If you’re like me and one of the reasons that you chose the field of accounting is because you read that it’s a good career choice for an introvert, you’re right.  Much of accounting work is perfectly suited for introverts looking for independent thinking and autonomy.

With tele-commuting and virtual-work options, accounting is also a great career choice for moms who happen to be introverts.  Being able to work in a quieter environment, at your own pace, with less distractions, is often an introvert’s dream come true.

Truthfully, I am definitely an introvert and as I’ve learned to become more aware of what makes me tick, I want to first share how I’ve learned to define what an introvert is and isn’t.  Basically an introvert is a person who typically feels more comfortable focusing on their inner thoughts and ideas, rather than what’s happening externally; they enjoy spending time alone or with just one or two people, rather than large groups or crowds.

When you hear the word introvert, you might think of someone who's shy or quiet and prefers to be alone, and while that may be true for some introverts, there's much more to being an introvert.  Whether you're an introvert or an extrovert all depends on how you process the world around you.

In some of the research I did for this podcast episode, I discovered some of the workplace strengths that makes accounting the perfect career for introverts are:

  • Insightful – we listen more than we speak
  • Self-motivated – we don’t need as much interaction or supervision
  • Strong supportive leaders – we encourage others through wisdom and inspiration 
  • Team player – we don’t need the spotlight
  • Introspective – we like knowing ourselves on a deeper level 
  • Thoughtful – we take our time to prioritize
  • Focus – we have an ability to focus deeply when distractions are minimal

While your introvert nature has many benefits, it isn’t necessarily going to help you succeed in your accounting career without some guidance.  Whether you are an employee or your own boss, learning how to use your introverted strengths, while also learning new skills to increase your value, will help to create a framework for success.

The truth is that accounting also requires us to be more extroverted than we might be used to or comfortable with.  Whether it’s constant communication with clients, managers, or coworkers, as introverted accountants we still need to be open to doing the things we normally don’t gravitate towards.  

Since the fast-paced field of accounting is not slowing down anytime soon, it’s important for introverts to make a concerted effort to use what comes naturally and go beyond, by standing up and being counted in a way that honors who we are.  That means, for a successful accounting career, you need to know yourself and also how to promote yourself better.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being an introvert, even in an extroverted world, but it’s also important to find the balance between accepting who you are, while also being open to discovering and tapping into more.  Thankfully there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to being an introvert and you get to explore what works for your accounting career. 

I have been in public accounting my entire 30+ year career and within the last few years I’ve really begun to own the fact that I’m a classic introvert, but that there is so much power in that.  It doesn’t mean I don’t push myself out of my comfort zone when necessary, but I also have learned how to see the amazing benefits of being an introvert in accounting.

This week I’m going to discuss how to get clear about what you want for your career, how to tap into your talents, the key to networking, and how to take care of your introvert needs.

 

Getting clear about what you want for your career

As a mom, you are probably very clear about what you want for your children’s and family’s future, but what about for your future?  When was the last time you thought about the goals you have for your future and your career?

I was recently asked by someone, what I wanted for myself in the next 5 years, and I was dumbfounded.  I could tell you that I want my daughter to finish her Master’s degree, my son to keep excelling in his computer software career, and my husband to grow in his career, but for me – I wasn’t so clear.

One of the most important things I’ve learned as a certified life coach is how powerful our beliefs really are about what’s possible.  Those beliefs can either be the wind beneath our wings, or cinder blocks weighing us down.  

That’s why you cannot use your past as proof of what’s possible for your future.  The thoughts you have about your life and the story you tell about yourself, will always show up in your results – always.

I strongly recommend that you write down your goals, dropping the story about what’s possible or not, and use your introverted strength of problem-solving to lay out the smaller steps to achieving that goal.  I also suggest you share your goal with someone else who can hold your vision when your brain challenges its probability.

Since as introverts we tend to want to be in the background, and not front in center of any story, that shouldn’t stop you from having bigger dreams and allowing yourself to open up to more possibilities.  Once you’re clear about the direction you’d like to go, then it’s time to tap into your talents.

 

Tap into your talents

Do you know your Zone of Genius yet or are you just sailing along in your Zone of Excellence? Although your Zone of Excellence is the things you do extremely well, that provide a good living and that you’re comfortable with, your Zone of Genius is where your fulfillment and career advancement lie.

If you’re not familiar with the term “Zone of Genius” it refers to the set of activities that you are uniquely suited to do and that draw upon your special gifts and strengths.  By aligning your introverted strengths with an area of accounting that lights you up, you will have a deeper satisfaction professionally and personally.

Although my Zone of Excellence is accounting, when I discovered that my Zone of Genius is learning how to manage and master my mind, I knew that coaching was the perfect marriage of my talents and my passions.  Being able to share this knowledge with other moms in accounting, to help them have successful accounting careers and balanced lives, has lit me up in more ways than I can explain. 

So now it’s your turn – pick a concept or idea that will add value to your professional profile, and take initiative by integrating it into aspects of your work.  When you can combine your high intelligence and  introverted problem-solving skills with something you are passionate about, you can create exciting new opportunities. 

It’s also important to note that having a successful accounting career as a working mom is less about modesty, and more about standing up and letting people know who you are and how valuable you are.  I know first hand that it can be challenging, but make an effort to be visible and make sure others know how you excel at work.

