list, it shifts into overwhelm mode, which again is a time waster.  As a typical working mom, if you dumped everything in your brain onto paper, that list would probably be incredibly long and daunting, defeating the whole process of creating more time instead of wasting it in overwhelm.

So for this step, it doesn’t matter whether you choose a paper or online calendar, just as long as you take what’s on the paper you wrote everything down and then you schedule it on your calendar.  Before you jump to filling up your calendar, I suggest scheduling your down time or free time first, this way you are showing your brain there’s definitely going to be “dessert” at the different points in the day.

When it comes to putting things on a calendar, what I suggest is that the more you can break down tasks into easier, bite-size pieces the better.  What really matters, more than the type of calendar you use, is that you have a place that you know you can go to, that dictates the actions and gives you the directions you will take at any given moment in time.

Although the process of getting items out of your brain, onto paper and then onto a calendar may take a little time to get used to and to implement, I promise you that it is going to help you create more time than you can possibly imagine.

 

 

Assess your follow through  

This is the last step but is an incredibly important part, if not the most important part, of the process of creating more time.  You really want to understand what is going on in your unique brain that is either stopping you from following through with what’s on your calendar, or helping you to follow through.

In order to assess your follow through, I suggest that at the end of the day or first thing the next morning, you answer some of the following questions:

  • Where was my time well spent?
  • Where did I really follow through and why?
  • Where was my time wasted?
  • Where did I not follow through and why?
  • Where did I dwell in confusion or overwhelm?
  • Where were the places I got distracted?
  • What would I do differently?
  • What could I learn from this and apply it to my schedule for today or this week?

The more you evaluate what’s going on when you do or don’t do things you say you’re going to do, the more you will naturally transform your relationship with time.  As I said in the beginning, if your relationship with time is anything other than a supportive friend who helps you accomplish things and makes life exciting and fun, then you’ve got some work to do.

In order to create more time, every week (I usually do it on Sundays) you need to dump out everything in your brain onto paper, not allow your brain to get overwhelmed when it initially sees your long to-do list, calendar it, and then assess your follow through.  And I left the best part for last – you get to throw away your to-do list! 

If you’ve written everything down on paper and calendared it, there’s no reason to keep your to-do list.  You might put a few things down on a separate index card or piece of paper for next week, but for the most part, everything on the to-do list will be calendared, allowing you to throw this week’s list away. 

Hopefully now you can see that creating more time is a gift you give to yourself, your family and the goals you have for your future.  Let go of the time wasters of overwhelm and perfectionism, and start using your powerful female brain to create the gift of more time. 

 

Summary  

  • Whether you work for yourself or someone else, being able to get everything done for your work obligations, as well as everything you need to do for your family, can often seem impossible.
  • The truth is that in order to create more time, you also have to understand how you are wasting it.
  • As you overwhelm your brain, it wants to avoid the pain and difficulty of too many things vying for it’s attention, therefore it turns to the pleasure of distractions like social media, Netflix, easier tasks or avoidance altogether.
  • The acronym for how to create more time is GPA – Get items out of your brain, Put in on a calendar, and Assess your follow through
Interview With Shauna Breeden, CPA, About The Importance Of Support And Training When Building An Accounting Practice On Your Own

Interview With Shauna Breeden, CPA, About The Importance Of Support And Training When Building An Accounting Practice On Your Own

Every CPA has a story – we all have a journey we’ve taken to get us to where we are.  Every entrepreneur also has a story and journey as well. This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Shauna Breeden, CPA.  Shauna is a mom of two from Kentucky and became CPA MOMS second founding franchisee, having previously struggled with building her own practice and having the support and training she needed.

During the interview we discuss:

