So be honest – when you read the title of this episode, were you confused? Did you think to yourself, “If I loved my job, then why would I leave it?” Don’t worry, it’s a confusing concept for most people but I promise it will make sense.
The reason it’s confusing to think about loving your job before you leave it is because we’re so used to blaming our job for our unhappiness. We’re so used to thinking we’re miserable because our boss or coworkers are impossible to deal with, the workload is too much, and the expectations are too high – just to name a few of the reasons that I hear from accountants that are looking to leave their current jobs.
Believe me, there were many times that I was ready to walk away from my job over the years and I had all the justifications for it. Of course if you are being mistreated or harassed in some way, it’s completely understandable to just leave – you should never stay if you are being treated badly – but that is often not the case for most of the accountant moms I speak to and coach.
As I’ve shared on the podcast before, the only time I was truly being mistreated at my job was in the mid 90’s by a tax partner at Deloitte who told me, point blank, that he wasn’t treating me fairly because he believed I was taking a job away from a man – he literally said those words. While his honesty was shocking, it was also freeing because my next position was working for a tax partner at Ernst & Young who had the complete opposite view of working moms.
It’s important to understand that whether you want to go out on your own and start your own business, quit your job in order to do work that’s more meaningful, or you’re looking to have more flexibility or to make more money, learning how to love your job before you leave it is incredibly beneficial. Even if you actually have a great situation with your job, that you think you should love it but you don’t, or your job is fine but you find yourself wanting more, this episode will also be really helpful.
I’ve worked with and coached accountant moms who had great bosses, flexible schedules, friendly coworkers, autonomy, great benefits, and great salaries, yet every morning they woke up asking themselves “How much more of this do I have to do?” The typical Monday blues had become the Monday through Friday blues, sometimes bleeding into the weekend blues as well.
For many of them, the “this” that they’re questioning how much more of it they have to do, is actually playing it safe before they can do what they really want to do. They often know they want to be out on their own, to make their own hours, and to be there for their families, but they’re deeply afraid that their dream will never become a reality.
The thing that trips a lot of them up is the fact that they’ve experienced success in their jobs but weren’t sure if they had what it takes in order to be successful on their own. They hear about other accountant moms doing what they dream of doing, like our CPA MOMS franchisees, and they question whether they have what it takes.
But no matter what your reason is for wanting to leave your job, I promise you that learning how to love it before you leave it, is going to be helpful no matter what your next chapter is. I suggest that you take this time, while you’re still at your current job, to do the work that I’m going to share with you today.
This week I’m going to discuss why you should love your job before you leave it, and an exercise you can use to love it before you leave it.
Why you should love your job before you leave it
There’s nothing I like more than when a coaching client tells me that they have a vision for their future and they want help achieving it. As accountants, I don’t think we envision what we want for our future enough.
But when a coaching client is wanting to leave their job and is dreaming of their escape plan, they’re missing the opportunity to develop a skill set that will be able to take with them no matter where they go or what they do next. Here’s the key – if you want to be happy and successful at the next step in your accounting career journey, you have to develop the skill of loving where you are right now.
Whether you want to start your own practice or take on a completely new role, developing the skill of loving your job is actually more important than the job itself. When you can learn how to love what is, you take that incredible ability with you, to whatever will be.
The truth is that if you hate your job, or just dislike it a lot, you will naturally wind up finding things you hate or dislike a lot in the next thing you do because of one very important factor – you are bringing your brain with you. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the next thing you do will make you happier because until you understand that how you feel about your job has nothing to do with your job, you’ll always be looking for the “perfect” situation in order to make you feel happy or fulfilled.
Honestly, it’s not your fault because we’ve all been taught that we just like certain things and don’t like others, as if the reason for our liking or disliking is due to the thing. For example, you may like working on certain clients and not like working on others, believing that it has to do with either the work or the clients.
What most of us have never been taught is that loving your job, whether you stay in a corporate environment or leave to do something else, isn’t about the work you do or where you do it. This can be confusing because it SEEMS that way.