I get that it’s uncomfortable because generally, as introverts we don’t like attention and tend to be more humble when it comes to achievements, but in order to have a successful accounting career, it’s okay to shine a light on what makes you valuable.  Just because you may take your strengths for granted doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t know what you uniquely bring to the table.  

I have learned over the years how to be okay with not only owning my value to the firms I’ve worked for, but taking it a step further and verbalizing it.  I often do it in a playful way or in a way that I’m comfortable with at the time, but I do get the point across when my introverted super power of focus, productivity, and efficiency helps the firm and specifically my bosses.

So instead of trying to be more like other introverts or extroverts, start to become more aware of what lights you up.  When you can work more often in your Zone of Genius, everyone wins. 

 

Key to networking for introverts 

Whether it’s in person at a networking event, on a Zoom call, or over the phone with a potential connection, talking to strangers is challenging for introverts.  However, whether you like it or not, better job and career opportunities happen through networking.

I can hear you grumbling, but just because you don’t love small talk with strangers, that doesn’t mean networking needs to be torture.  As an introvert, you already have a natural tendency to listen, focus, and pose questions to take conversations into a meaningful direction.    

Although you may need to push yourself out of your comfort zone, as an introvert you are also skilled at stretching and growing.  With some awareness and preparation, you can make networking a more enjoyable part of your accounting career journey.

To improve your networking skills, here’s some things you can try:

  • Use your inquisitive strength to ask questions – here’s something I learned a long time ago – people remember less of what you SAY and more of how you made them FEEL; so be curious, ask great questions, and you’ll leave them with an impression of someone who truly cares.
  • Know yourself – before you speak to anyone, it’s helpful to be comfortable introducing yourself; be able to articulate (as succinctly as possible) what you do, how you add value, your specific interests or expertise, and your position title. 
  • Be prepared – preparation is one of your introverted strengths so use it.  Have some questions prepared in advance to “break the ice”, and to feel more comfortable making a connection. Questions like “How long have you been in this field?” or “How did you get started in your career?” can make introductions easier.  It takes the focus off you and puts it on the other person.
  • Be your own advocate – since one-on-one interactions are more comfortable for introverts, if there’s someone you would like to connect with at a deeper level, make it happen by suggesting lunch or a one-on-one Zoom chat.  Be your own matchmaker for your career development.

With some willingness to step outside your comfort zone and some preparation in advance, building a network doesn’t have to be difficult or tortuous for an introvert.  Here’s also something that I learned a while ago that has helped me tremendously – the currency we pay for our dreams is often being okay with being uncomfortable, so don’t let the fact that you’re uncomfortable stop you from networking and building relationships.

The more you can be yourself, the easier it will be for the right people to find you and connect with you.  You don’t have to be for everyone, you just need to be open to networking to find your people. 

 

Your introvert needs

So now that you’re clear on your career goals and unique talents, and you’ve gotten more comfortable networking to advance your career, it’s time to focus on getting your introverted needs met.  The truth is that being an accountant and mom is tough, but being an introverted accountant and a mom is even tougher.

As an introvert we have certain needs that most non-introverts don’t have:

  • Downtime to recharge our energy
  • Deep relationships (ie, quality not quantity)
  • People who give us space
  • Time to focus on hobbies or other interests
  • A quiet space to call our own
  • Time to think
  • People who are okay with us declining social invitations (that’s a big one for me)
  • Work that’s meaningful
  • People who accept us, instead of judge us (another big one)
  • Independence
  • A simple life  

In Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, she coined the term “restorative niches,” which means “the places you go when you want to return to your true self.”  As a CPA and a mom, you need to have some people, places and things around you that support and restore you – I know I definitely do!

The key with getting your introverted needs met is to never feel guilty for what you need in order to be at your best.  Your career and your family will benefit tremendously when you give yourself permission to have your introverted needs met.

For me that has meant getting up early to have quiet time to myself, letting my boss know when I need more space, being proactive with clients so that I reach out to them when I’m ready instead of always needing to wait until they’re ready, and taking breaks when my energy is low.  But the most important thing I discovered over the years that helps me meet my introvert needs is to drop the self-judgement about what I needed and why.

If there’s one thing that has made a huge difference for me in my career and my life, it’s accepting that I’m an introvert and being okay with what makes me tick.  If I need to leave early, say no more often, or set a boundary, I try to give myself permission to unapologetically do what I need to in order for me to be at my best.

Once you get clear about the direction you want for your accounting career, you’ve tapped into your talents, you’ve gotten more comfortable with networking and you are getting your introverted needs met, a successful accounting career isn’t going to be such an issue for introverts like us.  Keep being true to who you are and you’ll be soaring with plenty of wind beneath your wings.  

 

Summary

 

    • While your introvert nature has many benefits, it isn’t necessarily going to help you succeed in your accounting career without some guidance.    
    • When you combine your high intelligence and introverted problem-solving skills with something you are passionate about, you can create exciting new opportunities. 
    • With some awareness and preparation, you can make networking a more enjoyable part of your accounting career journey.
    • Your career and your family will benefit tremendously when you give yourself permission to have your introvert needs met.