  • She knew in high school that she wanted to be an accountant
  • She worked full-time throughout college so it took her a little longer to complete her degree
  • While she doesn’t regret the path she took, she says that if she had to do it over again, she would have concentrated on getting her degree first and then working in the field
  • She worked in the healthcare industry for 15 years
  • She started as an A/P clerk and moved her way up to a financial consultant
  • She didn’t like the “corporate feel” of the company, after she had her children
  • Like most accountant moms, she felt that if she needed to do things outside of work for her children, it was a burden to the company
  • She struggled with wanting to spend more time at home with her then young children
  • She didn’t feel that she had the support from other women in her company, often feeling the competitiveness that happens in corporate environments
  • She experienced the typical “walk of shame” issues where she had to leave to pick up her children at 6 pm and was looked at as not as committed to her job as others
  • It was a hard balance between being a mom and being a good employee
  • She felt like she almost had to choose one over the other
  • She considered going out on her own and started a small bookkeeping business on the side 
  • She gave her business card to a local CPA and offered bookkeeping services
  • She built up her bookkeeping business enough to do it full-time
  • She joined a local BNI networking group and explained that a BNI networking group is for local businesses where there is only one type of professional at a time in the group (ie, one accountant that does bookkeeping, one accountant that does taxes, one lawyer, etc)
  • This networking group helped her build referrals
  • She had to give presentations about her business which helped push her out of her comfort zone and practice public speaking
  • Every week she had to do a “30 second commercial” which was a challenge for her, but she did it
  • She explains that it was very difficult to build her business alone and that she didn’t have someone to go to, to ask questions and get help from
  • She was looking for a mentor, spoke to a local CPA and merged her firm with his
  • She learned a lot working with the CPA firm, but felt she was losing that close relationship with clients
  • She had been connected with CPA MOMS for a few years and once she heard about the franchise opportunity, she knew it was what she was looking for
  • After watching the franchise webinar, she resonated with issues like not charging enough, not having systems in place, not having support, not having work-life balance, etc.
  • Although her children are older now, she still feels like being able to be there for them as they were growing up, as opposed to needing to get to her corporate job, was so important
  • As part of the franchise onboarding, she particularly liked the training on sales because that can be difficult for accountants
  • The various training she received as a franchisee has filled the gap in all the areas that were so challenging when she tried to do it on her own, saving her so much time and effort
  • She shares how touched she was by the CPA MOMS Welcome packet that came in the mail on a day that she was feeling low – it included pictures pulled from Facebook of her family and other personalized items that really shows how much CPA MOMS cares
  • She’s so happy to be a part of the CPA MOMS family
  • She was burned out in her corporate job and is so happy to be building her own firm as a franchisee 
  • For the future, she is looking to continue to build her business as well as have the freedom to travel with her husband
  • She loves being able to connect with other fellow CPA MOMS franchisees, like Lori Hinesley, supporting each other on their journey building successful accounting practices 
  • The advice she would give to other accountant moms is to make sure you have good resources and connections to support you along the way, as early on as possible

How To Handle Other People’s Opinions – Of You And Everything Else

How To Handle Other People’s Opinions – Of You And Everything Else

I think it would be fair to say that we live in a very divisive time right now.  Not only do so many people have opposing opinions about a lot of topics, from anything like childrearing to face masks to politics, but due to our technology based world, those opinions are easily shared in ways that have never been possible before.

As the saying goes, “Opinions are like assholes; everyone’s got one”, it also seems like all those opinions are causing more and more people to either feel attacked, or to react by attacking back.  Whether it’s someone’s negative comment about a picture you posted on Facebook, or it’s your neighbor’s political sign on their front lawn, other people’s opinions are more visible than ever before.

Of course it’s important to be able to express yourself and to have your preferences, but unfortunately instead of bringing us together or just being interesting, the barrage of opinions are tearing a lot of people apart instead.  Children are suffering with bullying, teenagers are being ostracized, and adults are lashing out or ending relationships, all in response to other people’s opinions.

What was once easy to manage and deal with because there were fewer opinions expressed, often due to the limited number of people you came in contact with on a daily basis, has now become a tidal wave of information.  For example you probably didn’t know, or even care, what your boss’ views were on global warming, but now his comments might be on your radar because of the exposure to so many people’s opinions on the subject.

Before you know it, his opinion might have you at odds with him in ways that weren’t an issue before.  All of a sudden your easygoing interaction with him has become challenging and his constructive feedback about your performance seems off-putting and disconcerting.

Maybe you have always had a respectful relationship with your mother-in-law, but you’ve started to notice her comments about how you’re handling your children during the pandemic are getting frustrating.  It seems like she doesn’t trust your judgement and is often commenting on things you post on Facebook, in a passive-aggressive way.  

Unfortunately, the more opinions there are, whether they are about you or about everything else, the more challenging it can become to navigate both in your personal and professional life.  As an accountant and a mom, it’s important to learn how to handle other people’s opinions, as well as be able to be an example and show your children this skill as well.