It’s so easy to tell ourselves that we’ll be so much happier when we don’t have to go to that office, work with those people, or do that kind of work. But what I really want you to understand is that the biggest factor in creating an accounting job or career that you love comes down to one thing – the mindset you have about your work.
Unfortunately, most of us, especially as women, did not choose our mindsets because they’re typically just a combination of our social conditioning and our brain’s natural, negative biases. We’re not only conditioned from an early age to be “good girls” and settle for less than we truly want, but our brains main focus is to keep us alive, not to keep us happy and satisfied.
The negative biases your brain naturally has are helpful for your survival or when you’re in a life or death situation, but it’s unhelpful when it comes to your job and your accountant brain’s tendency to find what’s wrong. Until you have a better way to manage your brain, you’re at the mercy of a mindset you didn’t actually choose and the negative biases you aren’t really aware of.
The reason it’s important to know all this is because your mindset is more important to your career satisfaction than the actual work that you do. Unless you uplevel your accountant brain, you are very likely to wind up with the same job and career dissatisfaction again in the future.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the same pattern with accountants where they leave a job, expecting to leave their burnout behind, but then a few months into the new job or their new practice, after the honeymoon phase has worn off, their unhappiness is back, and often stronger than ever. When this happens, it can have many accountants just wanting to leave the accounting profession altogether.
Unfortunately, the more the cycle continues, where you experience unhappiness and burnout, change jobs or situations believing that will bring you some relief, and then experience unhappiness and burnout again, you can begin to give up hope that you’ll ever get away from it. For many intelligent, capable accountant moms, this can seem like a never ending cycle.
The interesting thing is that we’ve all been taught that we need to dislike or hate something, like a job or a relationship, in order to leave it, but the truth is that you can love your job AND leave it. Why would you do that if you loved it? For many reasons – because you want to, because you’re ready for a new challenge, because you’ve grown as much as you can, because you’re open to new possibilities; the reasons for loving it and leaving it are endless.
But the absolute best reason for learning how to love your job before you leave it is because the feeling of love is just so much better for you, both personally and professionally, than the feeling of hate. As I’ve shared on the podcast, since your feelings always fuel your actions, and how you show up at work and at home will be fueled by how you feel, then you owe it to yourself and your accounting career to choose the best feeling possible.
Think about the last time you disliked your job or even hated it – how did you show up at work and at home? Did you do your best work? Were you focused and productive? Did you complain to others? Did you gravitate towards people who felt the same way? Basically, how you feel, then affects how you act, which then affects how you experience your job, so why wouldn’t you want to choose a better feeling, for your own sake?
Hopefully you now understand why it’s so important to work on loving your job before you leave it. Whether you choose to stay or leave, I want you to be able to take a much more powerful skill set and mindset with you.
As I said before, the best thing you can do is to use your current situation to develop the skill I’m going to share with you, and then either continue to apply it to your current job, or bring it with you to the next phase in your journey. Either way, this is going to be helpful.
An exercise you can use to love it before you leave it
As I shared before, it’s not your job’s job to make you happy or make you feel fulfilled, and it’s also not your job’s fault when you’re feeling frustrated, burned out, or want to quit. You may want to place blame on the people, places, and things connected to your job, but I promise you none of it is to blame.
If you really feel like you need to quit your job and you like your reasons, then quit. But I highly recommend that you stay, just for a little while, so you can use your current job to uplevel your mindset, an incredibly important skill set no matter where you go or what you do next.
The reason I recommend staying for now is because the best situation to be in, to do the exercise I’m going to share with you, is the situation that challenges you. But even if you’re feeling great about your job and not looking to leave, I still want you to continue listening so that you can understand on a deeper level what’s really creating your satisfaction right now, and will create it in the future if you ever decide to leave, or if current circumstances change.
For this exercise I suggest you pause this podcast and just take a few minutes to think about what IS working in your current work life. Even if you want to leave your job and you have all the reasons why, just take a few minutes to ask your brain what is working at your current job.