Thankfully, just because you are more aware of other people’s opinions, doesn’t mean they have to be so challenging.  There is a much better way to navigate the tricky waters we’re all in, where other people’s points of view are much more visible, and in our own line of sight.      

This week I’m going to discuss how to handle other people’s opinions of you, as well as how to handle other people’s opinions of everything else. 

 
 

How to handle other people’s opinions of you

You’ve probably heard the expression ‘What you think of me is none of my business”, but let’s be honest – it can be difficult to handle other people’s opinion of you, especially since it’s become so much easier for people to share their opinions.  Things like what you look like, what you do and say, as well as your own opinions of everything else, are now more exposed and open for judgement by others.

Unfortunately, so many working moms spend their lives trying to control other people’s opinions of them, that they lose themselves in the process.  They seek the validation of others in order to feel confident in themselves and in their abilities, creating a lose/lose situation where they do or don’t do things, all for the sake of acceptance and approval.

Maybe you’ve experienced this as well, where you were afraid of a few people’s opinions, so you didn’t go out and create what you genuinely wanted to create in the world.  Instead you chose to play small or stay put, not wanting to risk disapproval or rejection from others.

It could be as simple as not getting that new haircut you admired on someone else, for fear of what your partner or girlfriends might think.  Or it could be something big like having a desire to be your own boss, but not taking the steps to make it happen because of what others might say when you need to fail your way to success.

The interesting thing is that so many women hold themselves back based on their perception of other people’s opinions, not necessarily their actual opinions.  This often happens when no one has actually expressed any doubt or judgement, but you believe you know what others will think, assuming that it won’t be favorable, so you stop yourself from getting any imagined negative comments.

After I had my second child I was struggling with the idea of leaving my tax manager position at Ernst & Young and staying home for a few years to spend more time with my two young children.  I was so worried about what other people would think about me walking away from my accounting career for a little bit, and especially what my parents would think.

My perception was that they would be disappointed because they had helped me pay for my college education and that they would try to convince me to figure out how to stay in my current, highly sought after position.  The funny thing was that once I sat down and actually told my mom what I was thinking of doing, she was 100% on board and supportive of my decision.  

Of course that’s not always the case, where your perception of someone else’s opinion is wrong, but more often than not, that’s exactly what happens.  We actually project our own fears and concerns onto someone else, believing they have to be having the same thoughts that we’re having.

In order to better handle other people’s opinions of you, you first have to get clear about your opinion of you by asking the simple question, “What is my opinion of myself?”  It might seem silly, but I guarantee your answer probably has a lot of interesting layers to it.

The reason it’s so important to ask that question, is that when you have a firm foundation of self-confidence and you really like and respect who you are, other people’s opinions won’t be able to shake that foundation so much.  When you feel confident and show up authentically, other people’s opinions of you are interesting, but not hurtful.

As I’ve shared before in a previous podcast, you can be the juiciest peach, but there are just going to be people who don’t like peaches; and that’s okay.  When you can make peace with your “peachiness” and let others decide whether they’re a peach-loving person or not, you give up trying to change people in order for you to feel better.

For a lot of women, we are so concerned about other people’s opinions of us, that we often show up around people as inauthentic versions of us.  We become chameleons in various situations, rarely showing our true colors, worried about others will think, say or do.

If you are like most women, you might be afraid of being judged, but the truth is that people are already judging you. That’s never going to change, because the human brain is programmed to make judgments about everything; judgement equals protection to your brain.

Fortunately, by deciding that your opinion of you matters way more than others opinions of you, that’s when you experience true freedom.  That’s when you can just allow people to be wrong about you, without making them wrong for having an opinion about you.

Basically they just have a human brain that has 60,000 thoughts a day, just like you.  What they say and do based on those thoughts has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with their life experiences, their beliefs, and the unique filter in their brain that they use to process all those tens of thousands of thoughts.  

Think about this for a second – if you didn’t have blue hair, you wouldn’t care if someone told you they hated your blue hair; their opinion would be interesting and a bit silly, but it wouldn’t mean anything unless you made it mean something.  To handle other people’s opinions of you, you just have to like your opinion of you more than you care about theirs, whether it’s good or bad.   

 
 

How to handle other people’s opinions of everything else

Although it might not be much of a consolation to remember the saying, “No two minds think alike”, especially when dealing with other people’s opinions of everything else in the world, it really is the truth.  But unfortunately we assume that when we think thoughts, others are thinking the same thing.

The analogy that I like to use is that if you put a blue chair in the middle of a room with 10 people in the room, how many chairs are there in the room?  The answer is at least 10 because every single person in the room is having their own unique thoughts about that chair – they like/dislike the shape, they like/dislike the color, maybe they remember a similar chair in their favorite friend’s house, etc.

Whether it’s who should be elected to office next, what’s considered appropriate behavior during this pandemic, or whether children should be homeschooled this year, everyone is looking at similar situations and having very different opinions.  Unfortunately, those differences in opinions are tearing apart a lot of relationships and dividing people in a world that really needs as much unity as possible. 

As intelligent women, we can conceptually understand that other people have opinions that may differ from ours, but it’s often difficult for us to emotionally understand how, when we’re so wrapped up in our thoughts and the way we see things.  We can get so caught up in agreeing or disagreeing with other people’s opinions, that we don’t stop to imagine what some else’s thoughts might be about the same subject and why.

We’re so busy trying to be right, that we don’t spend enough time trying to understand other people’s opinions from a place of curiosity, rather than condemnation.  Just as there is an origin to your opinion on things, there is also an origin to other people’s opinions as well, and depending on how long and how often someone has thought a particular thought, that will determine how strong their belief has become.

In order to handle other people’s opinions, I suggest you come up with at least 3 reasons why someone might have the opinion they have.  Just like people on a debate team need to be able to present  arguments from both sides of an issue and be able to articulate the opposing viewpoints, it’s helpful to ask yourself what could someone who has a differing opinion be thinking and feeling?  

For example, I was speaking to a coworker who has very strong political views and she was sharing that she had had a big disagreement with a friend with an opposing view.  She said she was considering ending the friendship, since this person was “clearly crazy” based on their disagreement.

When I asked her to come up with 3 reasons why he may have the opinion he has, imagining what he might be thinking and feeling that would make that opinion possible, she visibly relaxed.  She said, “I imagine he loves this country as much as I do, that he was raised to believe a certain way, and that he feels comfortable enough with me to express his opinion”.

Her brain, like all of ours, just wanted to be right, which meant that if someone’s opinion didn’t match hers, they were wrong.  Thankfully, with a little imagination, she was able to step into her friend’s brain and envision what he might be thinking when he looked at the “blue chair” in the room.

By imagining what thoughts form other people’s opinions, and then how those thoughts probably make them feel and act, you can begin to agree to disagree, but in a more understanding way as opposed to an adversarial way.   To handle other people’s opinions, you just need to choose to find them interesting, rather than insane or incendiary.

The more you can see that your brain’s need to be right is making others wrong, the easier it will be to live more peacefully.  No two minds think alike, and that’s what makes life so interesting when you decide that it can be.

 
 

Summary  

  • Whether it’s someone’s negative comment about a picture you posted on Facebook, or it’s your neighbor’s political sign on their front lawn, other people’s opinions are more visible than ever before.
  • Unfortunately, so many working moms spend their lives trying to control other people’s opinions of them, that they lose themselves in the process.
  • When you feel confident and show up authentically, other people’s opinions of you are interesting, but not hurtful.
  • We’re so busy trying to be right, that we don’t spend enough time trying to understand other people’s opinions from a place of curiosity, rather than condemnation.
  • To handle other people’s opinions, you just need to choose to find them interesting, rather than insane or incendiary.

How To Overcome Avoidance

How To Overcome Avoidance

It’s understandable that with the current pandemic and the increasing pressure that everyone is under, that more and more accountant moms are dealing with avoidance on an even bigger scale than ever.  With so much else going on around you, something like decluttering the attic, making that checkup appointment,  or starting that new exercise routine can seem like a reasonable thing to put off for now.

Just like most of you working moms, I have definitely had my fair share of struggles with avoidance and putting things off.  There have been plenty of things that I’ve avoided doing for weeks, months and sometimes years.

Whether it was finally donating my grandmother’s end table that’s been collecting dust in the basement or making that doctor’s appointment that was either scary to make or just didn’t seem that important, there are so many things that I have avoided for various reasons.  If you’re anything like me, it can also seem like you just can’t add another thing to your long to-do list, so delaying often seems like the best option. 