The reason this is important is because it will help you to see your current job more realistically. It isn’t ALL bad, so just for a few minutes, balance out that negativity bias that your brain naturally leans towards in order to keep you safe and alive, by letting it think about the things that are working for you.
As accountants we love data, so be curious and as specific and detailed as you can by finding the data to support that there are some things that are working in your current work life. Does money get deposited into your bank account from the job? Are there aspects of your job that you’re good at? Does the bathroom have running water? If someone from a Third World country came to your job, what would they be amazed at? It might sound silly, but write down things that might seem obvious, but that you tend to take for granted after a while.
While you’re doing this exercise, notice how often your negative biased brain wants to add a “but” to something that’s working. For example, what might be working is the fact that money gets deposited into your bank account, but then your brain adds “but I’m not paid enough”; or what might be working is that there are aspects of your job that you’re good at, but then your brain adds “but no one ever validates me or tells me I’m doing a good job”.
It’s important to not underestimate the power and regularity of your negativity bias because that comes from the lower part of your brain that runs your life more than 80% of the time. As I shared before, it’s just doing its job – to keep you safe and alive – but it also doesn’t care whether that negative bias is creating issues for you.
I also want to point out that you’re not doing this exercise for your job’s sake, you’re doing this for yours. You’re using your current job situation to train your brain and uplevel your mindset so that you can be happy and successful in whatever you do for work.
This exercise is incredibly important to practice because it will help you build a more resilient mindset and help you to be more realistic. Again, your brain’s negativity bias is always looking for what’s wrong in order to keep you safe, but it doesn’t realize the effects that it has on how you feel about your job.
When you feel frustrated and overwhelmed, you naturally want to stop the discomfort of feeling that way so you believe that leaving your job is the answer. It’s understandable because most people believe that in order to feel better, they need to change the circumstances in their lives.
But that is actually the harder way to feel better. The easier way is to do an exercise like this, where you list what IS working and from that better feeling place, you can go back and change or address things that weren’t working and figure out ways to solve them, if you want.
The truth is that we actually have our very best ideas, and do our very best work, when we come from a place of what IS working, rather than trying to solve our problems from a place of anger, anxiety, or desperation. Most of us think that if we focus on what IS working, that it will make us not take action or continue to settle for a less than optimal situation, but that’s absolutely not what this exercise is about.
This exercise is about your brain’s tendency to just loop on the negative and get stuck in a vicious cycle that impedes your perception of reality. When you can use a challenging situation in order to see that IT is not responsible for how you feel, and that the thoughts your negative biased brain is offering you IS responsible, it gives you much more decision making power.
A word of caution – don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this exercise because it’s much more powerful than you realize. By learning how your unique accountant brain works, you’ll be able to make whatever you do next, whether you stay or go, not dependent on the job, the work, or anything else.
The more you hate or dislike your job, the more you’ll actually get from this exercise because you’ll be able to pull back the curtain in order to see the “wizard” that’s been making you think and feel the way you do. Just know that you’re not miserable because your boss or coworkers are impossible to deal with, the workload is too much, and the expectations are too high – you feel the way you do right now because you haven’t learned how to manage your mind.
So your homework for this week is to make a list of the things that you like, or maybe even love about your job, and balance out that negative bias your brain has gotten used to. Make it into a game if you want, where each day you try to find at least one more thing that you like about your job, no matter how simple or silly it seems.
Again, this is not for the sake of your job, it’s for your sake. By learning that there are so many optional ways to look at circumstances, you then bring that mindset with you, not only in your work life but in your personal life as well.
So whether you stay or go, make sure you teach yourself how to love it first so that any decision you make comes from a much better grasp of reality.
- No matter what your reason is for wanting to leave your job, I promise you that learning how to love it before you leave it, is going to be helpful no matter what your next chapter is.
- The truth is that if you hate your job, or just dislike it a lot, you will naturally wind up finding things you hate or dislike a lot in the next thing you do because of one very important factor – you are bringing your brain with you.
- Unless you uplevel your accountant brain, you are very likely to wind up with the same job and career dissatisfaction again in the future.