The issue though is that if your relationship with avoidance isn’t addressed, you are actually adding layers of unwanted stress into your life without being aware of it.  The pressure you probably feel trying to balance your career with your family will only be exacerbated when you don’t deal with the issue of avoidance and learn how to overcome it.

Just know that if you consider yourself a procrastinator and believe that avoidance is just another aspect of procrastinating, think again.  Understanding the difference between the two is actually an important part of overcoming avoidance.    

To understand this better, the definition of procrastinating that I’m using is when you put off doing something, but eventually get it done.  It’s usually when you have a deadline of some kind and you tend to wait until the pressure or expectations are so great, that you take the action to complete the task.

As an accountant, you’re definitely no stranger to deadlines, but what if there is no deadline?  That’s when avoidance happens.  The definition of avoidance that I use with my clients, is when you’ve decided to do something, or know that you should, but you never actually do it.

Basically avoidance is what happens to procrastination when there’s no deadline to make you actually do the thing, which is why it can become so easy to fall into the trap of avoidance.  There’s no one and nothing holding your feet to the fire and no perceived penalty for not doing it, therefore, it becomes easy to make friends with inaction and avoidance.

By having a better understanding of avoidance, why it’s an issue for you, and how to handle it, you will be able to reduce an incredible amount of stress and overwhelm in your life.  Thankfully the ability to overcome avoidance for working moms can not only benefit you, but your family as well.    

This week I’m going to discuss what makes you avoid things and how to overcome avoidance.

What makes you avoid things

For most working moms with ever-growing to-do lists, and increasing challenges that lead to more stress and overwhelm, the ability to prioritize things that need to be done is a time and life saver.  There’s only 24 hours in a day and it can seem like there’s just too much to cram into your waking hours.

However, if you have been avoiding doing certain things, it might not even be due to a lack of time.  You might have thoughts like:

  • I don’t have enough money
  • This really isn’t a priority right now
  • When my children are older
  • When I’m not so busy
  • After this deadline is over
  • It looks confusing so I need to know more
  • I’ll get to it someday

You probably have very valid reasons for avoiding certain things, but the issue is that avoidance is easy and sneaky.  All the “I’ll get to it at some point” moments build up over time, creating their own momentum, eventually leaving you buried under the avalanche of avoided things.

To understand what makes you avoid certain things in the first place, you first have to start with your thoughts.  If you’ve been a listener of this podcast, it will be no surprise to you that your actions and inactions are created by your thoughts, whether those thoughts are conscious or not.

The interesting thing about avoidance is that it’s not the actual action you are avoiding; it’s the feeling that your brain believes you’re going to have if you take the action, that you are really avoiding.  In other words, your current brain predicts that by taking some action, you’re going to have a feeling you don’t want to have, therefore, avoidance is the best option.   

For example, you know you need to make a dermatologist appointment to have some skin spots checked out.  It sounds like a simple enough task, but then your protective, negative-biased brain predicts some possible disturbing news and the fear of that news has you avoid calling and making the appointment.

That’s why it’s so important to understand that when you are avoiding something, it’s the feeling that you don’t want to have that you are actually avoiding.  Whether it’s putting off things like doing a task, talking to someone, or making a decision, what you are really avoiding is a feeling in the future. 

Basically, your current brain is forecasting that if you try to do X, you’ll have an unpleasant feeling in the future that you will not like feeling.  This most often happens without your awareness, leaving you with only a vague sense of unease or resistance to doing X, not really understanding why, but assuming that it must be for a good reason.

The reason this is so important is because your brain is spending a lot of energy trying to avoid unpleasant feelings, believing that feelings like fear, anxiety and overwhelm equal danger and death.  Since your lower brain’s sole job is to keep you alive, the anxious or overwhelmed feeling it predicts you’ll have by doing something like decluttering the attic, means avoiding the task is, in a dramatic way, saving your life.

It might seem silly to your rational, higher brain, but that’s the point; only when you use that higher intelligence to look at the situation reasonably, can you understand what’s making avoidance happen.  Since more than 80% of the time your lower, protective brain is choosing the actions you take and the actions you avoid, it’s important to recognize that it’s basing it’s approval, or disapproval, on what it believes you will feel.  

By understanding what’s really going on when you are avoiding, you can begin to take back a lot more control over your life.  With that control comes more balance, less stress and a much greater sense of accomplishment.   

How to overcome avoidance

In order to understand how to overcome avoidance, you have to become aware of the thought/feeling connection that your current brain is offering you.  You need to know what your current brain is expecting for the future.

In simple terms, when you are avoiding, your current brain is predicting that your future brain will have a thought and that thought will cause a feeling.  Normally that’s not a big deal, except that when it comes to avoidance, your current brain predicts that your future brain won’t like that feeling, so it chooses to avoid something now, in order to not feel bad in the future.

For example, let’s say you have a goal to leave your accounting job and become a mompreneur; you’re tired of the lack of support from your employer, you’re frustrated with missing out on things in your children’s lives, and you like the idea of being your own boss.  The idea sounds exciting in theory and you have a general idea of the different steps you might take to make it happen, but then you don’t do any of it.

You may think about scheduling time to start drafting a business and marketing plan, but you don’t actually do anything.  The question you need to ask when this happens is, “What am I thinking that’s creating a feeling that my brain wants to avoid?”

Remember, your brain is avoiding a feeling, not an action, therefore you have to get clear about the feeling it’s trying to avoid in the future.  In this example, your brain is probably predicting that if you schedule time to draft that business and marketing plan, that you’re going to feel things like anxious, overwhelmed or worried.

Once you know the feeling you’re trying to avoid, ask yourself, “What is my brain thinking now and predicting that I will think in the future, that will create that feeling?”  In this example it might look like this:

  • Current thought – “If I set aside time for a business and marketing plan, I’ll have to actually have to consider doing something with it.”
  • Feeling prediction for the future – Anxious
  • Thought prediction for the future- “I have too much on my plate already and it’s probably complicated”

In this example, your current brain is trying to protect you from the anxiety it predicts you will feel in the future.  To your lower brain, anxiety is an unwanted and threatening feeling that needs to be avoided at all costs which is why you would resist doing what you want to do.

So now that you have a general idea of what’s happening when you are in avoidance, let me give you some steps to overcome it:

  • Step One – Pick a task, project or goal that you have been avoiding (big or small), and write down all your thoughts and fears about it.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and write down every thought you have about the task, project or goal.  Word of caution – don’t let yourself say, “I don’t know”; that’s just your brain’s way of indulging in confusion so that you will not expend energy.
  • Step Two – Now read those thoughts over and notice how they make you feel.  That feeling is the reason you are not taking action and avoiding.  That feeling is the key to overcoming avoidance.  Those thoughts that you probably have been unconsciously aware of, are creating that feeling and then creating fear of having more of that feeling.  That’s why you haven’t been taking action.
  • Step Three – You need to come up with a better feeling thought about the task, project or goal.  You need to decide what to think on purpose that will help you take the action, and not make you feel the predicted feeling.  You need to choose a thought that creates a better feeling like committed, determined, curious or any other feeling that will move you away from the feeling that’s leading to avoidance.

In our example, if your thought was “I have too much on my plate already and it’s probably complicated”, you could choose to practice thinking, “This is important and I’ve figured out complicated things before” or “There’s always help available when I ask for it”.  Thoughts like those would most likely create a feeling of openness or determination, as opposed to anxiousness or overwhelm.

The last important point I want to make is that the thought you choose to practice must be believable.  Too many women I work with want to jump to a better feeling thought in order to stop the habit of avoiding, but if they don’t choose a believable thought, they go back to their default avoidance habit quickly.

If you are having some trouble coming up with believable thoughts or find the feeling that is causing avoidance, schedule a free coaching discovery call; I’ll provide the link in the show notes or you can go to https://cpamoms-academy.com/p/manage-your-mind-program.  You can always learn how to overcome avoidance, allowing you to create more balance, lessen your stress and take back control of your personal and professional life, goals and dreams.

Summary  

  • As an accountant, you’re definitely no stranger to deadlines, but what if there is no deadline?  That’s when avoidance happens. 
  • The interesting thing about avoidance is that it’s not the actual action you are avoiding; it’s the feeling that your brain believes you’re going to have if you take the action, that you are really avoiding. 
  • In order to understand how to overcome avoidance, you have to become aware of the thought/feeling connection that your current brain is offering you.